March 1, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Today is the birthday of drummer Barrett Deems, called "The World's Fastest Drummer" by his contemporaries Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa. I can't say that I would call Barrett Deems a jazz giant, but I always found him entertaining. Have you ever seen High Society with Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong? If you answered yes, then you've seen Barrett Deems. He played drums for Louis Armstrong's All-Stars during the 1950s, and his hyperkinetic drumming was an excellent foil to the super-cool swing of Pops.
Here's "The World's Fastest Drummer" playing the drums, the stage, and a chair.
© 2008 WBGO
February 27, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
It's the birthday of saxophonist Dexter Gordon, who holds a special place in the hearts of many people at WBGO. Perhaps no one here knew him better than our station mother, Dorthaan Kirk. Here's a story she just told me:
I met Dexter when I was touring Europe with Rahsaan Roland Kirk's band. Rahsaan loved Dexter, so I knew the name and the music before I ever met him. Anyway, we had some time off, so we went to Copenhagen. We saw an early concert at Tivoli Gardens with the Basie Band, then we joined some of Basie's guys and headed for the Club Montmartre. Copenhagen was Dexter's home, and he played that club all the time.
I remember so much about that evening. Dexter was wearing a blue jean suit. It was definitely the 70s! At the end of the night, it's 3 or 4am, and all of the musicians are at the bar. I'm keeping to myself, mostly, while all the guys are carrying on. Long, tall, and handsome as can be, Dexter walks out of the kitchen, comes right up to me, and says, "Who are you?" I was practically speechless, which you know never happens...
From that night on, Dexter always called me "Miss Rahsaan." I sure do miss him.
Here's Dexter playing Sonny Stitt's "Loose Walk" in Amsterdam, with a Swiss trio - George Gruntz piano, Guy Pederson bass and drummer Daniel Humair:
© 2008 WBGO
February 8, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.
This is another up-and-coming artist that I'm really excited about. Jaleel Shaw is one of the most talented and interesting young players that has come along in the latest wave of young lions. I first met Jaleel around 2002 - he was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition that year as well. I was completely blown away by this cat. This year, he is a recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award, along with another great young talent, Kendrick Scott.
Oh, and Happy Birthday too!
© 2008 WBGO