Friday, August 24, 2012

Introducing Friday Night Jazz With Reuben Jackson

We’d like to you meet Reuben Jackson, who will host Friday Night Jazz with Reuben Jackson from 8-11 p.m. beginning Friday, August 31.

Reuben takes you on a new adventure every week, exploring the great American invention called jazz. You’ll explore the back roads and alleys of the genre, the musicians and standards you love, and experience that essential element of surprise. Reuben also shares his in-depth knowledge of the stories behind the music.

Reuben Jackson is a poet, music critic and educator with jazz in his soul and radio in his blood. He hosted his first jazz radio program as a student at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. Now, after 50 years in Washington, D.C., Reuben has returned to Vermont to teach and share his passion for music.

Reuben was curator of the Duke Ellington Collection at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. for more than 20 years. His music reviews have been published in The Washington Post, Washington City Paper, All About Jazz, Jazz Times, Jazziz, and on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. Reuben is also a poet, a mentor with The Young Writers Project and educator. He now teaches English at Burlington High School in Burlington, Vermont.

“I am drawn to jazz's emotional and structural possibilities."
- Reuben Jackson

His decision to leave Washington and return to Vermont to teach is chronicled in a series of interviews on The Story with Dick Gordon.

Reuben says that he loves music – period, and because of that, he doesn’t always distinguish between genres. However, “I am drawn to jazz's emotional and structural possibilities. It allows the player room for his or her musical personality to profoundly shape the musical direction and output. I look forward to sharing what poet/musician Patti Smith dubbed the 'sea of possibilities' within this rich genre.”

What can listeners expect on Friday nights?

“I seek to achieve chronological, stylistic and emotional balance. I'm a romantic with a real thing for ballads, so I have to constantly remind myself that I'm not in my living room (although I hope listeners feel that degree of comfort), and that not everyone wants to hear ninety versions of 'Time On My Hands.' I also think that we as jazz programmers have to include more female performers - and not just vocalists.”

“I think that a well-arranged show is not unlike a well-written piece of music. You want it to be interesting to the audience, and you want the audience to feel like they’re part of the experience. I also feel that variety is important. I'm reminded of something the great saxophonist Lester Young told a journalist: 'You've got to be original, man.'"

We hope you’ll join Reuben, a true original himself, on Friday nights beginning August 31!


  1. Sounds good! Looking forward to Friday nights!

  2. How exciting! Reuben's evening with George Thomas was a great one. I am glad that VPR is seeking out a local jazz host for at least 1 night a week! Good luck, Reuben, and I can't wait to hear your show

  3. Tyrone Shaw, Bakersfield, VTSeptember 1, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    I loved Reuben's show, which had an elegantly eclectic mix of textures, tempos, and eras. Commentary was informative and entertaining. Thank you, Reuben! Thank you, VPR.

  4. Enjoying his show right now. Thank you!

    Danielle Graham, Essex

  5. Just heard Reuben Jackson's show last night for the first time and LOVED it! What a treat! While I'm a lifelong music lover, jazz is still something of another country to me, where I'm still a novice traveller. But I love discovery and I love finding more music to love. Rueben is a great tour-guide, and I'm looking forward to my next trip! Thanks!

  6. sept 14 great show thanks vpr and reuban. heres a shout out to brandon music cafe every thursday night . great jazz , nice room , and good deserts , all for low price of 12 bucks.
    see acts at

  7. I am loving your show tonight.
    Thoughtful and you are clearly a knowledgeable master of the genre. What a lovely way to start the weekend. Thank you.

  8. I look forward to hearing Reuben Jackson's show. My husband and I are dismayed that we've lost the other nights of jazz. Missing George terribly right now, and not happy that more talk has replaced him. We need jazz hot and cool to soothe our days' ends!

    1. I echo this sentiment--LOVE REUBEN! And WHERE'S GEORGE THOMAS?? After hard days of tough news-- I can't take any more talk! Where is nightly JAZZ??

      Virginia Fry, S. Woodbury, VT

  9. Sounds great! I definitely don't get to hear enough marimba, on the radio or otherwise, but this program was a step in the right direction!

  10. Interesting show tonight as usual but I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the "Friday Night Jazz" theme. There's certainly some jazz here but maybe more rock, blues, etc.. There's plenty of traditional jazz and a lot of new alt. "jazz" out there so maybe just clarify what you want the show to be and change the name or really tighten it up and play jazz.
    Still going to listen though because the music is great.


  11. Reuben Jackson has a sublime radio voice - soothing and engaging as he deftly explains the excellent music he picks out each Friday. We huddle around the radio (actually, the computer) and drift into another space on the vigorous musical excursions he provides. Tonight, I found it the perfect backdrop as I worked on some art (cartoons, actually): the sounds from the old Apple speakers never imposed, always informed and lifted our spirits to yet another, jazzier place. Thank you, Sir.


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