Thursday, September 28, 2017

Prime Time Jazz - a WTJU special (Part 2)

I hosted a special 3-hour program as part of the 2017 Jazz Marathon/Station Fund Drive for WTJU. Jazz on TV followed up the follow-up to my program last year, Jazz on Film.

The focus was on legit jazz created (or sometimes repurposed) for TV shows. Part 1 featured music from the late 1950s and early 1960s.

While that was the heyday, there were still some jazz scores in the following decades on network TV.

Mike Post

Not everything Post wrote was jazz, but there were a few scores that qualified. He created the signature sound for Law & Order (1990-2010). Like 77 Sunset Strip, the show spawned its own spinoffs: Law & Order Special Victim’s Unit (1999 - ), Law & Order Criminal Intent (2001-2011) Law & Order, Trial by Jury (2005-2006), Law & Order LA (2010-2011). While the themes varied, all began with that "CHUNG-CHUNG" sound. Mike Post also wrote the theme to "LA Law" (1986-1994). While some may consider the sax solo smooth jazz, jazz it remains -- especially in the long version of the theme.

LA Law was another long-running program to feature a Mike Post theme. From 1986-1994 viewers heard David Sanborn's opening sax riff. My listeners got to hear the entire solo.

Late Nights

In the early days, jazz bands were the standard for late night talk shows. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962-1992) featured Doc Severinsen and his orchestra. The band included monster players such as Tommy Newsome (sax), Conte Candoli (trumpet), and Ed Shaughnessy (drums).  Here's Johnny made a fortune for its composers -- Johnny Carson and Paul Anka.

Saturday Night Live (1975-) had an impressive number of important jazz musicians in their ranks. SNL band alumni include Paul Shaffer (keyboards), G.E. Smith (guitar), David Sanborn (sax) Michael Brecker (sax). Paul Shaffer left SNL to lead the "The World's Most Dangerous Band" for Late Night with David Letterman. (1982-1993)

Angela and Barney Miller

Keyboardist Bob James is credited with one of the most iconic themes of the early 1980s. The theme to Taxi (1978-1982) is a Bob James chart called Angela. Equally well-known was the bass solo of session musician Chuck Berghofer. It begins the theme to Barney Miller (1975-1982).

Quincy Jones

The prolific Quincy Jones wrote many movie and TV themes. Time constraints limited me to just two. Ironside holds the distinction of being the first TV theme to use a synthesizer. And Streetbeater is better known as the theme to Sanford and Son (1972-1977).

And more

I also included classics such as the theme to Route 66, Night Court, and even Seinfeld. Listeners got to hear the swinging Count Basie score to M Squad (arranged by Johnny Williams), and its parody, t Ira Newsom's Police Squad! theme.

I also aired Lalo Schifrin playing the theme to Mannix, though I didn't have time to include anything from Mission Impossible.

But I did save time to end with my favorite jazz TV score -- the theme to Jonny Quest. Hoyt Curtain wrote many swinging themes for Hanna Barbara - the Flinstones, the Jetsons, Top Cat, Wally Gator, and so on. But Jonny Quest may be the best.

Session trombone players were complaining that their parts weren't very challenging. So Curtain wrote a theme that's virtually impossible to play on the instrument and laughed as they sweated through take after take. If you listen very carefully, you'll hear them struggle through the opening bars.

It was a fun program, and we raised some money for WTJU. I had fun, and we raised some funds. That's what I call a successful radio program.

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