March 17, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
As the luck of the Irish would have it, Nathaniel Adams Cole , aka Nat King Cole, was born on this date. Most people know him more as the singer of "Nature Boy" than of "Danny Boy."
I think I love Nat Cole's piano playing as much as, if not more than, I love his smoky voice. Years ago, I spent college scholarship money on the 18-CD set on Mosaic Records, The Complete Capitol Recordings of the Nat King Cole Trio. 349 songs from 1942-1961. Now out of print...
I suppose that technically counted as an education expense, right?
Anyway, here's a video of Nat Cole playing "Tea for Two." Listen for the "Foggy Day" quote in his introduction, and to his "Rhapsody in Blue" reference in his solo. - Josh
© 2008 WBGO
March 6, 2008. Posted by Doug Doyle.
Two guys who never formally met before sat down for an interview...and could have chatted for hours...that's what happened when saxophonist and composer Don Braden came in for the latest SportsJam session. Even though Don had been at Jazz 88 many times, I've never had a chance to talk to him. It's amazing how jazz, sports and kids can create bonds. Don brought his gorgeous sax and thrilled us with his jazzy rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and an original tune he composed for his daughter. Don's strict fitness and nutrition program inspired this overweight anchor to hit the gym!
Check out our conversation.
© 2008 WBGO
March 5, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
People who know me will tell you I always have jazz on the brain. Guilty as charged. Recently, scientists studied improvising musicians, hoping to unlock the underlying neurological functions of high and low level musical improvisation. A summation of the study is here.
Turns out all you have to do is turn off your prefrontal cortex (can an Idiot's Guide to Turning Off Your Prefrontal Cortex be far behind?).
This study reminds me of a conversation I had with the New Orleans writer, performer, and creator Kalamu Ya Salaam. One night on Rampart Street, at a club called The Funky Butt, I watched in awe as Kalamu performed an original poem in a style similar to the way that pianist Cecil Taylor played his music. Kalamu and I worked together at WWOZ in New Orleans. One night, during his Thursday evening Kitchen Sink show, I asked him how he could do such things.
He said, "There's an invisible button located on your forehead. It controls the part of your brain that says you cannot do something. Turn it off."
© 2008 WBGO