Meet Geoff Anderson
I joined All About Jazz in: 2007
What made you decide to contribute to All About Jazz? It all started at a concert by George Brooks and his band Summit at the Boulder Theater around 2002. The band featured tabla maestro Zakir Hussain as well as guitarist Fareed Haque. Brooks played tenor sax, Steve Smith was on trap drums and Kai Eckhardt played bass. The music was a unique combination of Western jazz and Indian music. I was so blown away that I felt compelled to write about the concert and tell my friends. I wrote up a review and emailed it to a couple dozen of my musically inclined friends. They liked it! Of course that only encouraged me to do more. I realized it was greatly entertaining for me, helped me remember the great concerts I attended, and usually people liked the reviews. I just emailed the reviews around for a few years. Then, in poking around the web, I came across All About Jazz. The website said they wanted writers. OK, why not? I started submitting the reviews I was writing and they published them!
How do you contribute to All About Jazz? I concentrate on live reviews. I've enjoyed going to concerts since at least high school. Denver has an outstanding live music scene with bushels of top drawer local talent of every genre and, because there are so many music fans around here, it has a reputation as a great stop for national acts touring the country. As a result, there are WAY too many concerts than I have time to attend. It's a little frustrating at times, but it's a great problem to have.
What is your musical background? I played trumpet and French horn in junior high, high school and college and messed around with piano a bit in college. I eventually concluded I'm better at listening than playing. My main musical outlet over the years has been radio. For some reason, I was enthralled with radio even at an early age. I started in radio in 1976 at KCSU, the campus radio station at Colorado State University in my hometown of Fort Collins. While I was there, the station became affiliated with National Public Radio and began broadcasting All Things Considered and the (at the time) brand new Morning Edition. The format kept plenty of music programming and I dove in enthusiastically. The station literally played everything from classical to folk to country to rock to jazz. It was intent on not being commercial and it was almost as if the staff had an unwritten rule to see who could play the most obscure stuff. I learned a huge amount about all kinds of music including jazz. In fact, for a year or two I hosted a show called "Mostly Jazz" from 9 p.m. to midnight weekday evenings. There were a number of hosts and I did that show two or three nights a week.
In 1978, I got a gig at the local rock radio station, KTCL, now know as "Channel 93.3." At the time, the station called itself "Progressive Radio" and had an expansive playlist for a rock station. We played much of what is now known as "Classic Rock;" acts like Led Zeppelin, Cream, Dire Straits, Grateful Dead, Little Feat, etc. But the list went far beyond that. We played country-rock like the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Asleep at the Wheel, Commander Cody, Ozark Mountain Daredevils and Poco. We played bluegrass by bands like the New Grass Revival and local favorites Hot Rize. We played progressive rock by bands like Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, King Crimson and Gentle Giant. We played jazz fusion by acts like Return to Forever, Weather Report, Jean-Luc Ponty and the Crusaders. Like KCSU, the disc jockeys had wide latitude in what we played. Needless to say, they don't make radio stations like that anymore.
I worked at KCSU from 1976 to 1982 and at KTCL from 1978 to 1982. So I worked at both stations simultaneously. Sometimes I would do Mostly Jazz on KCSU from 9 to midnight, hop on my bike and ride across town and do the 12:30 to 6 a.m. shift at KTCL. Those were the days.
In 1982, I moved to Denver to attend law school at the University of Denver and put my radio career on hold. After I graduated and worked as a lawyer for a couple years, I decided to get back into it. KUVO had gone on the air in 1985 with a jazz format and ran, almost exclusively, on volunteer power. In 1988, a radio acquaintance told me that the program director there was always looking for experienced announcers so, after getting a couple years as a lawyer under my belt, I contacted Carlos Lando, program director at KUVO. I quickly landed a Tuesday evening slot and I've been there ever since. Twenty-five years later, I still enjoy going to the studio on Tuesday evenings to play jazz on the radio from 7 to 10. BTW, Lando is still there too and, for my money, is one of the best program directors around. I say that not only because he lets the DJs more or less play what we want, but also because it works! The station has a great sound. It's diverse, yet it hangs together.
I've always been a music proselytizer and radio has given me a great opportunity to do that. Writing concert reviews and emailing them to friends was another step in that process. Being able to post those reviews on All About Jazz gives me a wider distribution to talk about the music that I enjoy and often touches my soul. Hopefully, through all this, I can inspire others to seek out and hear music that can inspire them as well.
