WBGO Blog
  • Bourne's Montreal: Very Montreal

    August 8, 2014. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    "What's this group like?" asked one of the folks on the WBGO trip to the festival.

    "I don't know," I answered.  "I always want to hear up here music I've never heard before."

    I've often written that the Montreal jazz festival virtually re-defines jazz. I hear every year musicians incorporate new forms and styles of music into jazz.

    plaster1

    I wrote an essay in Montreal a few years ago about an electronic group called Plaster that generated riffs with samples and various whizbangs yet reminded me of the Basie band in the 30's swinging riffs.

    Hip-Hop.  House.  World Beat.  Beat Box.  And especially electronics have expanded the palette of jazz melodically, harmonically, and certainly rhythmically.

    Photo by Denis Alix
    Photo by Denis Alix

    With his group Shadow Theater, Tigran played synthesizers (or whatever little boxes with wires and knobs are called nowadays) to create looping melodies and rhythms,  sometimes only an ambience, to play within.

    Whitehorse600

    White Horse, the husband and wife team of Luke Doucet and Melissa McLelland, created tapestries of sound criss-crossing technological devices with traditional instruments.

    Doucet played guitar and miscellaneous percussion, including hammering on a floor drum sonic booms that echoed this way and that.

    McLelland, hugely pregnant in a green cocktail dress, played a Fender bass.  Together they "built" songs like a Dublin tapster "building" a pint of Guinness.

    Photo by Frederique Menard-Aubin
    Photo by Frederique Menard-Aubin

    BadBadNotGood played the late show at Club Soda — where every night something different was happening.

    These kids from Toronto play what someone called "post-rock" -- but the interplay sounded rather like be-bop.  Rocking.  Bopping.  Lively.  And fresh.  They became instant sensations on the web about a minute ago, and already they've been working with hip-hop stars.

    "They're just kids," I said to Laurent Saulnier, the festival's VP of the Edge. "Nerds."

    "No," he said, laughing like only he can.  "Geeks!"

    Geeks that, notwithstanding electronically, swing …

    Photo by Denis Alix
    Photo by Denis Alix
  • Berklee Global Jazz Ambassadors With David Sanchez: Newport Jazz 2014

    August 7, 2014. Posted by WBGO.

    image
    David Sanchez and the Berklee Global Jazz Ambassadors perform at the 2014 Newport Jazz Festival. (Image Credit: Adam Kissick for NPR)

    Boston's Berklee College of Music was already one of the premier conservatories for jazz when it launched a new program designed to push a select group of students beyond the classroom. The Berklee Global Jazz Institute assembles a small international ensemble to create works on the bandstand and explore connections to culture, nature and other art forms.

    That band acts as a de facto emissary for Berklee and jazz across the U.S. and around the world. Appropriately, for its Newport-opening set, the group's current lineup was paired with the accomplished Puerto Rican tenor saxophonist David Sanchez, who led the ensemble in a performance of his own compositions.

    Set List

    • "Morning Mist"
    • "Mirage"
    • "Endless Wait"
    • "A Thousand Yesterdays"

    Personnel

    David Sanchez, tenor saxophone; Mao Sone, trumpet; Leandro Pellegrino, guitar; Takafumi Suenaga, piano; Jared Henderson, bass; Jharis Yokley, drums

    Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

  • Bourne's Montreal: Zappa, Meet Zappa

    August 7, 2014. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    I first encountered Dweezil Zappa, who played FIJM at Montreal’s Metropole this year, in the womb.

    I met his father, Frank Zappa, on the 4th of July, 1969, in Indianapolis at a Holiday Inn.  I was interviewing Frank for a cover story in Down Beat.  Frank's wife Gail was great with child.  Dweezil.

    gailzappa

    I was nuts about Frank's uniquely jazzy/rocky/funny theatrical music, and I hung with The Mothers of Invention variously on the road from '69 into the 80's.

    zappa600

    I'd never heard  Dweezil playing his father's classics until Montreal, and I was singing along from the jump.  "Call Any Vegetable."  "Suzy Creamcheese."  Mostly songs from the early Mothers albums and some of the best of Frank's  satiric ("I Am The Slime," about television) and surreal ("Montana," about dental floss) classics.

    zappaplayszappa600

    Dweezil's band was loudly orchestrated, almost as if the living albums with the volume turned up, and all in the band are virtuosic enough to whip it out — especially singer and saxophonist Scheila Gonzalez, whose animated  presence on stage reminded me of Frank's sexy (and very musical) Ruth Underwood.

    Except that he didn't play extended concerto-like improvs, Dweezil's guitar chops sounded very like his dad's.

    dweezil600

    I missed every other gig that night.  "Zappa Plays Zappa" was so cool I was flooded with great memories — and the contact high with all the other older Zappaholics in the crowd was quite bulbous.