“Sunday Morning and All That Jazz” with Dave Kish is a Vineyard institution on MVY Radio since the program’s inception some 26 years ago. Although Kish studied piano and guitar, played the drums, and sang in his youth, he explains, “I never stayed with anything long enough to really master it. I always felt that my voice was best used behind the microphone.” A jazz fan since childhood, Kish became active doing radio programs in college; wrote jazz reviews for this paper; and hosted a weekly jazz session at the Wintertide coffeehouse, which helped connect him to a lot of local jazz musicians on the Vineyard. Eventually he began working at MVY.
Kish describes the show as encompassing jazz history, music, culture, and people, spanning several decades and generations. While he specializes in historic recordings, Kish also features a lot of up-and-coming talent and recent material.
In terms of curating the show, he says, “I will look at a particular time and place, say the West Coast California scene of the late 1950s, the New York hard bop scene in and around Manhattan during the mid- to the late ’50s, or the early years of bebop.” Sometimes he will feature a particular record label, like Savoy Records in New Jersey, or Dial Records, where Charlie Parker made some of his most famous recordings. In other instances, Kish will look at some of the key artists in places like London or New York. But he adds, “It can be very spontaneous. If someone important dies or a major event happens in the jazz world — say a New York historic jazz club closes — that might take priority.”
For Kish, the program is about connection — both in how the pieces tie to one another as well as how his listeners will connect to the music. “I try to feature music that I think people will relate to or enjoy. I will try to find the one track that they will respond to most,” he says. His work as a freelance DJ for Island weddings and parties also helps inform him about what music people will connect to, and how they react to certain songs in an up-close and personal setting.
Generally, Kish shares, “I start with a current song that I think is noteworthy and people will like. Then I will follow up with older music. That can be something from the 1990s or the 1940s that I think will fit in well — keep with the mood. You don’t want some really mellow, calm piano pieces and then go into something that’s almost a hip-hop beat. You want to keep the music fluid, so it’s not jolting to the listener.” During the first two hours, from 6 to 8 am, he tends to play quieter music, and then usually takes it a little bit up-tempo for the last two hours. “But the connection is about listening intently to the music and trying to put things together that either have a similar theme or similar chord structure or melody,” he explains.
Part of Kish’s work is keeping on top of the current jazz scene, reading the trades, and interacting with people on social media to see who is out there, whether promoters or record label people and musicians themselves. “I’m also on a lot of mailing lists, and will get notifications about who has won the Thelonious Monk vocal award, for instance; or the best new artist in a Downbeat reader’s poll. It could be someone who is connected to Jazz at Lincoln Center. These are musicians and groups you would want to pay attention to.”
Kish shares as well, “Since the beginning, I’ve always been someone who doesn’t forget about the veteran musicians who are not as much in the spotlight, but are still out there in places like Hartford, Denver, or New Orleans, making great music. They might still be active as mentors or educators, but maybe don’t get all the photo ops and publicity that the younger, flashier people might have.”
For Kish, the challenge with a show with such longevity is keeping it fresh: “It’s about always looking and playing music that’s outside your comfort zone. It’s very easy to stay within your realm of familiarity.” Interestingly, his inspiration often comes from overseas. “If I feel like I’m getting a little too mainstream, then I look to other parts of the world: Europe, Japan, South America, the Balkans, or Eastern Europe, because there’s great new music happening in all these different places all the time.” Kish says about another contributor to keeping it fresh, “The fact that my radio background was actually in reggae and R&B still influences my taste today, and is often worked into my Sunday morning playlists. In fact, it’s what I feature when I am out doing mobile DJ wedding-type party work.”
Ultimately, Kish hopes that listeners find “Sunday Morning and All That Jazz” educational and fun; serious, but lighthearted at the same time. He ends, “I want it to take them, even briefly, on a voyage to where they haven’t been before or to simply brighten their day a little bit — make the weekend a little bit more enjoyable.”
I am so grateful for Dave Kish and his Sunday morning jazz show, which we listen to every Sunday as we prepare breakfast, laze around, read and learn a lot about jazz. Dave seems like a great guy. I consider him an island celebrity and always feel like I have seen one when I see him around the island.
Love Dave Kish, but still missing W. F. Lucas.
Love Dave Kish, but still missing W. F. Lucas…
I have loved this show for a long time, thank you Dave!
I listen to Dave Kish religiously every Sunday afternoon here in Paris, France. I don’t think there is a more involved jazz music presenter than Dave. Anywhere!
I know David is a great guy, and I love jazz, but I’ve never heard his program because it’s too early for me.
Are they being recorded? Is there a way I can listen to them at a time of my choice?
I love you Dave!
How late do you sleep? It runs from 6am to either 11 or noon Sunday mornings.
it runs 6-10 on sundays. We listen from about 8:15 to 10.
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