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"Black Cats Jump" Returns with New Episodes Tuesday Nights

The "Black Cats Jump" returns to WKMS with new episodes on Tuesday nights at 9 pm.
Todd Hill
"The Black Cats Jump" returns to WKMS with new episodes on Tuesday nights at 9 pm.

The Black Cats Jump returns to WKMS-FM airwaves with new episodes Tuesdays at 9 pm during Café Jazz with host Dr. Todd Hill.

Originally aired in the 1980s, The Black Cats Jump celebrates the legacy and expansive repertoire of African American big bands. Dr. Todd E. Hill and George Eldred have painstakingly recreated more episodes, originally broadcast by Bobby Bryan.

Bryan, the late producer, host, and writer of Black Cats, described the series by stating, "The Black Cats Jump is the story of the great but sometimes unrecognized contributions of the Black bands and musicians of the big band era."

After the first run of 52 recreated episodes that aired in 2020 to 2021, Dr. Hill says, "The groups we are examining now have been tougher to research, and also to find good sounding recordings for use on air."

Dr. Hill continues, "In this next 26 episodes, we concentrate on lesser-heard bands, early big band roots, great arrangers, and composers who deserve to be better remembered today. We are also including influential vocal and string groups during this sequence, something we didn't include before. This is the history of African American music—and hence all American music in the 20th century. It's impossible to overstate their importance."

Some of the bands highlighted in the upcoming episodes include:
• Detroit-based McKinney's Cotton Pickers under the direction of Don Redman
• The Mills Brothers' Erskine Hawkins and the 'Bama State Collegians
• Sy Oliver and his Orchestra
• The Spirits of Rhythm
• Coleman Hawkins and his Orchestra
• Los Angeles-based Paul Howard's Quality Serenaders
• Cincinnati-based Alphonso Trent's Orchestra
• Earl Hines and his Chicago Grand Terrace Café Orchestra
• Bennie Moten and his Kansas City Recording Orchestra
• Zach Whyte and his Chocolate Beau Brummels
• Les Hite and his Orchestra
• Boots and his Buddies
• Eddie South and his international Orchestra
• Billy Eckstine and his Orchestra
• Lionel Hampton Small Group Recordings
• The King Cole Trio
• Elmer Fain and his Orchestra, and many more

You can tune in to The Black Cats Jump Tuesday evenings at 9 pm on-air or online at You can also ask your smart speaker to "play WKMS."

Melanie Davis-McAfee graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with a BA in Music Business. She has been working for WKMS as a Music and Operations Assistant since 2017. Melanie hosts the late-night alternative show Alien Lanes, Fridays at 11 pm with co-host Tim Peyton. She also produces Rick Nance's Kitchen Sink and Datebook and writes Sounds Good stories for the web.
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