WBGO Blog
  • 56th Annual DownBeat Critics Poll

    July 15, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

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    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

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    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.

  • Montreal Jazz Festival publicists on things to come

    July 4, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    The hub of the Festival for journalists is the press room in the Hyatt Hotel. Uploading, downloading, getting a cup of coffee, running into old friends, it all happens under the watchful eyes of the press liaisons, including Carola Duran - in her first year - and her colleague, the young veteran Hugo Leclerc.Next year, the press room will move to a dream-come-true building, La Maison du Jazz (House of Jazz). Right now, the empty construction site is behind a tall wooden fence, a wall running along Rue Jeanne-Mance. Artist Armand Vaillancourt started a mural on that wall, and during the Festival, paint and brushes were available in the evenings for anyone's personal expression. Here's a small sample of the creativity.

    Montreal Jazz Fest Mural
    To hear Carola and Hugh talk about the mural and changes to come for the 30th anniversary Jazz Festival - downtown improvements like the creation of the the Showtime District and Quartier de Spectacle (neighborhood of spectacle) - just click here. - Becca Pulliam