Bob Perkins

Jazz Host

Also known as "BP with the GM," (translation: "Bob Perkins with the Good Music"), Mr. Perkins has been in the broadcasting industry for more than four decades as an on-air host, and is now commonly referred to as a Philadelphia jazz radio legend.

BP broke into the radio business in 1964 when he landed an on-air job in Detroit. In 1969, his hometown of Philadelphia beckoned him back with a gig at rhythm-and-blues station WDAS, where he worked for the next 19 years. He joined WRTI in 1997.

In addition to his job as jazz host, BP writes numerous columns and commentaries on jazz for local publications in Philadelphia. He also hosts concerts at jazz clubs and at regional festivals.

BP was awarded the 2002 Mellon Jazz Community Award. And in 2007, he was honored with a proclamation for his outstanding contributions to Philadelphia's jazz community by Mayor John Street, Philadelphia City Council, and the House of Representatives in Harrisburg. Wait two seconds and you'll hear about yet another award bestowed on "Ol' BP," as he calls himself.

Bob can be heard Monday through Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 pm, and on Sundays from 9 am to 1 pm.

Music recently heard on Bob's show:

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Jazz on Film: Ritz at the Bourse
12:17 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

BP Suggests: Keep On Keepin' On, A Film about Swing and Bebop Trumpeter Clark Terry

The award-winning independent film about the amazing swing and bebop trumpeter Clark Terry is showing at The Ritz at the Bourse starting on November 21, 2014 for a short run.

Was it fate or a divine hand that brought together a young drummer from Australia, an even younger visually impaired pianist, and a legendary jazz artist?  

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Latest From ICON Magazine
12:11 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

BP's Jazz Library: Singer Carmen McRae

Carmen McRae (1920-1994)

Very often with famous entertainers, only the first name is sufficient for identification. This happens particularly in the genres of jazz and standard/popular music. When a hip person wants to say something about a well-known artist, they may refer to that artist as Sarah, Billie, Ella, or Carmen. The latter of course is a reference to Carmen McRae, dubbed by jazz critics, writers and fans, "The Singer’s Singer."  

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BP Remembers Satchmo
12:27 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Louis Armstrong: The Quintessential Man with the Horn

Louis Armstrong was to jazz what Einstein was to physics, King to Civil Rights, Shakespeare to comedy and tragedy, and Oprah to televised entertainment. He taught the trumpet to do things the instrument didn't know it was capable of doing, and he could turn a song upside down with that deep, gravelly voice; Armstrong's contributions to the advancement of jazz as an art form are inestimable. All this, accomplished by a man who was born into abject poverty at Liberty and Perdido streets in New Orleans' Third Ward - better known as "Storyville."

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WRTI Spotlight
2:18 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Jazz Pianist and Hard Bop Composer Horace Silver Dies at 85

One of my favorite Horace Silver albums

When I first heard Horace Silver play piano, I said to myself, "this fellow must have been groomed in the African America church." Not quite...but somewhat close: his mother was of Irish-African descent, and did sing in church; and his father was of Afro-Portuguese heritage.

One could detect in his unique, straight-ahead jazz style, gospel, blues, soul and funk - well before the latter adjective found its way into the music lexicon. 

Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers: Doodlin'

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WRTI Spotlight
1:22 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

BP Remembers Jazz Vocalist Jimmy Scott

Jimmy Scott

The music world - and the world at large - lost a very fine singer of standard popular songs last week when Jimmy Scott died on June 12th at age 88.

It’s surprising that the name Jimmy Scott was unknown to a good number of folks. But to those familiar with his work and his way with a song, he was a legend...and some of those who favored his work, were and are, legends in their own right: Nancy Wilson, Ray Charles, and Billie Holiday, to name a few, sang his praises. The standard pop and jazz cognoscente, knew Jimmy Scott!

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From ICON Magazine
3:11 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Bob Perkins Tells The Story of Herb Jeffries, "The Bronze Buckaroo"

Jazz singer and actor Herb Jeffries (1913-2014)

BP wrote this article in 2011 for ICON Magazine, and wanted to share it again now in memory of Mr. Jeffries, who passed away on May 25, 2014 at age 100.

If you have high mileage on your odometer, and over the years have been in tune with standard popular music and jazz, you may have heard the name Herb Jeffries, and perhaps even know something about the singer/actor. He sang with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in the early 1940s, and scored a hit with his rendition of “Flamingo.”

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Latest From ICON Magazine
10:48 am
Thu May 22, 2014

Bob Perkins Tells The Story of Billy Strayhorn, Composer of "Take the 'A' Train"

Composer, arranger, and pianist Billy Strathorn is best known for his 30-year collaboration with Duke Ellington. His compositions include "Take the "A" Train," "Chelsea Bridge," and "Lush Life."

He stood five feet, two inches tall, and his musical colleagues dubbed him “Swee’ Pea,” after the little character in the Popeye cartoons. But Billy Strayhorn ranked with the giants that composed enduring standard popular music. He was also nobody’s cartoon character. The handle was a reverent tease, applied by Strayhorn’s musical associates in the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

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Latest from Icon Magazine
2:54 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Bob Perkins’ Jazz Library: Memories of Saxophonist Hank Mobley

I don’t recall hearing much about Hank Mobley, until he recorded a certain record album in 1963. But, this was my fault for not listening closely enough to Philly’s all-jazz radio station that prevailed at the time. The station must have played Mobley often, because he was a hot jazz commodity about that time.

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Latest From ICON Magazine
5:02 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

The Story of Duke Ellington's Longtime Tenor Sax Bandman

Tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves with Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington was a fascinating figure—so much so that quite a number of books and shorter profiles of the man came to be during his time, and well after his passing. Writers were always peering over his shoulder, trying to get a fix on how he operated his band and made it so successful; they even attempted to poke into his personal life, which the Duke managed to keep fairly secret.

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From ICON Magazine
3:19 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Bob Perkins Tells The Tommy Potter Story

Jazz bassist Tommy Potter with Charlie Byrd in NYC in the late 1940s.

Tommy Potter’s name wouldn’t get much attention in jazz circles these days...unless the gathering were comprised of musicians and jazz fans with high-mileage on their odometers. But there was a time when the mention of his name brought smiles and nods of recognition, along with enthusiastic approval.

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