Looking for a new groove? Jazz host Michael Stratton brings his show to WKAR

WKAR welcomes Michael Stratton to its weekend lineup as the host of a new local jazz program.

Stratton was the longtime host of The midnight vinyl side on Lansing Community College radio station. His new show is broadcast on Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Scott Pohl of WKAR spoke with Stratton about the program. He says he doesn’t run until midnight, he needed a new title.

Interview highlights

On Stratton’s approach to the show

Jazz is not just a genre of music, and recorded jazz is now over 100 years old. I want to sample from the whole jazz dictionary, so we’re going to dive back into Louis Armstrong. … and move it to the present day, you know, hip hop fans who will see some kind of a cross between jazz and hip hop.

On the kind of curved balls Stratton likes to throw at listeners

Most importantly, for me, a very local flavor. We are really lucky to have world class musicians in this community. I hate to even call it local, because these guys are world class. They perform all over the world and I really want to incorporate some of their music and interviews of some of the local talent that we have here.

Interview transcript

Michael Stratton: Yeah, so I thought about it and thought of some clever tracks that I had heard before, and thought that one of my favorite artists was John Coltrane, and one of my tracks from favorite music is Supreme love, and i just thought alright, how about A Supreme Groove? This involves not only the homage to Coltrane and all that musical period, the Impulse and Blue Note years, but also to other types of music parallel to jazz such as rhythm and blues, blues and soul. I’m just a fan of it all, and it will all be incorporated into the new show a bit.

Scott Pohl: Will this be the show’s theme song?

Stratton: This will be the theme song of the show, A Supreme Groove from Supreme Love.

Pohl: Tell me about your approach to the show. Old music, new music, a mix?

Stratton: Jazz is not just a genre of music, and recorded jazz is now over 100 years old. I want to sample from the whole jazz dictionary, so we’re going to dive back into Louis Armstrong. In fact, the first week I will play West End Blues, which is just a classic, but you hear that the blues is entrenched in jazz from the start, and move it to the present day, you know, hip hop fans who will see a kind of cross between the jazz and hip hop. Jazz has always been influenced by other popular music. This has always been the case, whether they play Irving Berlin tunes or show tunes, and whether they are currently influenced by the Beatles or hip-hop songs. I want to encompass everything, and I like to straighten my listeners’ ears every now and then by throwing a curve ball at them. Just something that thrills them, you know? So that will also be integrated.

Pohl: I think these curved balls can make any show interesting. Do you have an example of what you mean by this?

Stratton: Well, I hate to give it away, but you know, for example, I’ll be playing Robert Johnson in the first show. I have a trio from Brooklyn, three guys who play cello and flute and bass, and they play kind of a hip hop rhythm, but they play jazz but it also has a kind of classic flavor, and their name is Project Trio. So I’m going to play that kind of stuff with a lot of classic songs and a lot of contemporary stuff. And then, most importantly, for me, a very local flavor. We are really lucky to have world class musicians in this community. I even hate to call it local, because these guys are world class. They perform all over the world and I really want to incorporate some of their music and interviews of some of the local talent that we have here.

Pohl: You intrigued me with the word from a jazz version of Smells like Teen Spirit you will be using on the show at some point.

Stratton: Robert Glasper. He’s a great artist. He started off, you know, kinda in the footsteps of a Herbie Hancock maybe, he was very straight ahead. Then he realized that a lot of his roots were in hip hop, and so he went out with an electric band and formed a band called Black Radio Experiment, The Robert Glasper Experiment, and the albums he has. released under this name are really classics of the genre. And so, listeners who don’t know this, I think, will be delighted.

A Groove Supreme airs Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on 90.5 WKAR-FM.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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