Interview WIth Peter Solomon

RVASOUNDFUTURE

 

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00:00:03 - Early Musical Experiences

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Partial Transcript: Nicholas Phocas: First question is, how were first introduced to music in your
child hood and

how old were you?

Peter Solomon: My father was a big public radio fan, so I heard a lot of
classical music when I

was a kid. As far as playing it myself, we were on vacation and we were in
Lynchburg, Virginia

and my dad found a trombone for a dollar at a junk shop. And I wanted to play
tuba, they had

kind of come to our class and invited people to try out for band and stuff, but
since my dad found

a trombone for a dollar, I learned the trombone, so that started me on my way.

Nicholas Phocas: At what time in your life did music become a big part of your life.

Peter Solomon: I became pretty serious after I started playing an instrument so
I was twelve and

ya know my parents in investing what your interested in art or whatever, just
like if someone

where in an athletic endeavor they would take it seriously. So I practiced
pretty intensively and I

also was fascinated with the history of the music so like before I was in to
music I was in to

photography and I used to collect cameras and so I would read up on Jazz and
learn as much as I

could about it. And I would spend hours at the library looking up obscure
musicians and stuff

like that.

Keywords: Childhood and youth; Instrumentation and orchestration (Band); Jazz; Lynchburg (Va.)--Maps; Music and history; Music--Classical influences; Music:; Musicians; Photography; Public radio; Trombone; Tuba

GPS: Lynchburg, Virginia
Map Coordinates: 37.4138° N, 79.1422° W
00:01:44 - Musical Experience in High School and College

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Partial Transcript: Nick: So, in high school did you participate in band?

Peter: Yeah, I did band starting in middle school, like seventh grade.

{2:00} Nick: With your one dollar trombone, or did you upgrade?

Peter: Well we upgraded, that instrument was kind of the subject of a lot of
teasing. Like people

would take it and throw it in the trash can and guys would start drumming on it
and it was a

really bad instrument. So, they bought me a new horn, but yeah I played band
through high

school and college.

Nick: Where did you attend college?

Peter: I started out at Michigan state for a couple of years and then I
transferred to a jazz school,

Northern Texas which has a huge jazz program.

Nick: What did you study? Im guessing since you went to a jazz school it was
something related

to music.

Peter: Yeah so i started off in classical trombone performance and then I
realized I was never

listening to classical music and there was this disconnect and I was always
listening to jazz and I

wanted to try my hand at that. {3:00} And then ultimately, I dropped out of music and I
ended up in

radio. That was while I was in college too, but everything I learned in music
school has helped

me out on what I do on here.

Keywords: Band; Classical Music; College; High school student activities; Instrument; Instrumentation and orchestration (Band); Jazz; Michigan State University. Band; Music; Performance; Trombone; University of North Texas at Dallas

GPS: University of Northern Texas
Map Coordinates: 33.2075° N, 97.1526° W
00:03:05 - Times Of Adversity and Relation To Music

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Partial Transcript: Nick: Where theyre any times of adversity in your life that music was able to
help you through

or guide you through.

Peter: Nothing really comes to mind, It was just something that I, i've always
been really

obsessive in the way I listen to music and learn about music. So I would read, I
really enjoy

researching, so I would like, I started a jazz history program in college on the
radio, it was called

"Lives of Jazz." So I would pick a person and read as many books as possible on
that person, so

I was more abput learning the history than I was about playing the music. I was
kind of a slacker

{4:00} when it came to practicing I mean ya know at some point I started spinning my
wheels and I

didn't really want to practice. I didn't have the disipline to become a
professional musician. So I

really feel in lve with the history piece. I know thats not really answering
your question, but I

cant really think oflike some time of adversity where music came in the picture
but I mean I

listen t music according to what mood im in like anybody else does.

