Ethereal Excursions / Ray Schroff

Ethereal Excursions features works of contemporary composers such as Robert Simpson, Toru Tekemitsu, Iannis Xenakis, Tristan Murail, and Erkki-Sven Tüür. In addition, you’ll hear jazz from the likes of Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Willem Breuker Kollektief, and Sun Ra, as well as sounds from ambient composers Steve Roach, Forrest Fang, Craig Padilla, and others. Plus, there may be a surprise or two from other musical places. Tune in Saturday nights from 10 until midnight, and enjoy the ride. You can contact Ray at excursions@kptz.org.

Biographical Information: I was born on the South Side of Chicago, but really grew up in Tucson AZ. There always seemed to be 78 rpm phonograph records around the house, mostly pop music of the day. By the age of eight I had become a serious radio listener, and in addition to all the “old-time” radio programs, music on the radio, especially country music, became very important.

Bob McKeehan’s “Arizona Hayride” program on KCNA in Tucson was my earliest influence; at night, stations all over the country came through the ether. There was Frank Page at KWKH in Shreveport; Wolfman Jack and Paul Kallinger on XERF; across the river from Del Rio, The Old Tumbleweed at KPMC in Bakersfield; Wes Bowen’s jazz program from KSL in Salt Lake City’; “Music ‘Til Dawn” with classical music from KRLD in Dallas; and Tucson’s own David Graham, whose “Hootnanny Tonight” show on KTUC turned me on to early Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, and The New Lost City Ramblers. Saturday afternoons sometimes included mowing the lawn while listening to the live Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts.

Later, living in Southern California (where my wife Nancesca and I met) as FM took over from AM, KBCA jazz DJs Les Carter and Mike Powell were big influences, as was Don Hall on KPPC and Jazzbeaux Collins on KMET. In the San Francisco Bay Area, it was Bob Prescott on KMPX, Roland Young on KSAN, Dan McCloskey on KJAZ, Phil Elwood, Chris Strachwitz, Tom Diamant, David Mayers, Charles Armikahnian, and too many others to mention on KPFA. And of course, magic evenings at dance halls like the Shrine in L.A., and the Avalon and Fillmore in San Francisco.

The public library has played an important role in my musical education, and adventurous record labels like the Nonesuch Explorer Series made available amazing sounds from places like Afghanistan and Bali. Shortwave radio opened my ears to haunting huayno music from the Andes, joropos from the llanos of eastern Columbia and western Venezuela, and the exciting guitar bands from the Congo. Most important of all have been the many wonderful friends who shared my enthusiasm for music and turned me on to the exciting sounds they discovered.