Tom Reney

Jazz à la Mode Host

Tom has been producing Jazz à la Mode since 1984.  He began working in jazz radio in 1977 at WCUW, a community-licensed radio station in Worcester, Massachusetts. Before his career in radio began, Tom had many formative experiences hearing and meeting some of the icons of jazz and blues, all of which ignited his passion for sharing the music with others. Tom earned a BA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he majored in English and American Studies.

In addition to his hosting duties at New England Public Radio, Tom writes NEPR's jazz blog and produces our JazzBeat podcast, and lectures occasionally on music and cultural topics at UMass, Amherst, Smith, Hampshire, and Mt. Holyoke Colleges. He and his wife Margaret live in Holyoke.

As befitting the legacy of Duke Ellington, who led his renowned orchestra for nearly 50 years and criss-crossed the globe as an unofficial musical ambassador, there are Duke Ellington Society chapters in Toronto, Stockholm, London, and Paris, in addition to New York, Los Angeles, and Ellington’s birthplace, Washington, D.C. I’ve been a member and have attended several of TDES’s gatherings at St.

Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Roy Haynes, Open Door, New York City, 1953
copyright Robert Parent / The New York Times

A few weeks ago (March 8, 2019), the New York Times ran a piece entitled, “Is This the Greatest Photo in Jazz History?” I was immediately struck by the silly conceit of declaring anything the greatest (except, that is, for the ice cream made from dairy cows at a local farm that I’ve assiduously avoided since February 5, 2017), but of course I read on. Robert Parent’s photo depicts Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, and Roy Haynes, playing at the Open Door in Greenwich Village on September 13, 1953.

Muddy Waters
Don Brownstein / Chess Records

Today is Muddy Waters's 106th birthday anniversary. Born McKinley Morganfield on April 4, 1913, Muddy was raised on the Stovall Plantation near Clarksdale, Mississippi, before moving to Chicago in 1943.

(r-l) Lennie Tristano and Charlie Parker with Hot Lips Page, Lester Young, and Max Kaminsky, at Birdland, 1949
copyright Herman Leonard Photography, LLC / Herman Leonard Photography, LLC

Among Charlie Parker's many admirers, Lennie Tristano was especially respectful of Bird's character and astute in his assessments of the saxophonist's music.  The blind pianist recognized Parker as the single most important innovator of modern jazz, and rejected the commonly held view that bebop was formulated in a workshop-like atmosphere at Minton’s and Monroe’s and other after-hours venues.

Nat King Cole Centennial

Mar 18, 2019

Nat King Cole was born on March 17, 1919. For his centennial, I'm posting a couple of recordings by the great singer-pianist, and a rare photo of Nat with Dick LaPalm. LaPalm was an advance man and factotum for Nat between 1950 and '65, and then a tireless advocate for his legacy and a friend and counsel to the Cole family until his death in 2013. Nat and Dick are seen in the photo walking along Michigan Avenue in LaPalm's hometown of Chicago. He's a giveaway in profile, but even from behind, there can be no doubt that this is Mr. Cole.

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