For anyone who isn’t familiar with Jazzology, it is Savage Content’s jazz trivia show. Our Jazzology host is the esteemed jazz historian Willard Jenkins Jr., who is recognized and respected in the jazz community under his Open Sky Jazz banner. Jenkins has dedicated his career to the arts and the world of jazz. His many titles include artistic director, arts and music consultant, writer, producer, educator, broadcast journalist, and now web series host. On Jazzology, guests compete head-to-head testing their jazz knowledge. Every episode, we invite two guests to compete against each other for a chance to win $100. The winner will return the following episode to compete again with a new contestant.
Since we began Jazzology in April 2022, we have had some amazing trivia battles. From jazz musicians to jazz organization leaders to jazz enthusiasts, every contender has had interesting insight to bring to the show. Our favorite part is discovering what made each contestant fall in love with jazz. This is such a great question because no two people’s answers will be exactly the same. Each person has their own personal experiences when it comes to jazz, and it’s fascinating to see what the defining moment for them was.
Since we’ve been hosting episodes of this amazing trivia show for over a year now, we thought it would be a good time to highlight 5 of our favorite Jazzology episodes. There are almost 30 episodes to choose from, so it was hard to just pick 5, but these are the ones that stuck out to us the most.
Episode 17: Brad Farberman vs Michael Brown
In this episode of Jazzology, we meet guitarist and journalist for the New York Times, Brad Farberman. Against him this round is jazz enthusiast Michael Brown. Both contestants show off their jazz trivia knowledge with enthusiasm from both shining through. It’s no surprise that he remained the undefeatable champion for so long after this episode. The score remained close throughout the show, even going to sudden death to decide the outcome. Some other moments from the episode I loved include...
This quote from Michael about why he’s a jazzologist: “It’s in my DNA. Wake up, go to sleep, it was Jazz all day and all night.”
Brad’s love of jazz formed from going to see shows in New York City and Long Island and one of his favorite shows was getting a chance to see Herbie Hancock.
Michael Brown reminiscing on a time when he and his friends would mimic the music that they’d all listen to together and pretend to play instruments on their favorite parts.
Michael saying, “There’s always someone new that’s coming in with new ideas and exploration and innovation to continue to flourish this great music.”
It was a fun episode to watch because of how unclear it was who would win by the end, but Brad’s confidence and knowledge helped him clinch the win.
Episode 23: Keanna Faircloth vs Jim Coleman
In the 23rd episode, our returning champion was Keanna Faircloth, a Jazz radio, TV, and events producer. The challenger for this episode was Jim Coleman, a lifelong Jazz fan, trumpet player, artist manager, and operator of the top New York audio video showroom and operation facility. This episode is one of my favorites because it’s so much fun to see a jazz veteran like Jim go up against a new-age jazz lover like Keanna. It’s so heartwarming to see Keanna cheering Jim on and being continuously impressed by his knowledge throughout the show.
Some of my favorite moments from this episode include...
Learning all about Jim Coleman’s years of experience within the Jazz industry, not only has he played the trumpet for 68 years, but he also managed and was a friend of the legendary Chet Baker. Most interesting of all was learning that his uncle is the great band leader Ray Anthony, the last surviving member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra (who just recently turned 101!)
Jim Coleman lives across the street from Billie Holiday’s former apartment on West 87th Street and got to hear Holiday play near the end of her life when she couldn’t play in Manhattan without a cabaret card.
When asked what keeps Keanna interested in Jazz, she said, “The constant evolution of the music. It’s so exciting to watch where it’s going and how the sound is turning over every year with each generation...with something new to offer and a new way of expanding the sound and the genre.”
Willard’s fun fact about Johnny Costa after the bonus round. Costa’s main claim to fame was being the piano player on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.
You can check out Jim Coleman’s YouTube channel which has an incredible archive of over 950 videos of live Jazz performances from about the last nine years. Keanna didn’t win this round, but I loved her positive energy in this episode and how happy she was for Jim.
Episode 11: Mark Ruffin vs Joe Petrucelli
It’s so exciting to watch someone take on the reigning champion and win! This head-to-head between Mark Ruffin and Joe Petrucelli is a fun one to watch. Returning for his sixth episode as the reigning champion, Joe Petrucelli is the executive director of the Jazz Foundation of America. Challenging him in this episode is Mark Ruffin, a jazz broadcaster, record producer, writer, and Grammy award nominee. He is also the program director and host of SiriusXM’s Real Jazz channel.
Some of my favorite moments in this episode include...
