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.
Hank Jones, “Alpha,” Bluebird
Kenny Burrell, “Midnight Blue,” Midnight Blue
Larry Willisn, “Heavy Blue,” I Fall In Love Too Easily
One For All, “Optimism,” Optimism
Branford Marsalis Quartet w/ Kurt Elling, “As Long As You’re Living,” Upward Spiral
Wayne Escoffery, “Humble Warrior,” Humble Warrior
Teri Lyne Covington, “Fleurette Africain,” Money Jungle: Provocation In Blue
Dave Liebman/Loe Lovano, “Locomotion,” Compassion: The Music of John Coltrane
Pancho Sanchez, “Trane’s Delight,” Trane’s Delight
Milt Jackson, “Lover,” The Jazz Skyline
Oscar Pettiford, Kamman’s A’ Comin,” Another One
Kevin Mahogany, “Walkin’,” Kevin Mahogany
Dee Dee Bridgewater, “Big Chief,” Dee Dee’s Feathers
Jim Rotundi, “Pure Imagination,” Dark Blue
Dave Stryker, “What’s Going On,” Blue Soul
Helen Sung, “Hope Springs Eternally,” Going Express
Chucho Valdez, “Chucho’s Steps,” Chucho’s Steps
Cyrille Aimee, “Sometimes I Love You,” Surreal Band
Hank Jones, “Honeysuckle Rose,” Ain’t Misbehavin’
Theo Crocker, “Roy Allen,” Afro Physicist
Ray Charles, “Genius After Hours,” Genius After Hours
Blue Mitchell Sextet, “Minor Vamp,” Blue Soul
Woody Shaw, “Ginseng People,” Bemsha Swing
Steve Gadd, “Africa,” Gadditude
Rick Margitza, “4 Sleepers,” Heart of Hearts