WBGO Blog
  • John Coltrane and Duke Ellington

    July 17, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    john_duke.jpg

    I'm listening to Mid-Day Jazz with Rhonda Hamilton (as usual) and she decided to play Trane and Ellington's version of "In a Sentimental Mood."  I thought it was a really intriguing choice of tune.  Usually, this tune is associated with a sultry or romantic evening...or just relaxing at home alone, or something. Probably a bit cliché, but none the less kinda true.  But at 11 AM, I think it's such a thought-provoking choice of tune...and I must say I'm loving it.  It has a refreshing connotation...almost like my morning coffee, and I'm appreciating the tune all over again, as if for the first time...hearing it now, takes me to a certain time and place.

    I have to start off by saying that I know this album extremely well.  It's probably the 3rd earliest memory of music overall, that I have.  My parents would play this album when I was just a toddler.  I can still remember seeing the vinyl propped up against the baseboard.  The black and orange look of the album cover with the photo of John and Duke in a circle was always magical to me.  I suppose I had no choice but to fall in love with the record, as much as my mom played it, LOL!  Plus, I was named after one of the tunes on the record.  "Angelica" was their inspiration, though they switched up the spelling a bit.  Anyway, I'm saying all of this to say  that this is one of these records where I know every note...every inflection...but hearing it this morning gave me a totally new (yet subconsciously retro) perspective.  That's was great music does.  It allows you to rediscover it...redefine it for yourself, over and over again, decade after decade.  Thanks, Rhonda!

  • 56th Annual DownBeat Critics Poll

    July 15, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    downbeat.jpg

    It's that time again.  The DownBeat Critics Poll results are in (the August issue of DownBeat, that is).  Though I am always torn when it comes to the idea of critics and their polls, I always end up looking forward to seeing who's who and what's what in the eyes of the critics and writers.  This year had some very cool and surprising results.  As the young folks say in my neighborhood..."I ain't mad!"

    Some of the results that I was especially happy to see were Rising Star Soprano Saxophonist, which went to Marcus Strickland.  This cat is definitely well-deserving in this category, though he could easily win that category for tenor as well.  Which reminds me...I didn't see a Rising Star Tenor category.  I can count on two hands some really killin' tenor players that could have been in that category, but that's another blog, I suppose.  Anyway, kudos to Marcus, and good looks to the critics who know which end is up.  I was also happy to see Eric Harland nab the Rising Star Drums category (though disappointed in not seeing Kendrick Scott on the list - that cat is just superb and his album is among one of my modern-day favorites), Gregoire Maret in the Miscellaneous Instrument category for harmonica (that cat is ridiculous).  Esperanza Spaulding took the Rising Star Acoustic Bass category, which is really special.  To see a woman win in a category that is traditionally very un-female makes it all the more inspiring.  Lionel Loueke got his due for Rising Star Guitar, and one of my favorite artists Robert Glasper took the Rising Star Piano category.  Definitely check out all of these artists, as they are truly ones to watch, and experience.   It was very cool to see the critics mix it up a bit, and recognize all of the great emerging lions of this music.  Nice work!

  • The Definitive Miles Davis - Ovation TV Premiere

    July 14, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    miles-davis-701.jpg

    The other night I was flipping throught the digital TV guide, and I ran across the Ovation channel.  They were premiering a 3-hour Miles Davis documentary.  Needless to say, I was psyched.  I mean, I love watching all of the older documentaries, but to see something brand new about jazz, Miles, or whatever really got me excited.  I realized that I did not have Ovation (though I have enjoyed their programming on many other people's televisions, lol).  But when I saw the rest of the line up for the night, I was moved to pick up my phone, call my cable provider and order the channel finally.  I mean they were showing a John Coltrane profile, followed by a Monk profile, and at 1AM they were going to show Straight No Chaser.  I mean, c'mon!

    Anyway, the documentary was very cool.  I mean, I will say that for 3 hours, they didn't really master the transitions of Miles' musical career that well, but there was some cool footage, especially of later years.  It also delved quite a bit into his work as a visual artist.  I was happy about that, because that's an era of Miles' life I was not as well-versed on.  

    It re-aired on Saturday, and I have a feeling they are going to be airing it quite a lot this month.  Along with all of the other great jazz and non-jazz musical programming they are doing, I highly recommend giving this channel a once-over.  You're definitely going to find something you like.