April 17, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.
Fred Hersch has been a friend of WBGO for at least twenty years. He was in Jane Ira Bloom's group when we recorded her at Citicorp Center for a series called Jazz at the Market (host was the Rev. John Garcia Gensel of St. Peter's Church). I remember that Fred and Jane had brought a piano tuner, but the Center didn't want their tuner to touch the piano. I was disappointed, and learning on the job. Fred was .. well, if not incensed, he was at least insulted.
Fred was part of a concert at Town Hall with MC Steve Allen (the TV personality, dating all the way back to the first Tonight Show). As Steve Allen was telling stories and getting into it, he turned to Fred and asked for "a little something underneath this;" on demand, Fred played the perfect "patter" music.
But Fred wasn't born for that role. From his earliest time in New York, he belonged in top groups. He was a sideman for leaders a generation or more his senior, such as Joe Henderson - from Ohio, like Fred.
At the Iowa City Jazz Festival in the 1990s, I remember Fred getting onstage and talking about funding cuts coming to the National Endowment for the Arts. He wanted me to do that with him, and I didn't. His political passion took me by surprise.
Fred studied with Sophia Rosoff (as did Barry Harris, a revered teacher in New York, who shows pianists how to produce sound through the keys by relaxing. Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus was one of Fred's many many students.
The 1986 group must have been one of his first. Dick Oatts was on sax, Randy Brecker on trumpet, although they stepped aside for the ballad "Con Alma."
© 2008 WBGO
January 10, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
I'm interviewing guitarist Lionel Loueke at noon, so I'm jumping the shark a bit. But Loueke closed the Gala Concert. After New York Voices, about 80 percent of the audience poured out of the Metro Toronto Convention Center's Constitution Hall. Those with a thirst for adventure (or simply no restrictions on bedtime) stayed for Lionel's trio. They are formerly known as Gilfema - Loueke, the Swedish/Italian bassist Massimo Biolcati, and Hungarian drummer Ferenc Nemeth.
They opened with the title song from Lionel's upcoming Blue Note release, Karibu. For the Swahili challenged, that means "Welcome."
Another live performance from the trio. This is called "Seven Teens." Don't bother trying to tap your foot or count the 17 beats per measure. Just enjoy listening to it.
The set ended with a little surprise. Lionel added to the international flavor of the band (not to mention the already-high musicality) with an invitation to harmonica player Gregoire Maret. And for lagniappe, let's throw in a some audience participation.
© 2008 WBGO
January 2, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.
2007 is ending, and though this year was pretty dry in my humble opinion, it was a GREAT year for music. Here are my favorite albums of 2007. I hope you'll check some of them out. And maybe some of these are your favorites, too!
Terence Blanchard - A Tale of God's Will: A Requiem for Katrina (Blue Note)
Jose Gonzalez - In Our Nature (Peacefrog)
Radiohead - In Rainbows (Radiohead)
Robert Glasper - In My Element (Blue Note)
Kendrick Scott Oracle - The Source (World Culture Music)
Charles Mingus Sextet w/ Eric Dolphy - Cornell 1964 (Blue Note)
Common - Finding Forever (Geffen)
Mike Moreno - Between the Lines (World Culture Music)
Many of the people on my list are fantastic, young jazz musicians who are blazing the trails of this music. I can't wait to see what's in store for 2008 from some of my favorite artists!
© 2008 WBGO