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 10-23-2021
Time Start Artist Title Album Label
Bob Dorough I’ve Got Just About Everything Just About Everything Evidence
Count Basie Orchestra Segue In C Chairman of the Board Roulette
Joey DeFrancesco Free More Music Mack Avenue
James Carter Many Blessings Detroit Jazz City Blue Note
Jazzmeia Horn and Her Noble Force He Could Be Perfect Dear Love Empress Legacy
John Scofield I’m So Lonesome I could Cry Country For Old Men Impulse
Quincy Jones & Sammy Nestico How Sweet It Is Basie & Beyond Qwest
Hank Mobley This I Dig Of You Soul Station Blue Note
Dirty Dozen Brass Band with Dizzy Gillespie Oop Pop A Do Dirty Dozen Brass Band Collection Shout Factory
Miles Davis All Of You My Funny Valentine Columbia
PKO with Charles Boles Best Man Big Band Boogie Woogie AMRF
Anat Cohen & Marcello Goncalves Reconvexo O Que e que a baiana tem? Anzic
Wycliff Gordon Cheeky Originals Only nagel heyer
Lunar Octet Crusin’ Convergence Summit
Dr. Lonnie Smith Straight No Chaser Evolution Blue Note
Madeleine Peyroux Getting Some Fun Out Of Life Dreamland Atlantic
Ron Carter “Yes, Indeed” Where? OJC
Cannonball Adderley Everglade Cannonball EmArcy
Carl Allen & Rodney Whitaker Get Ready Get Ready Mack Avenue
Tribe Glue Fingers Rebirth Planet E
Charles Mingus Open Letter to Duke Mingus Ah Um Columbia
Betty Carter Open the Door The Audience With Betty Carter Verve
Pat Metheny & Side Eye Timeline Live In NY BMG
Kenny Garrett It’s Time To Come Home Sounds From the Ancestors Mack Avenue
Cyrille Aimee & Michael Valeanu Bye Bye Blackbird Cyrille Aimee & Michael Valeanu Daudel
Mike LeDonne Blues For Jed It’s All Your Fault Savant