All that jazz 

Jeremy Gossett

On July 5, many months of work and sacrifice paid off when the first episode of Backstage Jazz hit the airwaves on Norman-based public radio station KGOU-FM 106.3.

After the first show aired, Gossett received praise from his new legion of followers via the phone and Internet.

“That night, we got about 30 likes on Facebook and the web traffic went through the roof,” he said.

“People are listening and they called to say they’re glad to hear about local and regional jazz artists.”

The debut hour featured Arkansas-based trumpeter Rodney Block and the exhibit of the late jazz photographer Herman Leonard, whose collection is currently on display at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum in Little Rock, Ark.

Turning Backstage Jazz from an idea into reality meant Gossett, owner of his own production company, sacrificed sources of potential income while doing most of the work himself, from the live concert recordings and face-to-face interviews to much of the post-production editing.

“I’m glad to be able to share these great shows and music about such prolific artists,” he said.

Each show centers on a different jazz musician, delving into his or her music and telling the artist’s backstory. Featured guests range from Grammy winning saxophonist David Sanborn to local artists like the 145th Army Band stationed at the Army National Guard in Oklahoma City.

“We want to let the listener understand why the music is so important,” Gossett said. “The vision is to take people behind the music and into the lives of these great musicians. It was important for me to do it this way because nobody really knows about their life, their travels, their everyday life.”

Jeremy Gossett mixes with Kini Kay

Backstage birth
Described as talk radio combined with a lot of live music, Backstage Jazz was conceived through Gossett’s loves for the art form and the public-radio format.

“It wasn’t until I went to [the University of Oklahoma] when I was in an African percussion class that I was exposed to a lot of the things African-American musicians were doing,” he said. “There were people like Wynton Marsalis, and I watched Ken Burns’ 13-part series on jazz. I used that to write a final paper during my senior year at OU in 2006.”

Although the Backstage Jazz project began three years ago, his passion for the music began when he was growing up in Duncan.

“I was about 9 or 10 when I started listening to public radio,” he said, almost apologetically. “I would listen to Jazz After Hours with Jim Wilke, a nationally syndicated radio host on [Cameron University’s] KCCU. That show and others I would listen to brought to life so many different things I had no clue about.”

With
the advent of his own show, Gossett experiences some role-reversal as
the man behind the microphone, no longer just the radio listener.

“It’s a similar feeling a jazz musician has when they walk into a full theater and it’s their own show,” he said.

Jim
Johnson, KGOU program director, said he’s been impressed with Gossett
since meeting him three years ago, describing the young producer and
host as a “passionate perfectionist.”

“I
absolutely loved the idea when he pitched it to me,” Johnson said.
“We’re very excited we have local talent producing shows that feature
not only [musicians’] love of jazz, but also provide a glimpse of why
they do what they do. This is the first of its kind for our radio
station. He has taken the time to provide the tracks and represent what
went down onstage. He wants to represent the artists with a level of
excellence that listeners can enjoy.”

Backstage Jazz airs at 9 p.m. Fridays, followed by an encore broadcast at 7 p.m. Sundays. The show will complete its first season in September.

The
show also is broadcast by FM stations:
• KROU 105.7 in Oklahoma City,
• WWOF
103.1 in Seminole,
• KADA 97.9 in Ada,
• K295BL 106.9 in Chickasha and
• KWOU
88.1 in Woodward.

Beginning this month, public radio stations in
Lawton, Altus, Ardmore, Clinton and Wichita Falls, Texas, will carry the
show.

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Tim Farley

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