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.