What was the first record you bought that you would still listen to today? Up until recently, the answer to that question was Who's Next (Decca, 1971) and Led Zeppelin IV (Atlantic, 1971) both purchased on the same fateful day in 1971. These were the first two rock records I bought and I'm still impressed that I picked those two because they are clearly two of the top albums of the Classic Rock era.
I became enamored with music at a very early age. The interest was encouraged by my parents who bought me a little record player and records about things like train songs. As I got older, I wanted to buy my own records, but my parents weren't too sure about that Rock 'n Roll stuff I was interested in. The compromise, for a time, was that I was allowed to buy non-rock albums and I gravitated to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.
Recently, I watched the movie "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World." In the movie, the Keira Knightley character spends about half her time carrying around about a dozen of her prized records. The one that was always on top was Herb Alpert's Beat of the Brass (A&M, 1968), easily identifiable by the back cover with Herb standing in the middle of a field of bright yellow flowers. I still have that album! After watching the movie, I had to pull it out and listen to it. It includes Alpert's first hit vocal, "This Guy's In Love With You"(!) They even played that song in the movie.
What type of jazz do you enjoy listening to the most? I try to listen to all of it. One of the great things about my volunteer airshift at KUVO is that I can listen to many of the new releases coming out. I try to play about 40% new music when I'm on the air.
I particularly like hearing new things. It's great fun hearing jazz musicians pulling in many different influences to come up with something new.
Aside from jazz, what styles of music do you enjoy? Like many AAJ contributors, I have a broad agenda. This morning I listened to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons." Last night, I substituted on the All Blues program on KUVO, playing two hours of blues on the radio. I enjoy a great funk show (Maceo Parker; Porter, Batiste, Stoltz; Tower of Power; Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews). Classic Rock and 1970s Progressive Rock still have a hold on me. Having lived in Colorado almost all my life, I've heard plenty of bluegrass and a hot bluegrass band will light me up.
What are you listening to right now? This very moment? Roseanna Vitro singing Ray Charles.
Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, For True (Verve Forecast, 2011) Cassandra Wilson, Another Country (Entertainment One, 2012) Shemekia Copeland, 33 1/3 (Telarc, 2012) Alison Krauss & Union Station, Paper Airplane (Rounder, 2011)
Which five recent releases would you recommend to readers who share your musical taste? Pat Metheny Unity Band (Nonesuch, 2012) Brad Mehldau Trio, Ode (Nonesuch, 2012) Vintage Trouble, The Bomb Shelter Sessions (Vintage Trouble Publishing, 2011) Kate Bush, 50 Words for Snow (Fish People, 2011) Toronzo Cannon, Leaving Mood (Delmark, 2011)
What inspired you to write about jazz? See #1, above.
What do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies? Skiing is my main non-music interest. I've been skiing since about age 8. Literally, I can have more fun on skis than almost any human has ever had in the history of the world. Between the music scene and the world class skiing, Colorado is pretty much the best place to live in the entire universe.
Biking is my second favorite non-music activity. I have a mountain bike that goes on roads and trails. It's great exercise and a good way to stay in shape for skiing. Plus, in Colorado, it's possible to basically bike year around. There are a few days here and there where it's too cold or snowy, or maybe even a whole week with too much snow on the ground, but the snow quickly melts and warm days are frequent.
One of the best things ever is to combine a ski trip and a concert. During ski trips I've been able to see people like Dr. John, the North Mississippi Allstars, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Dumstaphunk and Gov't Mule. The only small detail, is the lack of sleep, but oh well...
What role does jazz music play in your life? I listen to jazz everyday. It soothes my soul after a day at work (or on the ski slopes).
How does writing about jazz contribute to the music itself? As another approach to my goal as a musical proselytizer, I hope that I can inspire other people to seek out and hear the kind of music that I find so enjoyable. Every once in awhile, someone will tell me they read one of my reviews about someone they had never heard of. They checked out the artist on the web and learned more about that person. The same thing can happen with the radio. One time a talked to a local jazz drummer I know through my involvement at KUVO. He also spends much of his time teaching high school kids how to play jazz. He told me he heard a tune I played by Luciana Souza one night. He was so enraptured, he went on line right away to buy the music and gave it to his students to learn. Success!
What do you like most about All About Jazz? No question: The broad approach to the music.
What positives have come from your association with All About Jazz? Mainly, it's just been the chance to distribute my reviews more widely. I also read articles on the site more frequently than I would otherwise which has expanded my knowledge of jazz.
Geoff Anderson at All About Jazz.