WVAS Jazz Jam

News Date
Jazz Jam WVAS April 2023.jpg
Photo credit: David Campbell/ASU.
Jazz Concert and Jam Session Hosted by WVAS FM 
By Kenneth Mullinax/ASU
Jazz musicians from across the River Region were throwing down in a live, in-person format, for two solid hours from noon - 2 p.m. on April 25, in the amphitheater of the J. Garrick Hardy Student Center as the University's WVAS FM 90.7 radio station hosted a Jazz Jam concert. 
Station Manager Candy Capel explained that WVAS, known as the "Voice of Alabama State University," sponsored the event both in recognition of April being designated nationally as Jazz Appreciation Month and to bring this quintessential American form of music closer to the attention of ASU's students.
"We thought it was important to conduct this concert because of the month being designated to showcase jazz and especially because the major format of our radio station is so jazz-centered," Capel said. "We held the in-person free concert and broadcast it live so WVAS's listeners within our multi-county area, who couldn't be with us in the amphitheater, might still enjoy the music."
Several city and statewide "powerhouses" of Jazz performed during the outdoor concert, including Fred Wesley (formerly with megastar James Brown), Ike Bell, Sam Williams, Tommy Stewart and approximately a dozen others who played both traditional and improvisational jazz. 
"Best of all, all of the musicians played for free at our Jazz Jam concert because they support our station and all it does to promote jazz music all year long," stated Capel.


WVAS's program director, Milton Shirdan, organizer of the concert, explained the lunchtime musical extravaganza featured a musical genre that was birthed in the United States. 

"Jazz is as American as music can be; as American as apple pie. Putting together the acts for our concert was an easy task because our radio station has the respect of the family of jazz musicians in the area," Shirdan stated. “We’re so pleased that ASU’s own Ike Bell, of the acclaimed Mighty Marching Hornets Band; Fred Wesley, of James Brown fame and so many others were able to join us. Fred Wesley traveled all the way from Birmingham to take part. I believe all will say that the entire event was a huge success." 


ASU's Eva Martin, a senior graduating in May with a major in Music Education, came and played her trumpet at the event. She explained that while many students associate with other forms of music, many others also appreciate jazz. 

"I am here today because I love jazz; I feel it in my soul and knowing this event was taking place in the Student Center made me just have to be present," Martin said. "If jazz is being played, I have just got to come wherever it is happening and blow my horn. This was a great experience for me.”


For almost 40 years, WVAS has been the “Sound of Excellence” serving all or part of 17 counties in south central Alabama from the beautiful campus of  Alabama State University. And, now through its NPR-based website and streaming service, WVAS is heard daily around the globe at www.wvasfm.org. 

News media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.