WBGO Blog
  • Public Radio Music Month

    April 12, 2012. Posted by Brandy Wood.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    In addition to being Jazz Appreciation Month, April is Public Radio Music Month (PRMM). Public radio stations which have a music focus are coming together to present special programming and talk about what makes public radio so important to music lovers, musicians and the business of music.

    There has been a "love letter" to public radio which dozens of musicians have signed, and many have elaborated on public radio's role in their careers.

    This week, WFUV's Rita Houston interviewed WBGO's Rhonda Hamilton as part of their Art of the DJ series for PRMM. And on April 13 at 2pm, WBGO's broadcast of the NYU Wayne Shorter Ensemble will be a featured event within the PRMM schedule.

    We'd love to hear your public radio music stories. Respond to this blog post by letting us know an artist you discovered on public radio or another reason you love having public radio as a music resource.

  • Singer Catherine Russell: "Strictly Romancin" At JALC

    March 26, 2012. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Singer Catherine Russell talks with WBGO's Gary Walker about her new album, Strictly Romancin, and her performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Allen Room on March 30 and 31. At the Allen Room, Russell will lead a ten-piece orchestra through a repertoire which showcases the collaborations between her late father, pianist Luis Russell, and trumpeter Louis Armstrong.

    Russell's orchestra features Matt Munisteri on guitar, Mark Shane on Piano, Jon-Erik Kellso and Dave Brown on trumpets, John Allred on trombone, Dan Block and Andy Farber on reeds, Scott Robinson on horns, Lee Hudson on bass and Marc McLean on drums,

    She will also appear with her quartet with Ehud Asherie on piano, Chris Flory on guitar, Lee Hudson on bass and Marion Felder on drums. for WBGO's Jazz Leadership Society Singers Brunch and Broadcast on April 22.

    Enjoy!

    interview_russell_669

  • This Week in JazzSet History: David Murray Big Band and Josh Redman

    March 21, 2012. Posted by Alex Ariff.

    JazzSet20LogoIt’s now the eleventh week of the twentieth anniversary year of JazzSet, and the fifth installment of an archeological dig, as Alexander Gelles Ariff of the Jazz History Department at Rutgers University Newark trowels through the JazzSet archive, one week at a time.

    This week in JazzSet history, we take a closer examination at two moments in the career of saxophonist Joshua Redman. He is one of my personal favorite horn players of recent decades and will be appearing with pianist Brad Meladau as a duo on April 27 in Morristown, NJ. From his long-running work with Christian McBride to his new explorations with James Farm, Redman is always working hard at shaping his playing into different musical environments. This week, we follow Redman from acoustic to electric.

    But first, let’s check out this rare recording that I dug up featuring the David Murray Big Band performing “Warm Valley,” a lesser-known but captivating Ellington tune. The band features David Murray, tenor sax and bass clarinet; James Newton, flute; James Spaulding, alto sax; John Purcell, saxello and clarinet; Ricky Ford, tenor sax; Hamiet Bluiett, bari sax; Hugh Ragin, Ravi Best and Rasul Siddick on trumpets; Craig Harris, Gary Valente and Joe Bowie on trombones; Hilton Ruiz, piano; Jaribu Shahid, bass; Klod Kaivue, percussion; Andrew Cyrille, drums; and Carmen Bradford on vocals.

    This recording is from their performance at the 1999 Marciac Jazz Festival in Southwest France (courtesy of Radio France). A few weeks ago, we posted a clip of Bobby McFerrin at the the 2001 festival. The David Murray Big Band was performing obscure works by Strayhorn and Ellington in celebration for what would have been Ellington’s 100th birthday year! They performed “Praise God,” “Love You Madly,” but it was “Warm Valley” that blew me away. Listen to how Spaulding and Branford vibe off each other on the words “wonderfully” and “marvelously.”

    On November 19, 1994, JazzSet's Duke Markos recorded a double bill at the Troy Savings Bank Musical Hall in Troy, NY, presenting the Joshua Redman Quartet plus the Roy Hargrove Quintet. The quartet was Redman, tenor and soprano sax; Jonny King, piano; Christian McBride, bass; Brian Blade, drums. Redman’s band played first that evening but invited Hargrove on stage for Josh's final tune “SJK,” a blues in D-flat. Listen closely. After Redman introduces Hargrove, the rhythm section begins to play the Freddie Hubbard tune “Thermok,” as broadcast on JazzSet in early April 1995.

    Here is a clip of Joshua Redman on tenor playing the melody to his own tune entitled “Alone in the Morning.” He first begins by closing out the melody with long drawn out lyricism. His solo begins afterward and he plays with one motive, switching it up and crafting it against the harmony. This is a tactic of improvisation Sonny Rollins uses many times in his early years. It makes sense that the first record Redman ever bought, when he was nine years old, was the Rollins recording Saxophone Colossus. Listen closely for the “St. Thomas” quote at the end of the clip!

    James Farm is Matt Penman, Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks, Eric Harland .. coming to JazzSet the week of April 12, 2012
    James Farm is Matt Penman, Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks, Eric Harland .. coming to JazzSet the week of April 12, 2012 .. Photo by Jimmy Katz

    By 1994, three years after winning the Thelonious Monk competition, Redman had three albums as a leader to his name. Six releases later, he phased into a new period of musical exploration with his Elastic Band featuring Sam Yahel, keyboards and bass keyboards, and Brian Blade on drums. In this band, Redman was able to fuse electronic effects with his love of funk and swing. This groove, I like to call “swunk.” This is from "Greasy G," from the trio’s second release, Momentum. Listen to how Redman manipulates the sound of his horn, compiling octaves with pedals to make one horn sound like a baritone sax and tenor sax at once!

