March 1, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Today is the birthday of drummer Barrett Deems, called "The World's Fastest Drummer" by his contemporaries Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa. I can't say that I would call Barrett Deems a jazz giant, but I always found him entertaining. Have you ever seen High Society with Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong? If you answered yes, then you've seen Barrett Deems. He played drums for Louis Armstrong's All-Stars during the 1950s, and his hyperkinetic drumming was an excellent foil to the super-cool swing of Pops.
Here's "The World's Fastest Drummer" playing the drums, the stage, and a chair.
© 2008 WBGO
February 29, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
I don't really care so much about why Herbie Hancock won a Grammy. All of the bloggers from the indie rock camp should get over it, which, I'm sure, they have by now (it's just the Grammys, folks...). I'm just happy that jazz gets any attention from television. On that note, check out CBS Sunday Morning this weekend. Correspondent Rita Braver visits Herbie Hancock at home. What she discovers about Herbie is as interesting as you can imagine from someone as interesting as Herbie Hancock. Jazz people already know this. Now, folks who watch TV before church service can get an insider portrait of the recent GRAMMY Album of The Year winner. And how many of us have ever been inside Herbie's pad, anyway?
And tomorrow, The Harvard Foundation (for Intercultural and Race Relations) of Harvard University will name Herbie Hancock 2008 Artist of the Year at their annual Cultural Rhythms ceremony. Cool.
© 2008 WBGO
February 29, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.
I've been hosting a new podcast with our News department entitled, We Insist!: Jazz Speaks Out.
It's a 4-part series that discusses jazz in terms of social political advancement and expression in Black culture.
We launched it for Black History Month, but it's so much broader than that, and has really become a wonderful experience for me.
I've interviewed some of my favorite musicians, and favorite people, for that matter. It's been completely eye-opening for me as well.
I'm a self-professed "jazz nerd" as some would say. I simply say a lover and appreciator and a part of the culture (but that's a lot wordier, LOL).
With all of that said, working on this has been a huge life lesson for me, and I'm discovering so many new ideas and concepts. And I'm pleased that we're sharing it with all of you!
Last week, I interviewed the great Randy Weston at his home. David Cruz, our producer, and I hopped on the train to head to BK (that's Brooklyn, for non-natives) to talk to the man himself. What an amazing experience. First of all, when I stepped into Weston's home, it was almost like going to Africa. His home just FELT like the motherland - and he and his wife have the warmest spirit. We sat at the piano and talked about Uhuru Afrika, a wonderful piece of work that was one of the earliest intergrations of African and African-American music. He talked about his first trip to Africa and what led him there, the amazing roster of musicians that were a part of Uhuru Africa, and why Africa is not far at all from Jazz, and how it's really quite central. I won't give it all away - you'll have to check it out for yourselves. And please - feel free to send emails with your thoughts, and even input on some albums you think are relevant to the program to firstname.lastname@example.org
Look for the Randy Weston episode soon. Before that, Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard calls in to discuss Miles Davis' A Tribute to Jack Johnson.
You don't want to miss it...
© 2008 WBGO