WBGO Blog
  • Talking Jazz with Ben Sidran

    May 6, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    Full disclosure and good news -- JazzSet is entering into a partnership with Jazz Standard. It's a great development and gets me to the club more often. And so I went last night to hear friend Ben Sidran do "Talking Jazz" with guest David Newman, resuming the conversation that enlivened "Sidran on Record," Ben's NPR series of yore. "Talking Jazz" is like "Piano Jazz" but different. Enjoyable from the git-go, Ben and "Fathead" relaxed into the night, didn't repeat themselves, told new stories and played different songs, reinforcing my latest rule to STAY FOR BOTH SETS, when possible. Newman contrasted his two long-time bandleaders, Ray Charles and Herbie Mann (quadrupled the pay), and emphasized that in various settings, even a "side" musician needs a consistent, identifiable, personal sound. Then he let us enjoy his, on tenor ("Girl Talk"), alto and flute. Ben sang/played Dylan's "You Gotta Serve Somebody" as though he wrote it. (Must find the words and try to learn them.) With solos on "Oleo," Mike Richmond on bass and son Leo Sidran on drums ended the night -- no speaking roles but effective communicating. - Becca Pulliam, JazzSet Producer

  • Sam Ulano Interviewed by Rob Crocker: My Life as a Jazz Drummer and Teacher

    May 2, 2008. Posted by Rob Crocker.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    sam3.jpgsamu-11.jpg

    My first blog entry for WBGO had to be, I thought, something special. Sam Ulano was just that. The name Sam Ulano has been floating around the Jazz Drum World for decades. He was a good friend to Max Roach and Buddy Rich (in this interview he talks about Max coming to perform drum clinics at Sam's studio in the Bronx, and people's misconception of Buddy). Sam, aside from being a good drummer, always had the rep' of being the Great Teacher - actually, teaching the trick of reading drum music. His students included Barry Altschul, Marvin ‘Smitty' Smith, Dion Parsons - and his first student was Art Taylor (back in the ‘40s). At the age of 87, his mind is still sharp and he continues to teach and write books.

    At the start of the interview, he is a bit off mic because he's busy putting his drumsticks in order (so he can illustrate his technique). He also starts with some drum history that I, and maybe you, never think about (from 1812-1920). This leads into his philosophy about what going wrong in drumming today. The music featured in the interview are from his recordings in the ‘50s and ‘60s, including the record that got him appearances on nationwide television and radio. In the interview, we talk about all this and much more and conclude with The Hit. - Rob Crocker

  • Cedar at Smoke .. Luciana at Kennedy Center

    May 2, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    The JazzSet team is in two cities tonight!

    I, Becca, enjoyed TWO Cedar Walton Trio sets at Smoke. Highlight of first: a Strayhorn medley -- Lush Life at a clip, Daydream with a Latin feel, Rain Check with drum breaks each of which got applause. Highlight of second: Ironclad, which Mr. Walton reminded me is on is live at Yoshi's album. He said "we could play that all night." It has a wonderful ending that they cycle over and over, and evokes Ahmad Jamal. I'm a long-time Cedar Walton fan, for his clarity, commitment, colorfulness, on top of it-ness, logic. David Williams on bass, Joe Farnsworth on drums, at Smoke through Saturday. The young guys to my left were from Japan, the young woman who sat on my right for the second set from Italy.

    Then in an email that I read when I got home, Duke Markos -- who's in Washington DC to record Luciana Souza for JazzSet -- wrote enthusiastically of her set, "Yes, real bossa nova. Using time and space (not quite as much time and space as Shirley Horn). No frenetic lines of notes. Thoughtful. Reflective. Spare in spots. You have to concentrate. The lyrics are central. She has a wonderful group. They step up when asked, nice interplay in the background. This is her last regular concert before she goes on her 1 year hiatus [to have] her baby."