For those who love pianist, composer, and musical savant Jon Weber--and there are many, many of us in the Twin Cities, where Weber has been a regular at our annual jazz festival and a favorite at the Artists' Quarter--the news could not be better: Starting in January, Weber will host National Public Radio's "Piano Jazz Rising Stars," successor to "Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz," the longest-running jazz show on NPR.
An affable, entertaining, authentically modest genius, Weber once claimed to know 20,168 songs. He wasn't kidding. He can also name the composers and their birth dates. He can play any of those songs in any key. And in any given live performance, he'll quote from several of them.
I interviewed Weber in 2008 (was it really that long ago?) and talk with him whenever I can. I'm delighted he's been given this opportunity--that more people will have the chance to hear him and know him. Writing last week about Weber's new post, the Chicago Tribune's Howard Reich noted, "It's hard to imagine a better choice for this plum assignment than Weber, considering his rare combination of gifts: brilliant technique, photographic memory, enormous repertory of songs and the ability to read perfectly at sight virtually any score placed before him." Read Reich's article here.
This couldn't happen to a nicer guy, or a more deserving one. Congratulations, Jon!