Tom Reney

Jazz à la Mode Host

Tom has been producing Jazz à la Mode since 1984.  He began working in jazz radio in 1977 at WCUW, a community-licensed radio station in Worcester, Massachusetts. Before his career in radio began, Tom had many formative experiences hearing and meeting some of the icons of jazz and blues, all of which ignited his passion for sharing the music with others. Tom earned a BA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he majored in English and American Studies.

In addition to his hosting duties at New England Public Radio, Tom writes NEPR's jazz blog and produces our JazzBeat podcast, and lectures occasionally on music and cultural topics at UMass, Amherst, Smith, Hampshire, and Mt. Holyoke Colleges. He and his wife Margaret live in Holyoke.

Ways to Connect

Diahann Carroll, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington in Paris Blues
Herman Leonard / Morrison Hotel Gallery

Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington recorded only one album together, and it was a long time in coming.  The Great Summit was made for Roulette Records in 1961, decades after these giants of jazz had come to prominence in the twenties, and several years after George Avakian proposed such a meeting for Columbia Records in 1955.

Lionel Hampton, Chuck Green, Sandman Sims, and Bunny Briggs in No Maps on My Taps
George T. Nierenberg

 

There's a big new feature on Bonnie Raitt in the San Diego Union-Tribune in which she goes in-depth and mentions numerous influences, including the legendary Judy Roderick. I've been a fan of Judy's since my high school days and keep going back to her great Vanguard album, Woman Blue.

Geri Allen
SFJAZZ

Geri Allen died on Tuesday (June 27) at 60, only a day or two after word got out that she was in grave health. I didn't know Geri beyond a few brief off-stage greetings at the Knitting Factory, Newport, and Jazz in July at UMass, but over the past 30 years, I saw her brilliance displayed on bandstands with Charlie Haden & Paul Motian; Charles Lloyd; Wallace Roney; and the trio seen below with Spalding Esperanza and Terri Lyne Carrington. I always sensed a great feeling of love from her toward her collaborators and the music they created.

Jazz Beat - Jaki Byard

Jun 27, 2017

Tom Reney offers an appreciation of piano legend Jaki Byard in this edition of Jazz Beat. Byard’s 95th birthday anniversary was June 22, and his legacy thrives both on records and through his well-known protégés Jason Moran, Larry Goldings, Marty Ehrlich, and Fred Hersch. Tom’s tribute includes personal recollections, details of Byard’s background in Worcester and Boston, and several musical samples.

One of the most exciting jazz discoveries I've experienced in recent years involved the Russian-born alto saxophonist Dmitry Baevsky and a restaurant in the tiny (pop. 1600) Massachusetts-Vermont border town of Colrain, Mass. While hosting Jazz à la Mode on a Thursday night in 2008, I got a call from a woman in Greenfield urging me to find coverage for the following night's show so that I could hear Baevsky at the Green Emporium.

Jaki Byard
John F. Goodman

I spent a horribly jazz-deprived time in Eugene, Oregon, in 1977, where the only saving grace was the Prez Records shop, which was named for Lester Young and operated by a true believer. But over the length of the fall semester, there was only one area performance by a jazz combo.

Dave McKenna
Christopher Lydon

May 30 is the birthday of both Dave McKenna and Benny Goodman. Dave played with Benny on occasion, including a mid-fifties gig at Basin Street East. We've all heard about the terrifying "ray" that Benny would shoot in the direction of anyone disagreeable; well, I saw Dave dead aim one of his own the last time I saw him in person. It was his 70th birthday, May 30, 2000, a Sunday afternoon concert at the Congregational Church in Belchertown, Mass.

Ricky Riccardi, author of What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong's Later Years, told Facebook readers this week that he's on assignment from Jazz at Lincoln Center to select a group of ten Louis Armstrong recordings for a Spotify playlist. I'm sure you understood the kind of pressure a list like this presents to obsessives of our kind. In this case, Ricky's playlist will be widely consulted and scrutinized, for he's emerging as one of the most prominent and reliable of Armstrong experts.

Jackie McLean
Steve Lehman

May 16 was Jackie McLean's 86th birthday anniversary. The first time I met the great saxophonist he exclaimed, "I listen!" Then he pulled me in closer and said, "And we contribute." I was aware of pledges from the McLeans by then, but still, what a way to be greeted by the master.

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