Bill Pearce

Music Producer and Host

Bill was born and raised in a sod hut on the Kansas plains.

And then he graduated with a degree in clarinet performance from Simpson College in Indianola. While in Iowa, Pearce worked at a commercial radio station playing pop-like music records and reading news. 

After college, he returned to Wichita and began a career in photography. He worked for KWCH, at a commercial photo studio and later for Cessna. Pearce got back into radio when he found a job at the now-defunct Friends University station. He played classical music during the week and hosted his own jazz show on Saturdays.

For the past eight years, Pearce has read magazines like Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly for the Wichita Radio Reading Service, which is in the same building as KMUW. That’s how General Manager Mark McCain found him. Straight No Chaser features mostly instrumental jazz, from early music to recent recordings. Also listen for the record labels, names of all the musicians involved, and when the recording was made.


1:33 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Straight No Chaser for May 18: Zoot Sims, Horace Silver, Wes Montgomery - plus web extras

The late, great Zoot Sims, known for his work with legends like Ray Charles and Benny Goodman, is among Sunday's SNC featured artists.
Credit The Concert Database

Sunday, May 18:

Historic figures all: pianist/composer Bill Evans, guitarist Wes Montgomery, Zoot Sims on sax, and pianist Horace Silver.

Web extras:

Wes Montgomery live in London circa 1965:

This week's long-watch: Horace Silver Quintet circa 1974 at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy.

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2:02 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Straight No Chaser for May 11: Bob Brookmeyer on T-bone, sax duo Mulligan and Desmond, big band jazz

One of Sundays's featured collaborations
Credit Album cover art

Sunday, May 11: KCMO-born trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, bari sax great Gerry Mulligan with his longtime collaborator, alto sax Paul Desmond (in an outing sans Dave Brubeck), Josh Breakstone on jazz guitar, and the Carl Saunders Big Band.

This week's long-watch: Dave Brubeck Trio feat. Gerry Mulligan and Paul Desmond.

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6:30 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Drummer Matt Wilson Headlines Annual Wichita Jazz Festival

Matt Wilson will be at the Wichita Jazz Festival on April 23-26.

The Annual Wichita Jazz Festival will be taking place this weekend and this year’s festival features percussion headlined by drummer Matt Wilson.

Wilson received a Bachelor's degree from Wichita State University. After graduation, Wilson and his wife Felicia, also a WSU graduate, moved to Boston and then New York, where he became an in-demand musician.

Matt has played with groups led by Charlie Haden, Lee Konitz, Denny Zeitlin, Dewey Redman and Dena DeRose. He has appeared on over 250 CDs as a sideman.

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2:04 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Check out our web extras: Straight No Chaser features jazz pianists

Jazz piano fan favorite Bill Evans (1929-1980).

Sunday, April 27: Tonight we'll hear Art Tatum, Larry Willis, Bill Evans and Phil Woods.

Art Tatum's "Yesterdays":

Bill Evans' "My Foolish Heart":

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3:45 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Jazz clarinet phenom Buddy DeFranco featured Sunday on Straight No Chaser

Jazz clarinet great Buddy DeFranco pictured at the Village Jazz Lounge in Disney World in the late '70s.
Credit Laura Kolb

Sunday, April 20: Tonight, we welcome back Miles Davis, Peter Leitch, Buddy DeFranco and Freddie Redd.

A web extra for you:

Here's 'Flying Home', one of the many songs clarinetist Buddy DeFranco (now 91 years-old) performed live in a 1991 special (you can find the rest of the special on YouTube):

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3:28 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Mid-Century Jazz: esteemed big band and solo acts on Night Train this week

Bud Shank's big band featured Thursday
Credit Homer D. Clark

Monday, April 14: We'll hear from Gill Evans and his Orchestra, Jack Sheldon, Ahmad Jamal, and the Heath Brothers.

Tuesday, April 15: Featured: Miles Davis, Red Holloway, The Bill Holman Big Band and Freddie Hubbard.

Wednesday, April 16: Teddy Edwards, Bill Evans, J. J. Johnson, and Lou Donaldson.

Thursday, April 17: We wrap up what ended up being mid-century-jazz week with Ray Brown, The Bud Shank Big Band, Ahmad Jamal and the Bob Florence Limited Edition Big Band.

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1:53 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Jazz trombonist who started a 'musical sea shell' movement, this week on Straight No Chaser

With the lungs of a trombonist, jazzist Steve Turre has perfected the art of conch-shell music making.

Sunday, April 13

On the playlist tonight: composer/pianist Horace Silver, sax guru Zoot Sims, composer/pianist Bob Florence, trombonist and pioneer of 'the musical sea shell' Steve Turre and bebop woodwinds great, composer Phil Woods.

Check out this throwback from Walter Davis, Art Taylor, Doug Watkins and Zoot Sims from 1958:

And here's the Phil Woods Quartet performing with Michel Legrand circa 2001:

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3:31 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Timeless jazz: Clark Terry and Thad Jones, this week on Straight No Chaser

Sunday, April 6 2014:

Tonight, we've got timeless jazz from Clark Terry and Thad Jones, some of Bruce Barth's newest releases and Beatles tributes by numerous artists.

Clark Terry, whose Grammy and National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Awards include: 2010 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, NARAS President’s Merit Award, three Grammy nominations and two Grammy certificates.

4:05 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Jazz strings and reeds, and more from Wichita native Greg Skaff

American tenor saxist Stanley Turrentine aka 'Mr. T'
Credit Getty Images

Sunday, March 30, 2014:

Tonight, we're back to the library to hear Gene Ammons, Jimmy Ponder, Stanley Turrentine and Buck Clayton.

Plus, more from Kansas native Greg Skaff, who we featured earlier this month:

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5:00 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Daniel Smith: Bassoon Goes Latin-Jazz

Daniel Smith, known for bring bassoon to the foreground.
Credit Album Cover Art

Sunday, March 23:

We'll hear the latest release from accomplished jazz bassoon player, Daniel Smith. Smith has successfully segued between genres, from classical to jazz and back. Though it could be argued that Smith is like a dancing elephant – it’s not how well he dances, it’s that he can do it at all – his latest release, Bassoon Goes Latin-Jazz, has received high acclaim and is proving to be Smith's best crossover album yet.  Along with that, we'll hear from Jimmy Heath, Monty Alexander and Eric Alexander.

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