Jazz 91.9 WCLK has announced the passing of longtime announcer John “Jay” Edwards, who succumbed to illness on Tuesday. Edwards served as the host of “Jazz Tones,” every Sunday afternoon from 3–6 p.m., where he dedicated his time to showcasing Jazz from its evolution until now.
On many occasions, Edwards 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.
“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, after a lengthy illness,” said Wendy Williams, general manager, Jazz 91.9 WCLK. “An ardent jazz curator and art lover, Jay had been part of the WCLK family for more than 20 years.
“(Edwards) was our ‘Jazz of all Trades,’ and one of our most revered spokespersons for the music and more,” Williams added. “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.”
Edwards’s love and engagement for spreading the gospel of Jazz stretched beyond the airwaves, Williams said. “He loved representing the station as a Jazz educator and would host Jazz chats at venues across Atlanta.”
Over the years, Edwards was also sought out to host several of the Jazz stages during the annual Atlanta Jazz Festival. He was also a regular attendee of the Jazz Education Network conference (Jazz Congress) each year, faithfully. Further, he nurtured contacts with the Jazz labels and journals to ensure WCLK’s Jazz library was well serviced.
“It was an honor to work with (Edwards) when I was asked to join WCLK as program director,” said 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,” Linton added. “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.”
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.
Cards and expressions can be mailed to Edwards’s daughter and the family: c/o Loren Edwards, 2120 Southwood Boulevard, Unit 337, Atlanta, GA 30331.