Keepin’ it jazzy with Jack Frieden

by | Sep 8, 2022 | Trending News

For Jack Frieden, the love of vocal music of the 60s and beyond (think the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and Crosby, Stills & Nash) eventually spread to an appreciation of jazz. Today, he is the host of the Norfolk-based radio show, The Vocal Sound of Jazz on WHRV 89.5 FM, which airs on Saturday nights. Though he loves to showcase vocal music, he also enjoys jazz piano and often gives on-air play to Bill Evans, Tommy Flanagan, and their contemporaries.

As a jazz journalist for The Virginian-Pilot and Metro Magazine, he recalls a few favorite interviews. In 1983, he spent an exciting afternoon with Graham Nash and the rest of the Hollies in New York. The group was getting ready to take their reunion tour to Hampton Roads.

“I also had the opportunity to spend a morning interviewing singer/songwriter/pianist Dave Frishberg, who co-wrote Peel Me a Grape, I’m Hip, and so many other clever songs,” Frieden says. “And an interview that I worked on with Blossom Dearie was turned into an hour radio special that was nominated for a couple of awards.”

Frieden had his own record label, VSOJAZ (for “Vocal Sound of Jazz”), to record local and lesser-known jazz vocalists. It was short-lived. “I never had the goal to make any money with the record label,” he says. “The goal was to essentially have the sales of each release return enough money to finance the next release. We released two albums, one of which I co-produced with jazz bassist Jimmy Masters that I am very proud of. But as the recording industry morphed from physical sales to streaming, it became apparent to me that this business model was not viable.”

For several years, Frieden served on the board of Tidewater Performing Arts Society, where he had the opportunity to introduce people like Kurt Elling, John Pizzarelli, Danilo Perez, and the all-woman big band, Diva, to local audiences. “It was an incredibly satisfying experience and a great outlet for my love of music and the arts in general.”

Frieden’s formal education is in finance with a degree from the University of Georgia. In 1991, he assumed the leadership role at the Frieden Agency (an insurance firm his grandfather started in 1928). In 2007, with the benefits division sold to TowneBank, Frieden became Towne’s president until 2012. The Frieden Agency continues to flourish with other family members who have active roles.

A fourth-generation member of Ohef Sholom Temple who attended JCC day camp and is an alumnus of Old Dominion AZA, the Jewish fraternal organization for teens, Frieden still loves hearing live music and laments that many venues are long gone. “I know places like Café Stella, Gershwin’s, and some of the craft breweries occasionally feature jazz, but it is really organizations like The Virginia Arts Fest’s Sandler Center Jazz Series and the City of Norfolk’s Attucks Theatre series that dominate the local jazz scene.”

To listen to Jack Frieden’s latest episode, visit or and search for “vocal sound of jazz.”

Debbie Burke