Keywords: Essential jazz editions. Set #1, New Orleans jazz, 1918-1927; Essential jazz editions. Set #3, Music of the 1930s; Jazz musicians; Jazz--History and criticism; Mood; Oral History, American Music; Overcoming adversity; Recent researches in American music; Research; Variety shows (Radio programs)

GPS: KNTU college radio station where Peter worked in college.
Map Coordinates: 33°17′24″N 97°08′10″W
00:04:22 - Experience in Jazz Radio

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Partial Transcript: Nick: And what do you feel like, how do you feel when your on the radio, when
your doing a

show, does it make you really happy?

Peter: I enjoy it a lot yeah, I wouldnt be doing it otherwise. I came to radio,
because of my

interest in jazz and after i started in radio i fell in love with the medium of radio itself so in

addittion to what I do on the air like doing the jazz show, I also like doing audio-documentaries,

{5:00} like NPR style feature reporting, that peice of my job is a lot of fun. But like
when im on the air,

yeah I love it, I dont know how to speak eloquently about it its justa lot of fun.

Nick: do you get a lot of call-ins?

Peter: I really don't, I mean rom time to time people will call or email me,
occasionaly after the

fact someone will say something about something they heard, wether positive or
negative. It's

interesting to meet to meet the people whjo listen t your program. The radio is
kind of a funny

thing because its a very intimate thing and so its one on one, its not the same
as talking to a

group, so to answer your question, I think I miss it when i'm not on the air.

Nick: So when you come to a show do you have all your music, have you already
planned what

your gonna play?

{6:00} Peter: I used to, I used to plan everything out and I used to plan everything I
said, like I used to

script all that stuff too. I mean i've been doing it for 25 years now, more than
that. So i've kinda

like refined what I say on the air so that it's said very suscinctly, and as far
as the usic I pick, I try

to review the new releases before I put them on air, but the older stuff, I have
a working

knowedge of our library, so I know what that stuff sounds like. So I have a list
of selections

generally, like maybe an hour's worth, and it will be like usually new releases
and then I will just

kind of weave those into like the broader program of classic jazz and I tend to
focus more on the

older stuff.

Nick: And theres so much i'm guessing you do not see a ton of repeats? {7:00} Or will
you play a really

popular song more often?

Peter: There are not really any really popular songs in jazz. So the way it
works is we get

serviced by promoters that will send product of jazz musicians and their trying
to get their

releases to chart, I mean the information that they get from this I dont really
understand why its

important, because its not like there are a lot of brick and mortar stores but
it still seems to be

important and they want to have their music exposed to a wider audience, so to
that extent it is

worth ther while to send us product. And there is a glut of new jazz and new
music period and

very few places for that music to go.

Nick: So they ind of use you guys as an outlet to get it heard.

Peter: Yeah but im really selective and I think most people that have a show
have certain {8:00} rules

like I'm not going to play a so called Smooth Jazz, i'm not going to play stuff
that's not generally

acoustic and somewhat traditional sounding it's a conservative show.

Nick: so you're listening to the music before it?

Peter: well I don't have time to listen to the entire selection so I generally
skim but I can get a

good sense of what the music is going to sound like generally based on the
personnel because

you see the same players over and over again. so what I get a Vincent Herring
record, who's in

Alto player, I know pretty much straight ahead I can look at the Rhythm Section
and all these

guys I can stick in the CD player and listen for like a minute and be like yeah
that's what I

thought it was and use that I think.

Keywords: . Classic jazz; Acoustic properties; Compact disc players; Conservative; Cool jazz; Documentary radio programs; Herring, Vincent; Jazz; Jazz radio programs; Mood (Psychology); Music libraries; Music--Charts, diagrams, etc; National Public Radio (U.S.); New Age music; Popular music; Promoters; Radio; Radio call-in shows; Radio field reports; Radio receiver (Musical medium of performance); Rhythm Section; Traditional Jazz Band

GPS: Location of WVCE radio station where Peter is currently employed.
Map Coordinates: 37°34′0.0″N 77°28′36.0″W
00:08:43 - Return to Music in College

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Partial Transcript: Nick: So you say you dropped out of music and came back to it what's that story?

