• Booker T & Robert Randolph Live at WBGO

    July 29, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Click here to hear Booker T. Jones and pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph play live together for the first time at WBGO.

    This special Blues Hour with Michael Bourne celebrates the remarkable first-ever collaboration between two powerhouse artists – one an acknowledged master, another making his own mark for the future. Jones's new CD Sound the Alarm, and Randolph's new CD Lickety Split are just out. Both in the present – Booker T and Robert Randolph – live at WBGO, for you, our listeners. Enjoy!


    Booker T. Jones is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Musicians Hall of Fame and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner. His classic tunes for the Memphis label Stax, like "Green Onions" and "Time is Tight," set a high bar for modern soul music.

    On the new record, which marks Booker T's return to Stax, he is joined by Anthony Hamilton, Raphael Saadiq, Mayer Hawthorne, Estelle, Vintage Trouble, Luke James and James Jay Picton, as well as Gary Clark Jr., Poncho Sanchez, and Sheila E.


    Robert Randolph hails from Orange, New Jersey, where he grew up in the "sacred steel" tradition of the Pentecostal church, and he has since extended the sound of his instrument into a multitude of genres. Lickety Split, which captures the excitement of his live performances,  is his first recording for the Blue Note label.


  • Bourne's Montreal: Alain Caron, Steve Kuhn Trio at Gesu

    July 5, 2013. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    Alain Caron was honored with the Montreal jazzfest's Oscar Peterson Award, a lifetime achievement award honoring a Canadian artist. He's the first musician to be honored twice.

    Photo by Denis Alix
    Photo by Denis Alix

    In the 70's and 80's, Caron played electric bass in a very popular Quebecois jazz/rock power trio called Uzeb.

    They were honored with the OP Award as a group in 1972, and played their farewell concert on the festival's biggest outdoor stage back then, the first of the festival's Grands Evenements that I attended.

    I remember the group blasting into the night as tens of thousands of festgoers rocked the street.

    Photo by Denis Alix
    Photo by Denis Alix

    Alain Caron blasted again at the Gesu -- although he always looked so calm, meandering casually around the stage while the band blew the roof off.

    I can't remember a concert so loud (without being deafening) and so rocking at the Gesu. Something to do with musical dynamics, not the artifice of rock volume.

    Photo by Denis Alix
    Photo by Denis Alix

    Caron's tunes have solid hooks, and his drummer, Damien Schmitt, is the dynamo. Playing two differently tuned bass drums, various other drums, and cymbals aplenty. Playing with staggering speed and sounding like a firefight of machine guns and cannons.

    I pretty much lost interest in electric jazz/rock "fusion" -- or whatever it's still called -- back in the 70's, but live at the Gesu, feeling again the thunder of Caron's music was great fun.

    Photo by David Tallacksen

    "Jazz dans la nuit" concerts at the Gesu have been a festival of wonderful trios, and especially superb drummers. Bill Stewart with Peter Bernstein and Larry Goldings. Justin Faulkner with Jacky Terrasson. Dave King with The Bad Plus. Joey Baron with Steve Swallow and Steve Kuhn.

    Photo by Ulisse Lemerise B.
    Photo by Ulisse Lemerise B.

    All trios that play beyond the ancient concept of a pianist playing the lead with the bassist walking harmony and the drummer keeping time. Each of these trios uniquely created together a fourth musical presence. Drummers were melodic. Bassists played the lead sometimes. Pianists whipped up some grooves.

    Photo by Ulisse Lemerise B.
    Photo by Ulisse Lemerise B.

    I especially enjoyed Joey Baron, playing quietly, quickly, tunefully, every which way, always with a smile. Joey said he's happy playing with masters like Swallow and Kuhn. The Steves were as inspired by Joey. Kuhn's "Oceans in the Sky" was a symphonic whirlwind. Kuhn's "The Zoo" was a charming encore.

    Photo by David Tallacksen
    Photo by David Tallacksen
  • The Checkout Live: Bridge Trio, New Gospel Quintet at 92Y

    June 12, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    WBGO presented The Bridge Trio and Don Byron's New Gospel Quintet live from the 92Y Tribeca on Wednesday, March 20 at 8 p.m.

    You can watch video from this event and review the conversation with hosts from WBGO and NPRMusic.org on this page.

    Every month, The Checkout Live brings critically acclaimed performers, many of whom have been featured on host Josh Jackson's weekly music magazine, The Checkout, to live stages in New York and Boston.

    Like WBGO's other live broadcasts, these shows live on in our video archive and at NPRmusic.org.

    If you like what you hear, tune in to WBGO-FM's online stream for new music, The Jazz Bee, to hear more from Byron, The Bridge Trio and other artists at the cutting edge of jazz. Enjoy!


    Click here to watch the Bridge Trio, with Conun Pappas on piano, Max Moran on bass and Joe Dyson on drums The trio met while students at New Orleans' performing arts high school, NOCCA, and their talents have blossomed as members of saxophonist Donald Harrison's touring ensemble.

    Click below to watch Don Byron's New Gospel Quintet with Carla Cook on vocals, Brad Jones on bass and backing vocals, Nat Adderley Jr. on piano and Pheeroan akLaff on drums. Byron plays clarinets and tenor saxophone.