Saturdays | 7 – 10 pm
John Penney was born and raised in Ithaca, New York, and began hosting and programming weekly jazz and folk music programs on student owned commercial radio station WVBR-FM at the age of 15.
In 1967 WVBR became one of the first FM radio stations in the country to program “progressive rock.” John was instrumental in the creation of the format and became one of WVBR’s most popular on-air personalities, frequently featuring live studio performances on his show. He served as Music Director beginning in 1970, and continued to program jazz, folk, and rock programs through 1971.
In 1978, at the age of 25, John became the National Promotion Director of Amherst Records in Buffalo, New York, where he was instrumental in establishing the career of the platinum selling band Spyro Gyra. He also became the most popular jazz host on public radio WBFO, as measured by Arbitron and listener donations.
In 1984 John moved to Detroit as the Michigan Regional Representative for Action, and in 1989 was hired by Warner Elektra Atlantic as a sales rep. During his 15 year career with WEA John gained a national reputation as a creative and innovative marketer, among other things designing and executing the company’s first regional catalog promotion with Wal-Mart, which was used to leverage the first national event.
John joined the air staff of public radio WDET-FM in Detroit in 1986 as host of a music variety program. John pioneered the concept of presenting “all the varieties of music” in such a way as to demonstrate the continuity between diverse musical forms by making the connection between current and historic recordings. His program became one of the most popular on the air.
John is a popular and sought after MC for live events, and for years was a fixture on stage at the Detroit Jazz Festival in Hart Plaza. He helped to create an innovative format for radio broadcasts of the festival, and served as national co-anchor for five years. John began his association with the AMRF in 2004 when Ron Harwood asked him to MC the 6th Annual Motor City Boogie Woogie and Blues Festival. He became consultant/Director in September of 2005. John is also collaborating with Ron on a book about the life and times of classic blues singer Sippie Wallace and her siblings.
Bobby Watson, “Condition Blue,” Keepin’ It Real
Antonio Adolfo, “Fe Cega Faca Amolada,” Brumo: Celebrating Milton Nascimento
Charlie Rouse, “One For Five,” Bossa Nova Bacchanal
Annie Ross & Zoot Sims,”Lucky So and So,” A Gasser
Various, “The Waltz You Swang For Me,” One More: The Music of Thad Jones
Christian McBride Big Band, “Optimism,” Bringin’ It
Lewis Nash Quintet, “From Here To A Star,” The Highest Mountain
Regina Carter, “You Are My Sunshine,” Swing States: Harmony In the Battleground
Vince Guiraldi, “Samba de Orpheus,” Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus
Gary Smulyan, “Sonny,” Smul’s Paradise
Shorty Rogers, “Martians Go Home,” The Swinging Mr. Rogers
Andy Bey, “Caravan,” American Song
Lee Morgan, “The Sidewinder,” The Sidewinder
Branford Marsalis, “Blackwidow Blues,” Buckshot LeFonque
Robert Hurst, “Detroit Day,” Black Current Jam
Ike Quebec, “Aquitted,” Heavy Soul
Mingus Big Band, “Free Cell Block F,” Live At the Blue Note (Tokyo)
Betty Carter, “30 Years,” The Music Never Stops
Larry Nozero Quintet, “Zaius,” Plays the Music of Eddie Russ
Charles Earland, “5 Blind Mice,” Cookin’ With the Mighty Burner
Cecile McLorin Salvant, “Stepsister’s Lament,” For One to Love
Nicholas Payton, “Back To the Source,” Payton’s Place
Kenny Barron Dave Holland Jonathan Blake, “Without Deception,” Without Deception
Eddie Charles, “Air Male Special,” Salute to Hamp