Monday, November 15, 2010

Register Guard Article, Eugene, OR

The Register-Guard: On the Web
Jazz radio legend deserves our fond remembrance
By Susan Mannheimer
Appeared in print: Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010
Back in the day, when we still used cassette tapes and owned something to play them on, I’d rush home from my proofreading job to record my favorite radio programs, hosted by Ed Beach, aka Sam Seashore.
“Just Jazz” and “Jazz in Drive Time” profiled individual musicians (from the early 1900s through the early 1970s), covering the span of their careers as leaders and as sidemen.
True to the spirit of the music he loved, Ed used his voice as an instrument. In deep, mellifluous tones he improvised - phrasing his delivery to complement the music, stretching his notes to tease his audience.
From his extensive record collection, Ed gave us music from Chu Berry and Bobby Hackett to Herbie Hancock, Sarah Vaughan and Ornette Coleman.
He offered spontaneous (and occasionally obscure) background information, and he never just listed personnel. “With wonderfully varied and responsive support from that rhythm team …” is how he’d credit bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Ed Blackwell on an Ornette Coleman date.
He was passionate and receptive; even the most bitter, disenfranchised musician who felt he’d been shafted by everyone in the music business had respect, even affection, for Ed Beach.
“Just Jazz” and “Jazz in Drive Time” were broadcast on WRVR (106.7 FM), in the Riverside Church on the upper west side of Manhattan.
It was a vibrant public radio station, which eventually went the way of similar beloved venues.
It was sold, went country for a while and then died. Everyone wondered what had become of Ed Beach. There were rumors that he was broadcasting somewhere out in the Midwest, or that he had gone back to Canada.
One evening in 1999, while I was volunteering as a substitute jazz host on KLCC, I learned from local radio host, musician and author Carl Woideck that Ed Beach was right here in Eugene.
The Ed Beach? My heart jumped. I was elated, and caught off guard. What if my hero, my inspiration, had heard me on the radio?
The prospect thrilled and unnerved me.
Carl arranged a meeting for us at a cafe. I brought along a few precious tapes of “Just Jazz” as proof that I was a disciple.
Subsequently, my partner, Tim, and I had the honor of escorting Ed to the “Now Hear This” series at The Shedd, and to some Oregon Festival of American Music productions at the Hult Center.
After an evening performance featuring the superb guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, we went next door to the bar in the Hilton lobby. When I noticed Pizzarelli seated nearby, I slipped over to his table to let him know that Ed Beach was with me.
“Here?” Pizzarelli had shouted in wonder. “You mean he’s here, in this room, now?” The guitarist practically flew out of his chair to embrace Beach. Later Ed told me that Pizzarelli had never been on his show — somehow the timing hadn’t worked out — but it didn’t matter.
Ed Beach had lived in his home, as he had in mine.
Born in 1923 in Winnipeg, Ontario, Ed spent his childhood in Portland and graduated from Lincoln High School. After attending Lewis and Clark College, he went east for graduate studies in theater at Cornell University.
Before joining radio station WNYC in 1957, Beach worked as an actor in off-Broadway and touring productions. He began broadcasting on WRVR in 1961, and retired to the Portland area in 1977.
In the late 1990s he moved to Eugene to be near his family.
Today, the Edward Beach Collection of jazz photographs (and related musical iconography) is housed in the Library of Congress, along with the original master recordings of “Just Jazz.”
Closer to home, thanks to the late drummer and historian Jack Hasbrouck, the music department of Clackamas Community College has the cassettes that were created from those masters, cataloged chronologically from the first show in 1965 through 1972.
According to CCC Music Director Tom Wakeling, the transfer of the programs from cassette to digital has begun, but “the process will take years.”
In the meantime, anyone who is interested in hearing the recordings is welcome to visit the music library.
Ed Beach passed away on Dec. 25. He was a brilliant and generous friend and neighbor, who embodied everything that is glorious about jazz.
Susan Mannheimer recently retired from Eugene International High School. She has hosted jazz shows for KLCC, Jefferson Public Radio and WBAI in New York City.
Here are a couple of links to the Library of Congress and "The Ed Beach Collection"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jazz Lives: What Ed Beach Gave Us


I’ve just learned that Ed Beach is dead.  He was 86 and had lived in Oregon (his home state) for a long time.  No service is planned, so people who recall him, love him, and love what he did will have to perform their own affectionate memorials in their heads.

Link to Jazz Lives Article