Liner Notes: Day Dreaming is your weekend afternoon soundtrack on KMHD. Pulling from the Swing era through the Space Age and beyond, host Bri Drennon shakes up an eclectic, sophisticated, and irreverent mix of feel-good jazz to help you reset and relax.
Bri Drennon is a Portland DJ, avid vinyl collector and public radio devote. Her passion for sharing great music is genetic, starting with her great, great uncle, Morris Karnofsky, who opened the first record store in New Orleans to carry jazz albums in the 1920′s. She also can be found around town spinning live on the first Thursday and second Friday of each month at Keys Lounge.
Follow Bri @_bridrennon_
Learn more about Bri.
What was your first experience of listening to jazz, and how has your relationship with it evolved since then?
“I received a copy of Miles Davis’ Ascenseur pour l’échafaud as a birthday present in my early 20′s and it knocked my socks off. Despite that experience, I was still really intimidated to dig into jazz any further for another decade or so because I had bought into the misconception that jazz requires an academic perspective to be able to appreciate it. It wasn’t until I spent some time in New Orleans where jazz is literally the soundtrack to daily life that I realized I was making it out to be too precious. After that, I started seeking out jazz based purely on my emotional response to the music, and my enjoyment (and ironically, my knowledge base) began to expand exponentially.”
Without using any musical or genre terminology – without using any words relating to music at all – how would you describe your music taste?
“I listen to a wildly varied selection of music because (consciously or not) I am always choosing what I listen to based on the experience I ultimately want to have. I love that you can use to music to manipulate your state of mind; that a song can be energizing, soothing, blissful, contemplative, empowering, or even cathartic. I tend to avoid recordings that have had a lot of backend manipulation with the purpose of “perfecting” the sound because it neutralizes that effect for me. Conversely, I’m the most drawn to tracks that have organic or imperfect elements. Not just vocals, per say, but physical evidence of the instrument being played by a human: the brush of fingers against strings, the sound of a stick – or a hand - against a drumhead, a missed note, and yes, the crack of emotion in someone’s voice.”
You also do a lot of live DJing; in your experience, what are the biggest differences between playing music at a bar and on the radio?
“To steal some phrasing from Gracie Allen, DJing on the radio is just like DJing at a bar, only you do it blindfolded, backwards, and in heels. My primary goal as a DJ is always to paint a mood - a vibe even - that heightens the experience of what the listener is doing. In a bar setting, I’m constantly on alert, watching patrons’ body language and looking for the physical clues of how they respond to what’s being played. You’ll find me wandering around the space a lot, checking different areas to see that the music is loud enough to hear but soft enough for conversation. With radio, the goal is the basically the same but I have no visual clues or control over the atmosphere. Just my own experience of going about day-to-day life and a heavy dose of faith in my intuition.”
What would be your dream event, locale or atmosphere to soundtrack with a customized playlist? Why?
“My all-time dream gig would be at a club that existed in mid-town Manhattan in the early 1980′s called Danceteria. It wasn’t even so much a club as it was an experience: 7 days a week this place had multiple floors going with experimental films, multimedia exhibitions, live bands and DJs all going on simultaneously. The DJs were encouraged to play whatever they wanted, and they really did, with this wild mix of sounds from the Talking Heads to Alice Coltrane to Klaus Nomi to Philip Glass to Don Cherry. It was this rare scene where it was the art that mattered not the categorization - and what you ended up with, for a couple of years at least, was this vibrant group of punks and poets and drag queens and taxi drivers and rockers and rappers and art stars all rubbing shoulders on the dance floor and celebrating art and life together.”