Jazz 91.9 WCLK is saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague John “Jay” Edwards, who passed away on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 after a lengthy illness. An ardent Jazz curator and art lover, Jay had been part of the WCLK family for more than 20 years. He hosted, Jazz Tones, every Sunday afternoon from 3:00 until 6:00 p.m., where he dedicated his time to showcasing Jazz from its evolution until now. On many occasions Jay would turn his Sunday afternoon timeslot into a talk studio where he interviewed hundreds of Jazz musicians who released new music and or were about to go on tour in Atlanta or around the world.
Many of those interviews are here. In the last decade alone, Jay interviewed luminaries including: Etienne Charles, Joey Alexander, Ted Nash, Stefon Harris, Kevin Bales, Mark Winkler, David Sanchez, Joe Jennings, Cheryl Benteen, Alan Harris, Lao Tizer, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Michelle Coltrane, Don Was, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Jazzmeia Horn, Christian Sands, Eddie Palmieri, Carmen Lundy, Vijay Iyer, George Cables, Steve Turre, Azar Lawrence, Freddy Cole, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Arturo Sandoval, Christian McBride, Allan Toussaint, Lenny White, Joe Chambers, Ahmad Jamal, Wayne Shorter, Earl Klugh, Jonathon Butler and Amiri Baraka.
Jay’s love and engagement for spreading the gospel of Jazz stretched beyond the airwaves. He loved representing the station as a Jazz educator and would host Jazz chats at venues across Atlanta. Over the years, Jay was also sought out to host several of the Jazz stages during the Atlanta Jazz Festival. He also attended the Jazz Education Network conference (Jazz Congress) each year, faithfully. And, he nurtured contacts with the Jazz labels and journals to help make sure WCLK’s Jazz library was well serviced.
“Jay was our ‘Jazz of all Trades,’ and one of our most revered spokespersons for the music and more,” says Wendy Williams, general manager, Jazz 91.9 WCLK. “Jay availed himself for the cause of WCLK without hesitation. He was our friend and colleague with whom we loved to laugh, debate and just enjoy, whenever he was around,” adds Williams.
“It was an honor to work with Jay Edwards, when I was asked to join WCLK as Program Director,” says David C. Linton. “I was excited about the opportunity to work with someone of Jay’s stature. We hit it off immediately finding a bond with us both being from New York City. However, our love for music, especially Latin Jazz made the bond stronger. I called him the ‘Elder Statesmen of Jazz.’ He was always ready to step up for Jazz and WCLK. He made my job so much easier and I’ll miss his hearty laugh and friendship.”
Jay will truly be missed but he will not be forgotten. His legacy at Jazz 91.9 WCLK will live on forever. Cards and expressions can be mailed to Jay’s daughter and the family: c/o Loren Edwards, 2120 Southwood Boulevard, Unit 337, Atlanta, GA 30331.