A DJ looks back and reflects on a life in jazz.
Tom Reney’s Discs for a Desert Island
The jazz DJ Tom Reney has been telling people for 40 years about the true American art form. This hour he’s telling people about himself for a change: the inner life of a taste-maker, in the fool-proof form of the BBC’s longest-running radio innovation, Desert Island Discs. The premise is simple enough: that the music you can’t live without is a sort of truth serum: talk about eight tracks of songs or symphonies you’d take to your desert island if you weren’t coming back, and you’ll have told us who you are. Tom Reney, it turns out, is an evangelist on the theme that the vast variety of black music, blues music, out of jazz joints and church is the bright spiritual, awe-inspired thread through his own American life.
Tom Reney was supposed to inherit the family civil engineering business, until he found his life in the basement joints of Worcester, Massachusetts, and in blues music at large. The sounds that unlock Tom Reney had hometown names like Boots Mussuli and Jacki Byard, then Muddy Waters and Aretha Franklin. When Duke Ellington, the great orchestrator of the blues, stepped in, playing at a hospital fundraiser near Worcester, there was no going back.
Here’s the full list of Tom Reney’s eight essential discs:
- Duke Ellington: Jeep’s Blues
2) Louis Armstrong: Stardust
3) Muddy Waters: Long Distance Call
4) Aretha Franklin: Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)
5) J.S. Bach: Italian Concerto (the link below is just to the third movement)
6) Charles Mingus: Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting
7) Dennis Brennan: Feel Like Going Home
8) John Coltrane: Impressions
Host of Jazz à la Mode on NEPR.
Jelly Roll Morton