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:

Ways to Connect

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'

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!

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

A true jazz legend - vocalist Gloria Lynne - passed away on October 15th in Newark, New Jersey of a heart attack. She was 81.

Bob Perkins recalls how Philadelphians loved Gloria Lynne, even though she was a New Yorker, and celebrated her talent. Listen to BP's recollections of a multi-talented chanteuse, best known for her signature song, "I Wish You Love."

Continuing our appreciation of Dave Brubeck, WRTI's own jazz legend Bob Perkins sits down with Kile Smith for a wide-ranging interview about the man, his music, and his legacy. "As Louis Armstrong would say, he was a cat..."

WRTI mourns the loss of iconic jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, who died on December 5th at age 91 - one day shy of his 92nd birthday. Watch this "Take Five" video from 1966 and remember a legend:

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