WBGO Blog
  • We're Back! The Jazz Stream: WBGO's Showcase For New Jazz

    May 2, 2012. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Add new comment | Filed under: HD2, Jazz Alive

    The Jazz Stream is back!

    Now online listeners can enjoy our new 24-hour showcase for emerging jazz artists and styles, which has been on the air in the at 88.3 HD2 in the New York Metro area since January. We will introduce you to fresh jazz talent and offer insights into their creativity and inspirations.

    In coming weeks, we'll roll out new features on The Jazz Stream, including exclusive interviews and music every week that you can only hear at WBGO. On the web, we'll have concert and album reviews, columns and special content from invited guests.

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    The Jazz Stream plays three tracks by emerging artists, such as vibraphonist Warren Wolf and drummer Kendrick Scott, for each track by a jazz “icon,” such as John Coltrane or Thelonious Monk. We will also feature highlights from WBGO interviews, live broadcasts and studio sessions.

    Pianist Robert Glasper was the first featured artist on The Jazz Stream during our online "sneak preview" back in March. He stopped by our studios to talk with Tim Wilkins about his new album, Black Radio, and his band's original fusion of jazz with hiphop and soul. Your can click here to hear highlights from Glasper's album and our conversation.

    Enjoy!

  • Dan Morgenstern's Career: An Eyewitness to Jazz

    April 27, 2012. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Nobody doubts Dan Morgenstern’s storied life. His 8 Grammy awards, NEA Jazz Master honors, and other laurels back up this fact. But when we see him at WBGO – every time he co-hosts Jazz from The Archives – we witness his character. All of the awards and compliments in the world could never turn him into a blowhard. His friends and close peers all know about his sensitivity in his writings and compassion for his subjects, and they also rely on his insight and analysis.

    Dan Morgenstern
    Dan Morgenstern

    That lightness of being is reflected in WBGO’s recording studio, the way he smiles, bobs his head, and dances to the music he plays on the radio.  His enthusiasm for jazz is “Olympic” in its brightness and scope.  His work ethic -- unyielding.  The torch within just keeps burning, and he passes all of that fire and knowledge to the next person so effortlessly.

    As Morgenstern prepared to step down from his longtime role as director of the Instutitute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University-Newark's Dana Library, he sat down with me in our studios for an extended conversation. We talked about his childhood, growing up Jewish during World War II.  He hesitatingly talks about when he was saved by the Danish how that experience shaped him.

    He also talked about his early musical encounters, one with composer Albam Berg, who befriended Morgenstern’s father.  And, he shared the epiphanous moment that changed his life, the moment he saw Fats Waller.  He also spoke candidly about being the editor of Down Beat Magazine in the 1960s, when America was being torn apart by civil rights unrest, and how he, as “Mr. Whitey” – was perceived by some as a symbol of America’s institutional racism.

    His story, as rich as it is layered, is well worth telling and hearing. And it may be fully told one day.   Now that he’s stepped down from the IJS, he told me, he may find time to write that autobiography.

    In the meantime, Dan, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, so we can share them with our listeners here. We featured a segment of our conversation on Friday's WBGO Journal, and are happy to share our conversation in its entirety with you now. Enjoy! – Simon Rentner

  • Toots Thielemans 90th Birthday Alert .. coming on JazzSet

    April 27, 2012. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Listen Sunday, April 29, at 6pm .. Wednesday, May 2, at 6:30pm .. and for a sweet 30-second preview, click on this audio link:

    TootsAnd don't forget to hear another great harmonica player, on This Week in JazzSet History!

  • April 27: International Jazz Day in Paris

    April 26, 2012. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    IJD2UNESCO -- the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization -- has named April 30 as International Jazz Day. And festivities begin on Friday, April 27, in Paris. For more information, visit the UNESCO web page.

    UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock spoke with Alex Dutilh of France Musique yesterday about the pianist's involvement in International Jazz Day, as well as changes in jazz worldwide since Herbie started to play the music as a teenager in the mid 1950s. Herbie says,

    . . .  my experience [then] was that for the most part, the best jazz musicians were Americans. I can’t say that these days. I can’t say that today because, in my experience traveling around the world and hearing jazz musicians from different countries and seeing also jazz musicians that have moved to the United States and gotten experience  working with great world class musicians in America and taken that back to their home countries, it’s expanded the professional level of jazz musicianship. Exponentially. So now it truly is an international music.

    At sunrise on Monday, April 30, there will be a worldwide hookup of young players in New Orleans, Rio, Cape Town and Paris on a synchronized live version of Herbie's "Watermelon Man!"

    Check out the April 30 events at UN headquarters in New York here.

    And Monday night at 6:30, we'll broadcast the New Orleans concert as a special. Listen to WBGO and wbgo.org for more info.

  • This Week in JazzSet History: Bill Frisell and Ella + Stevie Spread Sunshine

    April 25, 2012. Posted by Alex Ariff.

    Alexander Ariff is a Master's Degree student in Jazz History & Research at Rutgers University . In celebration of 20 years, he digs up and shares special gems from the JazzSet archive.

    There is something definitively “American” about the two clips this week. JazzSet offers not only music that swings, but jazz's many overlapping elements (world, Latin, funk, soul, etc.) Today is Ella Fitzgerald's birthday so I thought I'd share a special clip featuring two icons, Ella and Stevie Wonder, in one seriously soulful duet. These two icons presented careers to the world of music that certainly bent, if not broke, genre boundaries.

    First, let’s have a dose of one of my favorite guitarists/composers, Bill Frisell.  A personal favorite of mine was his recent release with strings entitled Sign of Life and later this year (August), he’ll be interpreting the music of John Lennon with longtime collaborator and violinist Jenny Scheinman (who just released her own project, Mischief and Mayhem). Also, we'd like to extend a special congratulations to Bill Frisell for being selected as a 2012  Doris Duke Charitable Foundation recipient. In this clip, he is performing near the bluffs above the Iowa River in downtown Iowa City for the 2000 Iowa City Jazz Festival. JazzSet is proud to be a part of this great treasure of the Midwestern jazz scene.  Each year, the festival falls on Fourth of July weekend. Becca Pulliam remembers smelling a storm rolling in during Frisell's set as audience members occupied the street and nearby fire escapes. It must have been a magical Independence Day from the heartland. Frisell was joined by Greg Leisz, slide guitar; David Piltch, bass; Kelly Wolleson, drums. Here is a the full live audio performance of “Egg Radio,” first released in 1998 on Frisell's album Gone, Just Like a Train.

    Ella Fitzgerald and Stevie Wonder, 1977, (c) Michael P. Smith Photography

    The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival kicks off this weekend! This clip is in honor of one of the most authentic festivals and jazz vocalists) in the world. The 1977 festival was a particularly special year. New Orleans native and legendary brass band leader Ernest “Doc” Paulin performed, and a certain 94-year-old pianist called Eubie Blake gave one of his final performances aboard the SS President river boat. But one dream collaboration continues to warm the hearts of many (including JazzSet producer Becca Pulliam): Ella Fitzgerald invited Stevie Wonder on stage during her set to sing Stevie's "You Are The Sunshine of My Life." NPR's Jazz Alive! recorded this performance. It was unheard for decades until JazzSet aired it. And this performance was later released on We Love Ella: Celebrating the First Lady of Song. Listen closely to how the two masters trade back and forth and you can distinctively hear Ella's influence on Stevie.