Listen Here! A Jazz Review Radio Program
Reminiscing 2005 - 2007

Listen Here! was the jazz review radio program hosted by critics, friends and sparring partners Neil Tesser and Mark Ruffin. Listen Here! debuted in January 2005, as a high-energy one-hour show incorporating conversation, criticism, debate, recorded music, interviews, and occasional live performances from jazz venues around North America. This was its official website.
Content is from the site's 2005 - 2007 archived pages, as well as other outside sources.

Listen Here: Mark Ruffin reviews Anton Schwartz "Radiant Blue" To listen to review GO TO where Mark Ruffin tells the story of meeting Anton Schwartz and reviews Schwartz's CD "Radiant Blue."


"Listen Here! is the jazz review radio program hosted by critics, friends in January 2005, as a high-energy two-hour show incorporating conversation, criticism, debate, recorded music, interviews, and occasional live performances from jazz venues around North America.

Tesser and Ruffin preview and review the newest jazz recordings, analyzing and playing the best of the best and often agreeing to disagree. Each week's program includes an interview with at least one prominent jazz artist, discussing his or her latest recording. Selected programs feature guest jazz critics with their own perspectives on what's new in jazz."
Green Tea, Jan 23, 2005

New National Jazz Radio Program With Neil Tesser & Mark Ruffin

November 19, 2004 |

Listen Here! features journalists and radio hosts Neil Tesser and Mark Ruffin.

CHICAGO -- Radio stations throughout North America and the Caribbean will be carrying a new weekly jazz radio program beginning in January, 2005. Dubbed Listen Here!, the show will be hosted by Chicago-based jazz journalists and radio hosts Neil Tesser and Mark Ruffin, and distributed by WFMT Radio Network.

The program will air in a two-hour format incorporating conversation, criticism, debate, recorded music, interviews, and occasional live performances from jazz venues around North America.

With a tip of the hat to Ebert and Roeper, Tesser and Ruffin will review the newest jazz recordings, analyzing and playing the best of the best and often agreeing to disagree. Each week


You can't listen to Listen Here here

Posted By Peter Margasak on 01.26.07 |

Starting February 20 the Chicago Cultural Center will begin hosting monthly tapings of Listen Here, the nationally syndicated jazz radio show hosted by former WBEZ DJs Mark Ruffin and (Reader contributor) Neil Tesser. The one-hour program, which launched in 2005, features record reviews, conversation between the hosts, interviews, and live performances as well as some recorded music. Local guitarist Fareed Haque plays live for the first Cultural Center taping.

Oddly, though Listen Here is produced here and distributed by the local WFMT Radio Network, it can't actually be heard on the radio in Chicago. Elgin’s WEPS (88.9 FM) is the closest station to broadcast the show, but its 740 watt signal doesn’t penetrate city limits. (You can listen to the show via the program Web site.) Perhaps now someone will finally pick it up—maybe even the station that provides the feed to the dozens of stations around the country that do air it.

Tesser and Ruffin preview and review the newest jazz recordings, analyzing and playing the best of the best and often agreeing to disagree. Each week's program includes an interview with a prominent jazz artist, discussing his or her latest recording.

And Listen Here! goes on the road as well, recording live on stage at some of the best-known jazz clubs and settings in the U.S. and Canada. Tesser and Ruffin have earned the right to disagree. Friends for more than twenty years, both have been active in the jazz scene in Chicago and across the United States - as critics, radio hosts and journalists for both print and broadcast.

If you can't find Listen Here! on your local public radio station, drop us a line and we'll let them know what you - and they - are missing. You can reach us at

Mark Ruffin

Mark Ruffin is an Emmy Award-winning jazz correspondent for Artbeat Chicago on WTTW-TV (he’s actually garnered two!), jazz editor for Chicago Magazine, music editor for the alternative weekly N'Digo, and a producer of jazz recordings and events.

Many Chicago-area radio listeners know him as a former jazz host on Chicago Public Radio. Mark has also served on-air stints at several other Chicago radio stations. He was the producer for the first five years of the nationally syndicated Ramsey Lewis radio program.

A former musician and songwriter, Mark has written more than five hundred articles on jazz, broadcasting and African-American culture. His work has appeared in a variety of local and national publications, including the Chicago Sun-Times, Down Beat, Jazziz, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Playboy, and dozens of others.

His recent productions include the latest album from be-bop guitar legend George Freeman, titled At Long Last, George on High Note Records, and a benefit concert for the late Art Porter, starring Brenda Russell, Jeff Lorber and Peter White, where he was also honored as Father of the Year by the organization Real Fathers/Real Men.

He has also received the Excellence in Television Award from the Chicago Association of Black Journalists for his work on WTTW's Artbeat program.

