This Jazz daddy says he’s ‘Down Low’
He’s known as the “Jazz Daddy” at KVMR 89.5 FM, where Bruce Tepper has held forth since 1980, shortly after the community radio station had gone on the air.
Besides, Tepper’s father played a role in Bruce’s taste in music.
“I remember our father driving us in an old Plymouth coupe with the radio on,” said Tepper. “And he’d point out who was on the radio like Count Basie, Sarah Vaughn, stuff like that.”
And then there was the time Bruce was sidelined for awhile, and he discovered this thing called FM radio.
“That’s when I first heard Miles (Davis), (Thelonius) Monk, Horace Silver, and I thought that was really cool,” he said.
It’s led Tepper to thirtysome years — and counting — as a volunteer music broadcaster at the non-commercial Nevada City station, where he became a “mainstay” Tuesday evenings after volunteering to bring in some of his jazz albums to a program host he liked.
Now, however, Tepper’s “Jazz Break” is heard alternate Tuesdays 10 a.m. to noon (89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming), including this coming Tuesday.
“I was able to bring jazz to the mornings,” he noted. “Just try and find a jazz program in the morning in this (Sacramento) listening area.”
And he credits KVMR for being willing to test jazz in the morning, among other innovations.
“It’s one of the last bastions that allows disc jockeys to go beyond the tried and true mainstream,” Tepper explained.
Including the four-hour series “Nightvision” early Saturday mornings, which Tepper loves doing once monthly because, well, it’s four ours (midnight- 4 a.m. this Saturday, 89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming).
“In the wee morning hours, KVMR allows you to be able to expand yourself,” he said. “Even satellite radio ends up being the same old albums over and over. That’s not the case on ‘Nightvision.’”
“Jazz is like radio,” Tepper added. “It’s communication.”
And the longtime KVMR host thinks the jazz genre is “sort of finding itself in the mainstream,” with its fusion of everything from hip hop and electronica to rhythm & blues and “new soul.” Even classic jazz is creeping in, only now it’s being dubbed “neo-bop.”
“You’ve gotta be ‘down low’ to get listeners hooked on jazz or its subgenres,” Tepper said with a sly smile. “I even say on air, you’ve got to shoot low because they’re riding Shetlands.”
Ziggy Marley is the special musical guest in eTown at 7 p.m. Sunday on KVMR.
A weekly wrap-up of news and oddities about community radio station KVMR (89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming), a noncommercial station offering diverse musical programming, independent news and provocative public affairs from about 180 volunteer “citizen-broadcasters.” Information about the station’s new building is available at <bridgestreetproject.org> Complete program listings are available at kvmr.org
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