WBGO Blog
  • The elegance of Eliane Elias

    January 18, 2008

    Something For You CoverI rarely work the morning shift around here. 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. newscasts are Doug Doyle territory and for good reason. It takes a special man to get up at 3:30 a.m. and get here in time to deliver the news at 6 a.m., sharp. Frankly, I ain't that special, man. Those of you who've heard me at that time in the morning, know what I'm talking about.Still, when Doug's out, I get the call. One recent morning, however, I was sitting at my desk, staring blankly at my computer monitor, the written word failing me, when all of a sudden, dripping from the speakers behind me, like honey on a nubile neck, comes Eliane Elias singing Jobim's "Photograph (Fotografia)."

    The vocal, so lush and silken, insinuated itself into my soft gray matter and swirled around like the café in my café con leche. I closed my eyes and drank deeply, Eliane inside my brain. MMM. It's just about the only thing that went right that morning.

    Eliane Elias is just smooth, man, (as both a singer and a pianist) so if you get a chance, I urge you to join us (yes, I'll be there) tomorrow at J&R Music's Park Row store (23 Park Row, NYC, Second Floor) for a FREE live performance and broadcast of some of the material from her new release "Something For You: Eliane Elias Sings and Plays Bill Evans."

    The performance starts at 4 p.m. and, even if you're in Rio, Brasil, you can hear it live. - David Cruz

  • IAJE Evening 3 - Q's Jook Joint

    January 14, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Quincy Jones with WBGO’s Josh Jackson

    Sometimes, everything works in your favor. Earlier this evening, I was God - well, the The Voice of God, actually - during the NEA Jazz Master Awards Concert. I only get this opportunity once a year, so I do my best to take advantage of the moment. When you're posing as a deity in a crowd of real ones, you might as well take control of reality. Michael Bourne refers to this unique ability of customizing your universe as being a Master of Space and Time.

    Backstage was a real hang. Old friends Quincy Jones and Jon Hendricks, who share a lot of history, swapped stories about an era of music that I know only about because I read books. They lived it.

    NEA Jazz Masters Quincy Jones and Jon Hendricks

    But I'm not afraid to talk to anyone. So I struck a note with Hendricks shortly after I took this photo. At 86, he's 53 years my senior. And he has more energy then I do. No more than ten minutes later, I'm in a cab with him. We're meeting Quincy Jones and a couple of friends for dinner. This is really happening...

    Food at Spice Room

    We gather at Greg Couillard's Spice Room and Chutney Bar, a private dining area in a Yorkville mall. The room seats about 40. It's 11:30pm. The place is ours alone.

    Couillard, from one of Canada's oldest families, and David Nganga, a Kenyan, are two of Toronto's finest chefs. They combine dishes with an understanding of spices from every world trade route - Africa, Asia, Indonesia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, India. They brought five courses of their own creation, and each one worked. Giant prawns, short ribs, lamb chops on a bed of chutney, flying fish and callalou pepperpot, Alberta filet mignon with foie gras, a dessert sampler to die for, and biscuits so good that a Southerner like myself had to ask for seconds.

    Dinner with the Jazz Masters

    I did not bring a microphone, nor a recorder. This wasn't the right time for such things. Anyway, we were improvising. What I can tell you is that the conversation went many places - New Orleans, Brazil, Toledo [OH], Dubai, Vegas, Miami's South Beach, New York. The stories were many - Q on the road with Lionel Hampton, Sing a Song of Basie, teaching kids about jazz and democracy, you name it.

    What fascinated me most about Quincy Jones was his understanding of international politics. He knows the internal dynamics of most nation states, including the United States. He's an international businessman and a humanitarian. He has to know it all.

    What you need to know about Quincy is that he is jazz. He never sleeps. He uses his power and wealth to affect social change. He's sending an envoy of New Orleans musicians to the favelas of Rio this year to show the rest of the world that poverty exists, and that it's inhumane. He's followed everywhere he goes (except to tonight's dinner) by a camera crew. They're making video podcasts. You should watch them.

    He loves great food. His favorite is gumbo from New Orleans' Dooky Chase Restaurant, run by the Queen of Creole cooking, Leah Chase. Q knows the Chase family. He has the gumbo recipe, and someone cooks it for him when he's nowhere near New Orleans.

    Quincy is also opening five clubs this year, in the US and abroad. They're called Q's Jook Joints. Frankly, wherever Quincy Jones is, that's where you'll find the real Q's Jook Joint. I'm glad that for one night, I got to jam there with two masters - Quincy Jones and Jon Hendricks.

    When you're a Master of the Universe, even for just one day, you'd better know how to improvise.

    -Josh Jackson

  • IAJE Evening 3 - Jazz Wonk(a)

    January 12, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Golden Ticket

    Let's all pretend that I'm Grandpa Joe from Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory for a moment:

    I never thought my life could be
    Anything but catastrophe
    But suddenly I begin to see
    A bit of good luck for me

    'Cause I've got a golden ticket
    I've got a golden twinkle in my eye...

    I had a backstage pass for the NEA Jazz Masters ceremony. It's a very precious item to have. Why did I, a lowly jazz radio blogger, get this? Well, as it happens, for one night, I was God. Or more appropriately, the "Voice of God" during the show. Hear God here.

    Script

    But Friday Night was not about me, and everything about the Jazz Masters who have contributed their lives to this music. So, now that I've been reassigned to mere mortal status, we'll move on to the show in these next few posts... - Josh