US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. helped celebrate International Jazz Day in the Philippines by sharing his personal jazz favorites and notes on the music in special segments that aired from May 8 to May 21 on what he described as “the smoothest place on your radio,” 105.1 Crossover.
People who listened to the segments marveled at the avid jazz fan’s broad understanding and deep appreciation of the genre. Quoting jazz legend Herbie Hancock at the first International Jazz Day on April 30, Thomas reiterated that jazz is about “the freedom of the human spirit…about humanity…about courage…about compassion because it speaks of what’s happening in the world at the moment the music comes out.”
The 10 titles on Thomas’ list are “Take The A-Train” by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, “Satin Doll” popularized by Duke Ellington and Billy “Sweet Pea” Strayhorn, “Lush Life” by Billy Strayhorn, “Body And Soul” by Sarah Vaughn, “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be” by Mercer, “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck, “Weather Bird” by Louis Armstrong, “Black Codes (From The Underground)” by Wynton Marsalis, “Salt Peanuts” by Dizzy Gillespie, and “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Benny Goodman.
Thomas’ sessions were engaging, entertaining, and enlightening to say the least. Talking about each musical piece as he would of a favorite child, the ambassador delivered a delightful mixed bag of history and “his” story; about the genesis of jazz not only abroad but in the Philippines too, about rare and particular styles used in jazz music, about the correlation between the genre and the human condition at certain points in time, about the key players in jazz music history and their motivations, inclinations and situations, and even about feeling nostalgic for New York whenever a certain jazz gem fills the air and his heart.
About jazz personally becoming “the music of our lives.”
During the final segment, the US ambassador, on behalf of the US Embassy Manila earnestly thanked 105.1 Crossover “for always playing great music and spreading jazz cheers to all jazz lovers out there.”
Indeed, as Thomas himself pointed out: “If it’s jazz, you’re at the right spot.”