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 5-21-2022
Time Start Duration Artist Title Album Label Year
7:00 3:15 Planet D Nonet Mush Mouth Tribute to Buddy Johnson Eastlawn 2022
7:04 2:36 Mose Allison I Live the Life I Love Mose Alive! Atlantic 1966
7:07 7:31 Steve Davis Off the Cuff Bluesthetic Smoke Sessions 2022
7:16 8:10 Grant Green Jean de Fleur Idle Moments Blue Note 1964
7:25 6:33 Mark Lipson Springwells Springwells DCC Records 2022
7:32 8:36 Thelonious Monk Bright Mississippi Monk’s Dream Columbia 1963
7:41 4:52 John Abercrombie Ralph’s Piano Waltz Timeless ECM 1975
7:48 8:16 Ralphe Armstrong Blue Mashed Potatoes Detroit Rising Ralphe Armstrong 2015
8:03 2:05 Henry Mancini Peter Gunn Music from Peter Gunn RCA 1959
8:05 3:53 Quincy Jones Ironside Smackwater Jack A&M 1971
8:09 2:10 Nelson Riddle Rt. 66 Rt. 66 Theme Capitol 1966
8:12 3:06 David Schwartz Theme From Northern Exposure Northern Exposure MCA 1992
8:15 3:33 “Nat “”King”” Cole” When I Grow Too Old to Dream The After Midnight Sessions Capitol 1956
8:19 5:49 Dee Dee Bridgewater Treme Theme Dee Dee’s Feathers Okeh 2015
8:23 6:55 Frank Morgan We Three Blues Mood Indigo Antilles 1989
8:30 4:15 Art Pepper Smack Up Smack Up Contemporary 1960
8:40 9:11 Keith Jarrett Trio Poinciana Whisper Not ECM 1999
8:50 7:10 Pat Metheny Trio So May It Secretly Begin Live Warner Bros 2000
8:53 2:36 Cecile McLaren Salvant Dead Poplar Ghost Song Nonesuch 2022
9:03 10:50 Paxton/Spangler Septet Water No Get Enemy Ugozi Eastlawn 2022
9:14 3:56 Bill Charlap Your Host Street of Dreams Blue Note 2021
9:18 2:15 Giacomo Gates Are You Having Any Fun You Savant 2022
9:20 6:52 Harry Edison The Strollers The Swinger Verve 1958
9:30 4:12 Charles Brown I Cried Last Night One More For the Road Alligator 1989
9:35 4:25 George Benson Clockwise It’s Uptown Columbia 1966
9:45 2:51 Mel Torme I Love To Watch the Moonlight Lulu’s Back In Town Bethlehem 1957
9:48 8:21 Steve Gadd & Friends Undecided Live at Voce BFM Lazz 2010
9:58 2:44 Pete Johnson Death Ray Boogie King of Boogie Milan 1941