WBGO Blog
  • IAJE Evening 1 - Goldberg Variations

    January 10, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Face it. You gotta be bold when you're a piano player, your last name is Goldberg, and you're playing in Toronto. More specifically, if you're Aaron Goldberg, and you're playing across the street from the CBC's Glenn Gould Studio, named after Toronto's famous son who OWNS Bach's Goldberg Variations. But I'm getting off topic.

    The Aaron Goldberg Trio, with bassist Rueben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland, played some bold music. After opening with "Taurus" from the Sunnyside trio release, Worlds, Aaron called the quarterback option - his composition, "The Sound of Snow." It's from, of all things, the CD that accompanies the Baby Loves Jazz board book series. Specifically, from Mingus Mouse Christmas Time.

    This is my favorite kind of holiday music - the kind where you can't tell it's a holiday song. Hear what I mean:

    Aaron Goldberg Trio - The Sound of Snow

    Eric Harland left his house at 6am. His flight from New York to Toronto was cancelled. Then he went to Newark. Then his flight was delayed. And delayed. So, He didn't get to Toronto until 6:30pm. The hit was 7pm at the Bassett Theater. Glad he made it thru customs!

    Check out Eric's mini-clinic on "Shed," a song dedicated to Joshua "Shedroff" Redman.

    Aaron Goldberg Trio - Shed

    And the last one was a burner.

    Aaron Goldberg Trio - Finale

    More on the way. - Josh

  • IAJE Day 1 - Canadian Jazz Broadcaster Ross Porter

    January 9, 2008. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    WBGO IAJE 2008

    Ross Porter is a cool guy. First, he loves jazz - so much that he writes books about it and makes TV about it and basically lives it. And he also makes some great Jazz radio. And he's got his own wiki entry. Oh yeah, he also shared some real maple syrup with Rhonda Hamilton when she interviewed him. It's a great conversation - Ross starts out talking about his book - The Essential Jazz Recordings. Take a listen:

    Ross Porter Interview

  • Sez Me - Bourne Blog II

    January 9, 2008. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    I don't know how Gary Walker does it.

    Contrary to the rumours that jazz is dead, or that the record industry is dead, and that soon there won't be any more CDs, we get hundreds of new jazz and blues CDs in the mail every year, plus almost that many more re-issues. Somehow, as the WBGO music director, Walker must face the Herculean labour of listening through the CDs that come every week.

    I'll walk by his office, look in to grunt hello, and Walker will have 4 or 5 or more towers of CDs on his desk. He'll be listening on his headphones. He'll be, quite often, scowling. I'll grunt and head back to the studio.

    There, on a wooden shelf, are the CDs that we're playing in the "new" slots on the WBGO music format clock. Usually, more than a hundred new CDs. Which is more or less 100 hours of music. Which is more or less four days of listening. Non-stop sleepless listening. Which is why I actually hear very little of the new music I play before I actually play it.

    I trust in Walker's judgment, and, if he's considered these CDs to be WBGO-worthy, I can play these CDs. I can also depend on my own 35 years of playing records on the radio to have an immediate instinct about which records I can play day after day. I know the musicians, or at least most of them. I know the tunes, or I can get a feeling of the whole track listening to the first few seconds. Which is why I always tell musicians, and especially singers who want my advice about recording, to show me what you've got right from the jump. No 40-second vamps before the music kicks in on the first track. I might not listen beyond the first 40 seconds. Which is discouraging for some musicians I've talked with, but that's reality.

    "Reality is..." is what Wylie Rollins, the WBGO program director who hired Walker and me, always said as a preamble to bad news. Reality is there's never enough time to listen. Which is annoying to all the musicians who send me CDs and then e-mail or call me a week after and want to know what I think, only to be told that I have not listened yet and might never have time to listen. I'm not kidding that I have dozens of CDs, including some I got more than a year ago, including some by artists I love, including some CDs I actually bought, that I have not yet played.

    All of that said, I do listen to music from time to time, more often to music that I very much like already, which is a whole other blog. Herewith, in the meantime, and I don't mean to sound mean, is what I listen for when I listen to a new album or artist, especially singers:

    Repertoire ... I want to hear some tunes I haven't heard so often that I can't stand hearing them again. If it's something that's been done countlessly, do it like it's never been done before. If it's something new, do it brightly.

    Arrangement .. I want to hear something new in even the oldest tunes. And, again, in tunes old and new, I want to hear melodies and harmonies and rhythms done so brightly that the music grabs me by the ears.

    Talent ... Some singers I've heard can't come close to singing in tune. Some singers I've heard think that singing oodles of highly emoted but meaningless notes is exciting. When there's nothing that gets to me more deeply than someone who can sing one true note.

    Showbiz ... I come from the theatre. I want to see someone on stage with presence, someone who connects with the audience. I believe that art ought to be entertaining.

    I realized when I first blathered these points at greater length that the first letters of the four words -- Repertoire, Arrangements, Talent, Showbiz -- spell RATS. Unless you turn the letters around ...

    ... MBourne