WBGO Blog
  • Pheeroan AkLaff on Dolphy Tribute: Listen Now

    May 29, 2014. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Drummer Pheeroan AkLaff talks with Sheila Anderson about "Freedom Of Sound," a two-day celebration of saxophonist Eric Dolphy at Montclair State University May 30 and 31. Enjoy!

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  • Happy 100th Arrival, Sun Ra! Listen Now

    May 22, 2014. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Playdate, RIP

    It's the 100th anniversary of afrofuturist Sun Ra's "Arrival" from the planet Saturn, by way of Alabama, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. Listen to his Arkestra perform "Space Is The Place," as recorded by WBGO on April 21, 1991:

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    Sun Ra was born Herman Poole "Sonny" Blount in Birmingham, Alabama in 1914, and developed his persona and approach to music, which combined imagery from Egyptian mythology, Freemasonry and space travel, while based in Chicago in the 1940s.

    His big band, the Arkestra, embodied this vision in sound and dress, and performed his sophisticated arrangements, which incorporated psychedelia, traditional African folk songs and bebop. His live shows were spiritual, and made a profound impression on those who saw them.

    “When I saw Sun Ra on the banks of the Hudson in the late 1980s,” recalls JazzSet producer Becca Pulliam, “it was a long summer evening, the sun was setting, and he had a little electric keyboard. I wonder what powered it. He and the musicians were singing "We travel the space wa-aves .. from pla-net to pla-net .."

    Show #2 of our series Playdate With Matt Wilson celebrates Sun Ra with more highlights from the Arkestra's performance in 1991 for WBGO. To learn more about Sun Ra and his centennial, click here.

    To celebrate Sun Ra's centennial, former Arkestra drummer Michael D. Anderson has digitally remastered and released more than twenty albums from the first half of his career, from 1957 through 1972, many of which have never been available in digital form. For more information, visit iTunes.

    Happy anniversary, Sun Ra!



  • WBGO Says Farewell To Al Harewood

    March 17, 2014. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Add new comment | Filed under: RIP

    WBGO bids farewell to master drummer and friend Al Harewood, who passed away last week at age 90.

    The Brooklyn born-and-raised Harewood played a key role in ensembles with J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding, Curtis Fuller, Stanley Turrentine, and Lou Donaldson, among others, and can be heard on many Blue Note sessions from the 1950s and 1960s.

    Listen to Harewood's magisterial work with pianist Horace Parlan from the 1961 Blue Note release Up And Down:

    We can say goodbye to Al on Wednesday, Mar. 19th at Brooklyn's St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, 725 Belmont Ave between Elton & Linwood Streets, with viewing from 3 to 6:30 p.m. A musical tribute will be held from 5:45 to 6:30 p.m., followed by open tributes and a Funeral mass at 7 p.m.

    On Thursday, March 20, prayers will be held at St. Barnabas at 9:30 a.m., followed by burial at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Maspeth, New York.

    Farewell, Al, and thank you!

    Photo by Francis Wolff, courtesy of Mosaic Images
    Photo by Francis Wolff, copyright Mosaic Images