July 27, 2009. Posted by Grey Johnson.
Take a look at what fun we had when 60 WBGO Members visited the Louis Armstrong House Museum last Saturday. We were welcomed both by Michael Cogswell the Director of the Museum and by 86 year old Selma Heraldo, Louis and Lucille's next door neighbor! We snacked in the Armstrong's Japanese Garden (Louis convalesced there at the end of his life), saw an amazing exhibit of Louis's collages on recording tape boxes, and learned about the humility of this world-renowned star who was very happy in his Queens neighborhood and didn't need a fancy mansion on Long Island. After a wonderful tour (if you haven't been you really should go) we went off to Pio Pio Peruvian Chicken Restaurant nearby to stuff ourselves. Thanks to everyone who came and all who made this such a terrific day. If you were there, or would like to have been, leave a comment and record of what you saw or would like to see, on this blog.
© 2009 WBGO
April 23, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Meet Paul Barbarin, one of the most important people in the history of New Orleans music, and the "how" we call jazz.
The Barbarin family constitutes one of the original lines of Creole musicians who were present at the creation of a new music. Paul's father, Isidore, played the alto horn in The Onward Brass Band, one of the early traditional brass bands in the city.
Before I moved to New York, I used to work at WWOZ in New Orleans. I started as a volunteer, operating the board for a woman named Betty Rankin. Every Saturday morning, while most people my age had hangovers from Friday night, I was in a tiny peach-colored building in Louis Armstrong Park, playing LPs, cassettes, and the occasional CD for a lady who wanted no business with those details. She spent her ninety minutes as "Big Mama," the host of "The Moldy Fig Jam." I was 22, and this was the most amazing radio I had ever heard in my life. She told stories about every jazz musician in the city who had ever picked up an instrument with the purpose of playing traditional New Orleans jazz.
As it happened, Big Mama was an associate curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive. She handled the extensive oral history of New Orleans' music, and she knew both the collection as well as the musicians' whose lives she had helped to document. On any given Saturday, she talked about Paul Barbarin as if he were in the studio with us. It was the beginning of my post-college, real world education. On one such occasion, it was the first time I had ever heard his song, "Bourbon Street Parade." She told her audience about the street parades, how Barbarin kept that tradition alive. In the 1960s, he revived the Onward Brass Band, the name of the group that his father played a part. In fact, Paul Barbarin died in a parade, leading the band. [While I'm no fan of death, that's a great way to shuffle off this mortal coil.]
Years later, on the cusp of 2002, I was the field producer for NPR's Toast of the Nation. We're at the Village Vanguard, with Michael White and The Original Liberty Jazz Band. Hear them play "Bourbon Street Parade" from that evening.
When I hear this song, I remember how I got this far into jazz. Because I live with music.
PS Watch the video of Paul Barbarin's funeral. The musicians are playing "Just a Closer Walk With Thee."
Watching that is knowing why New Orleans matters. Onward.
© 2008 WBGO
March 2, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
It's the birthday of tenor saxophone legend Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. He was a pretty powerful presence in bands led by Cootie Williams, Lucky Millinder, Andy Kirk, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie. He also led his own sessions, which included swing, bop, hard bop, Latin jazz, and soul jazz genres. Basically, Eddie Davis played a lot of music. Check out this video - Eddie plays Ray Noble's "Cherokee" with the Count Basie Orchestra.
© 2008 WBGO