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.
Jazzfest Detroit 10/24/2020
Time Start Duration Artist Title Album Label
19:00 2:17 Billie Holiday When You’re Smiling A Musical Contribution By America’s Best V-Disc
19:03 3:06 Dizzy Gillespie Birk’s Works The Champ Savoy
19:07 2:44 Dizzy Gillespie Blue & Boogie Career 1937-1992 Shout Factory
19:10 4:07 Poncho Sanchez and Terence Blanchard Dizzy’s Dashiki Chano Y Dizzy Concord
19:15 6:37 Delfayo Marsalis & The Uptown Jazz Orch. Blackbird Special Jazz Party Troubador Jass
19:22 4:41 Walter White Canpaloupe Island BBXL Walter White
19:27 6:35 Troy Andrews/Trombone Shorty Slippi’n and Trippin Trombone Shorty’s Swingin’ Gate Louisiana Red Hot
19:35 6:14 Coleman Hawkins Strange Music Good Old Broadway Prestige
19:41 7:22 Artemis Frieda Artemis Blue Note
19:48 4:57 Dianne Reeves w/ Sean Jones I Want You Beautiful Life Concord
19:53 7:39 Lewis Porter Chasing Lines Beauty & Mystery Altrisuani
20:03 9:29 Eddie Harris & Wendell Harrison Eddie Who? The Battle of the Tenors Enja
20:13 3:54 Joey DeFrancesco Swing Wide Open In the Key of the Universe Mack Ave
20:18 6:32 Black Art Jazz Collective Tulsa Ascension High Note
20:25 7:19 Eddie Henderson Cook’s Bay Shuffle and Deal Smoke Sessions
20:34 8:53 Tina Brooks The Blues and I Back to the Tracks Blue Note
20:44 6:42 Dr. Lonnie Smith Straight No Chaser Evolution Blue Note
20:52 7:20 Regina Carter Shoo-Rye Southern Comfort Masterworks
21:00 4:57 Charles Lloyd Quartet Love In Love In Atlantic
21:05 7:25 Keith Jarrett Trio Butch ‘N’ Butch Up For It ECM
21:13 6:46 Dizzy Gillespie Quintet Manteca An Elecrtifying Evening With… Verve
21:20:00 6:10 Clare Fischer Voices Bacha …and Sometimes Instruments Clavo
21:29 5:08 Horace Silver & Room 608 And the Jazz Messengers Blue Note
21:35 5:15 Billy Strayhorn Big Shoe Duke Ellington Johnny Hodges Side By Side Verve
21:40 5:08 Hank Jones Honeysuckle Rose Ain’t Misbehavin’ Galaxy
20:48 7:20 Herbie Hancock One Finger Snap Emyrean Isles Blue Note
20:56 3:04 Duke Ellington “East St,. Louis Toodle-OO” Ken Burns Jazz Columbia