Interview, story and photographs by J Hunter
It was a true gathering of the tribes at the Van Dyck Restaurant & Lounge in Schenectady on Saturday, June 23: A Place for Jazz and the Swingtime Jazz Society, musicians and media people, and a big cross-section of the multi-faceted fan base that supports the jazz community of Greater Nippertown – all there to see WCDB’s Bill McCann receive a 2012 Jazz Hero Award from the Jazz Journalists Association.
Emcee/drum monster Joe Barna was rightly effusive as he ran down McCann’s contributions to the state of jazz in this area: 27 years worth of Saturday mornings, giving us all four hours of the best jazz around; a major member of the brain trust at A Place for Jazz, which means some of the music we see every fall at the Whisperdome has his fingerprints on it; supporting local jazzers’ own recording efforts – not only by playing their discs, but also by bringing them on his show to talk about their music; and giving other members of the community a say in the music he plays by bringing them on his show as well. (Full disclosure: Bill’s let me play on his show three times, and each time has been one of the highlights of my year!)
It was a great afternoon: The ceremony was bookended by old friends & new friends noshing on chicken wings and pizza and talking about the music they love, and it was followed by the Luca Ciarla Quartet playing a concert in the Van Dyck’s upstairs performance space hosted by Swingtime Jazz Society. But while I was able to shake Bill’s hand and congratulate him for the award, the onslaught of well-wishers made it impossible for me to spend more than a couple of minutes with him… which is why I’m sounding a few minutes with him right now!