{9:00} Peter: Well I was kind of spinning my wheels so like I went to the University of
North Texas

and they have this Jazz program and they have certain proficiency requirements
that you have to

get through and I was kind of hitting a wall. and I mean honestly the
professor's you're probably

right to make me repeat the course because there were some things I did well in
some things I

still need did to work on if I were going to be a proffesional musician. I just
I realized that I

wasn't into it enough to to make that my vocation. like I had a hard time
memorizing Tunes and

I had a certain degree of proficiency on the musical instrument but I was
hitting a wall. and I

was spinning my wheels when I was practicing and so I walked away from it I
almost lost my

scholarship, I almost dropped out of school, I called my dad and fortunately he
was very

understanding about it. I graduated through a loophole because they had this
{10:00} degree they

called applied Arts and Sciences through community service. I still can't tell
you what that was

all about. so instead of it being a liberal arts degree it was kind of a liberal
arts degree but I had

to take a certain amount of anthropology and sociology classes. and the
distinction that allowed

me graduate was instead of music being my major it was my concentration so I
didn't have to

pass proficciency barriers. but I had been in school long enough to where they
said go ahead and

walk. so I'll never forget this I went and saw the advisor and I've never had an advisor

before because it was just kind of a factory but I went and saw my advisor and
he was like you

can actually graduate you know. and I was like wow so my mom actually came, she
was like I

got to see this because it had been six and a half years. Ya know and then at my
raduation I sat

in the wrong section. I sat in the business section and everyone else around me
stood up, but I

got my degree, but it didn't really matter it wasn't important {11:00} what my degree
was in because I

needed experience and I needed a degree. And I got a job that week I graduated,
not just in radio

but in jazz radio. I started working at the college radio station in North Texas
this became really

important to me actually when I started there in 92' from 90 to 92 hours at
Michigan State and

from 92 to 94 I was at the Jazz program of North Texas and as soon as I started
there I heard

about KNTU which was like the student run jazz station. And I went to a teacher
I trusted, my

music theory teacher, he was really a reslly good theory teacher, and I asked
him, they wanted to

put me on, because I had had a little bit of radio experience, they wanted to
put me on three

nights a week three hours each shift. And it seemed like a big cost, {12:00} like what
return was I gonna

get for all this time I was investing and my theory teacher said you need to do
this, and he had

some insight I guess that I did not have at the time, because he must have seen
that this might

have been a future for me. So that ended up being a god send, because I started
working as the

music director and the operations director, so I was basically running the radio
station by my

Senior year of college. I got a job the week I graduated because of my general manager's

contacts in public radio, and they were looking for someone to come to a public
radio station in

this small town in Kansas, and to build a jazz program and learn radio
operations. I went there

and it was like a boot camp, they taught me feature reporting, so they laid the
groundwork for

evrything I do here, and I couldnt have gotten a job here without the experience
I got there, and I

couldnt have gotten a job there without what I got in college with that radio
station. But I dont

remember the question, {13:00} oh I guess my point was the degree wasn't that important,
I just needed a

degree, but all that experience really helped out.

Keywords: Bachelor of arts degree; College majors; College radio stations; College seniors; Dropout behavior, Prediction of; Education, Humanistic; Faculty advisors; Family; Graduation (School); Jazz radio programs; Kansas; Music theory; Professions; Radio music directors; Reporting; Scholarships; Science and the arts; Tests of Achievement and Proficiency; University of North Texas; University of North Texas. College of Music

GPS: Kansas, where Peter got his first job in radio.
Map Coordinates: 39.0119° N, 98.4842° W
00:13:09 - Transition From College to a Profession in Radio

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Partial Transcript: Nick: So how long were you at the Kansas station for? DId you start to not like
it or?

