WBGO Blog
  • WBGO Says Goodbye to Saxophonist Bob Belden

    May 20, 2015. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Add new comment | Filed under: RIP, The Checkout

    WBGO says farewell to saxophonist and record producer Bob Belden, who passed away today after a massive heart attack over the weekend.

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    A highly imaginative arranger, performer and producer, Belden served as the head of artists and repertoire for Blue Note Records, and won multiple Grammy Awards for his reissues of Miles Davis recordings for Columbia Records. He also produced two well-received Davis tribute albums with international musicians, Miles From India and Miles Español.

    "Animation," an ensemble he created with trumpeter Tim Hagans, recorded two albums for Blue Note and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2001. He reformed the group for a concert in 2006 with young musicians from his alma mater, the University of North Texas. He released three RareNoise albums with the reformed group, with a fourth on the way.

    He also took Animation to perform at a music festival in Iran in February of this year, with Pete Clagett on trumpet, Jair-Rohm Parker Wells on bass, Roberto Verastegui on piano, and and Matt Young on drums. They were the first American jazz musicians to perform in the country since its 1979 Islamic revolution. A film crew traveled with the musicians for a forthcoming documentary.

    Belden and Hagans also brought Animation to perform in WBGO's studios in 2011, where they spoke with Josh Jackson. We'd like to share that special session and conversation with you again now.

    Farewell Bob and thank you!

  • WBGO Says Farewell to Bruce Lundvall

    May 19, 2015. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Add new comment | Filed under: RIP

    WBGO says goodbye to friend and music lover extraordinaire Bruce Lundvall, who passed away today at 79 from complications of Parkinsons' Disease.

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    Born in Englewood, New Jersey in 1935, Lundvall fell under the spell of jazz on Manhattan's 52nd Street in his teens. He rose from an entry-level job at Columbia Records to lead the label in North America for two decades. He nurtured the careers of - among many others - Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock, Stan Getz, and Wynton Marsalis, James Taylor and Willie Nelson.

    Lundvall then ran Blue Note Records for nearly three decades. He took over the dormant label in 1984, and turned it into a powerhouse that celebrated artists from the label's golden age, such as McCoy Tyner and Joe Henderson, and supported new talent, including singers Norah Jones, Dianne Reeves and Cassandra Wilson.

    Bruce was an honoree at WBGO's Champions of Jazz Gala in 2012. In this excerpt, record producer Tommy LiPuma describes meeting Lundvall for the first time in the 1970s, and discovering their shared love of jazz, although both worked extensively - and very successfully - with pop acts at the time:

    Artists whose careers he championed - including singer Bobby McFerrin and Paquito D'Rivera, who Lundvall brought to New York from Cuba with Irakere in 1978 to record a Grammy-winning album, expressed their thanks and performed songs Bruce had chosen for the occasion.

    In this excerpt, McFerrin tells the story of how Lundvall agreed to back his 1984 solo album The Voice, which became a platinum-seller for Elektra:

    "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you very much!" said a beaming McFerrin, summing up the feelings of everyone in the room after he sang two of Lundvall's bebop favorites - Charlie Parker's "Scrapple From The Apple" and  Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight."

    Thank you, Bruce, from all of us. Because of you, the music you loved lives on in our hearts and minds, and in generations to come.

  • WBGO's Michael Bourne Remembers B.B. King

    May 16, 2015. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    BB was actually named King.  He was born Riley B. King on a cotton plantation in 1925.  He grew up around Indianola, Mississippi, and he first became known in Memphis — where he worked as a singer and DJ on radio station WDIA.

    That's when his nickname Beale Street Blues Boy was shortened to Blues Boy, and then to BB.

    Photo by Dave Stryker
    Photo by Dave Stryker

    T-Bone Walker was an early inspiration, and I always remember the look on his face when I quoted something he’d said about how much he loved listening to Django Reinhardt.

    With his eyes closed and his face beaming, he smiled and he said only “Django …”

    BB’s own sound on the guitar he called Lucille was magisterial.  When he played a note, a finger of his left hand quivered on the string, so that every note sounded like a bell, echoing.
    BB loved listening to Frank Sinatra sing, and his own voice was as down-to-earth and heartful.  When he was singing, he didn’t play.  When he was playing, Lucille was singing.

    No blues artist popularized the blues around the world like BB King.  No blues artist ever sang or played the guitar like BB King.

    He was — and always will be — the King of the Blues.

    Guitarist Dave Stryker sent me this picture of of his "prized possession" - a Red clear vinyl Crown Records 195.

    Pretty much says it all. For Dave, for me, and for all of us.

    Thank you, BB.