    I’ll close this week out with one of my favorite tunes by Ornette Coleman. I first heard  the tune “Lonely Woman” as played by the Elastic Band. That's how I was exposed to Ornette Coleman. Thanks, Josh. At the stroke of midnight, live on NPR from Yoshi's in Oakland, Redman’s group brought in 2005 by taking the audience on a journey leaning more towards drum-and-bass than free-jazz. It must have been a blast. And it was rebroadcast on JazzSet in February, 2007.

    IMG_5711-1Alexander Gelles Ariff has a B.A. in Jazz Studies from Florida State University and is now completing his Master's in Jazz History and Research at Rutgers-Newark. He is the recipient of the Morroe Berger - Benny Carter Jazz Research Fund Award from the Institute of Jazz Studies. Alex is writing his Master's thesis on the selected recorded collaboration between jazz figures and American poets -- Kenneth Patchen, Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Rexroth, and Langston Hughes.

  • Wynton Marsalis, Regina Carter on JazzSet

    March 16, 2012. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    We're heading for spring with a JazzSet from the Newport Jazz Festival, the Fort Adams stage. Tune in for Regina Carter's Reverse Thread and Wynton Marsalis on WBGO 88.3 FM / wbgo.org this Sunday night, March 18, at 6 and Wednesday, March 21, at 6:30.

    To listen now, click over to wbgo.org/jazzset. For a 30-second taste, try this:

    For the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival line-up, visit our WBGO Festival Calendar, here.

    Regina Carter Reverse Thread, Wynton Marsalis 2011Newport Jazz Festival (c) Ayano HisaWyntonMarsalis_2011NewportJazz Festival(c)Ayano Hisa_sm

  • This Week in JazzSet History: (Four of Many) Women in JazzSet History

    March 12, 2012. Posted by Alex Ariff.

    JazzSet20LogoIt's the tenth week of the twentieth anniversary year of JazzSet, and the fourth installment of an archeological dig, as Alexander Gelles Ariff of the Jazz History Department at Rutgers University Newark trowels through a score of seasons of JazzSet.

    This week in JazzSet history, we honor Women’s History Month by tipping the cap to a few (of the many) women who have graced JazzSet’s airwaves. Toshiko Akiyoshi conducts while her husband and sideman Lew Tabackin wails. We'll also check out two traditionally classical instruments that are now regulars in the jazz world: flute and violin. Holly Hofmann is on flute, breathing new fire and soul into the groovy “Tom Thumb” by Wayne Shorter, and Regina Carter pays a special tribute to Stéphane Grappelli.

    Toshiko from WBGO's Jazzmatazz Magazine
    Toshiko from WBGO's Jazzmatazz Magazine for Children

    First, let’s honor one of the modern greats of vocal jazz, Dianne Reeves. This is an excerpt of her improvisation at the end of “A Child Is Born” by Thad Jones. Reeves has an ability to enunciate lyrics casually and convey her own story within timeless music. In this case, her story is freedom. Listen to how she riffs off the first melody and uses counterpoint within her massive range to build the excitement. The band is Peter Martin, piano; Reuben Rogers, bass; and Greg Hutchinson, drums, and they’re performing at the 49th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival in 2006.

    The Kennedy Center in Washington honors jazz women each year for the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival. On May 23, 1998, they honored violinist Regina Carter and flautist Holly Hofmann. Regina Carter has been featured numerous times on JazzSet, but back in ’98 she was riding on the wake of her second release as a leader. Present day: Carter is sitting on a MacArthur Genius Fellowship and seven albums as a leader and this week, she will be on JazzSet from the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival with her group Reverse Thread. Hear how she plays “Lady Be Good” in honor of her mentor, the great Grappelli. Her quintet at this festival featured Rodney Jones, guitar; Werner Gierig,  piano; Darryl Hall, bass, and Alvester Garnett, drums.

    Photo courtesy of Zack Karabashliev
    Photo courtesy of Zack Karabashliev

    And now, a big tip of the hat to Ms. Holly Hofmann. Phil Woods called her, along with Hubert Laws, “the best jazz flute player today.” Here she is performing “Tom Thumb” by Wayne Shorter at the same Women in Jazz Festival with her Four Women Only group: Cecilia Coleman, piano; Nicki Parrott, bass; Sylvia Cuenca, drums; Hofmann, flute.

    Toshiko Akiyoshi has also been honored at past Women in Jazz Festivals. Akiyoshi was born 19 years after May Lou Williams, so it might be easy to say that they don’t have much in common. However, like Mary Lou, Akiyoshi is part of a small circle of successful female jazz musicians of her generation who led a band, composed, arranged and played piano.

    toshiko

    Pianist Oscar Peterson discovered her and later insisted that producer Norman Granz record her beautiful piano playing … jumpstarting her career. She married tenor saxophonist Lew Tabackin  in 1969. The couple formed a big band that would go on to perform from 1973-2004. The band often featured Tabackin’s  tenor sax and flute features. In his excerpt, we hear his husky tone reminiscent of swing-era tenors Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. The relationship between soloist and arranger, both musical and romantic, bleeds onto the page. Listen as Akiyoshi paints delicate textures underneath the bold sound of Lew Tabackin’s  horn on the tune "Broken Dreams."

    IMG_5711-1Alexander Gelles Ariff has a B.A. in Jazz Studies from Florida State University. He is the recipient of the Morroe Berger - Benny Carter Jazz Research Fund Award from the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University in Newark. Alex is writing his Master's thesis on the connection between jazz and five American poets -- Kenneth Patchen, Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Rexroth, and Langston Hughes.