Schaen covers jazz in North Jersey.
I began writing soon after retiring from my high school teaching career. Mostly, I have focused on interviewing artists,
and have been published mainly in Jersey Jazz, the journal of the New Jersey Jazz Society. I have recently also
appeared in The Syncopated Times. Altogether, about 150 of my interviews have made it into print. While the great
majority of them are with artists living around New York City, Gene DiNovi in Canada and Van Alexander in California
are two examples of those I reached from further away. It is always a thrill to speak to artists I admire.
My Jazz Story
I love jazz because it embodies our American values of democracy, meritocracy, equality and a willingness to work together for the common good. It is the first example of a
significant number of white Americans taking a cultural product from black Americans, and acknowledging its value. It was not Branch Rickey hiring Jackie Robinson to play for the
Dodgers in 1947 that was the first great blow to racial segregation in American popular culture. That landmark belongs to Benny Goodman hiring Teddy Wilson to play in his trio
My House Concert Story
JazzNights is a series of house concerts begun in 2002 by Maitland Jones and the late Mary Wisnovsky around Princeton, NJ. Their first artists were Bill Charlap and Sean Smith and
for nearly 100 concerts they have always presented artists of exceptionally great talent. Among the memorable concerts I have seen over the years are a duo gig by Rufus Reid and
Michael Moore, and one by Kirk Lightsey, Steve Nelson, and Ray Drummond. The audiences are always friendly, attentive and respectful The most memorable, however, was a
stunning all-Monk concert by Frank Kimbrough, Scott Robinson, Billy Drummond, and Rufus Reid. The artists had recently completed recording all of Monk's compositions, and
were preparing to present the work on a tour. They arrived early and mingled with their fans at the snack table and about the house. When they played it was magic. They knew we
were all completely focused on them, and they all played at their highest levels. What made it bittersweet was the fact that it was the last time I saw Frank.