Gloria Krolak is host of Good Vibes at jazzon2.org and columnist for the New Jersey Jazz Society's monthly journal Jersey Jazz.
It seems as if I’ve always been on the periphery of music. In the ‘70s I worked on a special project for the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and in the ‘80s I was a publicist for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra based in Newark, NJ. I tried to raise my children with music, so much so that as small children they didn’t argue in the back seat about who touched who but about what classical composer’s symphony was playing on the radio. Both are grown now, one is a research scientist and the younger, Nicholas, is a bass player living in Philadelphia. My growing up was spent absorbing the music of old movies and Broadway sound tracks, knowledge which helped enormously in recognizing the jazz standards that originated in the theater and cinema.
I worked as a proofreader for court reporters for many years - I could exercise my perfectionism without hurting any feelings - until the opportunity came along to host a radio program. Nicholas had introduced me to jazz when he was studying music. Through him I heard my first vibraphone and marimba.
The occasion was a recital he shared with percussion student Rachel McCausland. I was entranced. Soon after I heard Cal Tjader on jazz radio playing “Soul Sauce” and was hooked for sure. Intense reading biographies and listening to jazz helped me “catch up” enough to host my show "Good Vibes," the first and only broadcast program to feature the vibraphone. The show just celebrated its fourth anniversary. At the same time, an online friendship with the international editor of the New Jersey Jazz Society led to my column "On The Road" where I travel about New Jersey mostly and report on gigs and venues for their monthly journal, Jersey Jazz.
My Jazz Story
Published on: 2016-04-12
When I first started listening to jazz I had to overcome the expectancy of repetition I had become so accustomed to in most rock and pop. Jazz is the opposite of that repetitiveness. It is
always new, fresh and individual. It is happening in the moment and what you are hearing at a live gig is the musicians' creativity, all heart and soul and vulnerability.
Something surprising that I found helped a lot was being familiar with the standards I had heard and absorbed when I was growing up. The music in old movies and sound tracks of
Broadway shows is the origin of many of our standards. Knowing them helps when you hear them being interpreted and improvised upon. From The Wizard of Oz. you probably already know
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow," for example.
My House Concert Story
When jazz club doors close, sometimes other doors open. There’s a literal cottage industry cropping up, as people are opening their homes to fellow jazz lovers, charging a fee to pay
musicians to perform and serving refreshments in a cozy atmosphere. If there is such a group in your area, get on their mailing list – they’re usually private and space is limited. Or, host
One of my favorite vocalists, Paul Jōst, emailed me about a gig of his on a Sunday afternoon not far from where I live. The cost was a reasonable $50 each, which included the music,
appetizers, wine and the comfort of someone’s living room. Granted, it was a fairly big space, accommodating about 25 people and the quartet (with piano) comfortably.
Paul is an amazing vocalist who also plays harmonica and drums. He swings through tunes with an innovative scat language all his own and enhances tunes with percussive tricks drawn
from up his sleeves. He announces that the next tune he’ll sing is one of his favorites and adds laughingly, “They all are.” You know that is true by the way he lets each tune sink in before
attempting another, as if he is collecting his emotions from where they’ve spilled and arranging them back in as orderly a fashion as possible so they are available for the next. That’s as
true of the traditional American folk song “Shenandoah” as it is of Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me.”
Jost has also written a great deal of music, including “Livin in the Wrong Time,” part of the afternoon’s repertoire. As he sings, his right hand often forms a loose fist, which he taps
rhythmically on his chest, as if his beating heart cannot be contained within his body. “Wrong Time” will be included on his new CD, Simple Life, due out in March 2019, along with
standards like “Caravan” and contemporary tunes like “Girl from the North Country” and features special guest Joe Locke on vibraphone. Check him out at: www.pauljostmusic.com