Phil Schaap

Phil Schaap was the early morning voice of jazz broadcasting in New York City for over 50 years. Starting in 1970 while still an undergraduate at Columbia University, he brought to the airwaves on WKCR-FM (Columbia University’s radio station) a passion and reverence for jazz as an art form. His love of older jazz and jazz musicians coupled with his encyclopedic knowledge of important jazz recordings, concerts, and writings, enabled him to provide his listeners with an inside approach to understanding this idiom. His weekly broadcasts entitled “Bird Flight” provided generations of Charlie Parker enthusiasts with a constant reminder of this genius’ work. Also essential to his many contributions to the world of jazz were his live interviews with great artists from every jazz style period. Phil continued to enrich modern jazz scholarship by producing many historic albums of music that had not been heard or additional music from famous recording sessions. This resulted in multiple Grammy Awards for him as a writer, producer, and engineer. He frequently had special shows billed as “Birthday Broadcasts” in which a famous musician’s work was featured on their birth date—Lester Young, John Coltrane, Clifford Brown, Roy Eldridge, Bix Beiderbecks, Ornette Coleman, etc. Additional specials that he initiated included Out to Lunch, Memorial Broadcasts, and Traditions in Swing. He continued to share and spread his knowledge as a teacher at The Juilliard School, Princeton University and Jazz@Lincoln Center. His passing in 2021 left a huge void in the jazz world but fortunately, a great deal of his on-air broadcasts were preserved by former students of his and are now available through this wonderful website. For those old enough to have grown up with Phil as a voice of endless information, the offerings on this site will bring a smile to one’s face. For those who only had limited encounters with the world of Schaap, this is a website that will provide inspiration for years to come.


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