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Looking for a new groove? Jazz host Michael Stratton brings his show to WKAR

Portrait: Michael Stratton
Jamie Paisley
/
WKAR-MSU
Michael Stratton

WKAR is welcoming Michael Stratton to our weekend lineup as the host of a new local jazz program.

Stratton was the long-time host of The Vinyl Side of Midnight on Lansing Community College's radio station. His new show airs Saturdays from 8 to 10 p.m.

WKAR’s Scott Pohl spoke with Stratton about the program. He says since it doesn’t run to midnight, he needed a new title.

Interview Highlights

On Stratton's approach to the show

Jazz is not just one kind of music, and recorded jazz is now over 100 years old. I want to sample from the entire dictionary of jazz, so we're going to dip way back into Louis Armstrong. ... And move it up until current days, you know, fans of hip hop that will see kind of a crossover between jazz and hip hop.

On the kind of curve balls Stratton likes to throw listeners

Most importantly, for me, very much a local flavor. We're really blessed to have world class musicians in this community. I hate to call it local even, because these guys are world class. They perform all over the world, and I definitely want to incorporate some of their music and some interviews from some of the local talent we have here.

Interview Transcript

Michael Stratton: Yeah, so I put my mind to it and I thought about clever titles I've heard of before, and I thought one of my favorite artists is John Coltrane, and one of my favorite pieces of music is A Love Supreme, and I just thought well, how about A Groove Supreme? That kind of implies not just the homage to Coltrane and that whole period of music, from the Impulse years and the Blue Note years, but also to other kinds of music that are parallel to jazz like rhythm and blues, and blues, and soul. I'm just a fan of all of it, and all of it will be incorporated a little bit in the new show.

Scott Pohl: Will that be the theme song of the show?

Stratton: That will be the theme song of the show, A Groove Supreme from A Love Supreme.

Pohl: Tell me about your approach to the show. Old music, new music, a mix?

Stratton: Jazz is not just one kind of music, and recorded jazz is now over 100 years old. I want to sample from the entire dictionary of jazz, so we're going to dip way back into Louis Armstrong. In fact, the first week, I'm going to be playing West End Blues, which is just a classic, but you hear that blues embedded in jazz right from the start, and move it up until current days, you know, fans of hip hop that will see kind of a crossover between jazz and hip hop. Jazz has always been influenced by other popular musics. That's always been the case, whether they are doing Irving Berlin tunes or show tunes, and currently being influenced by the Beatles or hip-hop songs. I want to encompass all of it, and I love to perk my listeners ears up every now and then by throwing them a curve ball. Just something that delights them, you know? So that'll be incorporated as well.

Pohl: I think those curve balls can make any show interesting. Do you have an example of what you mean by that?

Stratton: Well, I hate to give it away, but you know, for instance, I'll play some Robert Johnson in the first show. I've got a trio from Brooklyn, three guys that play cello, flute and bass, and they play kind of a hip hop beat, but they're playing jazz but it also has a kind of a classical flavor, and their name is Project Trio. So I'll be playing that kind of stuff along with a lot of classic cuts and a lot of contemporary stuff. And then, most importantly, for me, very much a local flavor. We're really blessed to have world class musicians in this community. I hate to call it local even, because these guys are world class. They perform all over the world, and I definitely want to incorporate some of their music and some interviews from some of the local talent we have here.

Pohl: You've intrigued me with word of a jazz version of Smells Like Teen Spirit you're going to use on the show at some point.

Stratton: Robert Glasper. He's a great artist. He started out, you know, kind of in the footsteps of maybe a Herbie Hancock, he was very straight ahead. Then, he realized that a lot of his roots were in hip hop, and so he came out with an electric band and formed a band called the Black Radio Experiment, The Robert Glasper Experiment, and the albums he's put out under that name are really classics of the genre. And so, listeners who aren't familiar with that, I think, will be delighted.

A Groove Supreme airs Saturdays from 8 to 10 p.m. on 90.5 WKAR-FM.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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