50 Years on the Air with Jazz DJ Rusty Hassan
A true jazz warrior of the airwaves, WPFW radio host and Georgetown adjunct professor Rusty Hassan has been bringing the music to the people of Washington D.C. for 50 years. Among the prominent jazz artists he has interviewed include Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey, Mary Lou Williams, Ramsey Lewis, Jimmy Heath, Marian McPartland, Roy Haynes, Jaki Byard, Jason Moran and countless others. I had the honor of being interviewed by Rusty live on his Thursday Late Night Jazz program on WPFW 89.3 FM about my book, "Ode to a Tenor Titan: The Life and Times and Music of Michael Brecker." Being nine years my senior, Rusty was well aware of Michael's music both before and after the heyday of The Brecker Brothers. A lively discussion ensued.
Hassan was born in Bound Brook, NJ November 26, 1945, and raised in Greenwich, CT. At the age of 17, he and some friends drove his ’54 Studebaker to Newport, where they saw the John Coltrane Quartet perform. After moving to Washington D.C. to attend Georgetown University, he began hanging at the fabled Bohemian Caverns, where he heard the likes of Trane's quartet and the Ramsey Lewis Trio (in fact, he was in the audience the night of Lewis' famous live recording from the Caverns, The In Crowd ). A few years later, as the nation's capitol was embroiled in student protests about the Vietnam War, Rusty captured the zeitgeist of the moment by playing John Coltrane's Ascension and Charles Mingus' Meditations on Integration on the Georgetown campus radio station WAMU. In 1987, he switched to WDCU and ultimately made the jump in 1997 to WPFW, where he has remained a late night jazz fixture for 25 years.
A generous host who clearly loves the music, Rusty gave me 30 minutes on-air live to speak about the life and legacy of the great Michael Brecker.