Neil Tesser

Neil Tesser has written on and broadcast jazz in Chicago for more than 30 years. Jazz critic for the Chicago READER and author of The Playboy Guide to Jazz, he was Playboy's jazz critic from 1991-2002 and the first jazz critic for USA Today, and has also served as a monthly columnist for Jazziz Magazine and jazz critic for the Chicago Sun-Times.

A fomer adjunct professor in jazz history at Northwestern University, and a charter member of the programming committee for the Chicago Jazz Festival, he has also served two terms as National Trustee to the Board of NARAS (the Recording Academy), and serves on several of that organization's national committees, including the Executive Committee. In December 2005, he received an "Award Of Honor" from the Chicago Music Awards.

In 2001 Tesser received a Deems Taylor Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) for his liner notes to two Rhino Records reissues: Coltrane Jazz and Coltrane Plays the Blues, two classics originally pressed by Atlantic in the 1960s. These awards are granted each year by ASCAP, the world's largest performing-rights organization.

Author of liner notes for nearly 200 albums - one of which, the Stan Getz reissue The Girl from Ipanema, received a Grammy nomination in 1985 - Tesser previously hosted nightly jazz programs at Chicago Public Radio (1980-1996) and WNIB-FM (1974-1976). His broadcast credits include arts commentaries for the NPR series Future Forward and for all-news WBBM-AM.


2007 Episode 26 • • •



Segment #1: New Releases
Neil praises "Sing in Me Muse," from the Canadian bassist, composer, and bandleader Michael McClennan, who uses his swinging, classically-inflected octet to the fullest. Mark presents "For Sentimental Reasons," a gorgeous new collection of ballads and standards from the legendary vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson.
Artist: Michael McClennan
CD: Sing in Me Muse
Label: (Self-released)
Web site:
Artist: Bobby Hutcherson
CD: For Sentimental Reasons
Label: Kind of Blue Records
Web site:

Segment #2: Discussion - Veteran Vocalists
Neil and Mark share a new Ella Fitzgerald tribute disc, and then look at new releases from two other seasoned performers: Mark Murphy and Abbey Lincoln.
Artist: Various Artists (feat. Natalie Cole & Chaka Khan)
CD: We All Love Ella: Celebrating the First Lady of Song
Label: Verve
Web site:
Artist: Mark Murphy
CD: Stolen. . .And Other Moments
Label: 32 Jazz
Web site:
Artist: Mark Murphy
CD: Love is What Stays
Label: Verve
Web site:
Artist: Abbey Lincoln
CD: Abbey Sings Abbey
Label: Verve
Web site:

Segment #3: Interview - Mike Marshall
Neil and Mark speak with mandolin player (and general string-instrument guru) Mike Marshall about his early days with bluegrass fusion innovator David Grisman, his adventures in Brazilian music, and his turn as a record executive with Adventure Music.
Artist: Mike Marshall, Jovino Santos Neto
CD: Serenata
Label: Adventure Music
Web site:
Artist: Moacir Santos
CD: Choros & Algeria
Label: Adventure Music
Web site:

Segment #3: "For Your Ears Only" Listening Quiz
Neil and Mark extend their Brazilian discussion with Mike Marshall into this week's competition, listening exclusively to post-Bossa Nova tunes.


2007 Episode 25 • • •

Segment #1: New Releases
Mark presents "The Messenger," an acid jazz-inflected disc from guitarist Nick Moran and his organ trio. Neil shares the new duets record from legendary pianist Chick Corea and banjo player Béla Fleck.
Artist: Nick Moran Trio
CD: The Messenger
Label: Consolidated Artists Productions
Web site:
Artist: Chick Corea and Béla Fleck
CD: The Enchantment
Label: Concord Records
Web site:

Segment #2: Discussion - Far In, Far Out
In this recurring segment on the program, Neil and Mark look at two albumsÐ one in the straight-ahead tradition, and one from the avant-gardeÐ that they feel have not received the recognition they deserve. This week, Mark's Far In disc is trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's "Backlash." Neil's Far Out pick is "East Broadway Rundown" by Sonny Rollins, an album made at roughly the same time as "Backlash," which also features Freddie Hubbard.
Artist: Freddie Hubbard
CD: Backlash
Label: Koch Jazz
Web site:
Artist: Sonny Rollins
CD: East Broadway Run Down
Label: Impulse!
Web site:

Segment #3: Interview - Kate McGarry
Neil and Mark sit down with the vocalist Kate McGarry, who discusses her spiritual pursuit, her studies with saxophonist Archie Shepp, her mutual interests in folk and jazz music, and the new album that she feels finally marries them together.
Artist: Kate McGarry
CD: The Target
Label: Palmetto Records
Web site:

Segment #3: "For Your Ears Only" Listening Quiz
In this week's competition, Neil and Mark listen to jazz musicians performing classical compositions in ways very different than the composers probably intended.


