For more than 30 years on Minnesota Public Radio, Saturday nights have meant jazz. And that means Leigh Kamman is on duty, playing jazz tunes, and talking to the greats like they're his old friends. Because, often, they are — natually growing fond of one the genre's biggest fans over more than 60 years of broadcasting.
This weekend, Kamman will take to the air on Minnesota Public Radio and sign off The Jazz Image for the last time.
Kamman celebrated his 85th birthday in early September, and says it's time to slow down a little. He plans to take a long vacation, then get back to work.
"I plan to fulfill a book proposal on the history of jazz broadcasting," Kamman says. "Further I hope to continue my association with MPR, along with speaking engagements for students and the dinner circuit, focusing on the significance of this most important cultural art form — jazz."
"We'll miss Leigh's wonderful voice, his colorful stories, his take on the world, and his deep and personal knowledge of the art form," says MPR's Senior Vice President Sarah Lutman. "Leigh has guided Minnesotans on a jazz journey, meeting musicians and hearing their music, and creating memorable radio."
Kamman began his broadcasting career in Minnesota in 1939. He worked in New York City during the 1950s, where he interviewed such jazz greats as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Quincy Jones and Art Farmer.
Kamman returned to Minnesota and ultimately created "The Jazz Image" in 1973.
The farewell edition of "The Jazz Image" will broadcast Sept. 29 on MPR News and Sept. 30 on The Current.