Peter: Two years. No it was nothing like that, when I started there my boss said
to me we expect

you to stay 2 years then move on to anothr market. I think she could sympathize
for the fact that

I was 25 and stuck in a small town in Kansas. Theres just not a lot going on, so
I would drive to

Kansas City, yeah it was a really good radio station at the time, but there was
just nothing to

do. It's fine if you have a family and all of this, so yeah I didnt have a lot
in common with the

people in the town, which I mean it was a good for job, but when I came to
Richmond, I've been

{14:00} here since 99', I fell in love with the area and the history of the area and the
music here is

amazing. I have contacts at U of R and VCU and I can see a lot of concerts
through my job and

talk to interesting people and so that has been really cool also.

Keywords: Kansas; Kansas City (Mo.)--Maps; Music/culture; Radio stations; Richmond (Va.)--Maps; Richmond College (Richmond, Va.); Virginia Commonwealth University. Graduate School

00:14:22 - A Life Devoted to Music

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Partial Transcript: Nick: Why is music something you decided to devote your life to?

Peter: I didn't really decide, I just followed a passion. I never decided i'm
gonna go into jazz

radio because nobody does that. For some reason when I was a kid I just became
fascinated with

jazz music and that consumed me and that interest led to these opportunities. So
there wasn't a

decision...

Nick: It was not a pure like it was more of a gradual {15:00} o ver time your love for
the music just put

you into the situation.

Peter: Yeah following my interest in music, I mean when I was in college I dont
suppose there

was anything else that had really taken hold of my imagination. I really enjoyed
music, so that

was the course I pursued. I did not exactly finish music, but I didn'nt exactly
leave it either.

Keywords: Emotions; Interest; Jazz; Jazz radio programs; Life; Love; Music; Opportunity

00:15:27 - Interaction With Music in The Richmond Community

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Partial Transcript: Nick: So outside of the radio station do you spend a lot of time doing
activities or participating in

the local music scene.

Peter: I used to, I used to have a little jazz group I played with. Honestly the
musicians I played

with were better than I was and more serious, and after a while I think they
needed to stop

spinning their wheels playing with me. Which was fine, I mean I totally get it.
I have actaully

started playing my trombone again after years and i've been taking lessons
{16:00} recently. I think of

music as like, like the discipline of music and studying it is kind of
therapuetic. It's so easy to

get freaked out by everything going on in the world right now, whatever it is, politics,

environment, that it's just nice to focus on playing an instrument and trying to
pursue some self

expression through music. So i've actually been practicing a lot since three
months ago.

Keywords: Community music; Discipline; Environment (Art); Expression; Jazz ensemble with band; Music lessons; Politics, Practical; Practice; Trombone

00:16:42 - Family Life and Its Relation to Music

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Partial Transcript: Nick: I read an interview someone had done on you and it talked about how your
dad was a print

maker. Did he along with your mother, you said he had an interest in classical
music, did that

{17:00} affect your interest, did their interest in music kind of push you into it.

Peter: My dad supported my interest in jazz even if he didn't exactly share my
interest in

jazz. And he was the same way if we expressed an interest in visual art, which I
did, before I

was into music I was into photography. So they set me up with a dark room and
they would buy

me cameras, I was precocious as far as my interest in cameras, I could look at a
camera and tell

you when it was made. I curated a camera exhibit at a museum when I was
fourteen, so they had

this camera collection at this college, so I got these weird opportunittiees,
because my dad was a

teacher at this small college. Yeah so I when I showed an interest in jazz,
there was a guy in

Savanah named Larry Morrisey who figured very prominently in my education like
he had been

collecting records since the 1950's and so he was in his late {18:00} fifties when I met
him. He had this

show on this radio station, the publich radio station in Savanah, Georgia, my
dad had helped

found this public radio station. So Larry Morrisey was on there every weekend
and I used to call

him up and ask him to play whatever obscure musician or band I was reading
about, because he

had them in his collection, he had thousands of records. So after a while he
invited me to be on

his show and so my first experiences on the radio were actaully talking to him
on his show about

music that I had been looking up and stuff.

