Some questions in jazz music, such as why Charles Mingus named a song “All the Things You Could Be By Now If Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother,” may never be answered.
Officials with eclectic local radio station WTJU are hoping that a module-based jazz curriculum they are developing will answer many of the others.
The University of Virginia-owned station has nestled into the jazzy 91.1 niche of the local FM airwaves for decades. From 2017 to 2019, Rus Perry, a jazz expert at the station, developed, produced and aired 100 hour-long episodes of jazz history, called Jazz at 100, in celebration of the art form’s century of sound.
Thanks to a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the education factor behind the Jazz at 100 series soon will be available in high school and college curricula.
“I’ve often thought that Rus’ show was highly educational in a very big way, and we’re doing more educational programming in general at the station, so this would fit right in,” said Nathan Moore, WTJU’s general manager.
From early Dixieland jazz to the diaspora of Southern black jazz musicians in the face of Jim Crow laws, the Jazz at 100 series moved from Kid Ory and Jelly Roll Morton to Thelonious Monk and Max Roach, with stops at Mingus, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins along the way.