Featured Show: Max (Late Night Jazz)

For this week’s featured show interview, we spoke to Max: the eloquent, enigmatic, ethereal host of Late Night Jazz. Max also happens to be the head curator for our upcoming Ampersand concert in May and a co-host of Late Night Space Jazz with Crood Boi and Lorinda.

You can hear Late Night Jazz / Late Night Space Jazz on Thursday nights at 11pm!

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* How did you get involved in WMBR?

MAX: I followed a flier to a WMBR info session during IAP 2011 and became a member. But I actually didn’t become very involved till a few years later. The station has done a lot lately to support new members and help members new and old alike make more friends at the station and find more ways to contribute to this creative, welcoming community. We have social events like listening parties and excellent new member orientation and training programs, and it’s great to see so many new members quickly feel at home at WMBR.

* What’s the process for putting together a Late Night Jazz playlist?

M: It really depends on how I’m feeling. For instance, it was very hard for me to come up with a playlist for my last show, just a few days after the new moon and with Saturn stationing to retrograde. Normally on such nights I feel fatigued and play something really smooth and circular — like “Maiden Voyage” — but given the Venus/Jupiter opposition on April 17, I had to play the collision of dualities present on Nicole Mitchell’s *Mandorla Awakening II*.

I think it’s very important to follow a routine. When you see the routines of great artists, you think, “I could be just like James Cameron up until breakfast.” Though he does yoga and that is hard. My show may be the last show of the day, but I actually start preparing at 4 am. I go to the gym and laugh at the people unable to open the locked door. “It’s too early,” I say. “They’re closed!” I then reenact the grape-stomping scene in the Rock Hudson movie *Seconds* but with raw eggs instead of grapes to prepare a nice egg drink, like Rocky Balboa does, but I drink Soylent instead.

But unlike Rocky, I believe every moment is precious, so I multitask. On the bus ride to the station, I practice my long jump in the aisle and when passengers complain, I ask them to name jazz tracks Tony Scott would approve of. I compile the tracks into a playlist. Finally, before my show, I formally verify the playlist using sound techniques. I will never air a playlist without a mathematical proof that it swings.

* You’ve also gotten involved in WMBR’s live music team and curated our upcoming Ampersand concert. What was it like to shape the direction of the event?

M: I got involved in Ampersand because, as a fan of experimental film and the interplay of sounds and images, I felt the series was doing something exciting, unique, and often quite nourishing — something I wanted to support. The series reposes great power in its curators and I was at first reluctant to join their ranks — I don’t naturally trust my taste enough to bend a large-ish event with a sizable budget toward it. But the Ampersand staff is so supportive, hard-working, and full of great ideas that my confidence grew. If I can put on a show with their support, anyone can. I’d encourage more station members to join Ampersand. We’ll show you that the power you’ve always wanted — to challenge musicians to add visuals to their sets and ask them to perform them for your community — was inside yourself all along, and you’ll add another voice to our team and help sustain the series.

* What’s your favourite WMBR memory?

M: Though few experiences are likely to prove as durable in memory as the engineering mistake, my interactions with listeners are cherished in memory if not revisited nightly as fodder for stress dreams. From one listener, I learned what it was like to see Billy Harper in Ann Arbor in the 70s (it sounds as cool as it is to see him now!). From another, I learned that his father had engineered a famous recording session (I saw his name on the album I had just played!). One longtime caller decided to tell this jazz DJ and his listeners that — and many record labels don’t want you to know this — it is not matters of transport on which truckers lay their greatest claim.

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