2007 Episode 24 • • •


Recorded Live at The Chicago Cultural Center

Segment #1: New Releases
Neil is pleasantly surprised by guitarist Miles Okazaki, whose new album is inspired as much by numbers and mathematics as it is by jazz.Mark finds the new Stanley Clarke performance DVD a bit of a letdown in terms of production values, but still considers it a must-have for the legendary bassist's many disciples.
Artist: Miles Okazaki
CD: Mirror
Label: (self-released)
Web site:
Artist: Stanley Clarke
CD: Night School: An Evening with Stanley Clarke & Friends
Label: Heads Up International
Web site:

Segment #2: Interview and Performance - Howard Levy
Perhaps best known for his work with the original lineup of Bela Fleck's Flecktones, many people call Howard Levy the finest harmonica player in the world.Howard performs for us with one of his many concurrent projects, The Acoustic Express, and speaks with Neil and Mark about his diverse tastes and his chaotic and exciting musical life.
Artist: Howard Levy
Web site:

Segment #3: "For Your Ears Only" Listening Quiz
Neil and Mark revive one of their favorite subjects for this week's competition: instruments so rare in jazz, the magazine polls just refer to them as "miscellaneous."

2007 Episode 23 • • •


Segment #1: New Releases
Neil presents the third album from Wayne Escoffery, a saxophonist who has incorporated the bold tenor tradition, but has developed a modern voice of his own. Mark praises "The Academa Experience" as the finest studio record from violinist Jean-Luc Ponty in the past decade, largely because of the presence and performance of his band.
Artist: Wayne Escoffery
CD: Veneration
Label: Savant Records
Web site:
Artist: Jean Luc Ponty & His Band
CD: The Acatama Experience
Label: Koch Music
Web site:

Segment #2: Discussion - Lonnie Liston Smith
As part of their ongoing Souljazz series, Mark shares with Neil the soul and funk infused sounds of keyboard player, composer, and bandleader Lonnie Liston Smith.
Artist: Pharoah Sanders (Feat.: Lonnie Liston Smith)
CD: Karma
Label: Impulse!
Web site:
Artist: Pharoah Sanders (Feat.: Lonnie Liston Smith)
CD: Thembi
Label: Impulse!
Web site:
Artist: Lonnie Liston Smith & The Cosmic Echoes
CD: Cosmic Funk
Label: RCA Records
Artist: Lonnie Liston Smith & The Cosmic Echoes
CD: Reflections of a Golden Dream
Label: RCA Victor
Artist: Lonnie Liston Smith
CD: Explorations: The Columbia Recordings
Label: Columbia/Legacy Records
Web site:

Segment #3: Interview - Eldar
In another of the interviews recorded this past January in New York City at the International Association for Jazz Education, Neil and Mark were joined by piano wunderkind Eldar Djangirov, who discussed his newest record and shared his excitement for the world of jazz: past, present, and future.
Artist: Eldar
CD: Live at the Blue Note
Label: Sony Classical
Web site:
Artist: Eldar
CD: Re-imagination
Label: Sony Masterworks Jazz
Web site:

Segment #4: "For Your Ears Only" Listening Quiz
As a follow-up to last week's quiz (which featured classic quintets), Neil and Mark compete this week to identify established bands.


Episode 5 • • • • • •

Segment #1: Current CDs
In celebration of Mardi Gras, Mark heads down New Orleans way to take a listen to the new compilation from trumpeter Kermit Ruffins. Neil stays closer to home with his review of Chicago bassist Larry Gray's solo effort.
Artist: Kermit Ruffins
CD: Kermit Ruffins
Label: Putumayo
Web site:
Artist: Larry Gray
CD: Gravity
Label: Graywater Music
Web site:

Segment #2: Disagree - Neil and Mark's Top 10
Though they often disagree, Neil and Mark find out that their Top 10 lists have at least a few things in common. But only one, from Cuban pianist Omar Sosa, finds them in total agreement. To see their complete lists,click here.
Artist: Dave Douglas
CD: Strange Liberation
Label: Bluebird
Web site:
Artist: Terry Gibbs
CD: 52nd and Broadway
Label: Mack Avenue Records
Web site:
Artist: Tierney Sutton
CD: Dancing in the Dark
Label: Telarc
Web site:

Segment #3: Interview with David "Fathead" Newman
As a member of Ray Charles' 1950's band, David "Fathead" Newman has found his public profile increased through the recent film biography, Ray. He sits down with Mark and Neil to talk about the origins of his Texas tenor sound, and what it was like to play with "Brother Ray". And, if you ever wondered where his nickname from came from, we've got the goods.
Artist: Fathead Newman
CD: I Remember Brother Ray
Label: High Note
Web site:

