Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Listener EMailbag

Got a question or comment that won't quite fit in the Shoutbox? Post it here!

(from Linda - Pastorelli Foods, west side)

"Can you now play a song that's longer than the [version] you played on WNUA? Is all this music from your personal collection? Sorry about being nosy, but I'm just curious."

Thanks for reminding me about that--and for noticing! With the heavier commercial load they carry, terrestrial radio doesn't have time to play the longer versions, which are generally the album cuts. On the contrary, here at ChiTownSmoothJazz, we're going to try and play the unedited, longer versions wherever possible.

As for my personal collection, yes, I've brought in quite a few of my own CDs from over the years to feature here. So much of the older material in Smooth Jazz and New Age is out of print and nearly impossible to find. When we get requests for it, I'll generally look in my collection at home and then bring it into the office to play on the air here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chicagoland Events for the Week Ahead, as heard at

Rachelle Ferrell and Phil Perry perform at the Country Club Hills Theater Saturday, August 1.

The 28th annual Heritage Jazz Fest Weekend at the South Shore Cultural Center, August 1 and 2.

The Saugatuck-Douglas Jazz Festival in Michigan, July 31 and August 1.

The 37th annual Fiesta Del Sol in the Pilsen neighborhood, 1400 West Cermak, July 30 through August 2.

The Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival on Milwaukee Avenue from California to Ridgeway on the northwest side, July 31 through August 2.

Northalsted Market Days on Halsted between Belmont and Addison, August 1-2.

The 15th annual Retro on Roscoe, featuring the Windy City Chili Cook-Off, 2000 West Roscoe, August 1-2.

The Gold Coast Art Fair on Superior, Huron and Erie between Clark and Wells, July 31 through August 2.

Enjoy your week and weekend!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The New Normal

In this state of ecomomic flux we're in (how's that for spin), one suggestion is to "reinvent" ourselves using the talents we already have.
I know a Smooth Jazz devotee who lost her job as a city landscape planner. Her job hunting attempts fell flat. Soooo she studied for and passed a test that certified her as a "green" landscaper and two weeks later, tahdah, a job !
I had worked in terrestrial radio for (mumble,mumble) years and am now, as you know, contributing to Chitown Smooth using my "talents" and redirecting them into a new, innovative medium. Can you say happy?
Hope these stories inspire you to do the same if need be. I mean you're already reinventing the way you listen to Smoth Jazz by logging on to Chitown Smooth and are realizing, if I may be so bold as to suggest, all the fabulous perks your getting ! So glad you're here !
Yours Smoothly,
Danae Alexander

Monday, July 20, 2009

Chicagoland Events for the Week Ahead, as heard on

Will Downing and Lalah Hathaway perform at the Country Club Hills Theater on Saturday, the 25th.

David Sanborn will play the Arcada Theater in St. Charles on Sunday, the 26th. (630-587-8400)

The 52nd annual Venetian Night celebration at Monroe Harbor on Saturday, the 25th. (312-744-3315)

The Taste of Lincoln Avenue, from Fullerton to Wrightwood on the near north side, Saturday and Sunday. (773-868-3010)

Wicker Park Fest, on Milwaukee Avenue between North Avenue and Wood Street, Saturday and Sunday. (773-384-2672)

Enjoy your week. And, remember, you can take the music with you to the beach or anywhere on your iPhone or Blackberry Bold, Curve or Storm with

The Listener Emailbag

Got a question or comment that won't quite fit in the Shoutbox? Post it here!

(from Lucinda in Beverly)

"I'm going out west soon on a summer vacation. Where can I find Smooth Jazz stations to listen to west of the Mississippi?"

At one time you could find a station practically everywhere you went on vacation. There were hundreds of them from coast to coast. Sadly, we now have fewer stations in the format than at any time since the late 1980s, when Smooth Jazz started. Here are the big ones that are left in some popular travel destinations (all are FM):

Cleveland - WNWV - 107.3
Detroit - WVMV - 98.7
Las Vegas - KOAS - 105.7
Los Angeles - KTWV - 94.7
Milwaukee - WJZX - 106.9
Phoenix - KYOT - 95.5
Sacramento - KSSJ - 94.7
San Diego - KIFM - 98.1
Seattle - KWJZ - 98.9
Tampa - WSJT - 94.1

Have a safe trip.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Note To Our Listeners

How wonderful to be able to communicate with you again!

