WBGO Blog
  • 2009 NEA Jazz Master and Trumpeter Snooky Young

    December 12, 2008. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    Snooky Young

    An unsung hero of jazz trumpet, Eugene Edward "Snooky" Young, was honored at this year's 2009 NEA Jazz Masters Award Ceremony in Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center.  The soft-spoken, humble master (and growler) of the cup mute played 1st trumpet in swing-era big bands led by Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, and Jimmie Lunceford.  Born on February 3rd, 1919 in Dayton Ohio (yes, he turns 90 next year), Young grew-up idolizing (and imitating) Louis Armstrong.  As a consummate professional and distinct voice on the trumpet, he became close to many luminaries in show business.  He became most recognized with Johnny Carson, with whom he played for in the Tonight Show Orchestra for 20 years. - Simon Rentner

    Click here to listen to Snooky Young feature

    And click here to listen to the full 40 minute interview with Snooky Young and his grandson Tony Andrews

  • Live at the Village Vanguard 2009

    December 11, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Village Vanguard Sign
    Next week, Cedar Walton's trio wraps up our 2008 concert series from the Village Vanguard.  Don't worry, there's more to come:

    The series kicks off 2009 with a performance from guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel on January 7, which will be available for download as a podcast. Grammy© winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard brings his quintet to the Vanguard in February along with special guests, and Grammy© nominated saxophonist David Sanchez follows in March with his quartet performing material from Sanchez's recent recording, Cultural Survival.  In April, trumpeter and composer Tom Harrell and his quintet will play music from an upcoming release, Prana's Dance.

    Live at the Village Vanguard Schedule
    Wednesday, December 17 - Cedar Walton Trio
    Wednesday, January 7 - Kurt Rosenwinkel Group
    Wednesday, February 18 - Terence Blanchard Quintet
    Wednesday, March 18 - David Sanchez Quartet
    Wednesday, April 8 - Tom Harrell Quintet

  • Interview & Feature with 2009 NEA Jazz Master Rudy Van Gelder

    November 15, 2008. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    Randy Van Gelder

    There's a bit of mystery that engulfs Rudy Van Gelder, the 2009 NEA Jazz Master and engineer extraordinaire.  As a young teenager, he soldered radio parts together to construct his first recording equipment.  He rarely grants interviews and if he does they're rarely done live, in person. Gelder says he strives for a kind of exactitude, to avoid any imprecision with his answers. He's a stickler for detail, not only for his pristine mixes, but also in his historical accounts (too many to count).  All the legends seemed to have worked with him, and each surely have their own story.  Here's one told by Cyrus Chestnut when he first met Gelder.  When I requested an interview with him,  I submitted questions beforehand.  His pre-recorded  responses - in perfect sonic sonority, I might add - can be heard here.  But, before you listen, you might want to read my questions below. - Simon Rentner

    Also enjoy this Rudy Van Gelder feature by clicking here.

    Questions for Van Gelder
    1) I've read that you've engineered anywhere from "2,000 sessions" to "tens of thousands" of jazz sessions in your career. For the record, have you ever tried to estimate how many albums you've worked on? Does this work ever get tiresome?

    2) You were remarkably endowed with "good ears." How have you taken care of your hearing over the years? Do you have any special methods or practices to keep them healthy?

    3) In the beginning, you brought musicians like Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley into your first studio -- the living room of your parent's house. Can you recall one or two amusing stories where your family/personal life collided with some of jazz's larger-than-life personalities? Please set it up for us.

    4) You have remarked needed to invent and build your own "mixer" and recording rigs when you started. Has any of that gear ever been on display at a museum somewhere? What was your most difficult challenge when constructing your own equipment? Did you ever hit a wall?

    5) What was your immediate reaction when you learned about becoming an NEA Jazz Master? Do you equate it to receiving a Pulitzer?

    6) When you were compiling selections for the Blue Note album "The Perfect Takes," what tune or tunes didn't make the CD that you wish you could've squeeze on? When you have thought of the selection, can you explain it in detail? Why is this take special? Why are you proud of it?

    7) You have been cited as often "deflecting any credit" for the work you've done over the years. And the "praise should go to the musicians, and to the producers who hire and direct them." If this is the case, why do you keep your recording and production techniques so hidden from public view? Do you ever intend to share your recording secrets?