Jazz great Avery Sharpe joins New England Public Media to host ‘Jazz à la Mode’ on 88.5 NEPM
World-renowned bassist and Springfield native takes the mic at western Mass.’s public radio station
Oct. 25, 2023, SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Beginning Nov. 3, music fans will hear a new voice on New England Public Media’s 88.5 FM when Avery Sharpe takes the mic for his new weekly gig: hosting “Jazz à la Mode,” the station’s signature jazz program.
Sharpe is a world-renowned bassist, composer and educator with deep roots in western Massachusetts. Along with Wynton and Branford Marsalis, he was one of the Young Lions of jazz who came to prominence in the 1980s. Sharpe worked with McCoy Tyner for many years and has recorded and performed with numerous jazz luminaries including Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Archie Shepp and others.
“We are thrilled to welcome Avery to the airwaves,” said Matt Abramovitz, president of NEPM. “When I first heard his records with McCoy Tyner, I knew he was just a monster musician. Little did I know he'd also be a gifted storyteller and curator. We're so lucky to have him with ‘Jazz à la Mode’ and NEPM.”
“Jazz à la Mode” airs weeknights on 88.5 NEPM, presenting the finest in mainstream jazz and highlighting jazz events in the region. One of the longest-running and locally-produced music shows on NEPM, “Jazz à la Mode” debuted in 1984 and has been hosted since its inception by Tom Reney. In 2020, Bex Taylor and Peter Soklowski began hosting the program several evenings per week, along with Reney.
It was Reney who encouraged Sharpe to join him at NEPM.
"I've known Avery Sharpe since we met as students at UMass in 1976. We've been friends ever since, but it wasn't until this summer that I learned he might be interested in hosting a radio show and I'm delighted he's doing so,” Reney said. “It'll be great to have the voice and perspective of a major jazz artist who has substantial ties to Springfield and western Mass. added to the team, and I know listeners will agree."
Sharpe was born in Valdosta, Georgia, and raised in Springfield. He studied economics at UMass Amherst and continues to play an active role as a musician and educator in the region.
The album “400” is Sharpe’s latest work, and marked the 400th year since Africans were brought to North American shores in 1619. The recording was released in May 2019 on JKNM Records and features Don Braden, Duane Eubanks, Ronnie Burrage, Zaccai Curtis, Davis Whitfield, The Extended Family Choir and special guest Kevin Eubanks.
Sharpe’s extensive educational activities include numerous clinics and workshops at home and abroad. He has presented at the University of Massachusetts, Williams College, Berklee School of Music, Bates College, the University of Miami, and at colleges in Peru, Brazil, Australia and elsewhere. He was the Sterling Brown ‘22 distinguished visiting artist in residence in music at Williams College, as well as artist associate in jazz bass and jazz coach at Williams College. He was also faculty advisor for the Williams Gospel Choir and affiliated faculty for Africana studies.
His awards include The NAACP Martin Luther King Jr. Special Achievement Award, several National Endowment for the Arts grants and the New England Foundation for the Arts Achievement in Jazz Award.
Not a total stranger to broadcast, Sharpe is the host of another radio jazz show called “The Sharpe Side” on WETF-LP 105.7 FM in South Bend, Indiana, and heard around the world on jazzradiowetf.org.
"It will be great to be on the other side of the microphone, playing my favorite music,” Sharpe said. “I look forward to bringing my perspective as I have performed and recorded with many of the greats. Stay tuned, keep open ears and let the music soothe and enrapture you.”
“Jazz à la Mode” can be heard weeknights at 8 p.m. on 88.5 NEPM and streaming at nepm.org.
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New England Public Media enriches people’s lives in western Massachusetts and beyond by nurturing curiosity, inspiring community engagement, and reflecting the unique joys of living here. NEPM is the region’s source for PBS and NPR programs and for locally produced news, video and music content.