Phil Schap, who explored the intricacies and history of jazz in the radio programs he hosted, the Grammy-winning liner notes he wrote, the music series he programmed and the classes he taught, died Tuesday in Manhattan. . He was 70 years old.
His partner of 17 years, Susan Schaefer, said the cause was cancer, which he had had for four years.
Mr Schap had been a host of jazz radio programs over the years, but he was probably best known as a fixture on Columbia University’s student-run radio station WKCR-FM, where his happily (some would say angrily) obsessive saxophonist The daily program about Charlie Parker, “Bird Flight”, was an anchor of the morning program for decades.
On that show, he would endlessly parse Parker’s recordings and small talk. In a 2008 article About Mr. Shapp in The New Yorker, David Remnick detailed a similar discourse, describing Mr. Shapp’s Parker track “Okidoc” with the pronunciation and meaning of the title and its hoplong. Turned into a tangent about a possible relationship. Cassidy movies.
“Perhaps it was at this point,” wrote Mr. Remnick, “that listeners throughout the metropolitan area, what remained, either turned off their radios, became strangely fascinated, or called an ambulance on behalf of the curse. “
But if there was a passion for jazz Mr. Shapp, it was based on knowledge. By childhood he had absorbed everything there was to know about Parker and countless other jazz players, singers, records and subgenres. He won three Grammys for the album Liner Notes—not surprisingly, for the Charlie Parker Boxed Set (“Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve,” 1989), but for “The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve, 1945–1959”. Also for (1993) and “Miles Davis and Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings” (1996).
He did much more than write and talk about jazz; He also knew his way around a studio and was particularly adept at locating and reimagining the works of jazz greats of the past. He shared the Grammy for Best Historical Album as a producer on Holiday and Davis-Evans Recordings as well as “Louis Armstrong: The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings” (2000).
Over the years he imparted his vast knowledge of jazz to countless students, teaching courses at Columbia, Princeton, the Manhattan School of Music, the Juilliard School, Rutgers University, jazz at Lincoln Center and elsewhere.
“They say I’m a history teacher,” he said in a video interview for the National Endowment for the Arts, which this year named him a Jazz Master, the nation’s highest official honor for a living jazz person. But he saw his role differently.
“I teach listening,” he said.
what did he have a newspaper article Jazz history has been referred to as a “flypaper memory”, so much so that musicians sometimes rely on it to fill in their bleak memories of play dates and the like.
The legendary drummer Max Roach told The New York Times in 2001, “He knows a lot more about us than we know about himself.”
Mr. Remnick put it simply in a New Yorker article.
“In the capital of jazz,” he wrote, “he is its most passionate and unstoppable fan.”
Philip van Norden Schap was born on 8 April 1951 in Queens.
His mother, Marjorie Wood Schap, was a librarian and classically trained pianist, and his father, Walter, was a jazz scholar and vice president of an educational filmstrip company.
He grew up in the Hollis section of Queens, which had become a magnet for jazz musicians. Trumpeter Roy Aldridge lived nearby. He used to see saxophonist Bud Johnson at the bus stop every day.
“Wherever you turned, it looked like there was a giant walking down the street,” Mr Schap told Newsday in 1995.
By 6 o’clock he was collecting records. Joe Jones, who had been the drummer for Count Basie’s big band for many years, occasionally babysit for him; They would play the record and Mr. Jones would elaborate on what he was listening to.
His interest was further piqued when he saw “The Jean Krupa Story”, the 1959 film about the famous jazz drummer, and by the time he was in Jamaica High School in Queens, he was constantly talking jazz to classmates.
“As much as they gave me a hard time and isolated me as a weirdo,” he told Newsday, “they knew what I was talking about. My teammates may have laughed at me, but They knew who Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong were.
In 1970, as a freshman in Colombia, where he was a history major, Mr. Shapp became a DJ at WKCR and embarked on a lifelong mission to keep the genre’s past alive.
“One thing I wanted to give,” he told the radio program “Jazz Night in America” This year, “Didn’t Music Begin With John Coltrane.”
He graduated from Columbia in 1974, but half a century later he was still broadcasting on WKCR. He began “Bird Flight” in 1981 and—as “Jazz Night in America” host, bassist Christian McBride, noted during a recent episode dedicated to Mr. Shapp—he continued the show for almost 40 years longer than Parker. kept. Those who died at the age of 34 were alive. He has hosted other jazz shows at WKCR and other stations over the years, including WNYC in New York and WBGO in Newark, NJ.
In 1973 he began programming jazz in the West End, a bar near Columbia, and continued to do so into the 1990s. He especially loved bringing in older musicians from the swing era, providing them—as he put it in a 2017 interview with The West Side Spirit—with “a nice final chapter in their lives.”
In a “Jazz Night in America” interview, he stated that the West End series was one of his proudest achievements.
“Many of them weren’t even performing anymore,” he said of the saxophonist Earl Warren, the trombonist. Dickie Wells And he put many other musicians on stage there.
“They were my friends,” he said. “He was my teacher. He was a genius.”
Mr Schap, who lived in Queens and Manhattan, also did some management – including the Countsmen, a group whose members included Mr Wells and Mr Warren – and curated jazz at Lincoln Center for a time.
As a teacher, broadcaster and archivist, he could zero in on details that would have escaped a casual listener. He would compare Armstrong and Holiday recordings to show how Armstrong influenced Holiday’s vocal style. He wanted students to be able to hear the difference between a single by Armstrong and a single by cornetist Bix Biederbeck.
Mr Shapp’s marriage to Ellen LaFern in 1997 was brief. Ms. Shaffer saved them.
Their national endowment This year’s honor for the arts was the Abby Spelman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy, presented to “an individual who has made a major contribution to the appreciation, knowledge, and advancement of the American jazz art form.”
In a 1984 interview with The Times, Mr Schap talked about his inspiration for his radio show and other efforts to spread the gospel of jazz.
“I was a public-school music student for 12 years and never heard the name Duke Ellington,” he said. “Now I can rectify such mistakes. I can be Johnny Appleseed through the transmitter.”