On Off-Ramp, we like to talk with witnesses to history, people who bring history alive, instead of leaving it on the dry pages of a book. Retired Judge James Reese is one of these voices of history. He was raised in the segregated south, served in the Army during WW2, became one of the relatively few black lawyers in LA in 1946, and was Ray Charles' legal counsel for two years before becoming LA's first black Superior Court commissioner. Later, he became a Superior Court judge. At 92, he's still hearing arbitration cases and has a new calling: a USC mentoring program for at-risk kids who can't read and write. Off-Ramp host John Rabe spoke with Judge Reese at his law office.
Marilyn Monroe didn't become an icon on her own. She had co-conspirators -- the photographers whose cameras loved her. Taschen has just published a huge new book of Monroe's last portrait sitting, taken for Vogue magazine by Bert Stern just six weeks before she died. Stern and Monroe worked together for three days at the Hotel Bel Air, which is where Tachen unveiled the new book. Bert Stern was the guest of honor and he talked with Off-Ramp host John Rabe.
If you drive the Harbor Freeway, you've seen Julie Gigante, the LA Chamber Orchestra violinist. You can't miss her. She's eight stories high. She's one of the most prominent LACO members depicted in Kent Twitchell's mural, "Harbor Freeway Overture," which was begun twenty years ago. Gigante is still with LACO, and until just the other day when she talked with Off-Ramp host John Rabe, hadn't stood at the foot on the mural. Rabe also talked with Twitchell, who is still proud of his monument to the musical artists.
December 15th marks the centennial of one of the seminal figures of jazz, Stan Kenton, who died in 1979. Kenton, who was born in Wichita and raised in Bell, was a ceaseless innovator who was once acclaimed "Modern America's Man of Music." Jazz historian Steven Harris, who hosted a Kenton tribute show on KPCC in the 1980s and is the author of "The Kenton Kronicles," looks back at this legendary figure whose theme song said it all: “Artistry in Rhythm”
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