Learning about the Jazz Foundation of America’s event gala A Great Night in Harlem, their first gala since 2019. I especially liked learning that they were honoring the executive director at the event.
Mark Ruffin when talking about his book BeBop Fairytales said part of the messaging is, “Why we can’t live together and enjoy jazz – and baseball.”
Joe showing off his jazz trivia skills during a question about which other festival George Wein founded, he not only gave the correct answer, but also the year it was founded as well. Impressive!
Joe aside from going out to live shows, his response to what keeps him interested in jazz included saying, “Reading interviews with musicians is one thing I think that keeps me informed and learning more about the music.”
There’s a great little conversation about upcoming performances Mark is attending, so be sure to watch all the way to the end! You can check out Mark Ruffin’s 2020 book Bebop Fairytales here. And to learn more or donate to the Jazz Foundation of America, visit their website.
Episode 27: Jason Marshall vs Greg Bryant
Our 27th episode was our one-year anniversary episode, so that already makes it special! However, what really stuck with me in this head-to-head was how much knowledge was passed between our contestants Jason and Greg. Jason was our reigning champion going into this one, winning the last two rounds of Jazzology. A baritone saxophonist, Jason has performed with the late great Roy Hargrove and The Mingus Big Band, among others. This episode’s challenger Greg (nicknamed The Watchman) is a musician, broadcaster, writer, podcaster, and host of Sirius XM’s show Real Jazz. You’ll have to check out the episode to see how he got the nickname, but it’s a very cool explanation 😊 It was a good battle, but this time around, Greg was dominating. His win was very well deserved.
Some of my favorite moments from the show include...
This quote from Jason when he was asked what keeps him excited about playing Jazz. “The baritone saxophone is just an endless quest for perfection and there’s always another layer of emotional depth you can get out of the instrument.”
Greg’s response to the same question being, “The camaraderie. Coming together across social economic backgrounds and generations to focus on one thing. Everything else is secondary.”
Greg talking about finding the “get down” parts in music that made him want to play them over and over is what made him fall in love with Jazz.
Greg shouted out Jason’s baritone sax talent and said that he learned a lot from him when he first started playing. He said Jason’s playing blew him away, and that he knew Jason would be a talent to watch.
Jason has a recent release you can check out called New Beginnings. You’ll find the purchase info here. Although he isn’t our reigning champion anymore, we appreciate him coming onto the show and sharing his fascinating jazz insight.
Episode 9: Andromeda Turre vs Joe Petrucelli
This trivia battle is a favorite of mine because of the fun energy throughout the whole episode. Joe Petrucelli is the returning champion in this one, dominating in the two previous installments. He is the executive director of the Jazz Foundation of America and has a well of knowledge when it comes to Jazz. Taking him on in this episode is Andromeda Turre, the Jazz vocalist, host of the radio show Growing Up Jazz, and the founder of the Growing Up Jazz organization. Andromeda has such a vibrant personality that she makes anything she’s a part of the fun. I like seeing her and Joe battle it out with some hard jazz trivia questions.
Some of my favorite moments include...
Joe explaining the process of how the foundation helps meet the needs of musicians. I especially liked it when he said they recognize all the different challenges musicians face and try to be as broad and inclusive as possible.
Andromeda’s answer to how she continues to stay in love with jazz. “By continuing to stretch its vocabulary and both by creating and writing and performing myself and playing on the air...current living composers that are reflecting the times of right now.”
The part in the episode where Joe says he continues to stay in love with Jazz by going out and seeing live music. “The best format for appreciating music if you have access to it.”
Andromeda kicking herself for not remembering the answers to questions that she feels like she should know. I feel like if I went on a trivia show, I’d blank on stuff too. I liked her honesty.
I knew I had to include this episode in my picks because it’s a great battle, and I love hearing Willard’s soundboard for right and wrong answers. Although Andromeda didn’t win this round of Jazzology, she had a lot of interesting experiences to share, and I liked seeing Joe’s knowledge put to the test once again. Learn more about the Jazz Foundation of America and Andromeda’s organization Growing Up Jazz.
These are the five Jazzology episodes that are my personal favorites – what are yours? With a new episode coming out every other week, there’re always more chances to test your own Jazz trivia knowledge by watching along. If you’d like to test your knowledge formally on one of our episodes by becoming a contestant, you can sign up here. The victor of each episode wins $100, so sign up if you think you can beat the latest challenger!
I only picked out five to highlight, but there are over 25 episodes of Jazzology to check out. Catch up on them all with our Jazzology playlist.
Thanks for reading, and we hope you enjoyed seeing some of our favorite episodes.
Written by Kristen Petronio