The Los Angeles jazz community lost a very good friend when Jim Gosa--a veteran broadcaster who worked at such stations as KFOX, KBIG and KKGO during his four-decade career--died Dec. 18 of melanoma at age 58.
Though a sometime film, television and stage actor who appeared in such films as “High Plains Drifter” with Clint Eastwood and episodes of “Hawaii Five-O,” the deep-voiced Gosa was best known as a jazz disc jockey for KKGO-FM, where he worked for 21 years. His completely personal way of integrating contemporary and mainstream jazz, both instrumental and vocal, into unified, flowing sets gained legions of fans. These fans ardently followed his programs until the end of August, when his illness forced him to leave the air permanently.
An intelligent man with a blindingly fast wit, Gosa was a tireless worker. For many years he not only handled his own three- to four-hour, six-day-a-week air shift at KKGO (formerly KBCA-FM), he also was in charge of the station’s commercial production schedule and produced many of the commercials himself. As if that weren’t enough, Gosa began studying law at night in 1982, eventually passing the California State Bar last June.
Here are remembrances of Jim Gosa by four friends and associates who knew him well:
“He was the absolute best at his business, a first class professional guy,” said Chuck Niles, the renowned disc jockey who worked alongside Gosa at KBCA/KKGO. “Everything he did was perfect. I can’t ever remember him goofing. And as an interviewer, he did that as well as anyone.”
“I loved him so very much because he had such great taste in music,” said singer Carmen McRae. “He was very good to me, for which I’m completely grateful. Every time I saw him, he made me feel good, like when he’d come into the club and talk for a second. He was such a decent human being, a sweet person and I’m going to miss him like hell.”
“Hey, he was the samurai of the jocks. If he had a sword in his hand, he’d make it swing,” said actor Pat Morita, who, as a stand-up comedian, worked the jazz circuit in the ‘50s and ‘60s. “I was an enormous admirer of his work and his sound and his presence, and I was very fortunate to have been able to count Jim in my personal little circle of friends. He was a one of a kind.”
“To all of us, Jim has given more than he has taken. Let his memory be our lesson,” said Dennis Smith, who worked with Gosa at KBIG in the mid-'60s and at KBCA/KKGO from 1970-78.
There are unfinalized plans for a memorial concert. Scholarships in Gosa’s name are being established at the Berklee College of Music and through the International Assn. of Jazz Educators. Donations may be sent to Jim Gosa Memorial Fund, in care of KKGO-FM, P.O. Box 250028, Los Angeles 90025.
Palm Springs Jazz, a three-day extravaganza, is scheduled at the Wyndham Palm Springs resort Friday through Sunday. Among the artists on tap: singers Pia Beck, Yve Evans and Cheryl Stephens; Conrad Janis and the Beverly Hills Unlisted Jazz Band; Finland’s Oiling Boiling Blues Band, and the Nightblooming Jazzmen. Music starts at 2:30 p.m. Friday. Information (800) 346-7308.
Father Tom Vaughn, former Episcopal clergyman at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in the San Fernando Valley, is in the midst of his first Los Angeles club engagement in more than a year, playing Wednesdays through Jan. 10 at Monteleone’s in Encino.
“I decided to get out of my self-imposed shell and get back to work,” said Vaughn, who has recorded LPs for the RCA and Concord Jazz labels. “I really like Monteleone’s. It’s small with a good piano. I’ve kind of been working on the classics lately, like Bach’s ‘French Suites’ and a lot of Chopin, kind of been in the (wood)shed, so my chops are up.” Vaughn, who will work with bassist Ernie McDaniel and drummer Jack Sperling, said his repertoire will consist mostly of standards.