Monday, October 20, 2014


Ken’s Tribute: Leigh Kamman was the most comfortable radio host to ever grace the airwaves.  Though Leigh was obviously the smartest guy in the jazz room, he never talked down to listeners -- he included them.  Kamman described his method:
“The technique is to take people on a journey, to use imagery and pace with the music to suggest a time and place so they can picture it, or remember it.” 
Below is an abridged article about Kamman courtesy of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 

Leigh Kamman, hosting The Jazz Image on MPR in 2002
Photo credit: David Brewster, Star Tribune
  By Erin Golden

Star Tribune
 October 19, 2014
On some of the weekend nights before he’d begin broadcasting The Jazz Image, Minnesota Public Radio broadcaster Leigh Kamman would pull out a worn-out box and hand his radio board operator an old reel-to-reel tape.
Sometimes it was when a jazz legend had died, and Kamman wanted to make part of the show a tribute to the artist. And almost always, Kamman would do more than just spin a few songs — he could play recordings of his own interviews with some of the biggest names in music. He’d talked to Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday and Stan Kenton. He had a tape of a lengthy interview with Duke Ellington, recorded as the two rode around in the back of Ellington’s limousine.
Kamman, who died Friday [October 17, 2014 in Edina at age 92, never made music of his own. But in a six-decade career that began with a teenage Kamman snagging an interview with Ellington in St. Paul and ended with a 34-year run on MPR, the broadcaster became a jazz icon in his own right.
Kamman got his first radio hosting gig while he was still in high school, a late-night jazz show he called Studio Party Wham. He joined the Army during World War II hosting jazz programs on Armed Forces Radio.
In the 1950s, Kamman left Minnesota for New York. He married a singer,
Patty McGovern, had two daughters and continued to snag interviews with jazz greats. He returned to the Twin Cities and launched The Jazz Image on Minnesota Public Radio in 1973.

On that program, broadcast in the overnight hours on weekends, Kamman wouldn’t just play songs and interviews. He’d always work hard to set the scene, letting listeners imagine themselves in a far different place.

The entire article is at 

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