February 27, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
It's the birthday of saxophonist Dexter Gordon, who holds a special place in the hearts of many people at WBGO. Perhaps no one here knew him better than our station mother, Dorthaan Kirk. Here's a story she just told me:
I met Dexter when I was touring Europe with Rahsaan Roland Kirk's band. Rahsaan loved Dexter, so I knew the name and the music before I ever met him. Anyway, we had some time off, so we went to Copenhagen. We saw an early concert at Tivoli Gardens with the Basie Band, then we joined some of Basie's guys and headed for the Club Montmartre. Copenhagen was Dexter's home, and he played that club all the time.
I remember so much about that evening. Dexter was wearing a blue jean suit. It was definitely the 70s! At the end of the night, it's 3 or 4am, and all of the musicians are at the bar. I'm keeping to myself, mostly, while all the guys are carrying on. Long, tall, and handsome as can be, Dexter walks out of the kitchen, comes right up to me, and says, "Who are you?" I was practically speechless, which you know never happens...
From that night on, Dexter always called me "Miss Rahsaan." I sure do miss him.
Here's Dexter playing Sonny Stitt's "Loose Walk" in Amsterdam, with a Swiss trio - George Gruntz piano, Guy Pederson bass and drummer Daniel Humair:
© 2008 WBGO
February 6, 2008
Robert Nesta Marley was born on this day (Feb 6) in 1945 in Jamaica, W.I. His friends called him Bob. He died in 1981. Simple math will tell you that he barely got a chance to live. But the music he crammed into his 36 years will outlive all of us.
If all you know about Bob Marley is "I shot the Sheriff," I urge you to dig deeper. The man was one of the most eloquent and sensitive songwriters ever. Whether he was singing about the oppression of hate or the deliverance of love, his lyrics were simply - true. Marley is Dylan is Lennon and McCartney is Jagger and Richards and then some. But, as hip as those cats were, they still couldn't break it down like Bob.
"I-and-I no come to fight flesh and blood, but spiritual wickedness in high and low places; so while they fight you down, stand firm and give Jah thanks and praises! I-and-I don't expect to be justified by the laws of men. Oh, You may find me guilty but truth, truth will prove my innocence. When the rain falls, it don't fall on one man's house. Just remember that!"
You don't have to be a Rasta to dig that! Happy Birthday, Bob. This world misses you, bro. - David Cruz
© 2008 WBGO
January 25, 2008
As we roll into the meat of the primary season, I was overtaken by a sense of nostalgia for the bygone day when one journalist (Dan Rather) inserted himself into the 1988 presidential primary by going mano a mano with the leading Republican candidate (George H. W. Bush).
It was on this date two decades ago that this TV confrontation between Rather and Bush over the Iran/Contra scandal (and what G.W. knew or didn't know about it) became part of presidential political lore, and perhaps got George W. thinking about how he could pay Dan-O back, which he kinda did now that I think of it. (see Rather's report on the president's Vietnam service and the fallout thereafter.) It seems tame when compared to today's shock jock aesthetic, but it still probably makes the current George Bush mad as hell. Enjoy! - David Cruz
© 2008 WBGO
January 22, 2008
New Jersey's Senate Minority Leader wants the state Attorney General to investigate the arrest of former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan. Tom Kean, Jr. wants to know if Lonegan's first amendment rights were violated when a state trooper ordered his arrest outside Middle Township High School in Cape May County where Governor Jon Corzine was holding a town meeting.
Lonegan was taken into custody after he refused to remove signs from outside the school. Kean said "the right to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances is the foundation of U.S. democracy." He suggested that the Corzine administration was trying to intimidate opponents into silence.
The governor has been holding town hall meetings on his proposal to raise tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway as a means to bring down the state's debt and pay for infrastructure upgardes. But he has been criticized for requiring audience members to pre-register to attend. Here's what happened to the usually contentious Lonegan last week. - David Cruz
© 2008 WBGO
January 15, 2008
Residents of a Bronx building where hip hop was born say they have a plan to buy it so that they can keep it affordable. Tenants at the building on 1520 Sedgwick Avenue got word last year that the owners wanted to opt out of a state affordable housing program, which could mean big rent increases for them. They want to buy each apartment for a few thousand dollars each.
During the 1970s, DJ Kool Herc spun records at parties in the basement rec. room, ushering in the the hip-hop era. While a lot of today's hip hop annoys me, the stuff that came out of the Bronx in the late 70's and early 80's is forever ingrained in my mind (and soul.)
I was never at one of Herc's basement parties or any of those classic sets in abandoned buildings in the Bronx of the early 1980's. But I can remember my utter amazement at seeing break dancers and rappers for the first time in pre-Disney Times Square (circa 1980.) I'm sure I had no clue at the time that I was witnessing the birth of a nation.
Here's a clip of Herc from a European documentary on the birth of hip hop. Dig it. - David Cruz
© 2008 WBGO