WBGO Blog
  • 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
  • WBGO Says Goodbye To Amiri Baraka

    January 9, 2014. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Add new comment | Filed under: josh jackson, RIP

    WBGO says goodbye to Amiri Baraka, who died today at 79. The author, activist and Newark native made indelible contributions to literature and music criticism, in particular through Blues People, his groundbreaking 1963 collection of essays which traced the evolution of African-American music.

    "He was one of the most insightful and brilliant observers jazz has ever attracted," said jazz writer Paul de Barros, upon learning of his death. "Part of a time when the context for jazz writing was so much broader and more connected -- in Baraka's case, to poetry, drama, social criticism and politics."

    Many of us at WBGO had the good fortune to know Amiri, and his urbane, incisive and unrepentant wit. Most recently, WBGO's Josh Jackson sat down with Baraka to talk about Blues People on the 50th anniversary of its publication. We'd like to share the conversation with you again now.

    Thank you, Amiri, and rest in peace. WBGO's condolences are with Baraka's family and many friends.

    The Wake
    Friday, January 17, 2014
    4:00pm to 9:00pm
    Metropolitan Baptist Church
    149 Springfield Avenue
    Newark, NJ 07103
    973.642.2267
    www.mbcnewark.org

    The Funeral
    Saturday, January 18, 2014
    10:00am
    Newark Symphony Hall
    1020 Broad Street
    Newark, NJ
    973.643.8014
    www.newarksymphonyhall.org

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