Segment #4: MORE Current CDs
Neil profiles the new CD from trombonist Steve Turre, a tribute to the great Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Mark shares his enthusiasm for the latest live CD from Dave Samuels and the Caribbean Jazz Project.
Artist: Steve Turre
CD: The Spirits Up Above
Label: High Note
Web site:
Artist: Caribbean Jazz Project
CD: Here and Now
Label: Concord Picante
Web site:

Segment #5: Interview with Ben Sidran
Mark and Neil welcome their old friend Ben Sidran to the studio to talk about his lengthy career as a jazz writer, pianist, composer, broadcaster, and singer. Sidran also tells how it came to be that he joined the Steve Miller Band and wrote their classic, "Space Cowboy".
Artist: Ben Sidran
CD: Bumpin' at the Sunside
Label: Nardis
Web site:

Segment #6: "For Your Ears Only"
Neil proclaims his expertise for identifying Charlie Parker solos. Mark professes to know a lot about organists of the 1960s. Listen in as they challenge each other, and find out if they know as much as they think they do.

Episode 1 • • • • • •

Segment #1: Current CDs
Neil Tesser and Mark Ruffin introduce listeners to the music of trumpeter Maurice Brown and the trio Paradigm Shift.
Artist: Trumpeter Maurice Brown
CD: Hip to Bop
Label: Brown Records
Artist: Paradigm Shift
CD: Shifting Times
Label: Nagel Heyer

Segment #2: Disagree
Mark is disappointed by the latest effort of keyboard player, producer, and songwriter Jason Miles, but Neil thinks it captures the spirit of Miles Davis.
Artist: Jason Miles
CD: Miles to Miles
Label: Narada
Web site:

Segment #3: Interview with Von Freeman
Neil & Mark talk with saxophone legend Von Freeman about becoming an overnight success - at 82.
Artist: Von Freeman
CD: The Great Divide
Label: Premonition
Web site:

Segment #4: Pop/Jazz Vocalists
So you want to be a jazz vocalist - join the crowd of pop artists who've caught the jazz bug, including Linda Ronstadt, Cybil Shepard, Queen Latifah, Chaka Khan, and even Rod Stewart and Boz Scaggs.
Artist: Linda Ronstadt
CD: Hummin' To Myself
Label: Verve
Artist: Chaka Khan with the London Symphony Orchestra
CD: Classic Khan
Label: Verve
Artist: Queen Latifah
CD: The Dana Owens Album
Label: Interscope Records

Segment #5: Marilyn Scott Interview
Vocalist Marilyn Scott talks with Mark and Neil about the allure of jazz standards, the state of the recording industry today, and her latest CD, "Nightcap."
Artist: Marilyn Scott
CD: Nightcap
Label: Prana Ent
Web site:

Segment #6: "For Your Ears Only"
Neil and Mark try to stump each other - and often succeed - with recordings by well-known saxophone players and more obscure jazz flutists. Who said these guys were experts, anyway?



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Miles Ahead Jazz Radio

Record Labels
482 Music
ACT Music
Afrasia Productions
Angel Records
Artemis Records
Asian Improv Records
Avid Records
Balkan Samba
Basin Street Records
Bassett Hound Records
Black Saint Records
Bluebird Jazz
Blue Toucan Music
Buda Musique
Burnin' Down the House Records
Capri Records
Chiaroscuro Records
Chicken Coup Records
City Hall Records
Contemporary Records
Criss Cross
Cuneiform Records
Dacapo Records
Double Time
Dreyfus Records
Dune Records
ECM Records
Enja/Justin Time
Ewe Records
Favored Nations
Free Ham Records
Free Music
Greenleaf Music
Groove Note Records
GRP Records
Hide Inside
Jazzed Media
Jen Bay Records
Joyous Shout
Justin Time
Kind of Blue Records
Koch Records
Label Blue
Laughinghorse Records
Lineage Records
LRS Media
Mack Avenue Records
Mammoth Records
Marsalis Music
Mel Bay Records
MidLantic Records
Milestone Records
Mingus Music
Moers Music
Montreux Sounds
MPS Records
Munich Records
MuseFX Records
Music of the World
Narada Jazz
Naxos Jazz
OA2 Records
Omix Records
Origin Records
Palmetto Records
Pi Recordings
Planet Arts
Playscape Recordings
Premonition Records
Rhombus Records
Riverside Records
RKM Music
Savoy Jazz
Sirocco Music
Small's Records
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Sony Classical
Soulful Sound
Soundbrush Records
Steeplechase Productions
Summit Records
Sunnyside Records
Synergy Music
Temps Record
Thirsty Ear Recordings
Thrill Jockey Records
TNC Jazz
Town Crier
Tum Records
Ubiquity Recordswww.ubiquityrecords.comm
Warner Bros
WebOnly Jazz
Winter & Winter
Wounded Bird
Zoho Music