WBGO Blog
  • Randy Weston's Birthday Celebration Weekend Is Now

    April 9, 2010. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Randy WestonIt's Randy Weston's 84th birthday, and the celebration is at the Jazz Standard. Last night, I enjoyed the first set. For the opening minutes (at least five minutes), Weston's hands didn't venture above the middle of the keyboard. That powerful low piano goes straight to your center. The vibration is strong enough to make you a resonator! As Randy Weston says, "In the African tradition, we are all musicians. Your heart is your drum and your voice is your sound."

    As the set unfolded from the processional "Blues to Africa" through "Saucer Eyes," "African Sunrise" for Dizzy Gillespie and Machito, "Hi Fly" and "Berkshire Blues," I felt as if I'd died and gone to heaven (or Sunside, a Paris club which for some reason came to mind). Love yourself. Go see Randy Weston.

    Here's a clip of "African Sunrise" from the same quintet, as heard on JazzSet in 2004.

  • Christian McBride: The Movement Revisited at Second Ebenezer Church in Detroit

    February 17, 2010. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    JD Steele & Christian McBride .. Courtesy Det Intl Jazz Fest, Photographer Jeff Forman
    JD Steele & Christian McBride .. Courtesy Det Intl Jazz Fest, Photographer Jeff Forman

    DETROIT – Bassist Christian McBride and his quintet, narrators representing four icons of the Civil Rights Movement, J.D. Steele and the Second Ebenezer Majestic Voices, the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra, and more than 2,000 people gathered in one mega-sanctuary Sunday night for The Movement Revisited, McBride's jazz opus, presented for free by the Detroit International Jazz Festival for Black History Month.

    The first reading was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s opening address "On the Importance of Jazz." for the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival with the theme that “This is triumphant music." Anthony L. Brock Jr., a student at the Detroit School of the Arts, delivered it -- short and meaningful. (Link to text below)

    Following the “Freedom / Struggle” overture, poet Sonia Sanchez spoke words of Rosa Parks, whose refusal in the mid 1950s to move back in a city bus launched the 381-day boycott in Montgomery, AL. Parks later lived in Detroit. Willis Patterson, Emeritus Professor of Voice from the University of Michigan, spoke Malcolm X's words; Malcolm Little grew up in Lansing, became known as Detroit Red. Dion Graham from The Wire spoke Muhammad Ali's words; Ali now lives near here. Bishop Edgar L. Vann II of Second Ebenezer re-created the "I Have A Dream" speech. King delivered the first known version at Cobo Hall on June 23, 1963. According to the Civil Rights Timeline in the printed program, 125,000 people marched on Woodward Avenue that day. The organizer was Rev. C. L. Franklin, Aretha's father.

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  • Better Get It In Your Soul .. Mingus at St. Bart's

    February 15, 2010. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    s artworkThe low ceilings of several New York basements have put a lid on Mingus's music for a long time now. But this past Saturday night it was quite the opposite as the 11-piece Mingus Orchestra played music that stretched over a big footprint and soared into the domed cathedral of St. Bart's Church. As the concert progressed, it sounded better and better.

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