A toast to Michael Bourne's legacy at DownBeat magazine, from publisher Frank Alkyer
Michael Bourne has been a fixture on the air at WBGO since 1984. His byline first appeared in DownBeat magazine 15 years earlier than that, in '69. So as we take this moment to celebrate Michael before he steps away from the microphone, we also wanted to acknowledge his parallel contribution to that iconic jazz magazine.
"What I always appreciated about Michael is, his voice comes through every article that he writes," says Frank Alkyer, publisher of DownBeat. "It's a rare thing. And it's such a positive, uplifting voice." Alkyer spoke with me earlier this week over Zoom, the day before traveling to Dallas for the Jazz Education Network's 14th annual conference.
Our conversation touched on Michael's many-splendored DownBeat legacy, including an early review of the soundtrack to Woodstock; a warm and revealing interview with Dizzy Gillespie, which Michael has recalled here; and an early-1980s profile of Dave Brubeck, which ran in coordination with a piece for broadcast at WBGO.
Whether you know Michael strictly as a welcoming presence on the air or have a long history with his voice on the page, I think you'll enjoy this brief but illuminating tribute. As Alkyer says near the end of our talk: "What a gift it is to have Michael Bourne in my life, and in our lives."
But it only makes sense here to give Michael the final word. "Nobody does what I do, and I don’t expect them to," he reflected in a 2017 interview with another DownBeat editor, Ed Enright. "And I don’t do what anybody else does. I never think of myself as being better or best or anything. All I want to be is unique."