[JPL] about "The Maj"-China Valles

Arturo arturo893 at qwest.net
Wed Mar 7 17:50:05 EST 2007

Thanks to Ricky for mentioning one of my radio heroes, China Valles who was
nicknamed by Dule Ellington, "The Maharajah, Purveyor of Swirls" back in
1956 and over the years became the "Maj".  According to China, Duke said to
him, you are not just another dee jay spinning platters, hence the reference
to swirls. China who is of Cape Verdean descent was raised in the same Rhode
Island area as other Cape Verdeans,  Paul Gonsalves and Horacio Silver, in
fact it was Horacio Martin Ward da Silva Tavares who introduced Thelma to
China, his wife of nearly 50 years. China used to host a jazz show on a
Providence area radio station where he was nicknamed by Duke as it was the
station for the Newport Jazz Festival. China moved to Miami in 1962 or '63
where he was the overnight jazz voice of South Florida until circa 2002 when
a change of station ownership switched formats from classical-days and
jazz-nights and became a club music station. When the "China Gate" closed, I
asked China to host a weekly shift on WDNA, however after a few months China
retired as it was difficult for him to host a show as a volunteer after over
50 years as a paid announcer. China's theme song since the late 60s was
China Gate as performed by Ramsey Lewis from his Cadet LP, Movie Themes. In
the 70s China was part of the legendary WBUS, "The Bus" a free form radio
station typical of the 1970s, part of a line-up that included Symphony Sid
Torin playing only salsa and Latin jazz(his last gig), Alan Grant, his son
Stu(now a Miami smooth host), Boston Bob(owner of Miami's Blue Note Records)
and many others.

China is a founder of the Sunshine Jazz Organization, a society that
presents jazz throughout the year, educates and publishes a monthly
newsletter. His son is now the President, his wife is still very active
while China is President Emeritus.

Arturo Gómez

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