Sunday, May 10, 2009

Too Many Goodbyes


As you've probably gathered, I don't update fhb all that much anymore (I think once every five months would qualify as "not all that much"). I'm still writing regularly over at Dreamtime, which better suits my interests at the moment.

Of course I have the issue that Bob Dylan has apparently ended Theme Time Radio Hour with the "Goodbye" show, but I still have a few more Dreamtime posts, maybe even a podcast or two, and some other plans.

It's not turning out to be a good year for radio shows we like, as today we heard the news that Jeff Turton's long-running Jazz Brunch has ended after 26 years on WFNX, which parallels the time that Peggy and I have been together. We started listening to the Jazz Brunch shortly after Peggy moved in with me during that brief (but enjoyable) period we were living together in sin. We listened to the Jazz Brunch after we married; after a move from Massachusetts to New Hampshire; after we bought our first home, a condo, and then after we bought our first house and home, the one I'm writing in today and where we heard Jeff's announcement.

A lot of Sundays. We went to see Jeff and have brunch when he was doing the live Jazz Brunches in Cambridge. We bought a lot of wonderful wine thanks to Howie Rubin at Bauer Wine's recommendations. I even went to Bauer Wine after missing Howie's regular appearances on the show. "How come you don't do Jazz Brunch anymore?" I asked. "Because they won't pay me," he answered.

We listened to Jeff's son Ben grow up over the years through his annual appearances. We learned how much Jeff hated winter and Christmas music, especially jazz Christmas music. We ate at the East Coast Grill in Cambridge because we heard about it on the Jazz Brunch. Jeff introduced us to more artists and their music than I can name now, but included Debra Henson-Conant, Madeline Peyroux, Nancy Wilson's Guess Who I Saw Today, and Sarah Vaughan's Just A Little Lovin' to acknowledge a few singers and songs we first heard on the Jazz Brunch. I spent years tracking both Wilson's and Vaughn's cuts down, and in fact only found the album containing the live version of Guess Who I Saw Today last October in San Francisco, triumphantly bringing it home to Peggy after 20-odd years of looking for it. Jeff Turton is probably directly responsible for several hundred dollars worth of CDs residing on my shelves.

In other words, Jeff Turton and the Jazz Brunch have been a big part of our lives as long as we've been together. It was evident that the end was nearing. Jeff's on-air time was cut from six hours - from 6 a.m. to noon - down to four a couple of years ago, the Jazz Brunch apparently only remaining on at all because WFNX's owner liked jazz. In the past year Peggy and I started looking for other alternatives to listen to on Sundays as Jeff fiddled with the programming to try to attract a more contemporary audience. Instead, I think he probably alienated his core listeners, like us. There are only so many jazz covers of pop tunes or weird "world music" you can listen to until you start longing for some straight-ahead Thelonius Monk or Abby Lincoln, which had all but disappeared on the Jazz Brunch in recent months.

But we still checked it out regularly, hoping that we'd hear the older programming that had made us Jazz Brunch fans, and we were listening to it today, and were at least happy to be there at the end, as we were at the beginning. We'll miss the Jazz Brunch, and Jeff Turton. Jeff you have our thanks for being part of our Sundays over the last 26 years.

As you get older, you find that few changes are good.