Listening Tip: Abene With Kirchner

Kirchner.jpgSaxophonist, composer, arranger, band leader and educator Bill Kirchner is also a broadcaster. For several years, the Jazz From The Archives series has been airing on Sunday nights on WBGO-FM in Newark, New Jersey, just across the river from New York City. It is also heard on the worldwide web. Kirchner is one of several jazz experts who host the program in rotation. His next installment will feature a fellow musical polymath. Here’s Kirchner’s announcement.

Pianist/composer/arranger/producer Michael Abene (b. 1942–pronounced uh-BEN-ee) is one of jazz’s “quiet as it’s kept” heroes–hugely respected by musicians, but virtually unknown by the general public. First heard as a teenaged prodigy with the Newport Youth Band in the late 1950s, he has had a varied and highly productive career for a half-century. (He’s currently musical director of the WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany.)

Abene.jpgWe’ll hear Abene’s arrangements for the Maynard Ferguson, Mel Lewis, and GRP All-Star big bands, the Burt Collins/Joe Shepley Galaxy, and singers Patti Austin and Anita Gravine. Plus some samples of Abene’s solo piano.

The show will air this Sunday, June 22, from 11 p.m. to midnight, Eastern Daylight Time at 88.3 FM. NOTE: If you live outside the New York City metropolitan area, WBGO also broadcasts on the Internet

To hear Kirchner and his guest make music together, try this CD. He and Abene play duets on Ellington’s and Strayhorn’s “Rock Skippin’ at the Blue Note” and “The Star Crossed Lovers,” and Jule Styne’s “Bye Bye Baby.” Kirchner also duets with pianists Marc Copland and Harold Danko.

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  1. John Birchard says

    I first encountered Mike Abene when he was the pianist with Maynard Ferguson’s big band back in the early 60s. I expect you’re familiar with his charts for MF – they still generate serious excitement. Same for the arrangements he did for the GRP band and anybody else fortunate enough to secure his talent. Glad to see Michael C.J. Abene recognized for his many contributions. And glad to hear he’s gainfully employed by the top-notch WDR band.
    John Birchard