• Remembering Les Paul

    August 13, 2009. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Masters, News


    Les Paul died today.  He was 94.  In 2005, I was hired to make a documentary about a century of jazz guitar.  The resulting work was called Progressions: 100 Years of Jazz Guitar.  My partner at Joyride Media, Paul Chuffo, and I were running wild getting interviews with George Benson, Jim Hall, John Scofield, and jazz writer Bill Milkowski, a really knowledgeable source for all things related to jazz guitar.
    As we were trying to decide who could possibly host our special, there was really only one person who had the authority and the cache.  The Wizard of Waukesha - Les Paul.  I recorded Les Paul's narration at Iridium, where he performed every Monday night for many years.  The best parts of the show are when Les simply embellished the script with his own asides.  Like when he said, "I played with Django Reinhardt, and I can tell you he was one of the best I've ever heard."  This coming from a man who was 90.  When people tell me things like this, I remember.  Anyway, I thought I'd share the documentary, if you'd like to take a stroll through the history of jazz guitar with one of the great innovators in guitar music and recording.  There are many reasons why Les Paul mattered.  He invented the solid body guitar, for one.  He was the first person to multi-track individual instruments for a recording, which is something we do every time we record musicians for WBGO.
    Les Paul - 94 years well lived.  Thank you.

  • Impressions of Rashied Ali

    August 13, 2009. Posted by Joshua Jackson.


    Sad news to report.  Rashied Ali has died.  Information is spare, but it has been confirmed on his website.

    I can remember first hearing Rashied like many jazz lovers - by consuming vast amounts of the recorded legacy of John Coltrane.  I followed Trane to the end, including every note that followed the dissolution of the famous quartet with McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones.  Rashied Ali joined the group, and Elvin Jones was quick to depart.  That made Rashied the go-to guy for Trane, and they really created some amazing music together.  I  wore out the Coltrane/Ali duet recording, Interstellar Space when I was in college.  I simply could not fathom how two people created so much sound.

    Fast forward to June 24, 2004.  I was the producer for a live broadcast from Sounds of the City, an outdoor concert series presented by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.  The first of three acts we recorded that day was a duet with saxophonist Sonny Fortune and drummer Rashied Ali.  Meeting them both for the first time was one thing, but it's the concert that I'll never forget.  It's one song - Coltrane's "Impressions," and it lasts for 55 minutes.  We broadcast it live on WBGO.  Click the button above to hear it.  It was 5pm, right at the beginning of our drivetime.  I think that if I had a car that day, I would have driven around the city until the song was over, because both of these gentlemen were so heavily invested in the music.  That's something I hope anyone can appreciate - a life dedicated to music.  I'll miss you, Rashied.

  • Jazz Forum Arts: Barry Harris at WBGO

    June 19, 2009. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Masters, Video

    Watch the archived video.

    See photos from the performance and interview: