WBGO Blog
  • WBGO At The 2014 NYC Winter Jazz Fest

    December 31, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    It's that time of year, when jazz madness descends on Lower Manhattan. More than 400 musicians and 90 groups storm New York stages for the 2014 Winter Jazz Fest, and WBGO is proud to introduce you to this rising generation of jazz talent.

    To celebrate its tenth year, the festival's two-day jazz marathon hosts simultaneous shows at ten Greenwich Village clubs, starting Friday, Jan. 10 at 6 p.m., as well as special concerts during the week. Click here for a full festival schedule and details.

    Wait - you're not sure whether to hear the Revive Big Band, Mother Falcon, the Blue Cranes, or Dawn of Midi? Or any of the dozens of other outrageously talented groups who may not yet be household names? WBGO is here to help.

    As we did last year, starting New Year's Day WBGO's HD2 will stream a continuous mix of music by all of these groups and musicians. This mix will play around the clock before, during and after the festival. We will also publish previews of this year's Winter Jazz Fest shows on the WBGO blog.

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    On Friday, Jan. 3 at noon on WBGO-FM, Rhonda Hamilton interviews pianists Robert Glasper and Jason Moran, who headline a special Winter Jazz Fest concert which celebrates the 75th anniversary of Blue Note Records at Town Hall on with Jan. 8, with Ravi Coltrane, Bilal, Eric Harland and Alan Hampton.

    On Jan. 7 at 6:30 p.m. on WBGO-FM, Josh Jackson previews highlights of the festival on his weekly new music magazine, The Checkout, in a conversation with Patrick Jarenwattananon, the host of NPRMusic's A Blog Supreme.

    Jackson will also introduce Glasper and Moran at their Town Hall concert, and on Jan. 10 and 11 will host shows at the festival's anchor venue, (le) Poisson Rouge, at 158 Bleecker Street.

    Enjoy the best of jazz past, present and future, and the best of the 2014 New York Winter Jazz Fest, with WBGO!

  • Wynton Marsalis Septet Live Webcasts: Dec. 26 Through 31

    December 26, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    WBGO webcasts the Wynton Marsalis Septet live for six nights from Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center. Click on the links below to watch video, with sets at 7 and 9:30 p.m.

    This unprecedented residency reunites the master trumpeter's legendary 1990s lineup with Victor Goines and Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson on reeds, Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, Eric Reed on piano, Reginald Veal on bass and Herlin Riley, drums.

    On December 31, sets are at 7:30 and 11 p.m. to ring in the New Year, which WBGO-FM will broadcast live, as will other NPR stations across the country as part of our annual coast-to-coast Toast of the Nation celebration.

    Starting at 9 p.m., every hour Toast of the Nation brings you live music from different venues across the country, as we ring in the New Year in every time zone. Enjoy the best in jazz, with our best wishes for the New Year, from all your friends at WBGO!

  • Ted Rosenthal Trio Holiday Special: "Wonderland"

    December 14, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    A holiday special with pianist Ted Rosenthal, who plays selections from his new Christmas CD, Wonderland, with Noriko Ueda on bass and Tim Horner on drums, and chats with host Gary Walker. Enjoy!

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    L-R; Rosenthal, Walker, Ueda, Horner

  • Patrick Cornelius Octet Live From Berklee: Watch Now

    December 10, 2013. Posted by Chris Dennison.

    Alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius is that rare thing: a true jazz composer. His works are more than jumping-off points for improvisers, as we heard on Dec. 11, when he premiered a new suite from the Berklee College of Music's Café 939 in Boston.

    Click on the links below to hear or watch our live broadcast of this event.

    “On a lot of great music that I’ve loved over the years in the jazz lexicon, the tune itself is kind of an afterthought,” says Cornelius. “I wanted to take the opposite approach, and write songs that I end up walking around whistling.”

    The musicians Cornelius assembled for this premiere are, like himself, Berklee alums. They include Jason Palmer on trumpet, John Ellis on tenor sax, trombonist Nick Vayenas, guitarist Miles Okazaki, pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Peter Slavov, and drummer Kendrick Scott. Many of this tightly-knit group of musical forward thinkers have appeared on Cornelius’s albums, and vice versa.

    The suite is inspired by When We Were Very Young, the 1924 debut in a book of poetry by A.A. Milne of a friendly bear named Winnie The Pooh.

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    The original Pooh toys, on display at the New York Public Library

    Winnie has gone on to great fame, and is beloved to children around the world. These include Cornelius’s own toddlers, James and Isabella,who he says inspired him to write the work, a commission for Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Foundation.

    Fatherhood has also inspired him to explore new directions in his music, he says, which in the past hewed towards the hard-driving and intricate hard bop lines of one of his sax heroes, altoist Cannonball Adderley.

    “Being a father has definitely mellowed a lot of the more aggressive tendencies in my personality… and it’s heightened the more sentimental aspects,” says Cornelius. “It absolutely has influenced the way I hear music and what kind of music I want to write.”

    This sea change can be heard on tracks such as “Bella’s Dreaming” a beautiful ballad with a lullaby feel from his third album, 2011’s Maybe Steps. The album is dedicated to Isabella, who was a newborn at the time.

    Cornelius’s most recent album, 2013’s Infinite Blue with pianist Frank Kimbrough and drummer Jeff Ballard, features eight original, expertly composed, catchy tunes. While these include introspective tracks such as “In The Quiet Moments” and “Waiting,” it also includes fiery, up-tempo burners like “Puzzler.”

    “When it’s time to swing hard, that’s when Cannonball comes out,” he says.

    Enjoy our broadcast of While We’re Still Young, in which Cornelius takes his love of melody and extends it into the realm of long-form composition, for the love of Pooh.

  • Live At The Village Vanguard: Brian Blade Fellowship Band

    December 9, 2013. Posted by Matt Leskovic.

    Brian Blade says he’s “just the drummer” in the Fellowship Band. But this modest man of rhythm has plenty of reasons to boast: we heard why on Dec. 10 when the group he has nurtured for twenty-five years came to New York’s Village Vanguard. Listen now to our live broadcast of this event.

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    Photo by John Rogers for WBGO/NPR

    Blade was raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, and attended Loyola University in New Orleans, where he formed a trio with Jon Cowherd on piano and Chris Thomas on bass. When he made his way to New York, Jon and Chris came, too.

    In the Big Apple, Blade made waves in a wunderkind quartet with Joshua Redman on tenor saxophone, Brad Mehldau on piano and bassist Christian McBride. He found time to play on Bob Dylan’s folk masterpiece Time Out of Mind, and in the Oscar-winning film Sling Blade. He can also be heard on sessions with Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones, and Emmylou Harris, and has played with master saxophonist Wayne Shorter since 2000.

    But it is in The Fellowship Band, with Cowherd and Thomas at its core, where we hear Blade's generous spirit at its best. On the bandstand, the group sounds like a family; no one player dominates the mix. Saxophonists Myron Walden and Melvin Butler have been with the Fellowship since its birth, and they have found a kindred spirit in guitarist Steve Cardenas, who joins them at the Vanguard and on the group’s fourth album, Landmarks, which will be released by Blue Note in April.

    Grand in scope and breadth of emotion, the Fellowship’s sound seamlessly combines elements of modal jazz, country and folk, soul and rock. Compositions such as “Return of the Prodigal Son,” a suite from 2008’s Season of Changes, invite listeners to navigate a landscape that is pastoral, then haunting and brooding, and ultimately transcendent and inspiring.

    Yet for all this sonic ambition, the Fellowship never loses its earthiness and soul. Songs like “Rubylou’s Lullaby” and “Stoner Hill” showcase the group’s strong melodic sense and ability to be as succinct as they are adventurous.

    Walden and Butler’s interwoven saxophone lines are a delight, as are the pristine piano and guitar unisons, but it’s the subtleties in Blade’s drumming that steal the show. Sensitive and dynamic, Blade’s embellishments compliment but never overshadow his bandmates, and his flair for the dramatic - toms rumbling into volcanic cymbal explosions - are always tasteful.

    Blade may never want to call himself the leader of the band, but he has certainly earned his place on the Vanguard’s marquee, as a master of rhythm and a shepherd of men. Enjoy!