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Gary W. Kennedy

(Clark, Jr. )

(b Buffalo, Dec 18, 1920; d Alexandria, VA, May 17, 1996). American disc jockey. He began his broadcasting career as a freshman in college, then won an amateur announcing contest in Washington, DC (1939), and worked in that area until 1942, when he was drafted. While stationed in the Washington area he worked part-time at WWDC until his discharge in February 1946 and full-time thereafter. He broadcast his first show, “Music USA,” for Voice of America (VOA) in January 1955, a program he continued until his death. Conover worked as an independent contractor, not as a government employee, and his contract stipulated that the music on his program be of his own choosing. “Music USA” presented mainly jazz and reached into the Eastern-bloc nations, where it had a profound and at times revolutionary musical impact; VOA estimates that at the height of the Cold War his audiences comprised over 100 million listeners. An irony behind his position as a VOA announcer, and unquestionably the world’s most famous jazz disc jockey, is that VOA broadcasts are not allowed to be heard in the USA; one wonders what impact he would have had on American audiences. He first visited Warsaw in ...

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Gary W. Kennedy

[Van Noorden, Philip Van Loon Guybo Schaap ]

(b New York, April 8, 1951). American disc jockey and record producer. His father, Walter Schaap, a scholar and a translator of French jazz texts, collaborated in 1937 with Hugues Panassié and Charles Delaunay in creating a bilingual jazz periodical, Le jazz hot. In 1970 Phil Schaap became an announcer for Columbia University’s radio station WKCR; later he also worked at the radio stations WBGO and WNYC and had a syndicated program, “Jazz Session.” This radio work is characterized by his encyclopedic and anecdotal knowledge of the material he plays; he is especially known for his daily WKCR program “Bird Flight,” on which he discusses and plays recordings by Charlie Parker. Schaap organized jazz performances at the West End Café in 1980. He has taught at the New School for Social Research and at Princeton University, and he has written liner notes for new and reissued recordings.

As a record producer Schaap has been involved in tape vault research, the restoration of archived materials, and the production and packaging of material to be reissued. In this capacity he strives for the best possible sound and incorporates such ancillary material as alternate and incomplete takes, or assorted studio chatter, within the chronological presentation of originally released material. Though this exhaustive approach generally reflects contemporaneous trends in jazz issues, and has been much praised, it has also engendered some criticism, particularly following Schaap’s reorganization of Duke Ellington’s classic Columbia LP ...

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Thomas Owens

(b Jersey City, NJ, c1925; d Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Aug 25, 2016). Recording engineer. In the late 1940s he created a recording studio in the living room of his parents’ home in Hackensack, New Jersey, and began recording as a hobby. An optometrist by profession, he became the principal recording engineer for Blue Note in 1953, and the following year he began working for Prestige (to 1969) and Savoy as well. After abandoning optometry, in July 1959 he moved into a newly built home and studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. He also made numerous recordings for Cadet, CTI, Elektra Musician, Enja, GRP, Impulse!, Kudu, Milestone, Muse (ii), Reservoir, Riverside, and Verve.

Van Gelder’s skill at getting a proper mix of instruments directly onto the master tape (long before multiple-channel recording existed) was exemplary, and his clean, crisp, well-balanced drum-kit sounds were especially noteworthy. Perhaps his most distinctive aural signature was the tight, boxy sound of his small Steinway grand piano. Although his output slowed from the frenetic pace he set during the 1950s and 1960s, he continued to work, and in the late 1980s he changed to digital technology....