I've known Kurt Hanson, the driving force behind Chitown Smooth Jazz, for many years. I've always been impressed with his "out of the box" thinking and entrepreneurial spirit. When I heard he had filled the Smooth Jazz void sweeping the country, I couldn't wait to be a part of it.

What a listener's dream! I know you've always wanted to program your own music and now you can! Another big listener's dream come true, not having to endure loooong interruptions between songs. A quick one-liner and back to "the soundtrack of your life."

Kudos to Kurt Hanson and everyone involved with Chitown Smooth Jazz.

Welcome back Smooth Chicago, around the country, around the world!

Lots of Love,
Danae Alexander

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Live Smooth Jazz Doesn't Get Any Better Than This

One of the finest events on the Smooth Jazz calendar each year is the Catalina Island JazzTraxx Festival off the coast of southern California. The lineup of artists is always top notch, and the scenic backdrop of Catalina Island is matched by few concert venues.

Unfortunately, because of the requirements of my airshift, I have never been able to attend the festival. Taking place in the month of October, JazzTraxx always overlapped with a key ratings period (the radio equivalent of TV's "sweeps"), and airstaff at WNUA was always discouraged from taking any time off. But almost as good as actually being there has been the chance to experience the event vicariously through the many listeners who, over the years, would send me postcards from their trip to Catalina or phone me once they returned to Chicago with reports of how much fun they had out there.

The JazzTraxx Festival is truly a magnificent event. I cannot recommend it more highly. If you've been thinking about attending this year, my Smooth Jazz friends up in Milwaukee have put together a package deal definitely worth considering. Click here, and give yourself something to look forward to once the days grow shorter and the fall winds begin to blow here in Chicago.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chicagoland Events for the Week Ahead, as heard at

(For 7/13-7/19)

The annual Sheffield Garden Walk & Festival on the north side at Webster & Sheffield Saturday and Sunday.  (773-929-9255)
Chinatown Summer Fair at Wentworth and Cermak Road Sunday.  (312-326-5320)
The Dearborn Garden Walk at Goethe and Dearborn Sunday.  
The 8th annual River North Summerfest at Erie Park, 630 North Kingsbury, Saturday and Sunday.
The annual Chicago Outdoor Film Festival in Grant Park is underway again with free showings of classic motion pictures under the stars at sundown every Tuesday night.  (312-744-3315)

Dave Koz and Brian Culbertson headline Side-By-Side at The Venue, Horseshoe Casino/Hammond, Friday night.

War and the Average White Band perform at the Country Club Hills Theater Saturday.

The 5th annual Maywood Rotary Club Jazz Festival at Veterans' Memorial Park in Maywood, 2pm-10pm, Saturday.  (708-345-7088)

The Pitchfork Music Festival at Union Park on West Randolph Street Friday through Sunday.

And live jazz at:
Andy's Jazz Club, East Hubbard in River North.
Pop's for Champagne, State and Ohio, downtown.
Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, Dearborn Station, downtown.
Pete Miller's, Evanston.

It's another great summer week of entertainment around Chicago.  Enjoy it, and don't forget to add Smooth Jazz to it from

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Great Opportunity for Chicago Jazz Fans

Hello listeners, this is Lucas Gillan, one of the music programmers for, and I'd like to let you know about a very cool event going on this coming Wednesday, July 15. Local non-profit organization Urban Aspirations will be presenting a fundraiser concert at Sikia Restaurant, 740 W. 63rd Street, featuring the immensely talented young trumpeter Corey Wilkes and local legend, pianist Ken Chaney. These are two of the hottest musicians on the Chicago jazz and smooth jazz scenes, and will definitely put on an exciting show.

The purpose of the event is to raise money for Urban Aspirations' Young Natives program, which gives young musicians in Chicago the opportunity to perform on stage with professional jazz musicians in weekly jam sessions at Sikia restaurant, which is on the campus of Kennedy-King College. You can read a blog post about a recent jam session here. Look how young those kids are! They have everybody from elementary school kids to college students jamming together. You can also read a report form ChiTown Daily News on a recent session here.

There are just about zero other opportunities for young kids on the south side to go to jam sessions and get the experience of performing on stage with professional musicians, an essential experience for any aspiring musician. This series is a godsend for dozens of kids and should be supported whenever possible. Get your tickets here now, and don't wait, because you can only buy them through Friday, July 10!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Listener EMailbag

Got a question or comment that won't quite fit in the Shoutbox?  Post it here!