Nick: How old were you?

Peter: I was sixteen, so my dad used to drive me, he would pick me up from the
drug store where

I worked, I would get off at like nine o'clock and he would drive me to Savanah
which was 60

miles away, and my dad was a morning person so having done that I mean that was
not a very

easy thiing for him to do. That was super supportive, so that was one case, and
I could tell you

{19:00} another action that showed how supportive he was. My band director in high
school, I didn't get

along with at all. I don't know if you were in band at all but we had this thing
called all state. So

I made All State Jazz, and I don't think anyone from our school had ever done
that and he was

one of those guys that played a lot of games. He wasn't a very good band
director and he took it

out on students, and so I was the object of one of those times, he told me he
was gonna pull me

out of All State. My dad and mom went and told him that if he didn't back track
they were gonna

get a lawyer and he called me and apologized. Just the fact that my dad stood up
for me and did

that was great. I think because {20:00} he was greatful to his mother for supporting him
in his drawing

and printmaking endevours, that he wanted to be as supportive as she was.
Because his parents

came from a generation, they didn't really understand his art. We didn't have
that kind of

disconnect like even though he didn't have the same interests or enthusiasm for
jazz, he

identified my enthusiasm for it.

Nick: When you were growing up was there a lot of jazz and classical music going
on in the

house?

Peter: Yeah, we had classical music, and my mom was from New York and she grew
up on

broadway, so there were a lot of broadway recordings. The King and I, all the
sixties musicals,

West Side Story, Sound of Music, Rogers and Hammerstein, Rogers and Hart, and
things like

that. {21:00} If my mom would put on Rock and Roll my dad would freak out. My dad was
also into

eastern european folk dancing so we had some eastern european dance music and
then also some

yiddish humor music Mickie Cats and some of that stuff was kind of weird but
yeah a lot of

classical music and some Jewish music.

Nick: So when you told them you were into jazz were they like "Oh Jazz?"

Peter: No, they were supportive, we didn't have a lot of it in the house, but my
parents were both

eccentric, and my mom reads constantly so she would be spending all of her time
in the library

ayways. So they didn't care if went to the library and just lost myself
listening to jazz, they

never made us go out for sports or anything like that.

Keywords: Art; Band directors; Broadway (Musical group); Cameras; Family; Fathers; Folk dancing, East European; Jazz; Library; Mothers; Music--Classical influences; Musicals; Photography; Printmakers; Public service radio programs; Records; Rock music; Savannah (Ga.)--Maps; School music; Sound of music (Motion picture); West Side story (Choreographic work : Darby); Yiddish wit and humor

00:22:01 - Consideration of a Profession Outside of Music

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Partial Transcript: {22:00} Nick: Have you ever considered another profession or is your love for music to
strong to go

away from it.

Peter: I have, because I don't know what the future of terrestrial radio is. I
enjoy the live aspect

of doing a show, it's a lot more fun to do it live than to pre record it. To
that extent I think radio

distinguishes itself from podcasts, like listening on demand is not the same
thing as hearing

something live over the air like theres an excitement thats there. But having
said that, I don't

know what the place for music on the radio in the future it. I have given
somethought of

teaching what i call Audio documentaries, just teling stories with sound, like
on a university

level, but I probably need to get some further education, {23:00} I only have a bachelors.

Keywords: Bachelor of arts degree; Documentary radio programs--Production and direction; Future interests; On-demand publications; Professions; Radio; Radio programs

00:23:25 - Becoming a Radio Host and DJ

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Partial Transcript: Nick: Kind of a general question I had at the end was why did you decide to
become a DJ and a

radio show host?

