WBGO Blog
  • JazzTimes - New Visionaries of Jazz

    August 14, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.

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    Kudos to JazzTimes!  In the September issue, the cover story is "The Future Is Now: New Jazz Visionaries."  Let me start by saying that I love the first part of that headline.  I get so tired of hearing about the status of jazz, where is it going, what's going to happen to it, who will save it...you get where I'm going.  My frustration comes from being on the jazz scene and seeing and all of the amazing talent, projects, bands, artists, compositions, collaborative efforts, etc.  and then hearing those statements.  It's like "What are you talking about? Have you checked out a show lately on any given night, at any given venue in the city, for starters?"

    This article covers just a few of the "new visionaries."  Christian Scott, Aaron Parks, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spaulding, Marcus Strickland and others.  Each artist has a full page story and photo.  I think this issue was so necessary, and I really give it up to JazzTimes for making the blatently obvious even more obvious - that jazz is alive, well, and thriving. (Now, if cats could only earn the money that the music's worth...but that's another story).

    Check out each of these artists when they're in a city near you.  Both Aaron Parks and Esperanza Spaulding will be performing at the J&R MusicFest next Friday, August 22, and WBGO will be broadcasting it live! Learn more about it by clicking here.

    Check out a live performance of Aaron Parks' "Nemesis" from the WBGO studios.  It's NPR's "Song of the Day" with commentary by WBGO's Josh Jackson.

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    Check out my interview with Marcus Strickland

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  • Live Blog - Village Vanguard 7.1.08

    July 1, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Uri Caine at the Village Vanguard

    Join the live chat.
    Check out some photos from today and tonight.

    9:00pm Opening with "Loose Trade." This may or may not lead into Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti." We'll see.

    9:03pm Lorraine Gordon, the Vanguard owner, just arrived. She's gracious enough to allow us to be here at the Vanguard. That, and she lets me set up shop in her office.

    9:06pm I seem to be having an issue with the Chat Room. Bear with me.

    9:11pm I saw this trio here in 2003. I was captivated by the improvisation of it all. When I looked onstage, I saw all of the high quality microphones, and realized that the show was being recorded. It's a great record.

    9:13pm That last song premiered tonight. Simply called "1." Originally it was called "Vanguard 1." Not sure if this title will stick...but that's what it is tonight.

    9:15pm "Foolish Me." Beautiful and quiet.

    9:20pm You'll find this one, "Snaggletooth," on that Live at the Village Vanguard recording from 2003

    9:25pm This is "Interloper." Uri named it tonight, while he was picking the set list. Originally, it was "Vanguard 2."

    9:31pm This is "Othello," if I remember correctly.

    9:38pm "The Axis of Evil" Suite Three songs that clearly identify Uri's political leanings.
    They are "Stuff Hapens," "What Have They Done" and "BushWhack."

    9:42pm You can also clearly detect Uri's comedic side on this music. He's a funny guy.

    9:43pm I've yet to join the chat. All apologies. I'm having a problem reaching it, but I know that Patrick Jarenwattananon at NPR is holding down the fort. For those visiting the chat, you're in safe hands. I'm afraid that Iwon't be joining tonight. Too much going on. But check out the photo. Link is above.

    9:50pm "What Have They Done" This is an abridged title. You might be able to figure out the rest. I'm not saying. For the record, is was a bit of self-censorship on Uri's part. That's why we have a disclaimer...

    9:53pm I hope you all are enjoying the show. Let us know.

    9:55pm Some flourishes a la McCoy Tyner. Uri and McCoy both from Philadelphia.

    9:57pm There are more than 25 photos from today and tonight's experience at the Village Vanguard. Check them out.

    10:00pm I hear the subway rumbling beneath Uri talking.

    10:01pm "Smelly" is another Uri original.

    10:02pm The Village Vanguard and its acoustics are really the perfect setting for a piano trio. The Vanguard website has a list of commercially available recordings from the club. You'll find quite a few great piano trio recordings. Lots, in fact.

    10:04pm And I think that the Cuban legend Bebo Valdes is releasing a duo w/ bass album in early September. I'm getting off topic, though...

    10:05pm  We've finally moved to Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti." Uri and the trio are caling options at this point.  We're past the set list that he gave me earlier.  Unchartered territory for thebroadcast, but the band knows this song well.  Also on their Vanguard recording.

    10:07pm  Gotta go for now.  Will be back.

  • JAZZ IN...GRAND THEFT AUTO 4!?!?

    June 25, 2008. Posted by Stevan Smith.

    It seems like every month we hear a story about a jazz station switching formats for various reasons. Be it a lapse in listenership, funding, and/or general interest. Traditional Jazz, in particular, has slowly fallen off of the airwaves nationwide. Some stations have turned to such formats as Rock, Top 40, and News and Information, leaving a jazz enthusiast in these markets with nothing but their mp3 players, cds and vinyl.

    Now, like the good "company man" I am, I would say that one can hear an exceptional jazz playlist at WBGO.org. But for some, there is no reason why such an influential American art form isn't available on a radio station in every town and city. I agree 100%. Unfortunately, politics and business tend to supersede our love for quality music. I just find it ironic that jazz radio stations are being abandoned in the "real world", while a jazz radio station was recently added to a "virtual world".

    Huh?! Virtual world!?

    Yes! The controversial, yet commercially successful, Grand Theft Auto video game series added a jazz radio station with its latest installment Grand Theft Auto 4. Now, this is by no means an endorsement of the video game and its mature content, but the irony is killing me. No pun intended.

    The GTA series is probably more popular in the media for its violence, than it is for its immersive & often sarcastic world. The video game series, in recent years, has included radio stations that you turn on when you enter a vehicle, and you can listen to them as you drive around the games virtual city. These radio stations come equip with host, playlist, imaging, and even commercials. In the past, the formats largely consisted of Rock, Soul, Hip Hop, R&B, Talk, and even Classical. The series has gained much notoriety for its authentic soundtracks.

    What makes this inclusion so interesting to me (and maybe you too), is the fact that it is a "traditional" jazz station - hosted by none other than jazz icon Roy Haynes! The station is titled JNR 108.5: Jazz Nation Radio. Their tag line is "Jazz from a time before it became elevator music." The playlist consists of such jazz legends as Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and Count Basie. Other notable djs in the game include Roy Ayers- host of Fusion FM- a jazz fusion station, and DJ Premiere- host of the old school hip hop station The Classics.
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    DJ : Roy Haynes
    Genre : Jazz
    Tracklist :* Count Basie - "April in Paris"
    * John Coltrane - "Giant Steps"
    * Chet Baker - "Let's Get Lost"
    * Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers - "Moanin'"
    * Miles Davis - "Move"
    * Charlie Parker - "Night and Day"
    * Roy Haynes - "Snap Crackle"
    * Sonny Rollins - "St. Thomas"
    * Duke Ellington - "Take the 'A' Train"
    * Dizzy Gillespie - "Whisper Not (Big Band)"

    This isn't a ploy to exploit an art form because it's scaling the billboard charts. This is respect. This is a declaration to the importance and validity of straight ahead jazz. This is a nod from a "video game company" that grossed a record breaking 500 million dollars in its first week of sales. This is, though unconventional, an exposure of traditional jazz music to a broader demographic than you could find in the real world.

    Now I know some may say, "...well you still have to tune in to hear it". Well I believe that, like the dynamics of the video game...it's all about the choice. Keep Jazz alive in your "real world"! Support...