(from Lucius in Aurora)

"You guys need to be available in more places, like the car.  And how can I listen to you when I'm riding my bike?"

How to listen to Internet radio in your car:  currently, this requires either an iPhone or a BlackBerry Bold, Curve, or Storm. (Support for more phones is coming soon. And of course in a couple of years from now, this will be a lot easier.) Just download an app called "FlyCast," select "AccuRadio" from the webcaster guide, and select "Jazz" as your format. (AccuRadio is our sister website; you'll get very similar channels to ours, albeit not identical.)  As long as your smartphone is in your car: Voila! You've got Internet radio in your car! is also available through an iPhone or Blackberry Bold, Curve or Storm.

(from Steven in Crown Point, Ind.)

"How's the old WNUA gang doing?  Do you keep in touch with them?"

I talk to most of them on a regular basis.  Ramsey Lewis has had a typical summer (for him, that is):  performing, composing, practicing, being involved with programs at Ravinia.  His former morning show partner, Karen Williams, told me she was craving mid-90s temperatures and high humidity (something she wasn't getting around here), so she fled to Arkansas for awhile to visit relatives.  

Danae and I are working here.  When we're not, we've been in and out of town on lots of mini-trips.  Scott Adams is plotting his next escape to Rio, all the while busy with "The Sounds of Brazil!" and his own audio streams of Brazilian music.  Bill Cochran is gearing up mentally to see his twins off to college for their freshman year in the fall, and he's involved with Broadcast Architecture's Smooth Jazz Network.  And Domingo Castillo can be seen and heard, guitar in hand, performing with his band all summer.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Earl of Smooth Jazz

During my final year of college a friend of mine gave me an album. She said she thought I would enjoy it, because it was the album she always reached for during her most stressful moments as a graduate student. She described the music as something that seemed to speak directly to her and help lift her spirits whenever she needed it the most. That album was One on One by Bob James and Earl Klugh. It was the first time I experienced the evocative strumming of Mr. Klugh on the acoustic guitar, and my friend Laura was right. The music had me under its spell from the first few notes.

Fast-forward to 2009, and I am happy to say the music of Earl Klugh has been in my life for almost thirty years now. And, as it did for Laura, it's been working its magic on me every time I hear it.

When I started the "Sunday Lite Brunch" on WCLR in 1987, one of the first artists I added to the playlist was Earl Klugh. Earl's captivating compositions "The Traveler" and "One Night (Alone With You)" were, I felt, a fitting introduction of his work to the mainstream Chicago audience that was hearing his music played regularly on the radio for the first time. They were, like most of Earl's pieces, inviting and hummable right from the start. Many, many hits followed in subsequent years on WNUA. And today, here at, we're pleased to be featuring yet another fresh, ear-catching composition from Earl: his latest, "Ocean Blue," from the CD The Spice of Life.

Earl has always possessed the gift of writing melodies that feel instantly comfortable and familiar, and that's helped make his music timeless. This week we are honored to be shining our featured artist spotlight on Earl Klugh. Enjoy all his wonderful music! And, if we seem to be missing a personal favorite of yours by Mr. Klugh, by all means, let us know what it is.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Chicagoland Events for the Week Ahead, as heard at

West Chicago Railways Days in Reed-Keppler Park, July 9-12. (773-868-3010)

Old St. Pat's Church at Madison and Des Plaines downtown hosts its World's Largest Block Party Saturday and Sunday.

The 24th annual Irish American Heritage Festival at the Center on North Knox Avenue in Chicago Friday through Sunday.

The 8th annual Jeff Fest in Jefferson Park, Higgins and Milwaukee, Friday and Saturday. (773-868-3010)

The 12th annual Chicago Folk and Roots Festival at Welles Park on the north side Saturday and Sunday.

The 16th annual Rock Around the Block at Lincoln and Belmont Saturday and Sunday. (773-665-4682)

The DuSable Museum hosts its 35th annual Arts and Crafts Festival at the museum on the south side.

The Bristol Renaissance Fair is back for another summer up in Kenosha, Wisconson.

There's always live jazz at . . .

Andy's Jazz Club on East Hubbard in River North.

Pop's for Champagne at State and Ohio downtown.

Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase at Dearborn Station downtown.

Pete Miller's in Evanston.

And next week Dave Koz and Brian Culbertson will perform Side-By-Side at The Venue at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond on Friday, July 17th.

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