Fighting for the Voices of the Present to Further the Future of Jazz

Fighting for the Voices of the Present to Further the Future of Jazz

by Cicily Janus

Susan Gatschet-Reese
Susan Gatschet-Reese
Clint Viebrock photo

Editor's note: Susan Gatschet-Reese is a dear friend, recently been let go by KUVO. We met at the Telluride Jazz Celebration, – coming up this weekend in Telluride – where we vowed to deepen our friendship by heading out for evenings of music together in Denver, Telluride Inside… and Out's second home. When we walked into Dazzle, perhaps  the premiere jazz venue in the city, with Susan the waters parted. Clint and I were treated like royalty because we were part of Susan's crowd. The respect for her in the jazz world was always palpable. We met Cicily Janus and Jim Bailey, two of Susan's friends and advocates, through TIO. Cicily has agreed to contribute to Telluride Inside…. and Out, beginning with this story in support of our friend and a friend of jazz.


For close to 35 years, thousands have gathered in the middle of the mountainous paradise known as Telluride to hear the very best of the best in the jazz community perform at the Telluride Jazz Celebration. For many of those years, the Denver-based radio station KUVO has been a mainstay sponsor and event MC. But this year, KUVO , instead of leaving a mark on the stage, will only be leaving a hole: their most notable on-air voice, Susan Gatschet-Reese, who has MC'd Telluride for the previous 16 years, was recently "let go" from the station. Although her absence at the Festival this year is not entirely due to her release at KUVO, this is a loss the jazz community should take note of.

With the arts and public radio communities in our country in a constant state of monetary deprivation, it is imperative that those who are the most knowledgeable and personable represent the underrepresented to the masses. Susan Gatschet-Reese has been a cheerleader for musicians of all stripes for the entire state of Colorado. She has continuously used her love for the jazz and all music to not only take an active role as a voice at KUVO , but also to help boost the careers of others who deserve a leg up within the community.

Countless artists traveling throughout Colorado for various festivals, clubs and private venues have counted on Susan and KUVO to be part of their promotion package. Without Susan's informed voice raised in support, many artists would not have drawn in the numbers they should to their shows and sold as many recordings. (And many won't now.) Which bring me to the crux of our problem. With jazz  often viewed as a "sleeper" genre, it is difficult to reel in new  devotees, young and older.  What is needed to convince those at the fringe to join the party is someone like Susan. No, not someone like Susan, Susan herself. Jazz in Colorado would not be where it is today without her. Our only hope is that as we march into the future those most notable in our community will continue to offer their support and help get Susan back on the air.

Austere Random House author Cicily Janus has conducted over four hundred interviews within the arts and entertainment industry. As a writer/journalist her work has been featured in the Huffington Post, All About Jazz, Westword/Village Voice, Colorado Springs Independent, the UK’s Aesthetica Magazine and Atlanta’s Art Nouveau magazine, plus two dozen literary journals in print and online. Cicily Janus is also the founder of Writing Away Retreats, named by Changhi-Class Magazine in 2009 as “one of the top ten creative retreats in the world.”  Her first book, The New Face of Jazz, (Random House, July 2010) is an oral history of the genre highlighting the voices of more than 225 artists from around the country. Jazz legend Wynton Marsalis called The New Face of Jazz "…one of the most important books written on jazz to date, if not ever."


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    Posted at 16:25h, 29 November

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