Peter: Well my dad had a student who was the girlfriend of the guy who ran this
college station

at Georgia Southern. That's how a lot of my opportuities emerged, because my dad
was involved

at the college. I got to do that camera exhibit at the age of 14, and I got a
radio show because I

knew about jazz and I could {24:00} articulate well what I knew into a microphone. So
they gave me a

shot, I had a show on Tuesday nights at WVGS when I was like 18, the coolest
thing I did in

high school was have this radio show so.

Keywords: College radio stations; Georgia Southern University; Microphone; Museum exhibits; Radio programs; Radio talk show hosts

00:24:24 - Preferences in Jazz Music

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Partial Transcript: Nick: Whos your go to artist, your favorite jazz artist?

Peter: Okay I don't have a single favorite jazz artist, but the one I play most
frequently on the

radio would probably be Art Blakey and the jazz messengers because that really
typifies the

sound that I play the most of which is like late 50's early 60's small group
beep bop. The jazz

messengers really envoke from like 1956 {25:00} till 1990 really, but especially in the
1960's they were

really hard hitting and creative and played amazing music. So theres a whole
like group of

people, Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Stan Gets, and Miles Davis, and Canibal
Aderly and all of

these people I play a lot of and when you tune you tune you're likely to hear
all of them on a

given night.

Nick: So is that a certain style? Or a certain time period?

Peter: It's both, I mean theres a certain time period from the mid 50's to the
mid 60's and usually

the style you will hear most of is small group bop, they call it hard bop
sometimes, but having

said that, what distinguishes my jazz program from other jazz programs is I try
and represent a

broader picture of the music. So, I always play something from the 1920's and
30's, because I

think of it as a continium and not as just this one piece of history and I play
less newer stuff.

Keywords: Artist; Blakey, Art, 1919-1990. Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers; Bop (Music); Getz, Stan, 1927-1991; Jazz; Silver, Horace, 1928-2014; Style

00:26:00 - Differences Between Jazz and Other Types of Music

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Partial Transcript: {26:00} Nick: So how, when listening to jazz and listening to another style of music,
what differentiates

the two.

Peter: It's really hard to define jazz I mean there are so many different styles
of it, but there's

certain things that most various styles of jazz have in common. One is
improvisation, to a

varying degree it's connected to dance. When jazz first came on the scene in
1917 when the first

jazz recordings where made it was very much music for dancers. And through the
1920's it was

the popular music and then in the mid 40's after World War II jazz ceased being
popular music

and beebop which is modern jazz, became very popular among jazz musicians, but
it wasn't as

{27:00} easy to loisten to frankly. There's a lot more desinence, there's a greater
degree of skill

demanded from the players and the tempos are faster, the music is just more
demanding and so

the audience becomes more of a niche audience and that's the case today. Sorry I don't

remember you're question.

Nick: It was, say you listen to rock and roll versus jazz what are the big differences?

Peter: I mean rock and roll the musical elements are simpler and that's not to
talk down about it

but just there simpler chords and there's less of them and it's more about the
lyric. Whereas with

jazz its about the improviser and so you have a lot more emphasis on instrumental

improvisation. But then you also have vocal improvisation and you have vocalists
that don't

really improvise except the fact that they change the phrasing of the music.
{28:00} Theres a continium

in all of these things, some people stay very close to the melody as it's
written and some people

really play around with it a lot. Jazz is about communicating through
improvisation and I know

that's vague, but there's just so many different styles that fit under the
umbrella it's like hard to

find a commonality in all of these things. There's also the idea of swang and
the idea of a blues

vocabulary thats common to most of it to.

Nick: So, a lot more comlpex you would say?

Peter: Yeah tends to be. It's not a simple answer sorry

Keywords: Blues (Music); Bop (Music); Chords (Music); Improvisation (Music); Instrumental music; Jazz; Melody; Modern jazz series; Music audiences; Popular music; Rock music; Songs--Texts; Styles; Tempo (Music); World War, 1939-1945