• Gary gets “official” birthday gift

    October 23, 2009. Posted by Brandy Wood.

    Gary receives his official gift
    Morning Jazz host Gary Walker recently celebrated his 60th birthday, and the jazz community wasn’t the only one to recognize this important milestone. At Gary’s surprise birthday celebration, he received the following proclamation:

    The Newark Municipal Council Hereby issues this resolution commending Gary Walker on the auspicious occasion of celebrating his 60th birthday on October 17, 2009 @ The Glenridge Community Center. The governing body joins with all residents of the city of Newark to extend heartfelt congratulations during this wholesome event

    Congrats Gary!

  • Great Live Moments: Dr. Billy Taylor/Jazzmobile in Newark

    July 24, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Billy Taylor Trio - Photo by Jimmy Katz

    Today is the 87th birthday of a jazz legend - Dr. Billy Taylor. Last night, on the eve of this very special day, Dr. T was one of several featured pianists at the 92nd Street Y in the Jazz in July series. He likes the name of that series because he came up with it himself when he helped to found a summer program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Just this month, Taylor quietly stepped down from his Jazz in July, and U Mass expressed gratitude for many summers on its website. Click to read the story.

    Also this summer, Taylor is involved in a development right here in our town. Now we have a Brick City branch of Jazzmobile, the teaching organization he helped found in Harlem.  Newark Jazzmobile is named for the late bassist Earl May, who first proposed it but did not live to see it happen. Click here for the Jazzmobile schedule. Houston Person plays tonight at Mildred Helms Park in the South Ward! Click and hear Billy Taylor play "A Night in Tunisia" on WBGO's (then) new Steinway, live on the air in the 1980s. Another Great Live Moment from WBGO.


  • About Last Night - SF Jazz Collective at SOPAC

    March 12, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    SF Jazz Collective - Live at SOPAC

    I am a city dweller, plagued by the New Yorker bias. That is, I very rarely go to New Jersey for anything other than to work at WBGO. However, I am not so entrenched that I won't shake my preconceptions for the right set of circumstances. So last night, I ventured to SOPAC for a performance from the SF Jazz Collective, a pride of eight musicians of the highest caliber.

    Each year, the collective features original commissions, as well as arrangements of a noted modern jazz composer. This season, the band turns their all-seeing eye on composer and saxophonist (and Newark native) Wayne Shorter.
    The end of time was the beginning of the set. Saxophonist Miguel Zenon's arrangement of Shorter's "Armegeddon" set us on the trailhead.
    Here's what followed:
    This That and the Other - a Joe Lovano original
    The Angel's Share - penned by Matt Penman, a New Zealand import
    Diana - from Shorter's Native Dancer, arranged by Renee Rosnes
    Go - Stefon Harris arranged this Shorter composition with some backbeat boom bap. Great way to end the first half.

    The second set pushed ahead into the abstract, modern aesthetic that makes the collective such a great band to hear. Drummer Eric Harland's "The Year 2008" set the tone, a composition built around a recorded vocal chant, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Rosnes' "Aurora Borealis" followed. Trumpeter Dave Douglas contributed "Secrets of the Code," an original work that used snippets of Wayne Shorter's music as source code embedded as a thread throughout the composition. Great stuff. The newest member of the collective, trombonist Robin Eubanks, ended the evening with his arrangement of Shorter's "Black Nile."

    Only two complaints. The piano monitor levels in the house made the trombone articulation inaudible. That's just the music nerd in me. The other issue is this: I could not hear all of the band's repertoire in a single night. The SF Jazz Collective had more music in the kitty, but I'll have to see them again to hear the rest. Will do.