April 7, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
You may know guitarist Kevin Eubanks from the Tonight Show Band. Each weeknight, he sits in front of the band, acting as a comic foil for host Jay Leno. Kevin has actually been the music director for the show since 1995, when Branford Marsalis departed. Eubanks has been on the show since 1992. He even penned the show's closing theme song, "Kevin's Country."
Kevin Eubanks is a jazz musician by calling. In fact, music is genetically programmed into the Eubanks clan. Just ask trombonist Robin Eubanks, who is currently blazing trails with the SF Jazz Collective touring ensemble.
Check out Kevin on "Blues for Wes," a duet tribute to one of the heroes of jazz guitar, Wes Montgomery. This selection is a duet recording with bassist Cameron Brown. WBGO recorded it in 1983 at the Jazz Forum in New York. Johnny Carson was still the host of the Tonight Show. Kevin Eubanks was starting a solo career. His television career was yet to come.
© 2008 WBGO
January 18, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Steve Martin one of the funniest comedians of all time. He's also a talented banjo picker in the Earl Scruggs' style. Lately, however, Martin's writing consistently grabs my attention. I'm almost finished with his new memoir, Born Standing Up.
[disclosure - my wife works for the company that publishes this book. Then again, they also publish such intellectual drivel like the recent bestseller, The Secret.]
Martin walked away from standup comedy in 1981. While he was still on top. Born Standing Up offers his personal take on a time, a place, and a person (himself) that no longer exist. It's a fascinating real life story, expressed with astonishing honesty and clarity. When Steve Martin writes about standup comedy - being alone on a stage, in front of an audience that expects you to entertain - he refers to it as "the ego's last stand."
His description of the act is very much how I think an improvising jazz musician must feel at times:
"My most persistent memory of stand-up is of my mouth being in the present and my mind being in the future: the mouth speaking the line, the body delivering the gesture, while the mind looks back, observing, analyzing, judging, worrying, and then deciding when and what to say next."
Fortunately for musicians, silence is an option.
- Josh Jackson
© 2008 WBGO