LeRoy Downs has been an icon in the jazz industry for the past ten years. As former overnight host of radio station 88.1 FM KKJZ, the only straight ahead jazz radio format in Los Angeles, LeRoy has blessed the airwaves with his love and talent for creative jazz programming!
"Programming creative jazz music was like a dream! The spirit, the mood, and all of the great sounds in jazz are the only universal elements needed for great jazz programming. It cannot be pre-planned. The spontaneity of selecting the music kept the ideas fresh, hip and sounding absolutely wonderful! The salary at the station was challenging monetarily, but the love for the music kept me richer than the richest king!"
LeRoy, a native of Los Angeles, loves jazz but, was not raised on the music. “It was a constant search for something new and different. When I heard the young players doing the standards I thought, this is it! Little did I know that it would be a great journey back in time to discover the masters and find a home in my heart for great classic jazz music"
LeRoy attended Fairfax High School in West Hollywood, California. Directly across the street from his high school was a used record shop called Aaron's Records. This is where he discovered that he could take about $20 and buy about 20 albums, for those of you who know about vinyl! "Aarons was a place that I would notice that a bass player that I liked, for instance, would be featured on someone else's album that I did not know of. It was so inexpensive to by albums; I just picked them all up and discovered some incredible artist!"
With a great baritone voice and a love for the music, LeRoy pursued a career in radio programming. After volunteering at radio station 88.1 FM KLON (now KKJZ), there was an opportunity to do a two hour show and LeRoy jumped at the chance. He was the substitute and overnight host for three months before he finally landed the Saturday night spot which eventually lead to the 5 night a week program host spot.
"Being up all night playing music is rough on you body. I had to sleep in two shifts a day in order to function all night long. But with JAZZ, straight ahead of course, you need no caffeine. The sounds of Yusef, McCoy, Miles, Trane, Wayne, Herbie, Buhina, Mingus, Monk, Dolphy, Charles Lloyd, Chico, Golson, Curtis, Lee, Elvin... Man I could go on forever! That's all you need!! I live for the music and the music lives in me!
“I am so sorry that I am no longer on the air to play great jazz music for you any longer. It was not my decision to leave but, I love all of you who took the time and stayed up late to listen. You and all of those who listened from all over the world, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are truly the great fans and an inspiration for the music!"
Although no longer affiliated with KKJZ, this creative talent still has a deep love for the music, the players and the audience. He has been the Master of Ceremonies at the Monterey Jazz Festival for the past 7 years, the Big Sur Jazz Fest in Big Sur and has broadcasted from the International Association of Jazz Educators Convention in New York City. He has also been a well recognized host in Los Angeles at places like the Hollywood Bowl, Catalina Bar and Grill, The Jazz Bakery, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Skirball Cultural Center, The Carpenter Auditorium, The Crown Plaza Hotel and can be seen weekly as the jazz host at the LAX Westin Hotel. "
LeRoy has developed an entertaining jazz television show called “Hangin' with the Jazzcats” that is currently being pitched for weekly programming. “Live with the Jazzcat” is his weekly radio interview show that is broadcast live on 1410 AM KRML radio in Carmel, California and online at “The Jazzcat.net”. This program features the top and most extraordinary jazz talents in the business who spend time sharing their insights into their creativity and their music. “The Jazzcat.net” is the website where you can find LeRoy's articles, reviews, interviews, photos, video and much more. The site is positioned in the top ten Google search for jazz articles, jazz interviews and jazz television out of 36,600,000 sites listed on the internet."
There are some great plans for the future and LeRoy Downs will certainly be there continuing to carry the torch for jazz! He will be involved in a multi-million dollar media venue, currently under construction in Monterey, where he will host the jazz performances as well as develop content for one hour radio syndicated versions of “Live with the Jazzcat”. "
As long as there is jazz music, LeRoy Downs will be there supporting, entertaining, and as a continued wealth of resourceful information.