For those who long for “the grand old days” of radio, Jazz88 KBEM 88.5FM has answered the call. Jazz Noir is a new original radio series complete with live voiceover actors in front of a studio audience, just like in the days of radio’s infancy. Jazz88 KBEM’s first episode is an original drama, Charles & Avon, that will be performed, recorded and broadcast in front of a live audience from the Artists’ Quarter in downtown Saint Paul. Originated and produced by Kevin Barnes, a Minnesota-based team collaboratively created this new drama with the writing expertise of Alex Lewin and a jazz music score composed and performed by George Maurer. The radio show will be re-broadcast on KBEM Jazz88 in June 2013 and on several AMPERS radio stations throughout Minnesota, with potential broadcasts on several public radio jazz stations nationwide.
The plot unfolds in the late 1920s in Rondo, a predominantly African-American neighborhood of Saint Paul. Americans have been having too much fun to realize the roaring twenties are about to abruptly end with the onset of the Great Depression. Avon Davis (Latisha White) has been working with her father Ezekiel (David Cooper) to operate his boarding house. Avon taught herself the piano and her talent is prodigious. The parlor of the boarding house becomes a focal point for the Twin Cities jazz scene. Crime writer Kelly Long (Edwin Strout), a resident of the house, can see that Avon is flying too high and tries to save her from the despair of the eventual crash landing and the ultimate despair unique to artistic souls. Narrator Jack Marshall, the private-detective hero of Kelly’s crime stories, is played by Bruce Bohne. Ed Jones, Jazz88’s Morning Show host and theater veteran, directs.