• JoAnne Brackeen - Great Live Moments

    July 21, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Joanne Brackeen Photo by Lafiya Watson
    Pianist JoAnne Brackeen is having a birthday, and every Monday this month, she's celebrating at Jazz Standard in New York. She's calling tonight's show "The Big Three" -- music from Art Blakey, Stan Getz and Joe Henderson, all of whom hired her.

    JazzSet is recording! We hope to present the show in Fall 08.

    On Great Live Moments, Brackeen plays "Manha de Carnaval." We don't know where this took place - a club named Harvie's, but we don't know where that was or is. I'll bet Jae Sinnett, the drummer, would know if he's reading along!


  • Great Live Moments - Andy Narell plays a pan by Ellie Manette

    July 18, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    "The Hammer" comes from 1988, the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, live on "New Year's Eve Coast to Coast." That night on WBGO and NPR, Carmen McRae sang with the Mel Lewis Orchestra at the Vista Hotel (destroyed 9/11/01) with intermission music by the late Patti Bown, and Moore by Four opened for Harry Connick Jr. at the Dakota in St. Paul, MN. Andy was on a double bill with Queen Ida's band from Louisiana. Pans & zydeco!

    Andy Narell always wants to tell you the history of his instrument, the steelpan. In the late 1930s, Trinidadian drummers of African descent began to fabricate tuneful instruments from the heads of 55-gallon oil barrels. In 1946, Elliott "Ellie" Manette (or Mannette) made a concave drumhead, the first steelpan. Andy Narell told WBGO's JazzSet that in 1947, Manette made history hammering the Brahms Lullaby on it, on Port au Spain radio. Pans on radio!

    For a short Andy Narell solo on a pan made by Ellie Manette, as played live on WBGO in 1980, click here.

    In 2000, when Manette received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the West Indies, he said that no one person invented the pan. It took a group and was an evolutionary process. Today, Manette continues to improve his pan making and, as Artist-in-Residence at West Virginia University, coordinates Pan Studies. Has anyone reading along ever seen him play?

    Narell - born in New York City in 1954 - became passionate about steelpan music as a young man. The day he came to WBGO for an on-air interview with host Al Pryor, he was promoting his first LP, Hidden Treasure (now on CD). As mentioned, Andy brought a pan made by Manette and played a solo. In the free-flowing interview, Andy talked about working in a summer camp in redwood forest in California, teaching kids to play the pans. Hear a clip here.

    Especially when it' s hot, the hammering of even one note on a steelpan opens your heart and lets the colors in. Pans are the sound of sunshine!


  • Great Live Moments - Philly Joe Jones

    July 17, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.


    By the 1980's, jazz drummer Philly Joe Jones had formed Dameronia, a group dedicated to playing the music of the great pianist, composer and arranger Tadd Dameron.  Dameron was a major influence of the drumming giant early in his career.  Dameronia was well-received and produced a few LP's with this musical concept.  Listen to the "Tadd's Delight" from 1983 featuring Charles Davis on saxophones, Walter Davis, Jr. on piano and Larry Ridley on bass.  It is imaginable that Jones had a dual love playing this tune.  In addition to honoring Dameron, Miles Davis, who was another major influence (and colleague), made the tune famous in the 1950s. We originally recorded this special date live in 1983 from the Jazz Forum in New York City. This recording is particularly a highlight, as it was not long after, that jazz would lose this innovative drummer to a fatal heart attack.

    Jones, who would have turned 85 this month, remains one of the quintessential drummers of this genre.

    Listen Here

  • Great Live Moments - Joe Henderson (1937-2001)

    July 15, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Born and raised in Lima (LYE-ma), Ohio, the saxophonist Joe Henderson was the thirteenth of 15 children. The oldest living sibling is Troye Henderson, born in 1924. We reached out to brother Troye to ask permission to share "Recordame" from the WBGO archive with you, and to ask about Joe.

    When Joe - very very young at the time - was learning the saxophone, Troye played his recording of "DB Blues" by Lester Young, and told Joe to learn the first three notes and when he knew them, learn the next three. Joe became so good that - when Stan Kenton's and Lionel Hampton's big bands came through Lima - family members took Joe (underage) to the shows, and the leaders invited him onstage. Joe called Troye his mentor, and Troye was a lifelong fan who would jump in his car and drive across state lines to hear him.

    After the Army, Joe Henderson lived in San Francisco, close to San Francisco State University. Saxophonist Andrew Speight (SPITE) - now on the faculty there - says that, though not formally affiliated with SFSU, Henderson taught lots of people in the Bay Area and had the respect of all musicians. When he passed, people "grabbed and secured his stuff," so that it would not be lost to jazz history.

    Andrew and others at SFSU are setting up a home for the collection, the Joe Henderson Institute. They hope to find a qualified grad student who will organize the music manuscripts, many many tapes of practice sessions and gigs ("live bootlegs") that Joe recorded, released records, awards, and other people's manuscripts of Joe's playing. It's a long process, slowly beginning.

    The Institute will be part of the Generations Project, under the umbrella of the International Center for the Arts at SFSU. The Project also holds hours of SFSU video of the late pianist Ronnie Mathews (1935-2008), who was involved - along with drummer Jimmy Cobb - in studying group creativity.

    Players like Henderson, Mathews and Cobb came up playing a lot of gigs in a lot of great bands with distinctive group sounds. In a split second, the musicians would negotiate questions - right there on the bandstand, creatively, through their music - not as stars but as .. brothers is the word that comes to mind. Brother Troye says when the Joe Henderson Institute is finally open for business that, just as he did when Joe was alive, he'll drive from Ohio to California to be there!

    Listen to Joe's "Recordame" with Curtis Fuller, Fred Hersch, Marc Johnson, Roy Haynes. 

    Becca Pulliam

  • Great Live Moments - Roy Haynes

    July 1, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Roy Haynes by Jimmy Katz

    I typically steer clear of superlatives when I write about musicians. My opinion is no less valid than any listener's opinion. That's one reason why I would never consider myself a critic. Just an advocate, really. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let me tell you that Roy Haynes is the greatest living jazz drummer. There. I said it. And I'm not just basing this on his accumulated career - you know, the 50+ years of playing with every major innovator since the late 1940s. Truth be told, Roy Haynes is eternally youthful, and he's still a badass. In July 1987, when Roy was a cool 62 years old (retirement age for the lucky few), he brought his quartet to Riverside Park in New York. WBGO recorded it for posterity, including this lovely jam on "All Blues." Donald Harrison is the saxophonist, Dave Kikoski played piano, Ed Howard is the bassist.
    And the leader...Roy...(tap tap tap)...Haynes...
    Click here to listen.