WBGO Blog
  • Sing the Truth! - "With near record breaking heat and high humidity, I felt chills"

    September 3, 2011. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Rhonda Hamilton writes:  The Detroit Jazz Festival got off to a spectacular start Thursday evening with fireworks in the sky and on the stage, as the voices of Dianne Reeves, Angelique Kidjo and Lizz Wright rang out into the night and captivated the opening night crowd.

    With near record breaking heat and high humidity in the Motor City over the last few days, the word perspiration doesn’t fit the bill.  We have all been sweating but within the first few seconds of Sing The Truth!, I literally felt chills. These three incredibly gifted artists, each with her own distinctive style, put on a show that energized the audience and made us glad to be alive.

    Dianne Reeves sings with the clarity, confidence and passion of an artist who has earned diva status. In complete command of her instrument, she knows how to weave a spell, create drama and take the music higher.

    Dianne Reeves .. Photo by Jeff Forman
    Dianne Reeves .. Photo by Jeff Forman

    Angelique Kidjo carries the spirit of Mother Africa within her soul. Her voice, her dance, her exuberance have the power to make you scream.

    Angelique Kidjo in motion .. Photo by Jeff Forman
    Angelique Kidjo in motion .. Photo by Jeff Forman

    Lizz Wright embodies youth and beauty and grace.  Despite her young years she has the heart of a woman and the wisdom to match.  With a voice like warm honey she digs deep and brings up a well of emotion with each performance.

    Lizz Wright .. Photo by Jeff Forman
    Lizz Wright .. Photo by Jeff Forman

    During their months on tour, Dianne, Angelique and Lizz have developed a strong bond, clearly inspiring and learning from each other.  They share the love and they “Sing The Truth.” Don’t miss our broadcast Labor Day Monday at noon.

    Photo by Jeff Forman
    Photo by Jeff Forman
    Thanks, Jeff! Great photos
    Thanks, Jeff! Great photos
  • Detroit Street Musicians Play Funky Bird!

    September 3, 2011. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Detroit's auto industry may be moribund, but its cultural life is alive and kicking: young creative types, including many jazz musicians, have been flocking to the city, drawn by cheap rents and an active bohemian scene.

    WBGO's Becca Pulliam was on hand to see some of these creative types enjoying a little Charlie Parker-inspired free improvisation in the street outside Tiger Stadium. Fortunately, she caught it all on her iPhone and shares it with you here. Enjoy!

    WBGO will broadcast "Sing The Truth!" with Angelique Kidjo, Lizz Wright and Dianne Reeves on Monday at noon. Click here to listen, and check back to our blog for more updates and exclusive insights from the festival all weekend long!

  • The Detroit Jazz Festival begins with a percussion discussion

    September 3, 2011. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Joe Locke .. photo by Jeff Forman
    Joe Locke .. photos by Jeff Forman

    Opening the festival, Jeff Tain Watts's Drum Club was a visual feast in itself with Tain upstage audience right, Joe Locke downstage left, and an ocean of percussion in between. One man on one instrument, Joe worked and danced and made melodies HAPPEN, climaxing solos with fully extended, 180-degree-arm-coming-down mallet strikes. Several times. In a row. He held his own and then some.

    Upstage, Tony Lewis, Horacio Hernandez and Tain played kits on platforms left, center and right. In the middle tier, Rafael Statin played saxes, Susie Ibarra was at her beautiful kulintang -- a Philippine instrument of inverted, knobbed metal flower pots (an improvised description at best); conguero Pedro Martinez (in the photo); and bassist Bob Hurst. And the rest was all Tain’s turf, including a beautiful tympani down front. But he stayed mostly at his drumkit. Imagine rhythms flying, at first more abstract, then in deeper grooves, which the audience loved. The festival has begun.

    Pedro Martinez .. Photo by Jeff Forman
    Pedro Martinez .. Photo by Jeff Forman
    Jeff Tain Watts .. Photo by Jeff Forman
    Jeff Tain Watts .. Photo by Jeff Forman