Ben Young / Jazz Host
Ben Young shows
You may recognize Ben as a host on-air and also the leader of WICN’s Jazz 101 and Jazz 201 courses. Through 30 years of Jazz involvement, he has been a radio and record producer, researcher, writer, archivist, engineer, and lecturer on the history of Jazz and improvised music. But whatever form it assumes, the mission is always the same: helping folks to hear clearly the important works of the masters, and to understand what they’re hearing.
After several decades in New York (and a couple in the mid-South) Ben is working to spark up new connections around Worcester among listeners to hot music.
5 Questions with Ben Young
What brought you to hosting a show on WICN? Why do you love being on the air?
Well, I came to the area in 2017 and of course listened closely to WICN. Having a Jazz-oriented radio station of any sort these days is a minor miracle, and WICN is a major one! (I had done some years of radio in New York up until 2014.)
So, coming to Worcester, I introduced myself to then-Executive Director Amanda Carr to teach the Jazz 101 course, and soon enough we decided there might be a way for me to be on the air.
What is your favorite WICN memory?
Poignant as it was, I got to hear some of the last Saturday Matinee shows that Joe Slezak hosted back in 2017. You could tell he was a believer, and that side of his humanity came through as bold as the music.
FILL IN THE BLANK: The best concert I ever saw was ______________?
Hmmmm… You can tell I’m not much on superlatives, myself, but… I was honored to be part of the Sam Rivers Trio reunion concert in NYC in 2007 that’s now on CD. There’s a good starting point. A great group to start with, making a welcome reunion; still pushing the envelope, presented by adoring promoters, a packed house, and it was the talk of the town… on a great spring day, no less.
Many listeners don’t know that the majority of our hosts are volunteers that do this out of a personal passion. What do you/did you do professionally off the air?
Strange to say, almost all of my professional work is actually in the jazz field. I teach, host listening sessions, produce and annotate records, and, am writing a biography of a jazz musician, pianist Cecil Taylor. I also recently took the post as Director of the Jazz History Database at WPI.
Who are your favorite artists and/or albums of all time?
Oh, man; here we go with the favorites again…
Shortlists are better, right? Let’s say Louis Armstrong and Albert Ayler.