Phil Schaap

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Phil Schaap (born April 6, 1951) is an American jazz disc jockey, historian, archivist and producer. He has hosted jazz shows on the Columbia University WKCR since 1970; he currently hosts two, Bird Flight and Traditions In Swing, both since 1981.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

Disc jockey person who plays recorded music for an audience

A disc jockey, often abbreviated as DJ, is a person who plays existing recorded music for a live audience. Most common types of DJs include radio DJ, club DJ who performs at a nightclub or music festival and turntablist who uses record players, usually turntables, to manipulate sounds on phonograph records. Originally, the disc in disc jockey referred to gramophone records, but now DJ is used as an all-encompassing term to describe someone who mixes recorded music from any source, including cassettes, CDs or digital audio files on a CDJ or laptop. The title DJ is commonly used by DJs in front of their real names or adopted pseudonyms or stage names. In recent years it has become common for DJs to be featured as the credited artist on tracks they produced despite having a guest vocalist that performs the entire song: like for example Uptown Funk.


Early years

Schaap was raised by jazz-loving parents. His father was Walter Schaap, one of the first jazz historians and discographers. Through his father, Schaap was friendly with many jazz musicians from a young age, particularly the members of the original Count Basie Orchestra. Count Basie's drummer, Jo Jones, became his occasional babysitter when Schaap was six years old.

Count Basie American jazz musician, bandleader, and composer

William James "Count" Basie was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer.

Jo Jones American jazz drummer

Jonathan David Samuel Jones was an American jazz drummer. A band leader and pioneer in jazz percussion, Jones anchored the Count Basie Orchestra rhythm section from 1934 to 1948. He was sometimes known as Papa Jo Jones to distinguish him from younger drummer Philly Joe Jones.

Phil Schaap is a cousin of sports journalist Dick Schaap.

Richard Jay Schaap was an American sportswriter, broadcaster, and author.

Early in his career he managed the Basie alumni band, The Countsmen (featuring alto saxophonist Earle Warren and trombonist Dicky Wells) and doing sound for various Jazz events including George Wein's Newport Jazz Festival. For 17 years Schaap ran the Jazz at The West End jazz room on Broadway at 114th St in New York City, booking on a nightly basis such prominent swing-band alumni as Russell Procope's Ellingtonia, The Countsmen, Franc Williams, George Kelly, Eddie Barefield, Sonny Greer, Benny Waters, "Papa" Jo Jones, Buddy Tate, Vic Dickenson, Harold Ashby, Big Nick Nicholas, Ronnie Cole, Eddie Durham and "Doc" Cheatham, more modern jazz artists such as Lee Konitz and Joe Albany, and blues artists such as Percy France and Big Joe Turner and the legendary Diz.

Earle Warren was an alto saxophonist and occasional singer with Count Basie.

Dicky Wells American jazz trombonist

William Wells, known as Dicky Wells, was an American jazz trombonist.

George Wein American promoter and musician

George Wein is an American jazz promoter and producer who has been called "the most famous jazz impresario" and "the most important non-player... in jazz history". He is the founder of what is probably the best-known jazz festival in the United States, the Newport Jazz Festival, which is held every summer in Newport, Rhode Island. He also co-founded the Newport Folk Festival with Peter Seeger and Theodore Bikel.

Disc jockey

Schaap attended Columbia University. On February 2, 1970, his freshman year, he began broadcasting jazz on the Columbia University radio station, WKCR-FM, and he has been a radio broadcaster ever since.

Columbia University Private Ivy League research university in New York City

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in Upper Manhattan, New York City. Established in 1754, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. It has been ranked by numerous major education publications as among the top ten universities in the world.

WKCR-FM is a radio station licensed to New York, New York, United States. The station is currently owned by Trustees of Columbia University in New York and serves the local region.

Schaap currently hosts two shows on WKCR, both of which began in 1981: the morning show Bird Flight, which is broadcast from 8:20 to 9:30 AM on weekdays and is devoted to the music of Charlie Parker, and Traditions In Swing, which is broadcast on Saturday evenings from 6 to 9 PM.

Charlie Parker American jazz saxophonist and composer

Charles Parker Jr., also known as Yardbird and Bird, was an American jazz saxophonist and composer.

Schaap, on his Bird Flight radio program, is noted for his long and detailed discussions (in his "pontifical baritone") of Charlie Parker minutiae. [1] Schaap is also known for his marathon festivals on one artist, birthday broadcasts, and memorials.

Jazz archivist and record producer

From 1984 to 1991, Schaap was the archivist for the Savoy Jazz label. Schaap has been involved with the re-release of many archival recordings on CD, releases of artists including Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Machito and the Afro-Cubans and Duke Ellington. For his efforts in engineering, production, and liner notes, Schaap has been nominated for eleven Grammy awards and has won seven, including three for producing, three for historical writing, and one for audio engineering. [2]


As an educator Schaap has taught jazz at the graduate level at Columbia University and Rutgers University. Schaap continues his academic teaching career at Princeton University and The Juilliard School, while running an adult jazz education program for Jazz at Lincoln Center. Upon becoming Curator at Jazz at Lincoln Center he left a successful career producing, remastering, and writing for record companies such as Universal, Sony, and PolyGram.


In addition to his liner notes, Schaap contributed to the 2005 book by Wynton Marsalis, Jazz ABZ: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits.

Media appearances

Schaap appears prominently in Ken Burns' PBS 2001 documentary Jazz .

Schaap played a radio announcer in the 2009 Kurt Vonnegut/Dave Soldier "radio opera" A Soldier's Story. [3]

Press and commentary

The May 19, 2008 issue of The New Yorker includes a nine-page article about Schaap by David Remnick. The article is a tribute to Schaap's unique, vast knowledge of jazz history and the unusual story of his lifelong friendships with many of jazz's greatest players. [1]

Frank Foster has called him "a walking jazz history book". [1]

Awards and honors

Grammy Awards


Schaap is a distinguished member of the Board of Directors Advisory committee of The Jazz Foundation of America. [4]

Personal life

Schaap lives in New York City. In 1997 he married schoolteacher Ellen LaFurn. [5]

He is the inspiration for Woody Allen's on-screen character in Allen's 1999 film Sweet and Lowdown .

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  1. 1 2 3 Remnick, David (May 19, 2008). "Bird-Watcher: Thinking about Charlie Parker, every day". The New Yorker . Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  2. Grabell, Michael (March 2, 2001). "Schaap captures seventh Grammy Award". Daily Princetonian. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  3. "Kurt Vonnegut & Dave Soldier: Ice-9 Ballads". Muruch. July 29, 2009. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  4. "Advisory Board". Jazz Foundation of America. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  5. "Phil Schaap and Ellen LaFurn". The New York Times. July 20, 1997. Retrieved May 21, 2014.

Further reading