WBGO Blog
  • WBGO Says Farewell To NEA Jazz Master Frank Wess

    October 31, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    WBGO says goodbye to our friend, flute and saxophone master Frank Wess, who died yesterday from kidney failure at age 91. We were fortunate to enjoy many moments with Frank over the years, and would like to share some of these with you now.

    Photo by Paul Slaughter
    Photo by Paul Slaughter

    Frank was "Magic" to his friends and fellow musicians, and rightly so. His devotion to, and mastery of, music were second to none.

    In this interview with Michael Bourne from 2008, he explains how after honing his craft in Count Basie's Orchestra, he became one of New York's busiest and most successful studio musicians, and co-led bands large and small with his Basie sax section partner Frank Foster, who we said goodbye to in 2011.

    A striver who believed in progress through music, Wess could in be found in recent years playing - in top form - in New York clubs such as Dizzy's at Lincoln Center, Small's and Smoke, where he unstintingly shared his wisdom and experience with younger players.

    90th Birthday at Dizzy's Club, photo by Fran Kaufman
    90th Birthday at Dizzy's Club, photo by Fran Kaufman

    We last presented him in concert in April, at 54 Below in Manhattan, as part of the nightclub's WBGO jazz series with guitarist Peter Bernstein.

    WBGO's Rhonda Hamilton celebrated with Frank in January of 2007, when he was named a NEA Jazz Master, the nation's highest honor for a jazz musician:

    F-frankwessflute

    Frank sat down with Rhonda once again in October of 2010 for another hourlong conversation, when he was the guest of honor at the annual All-Night Soul concert at St. Peter's Church in Manhattan:

    Rest easy Frank, and thank you from all of us at WBGO!

    Photo by Tom Marcello
    Photo by Tom Marcello
  • WBGO Says Goodbye To Gloria Lynne

    October 16, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    WBGO says goodbye to singer Gloria Lynne, who passed away in Newark Oct. 15 at age 81. Best known for her 1964 hit "I Wish You Love," Gloria won first prize in the "Amateur Night" at Harlem's Apollo Theater at age fifteen. She also wrote lyrics to Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man" and performed with, among others, Ray Charles, Harry Belafonte Billy Eckstine, Quincy Jones and Ella Fitzgerald. Among her many honors, she received an International Women in Jazz Award and a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. In 1995, New York City proclaimed July 25 "Gloria Lynne Day."

    A memorial service for Gloria will be held at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, 132 Odell Clark Place (138th Street) in Harlem, on Monday, October 28th at 1pm.

    Last month, Lynne sat down with with WBGO's Michael Bourne to talk about about her career and performances at 54 Below in New York on August 27 as part of the nightclub's WBGO Jazz Series. We would like to share this interview with you again now. Farewell, Gloria, we will miss you!

    gloria1

  • Margarett Cooper -- Host-an-Hour

    September 22, 2013. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    WBGO says farewell to our dear friend Margarett Cooper, who passed away Friday at age 99. Margarett was a true member of the WBGO family, and lived so many things the rest of us can only read about. As we remember her, we'd like to share audio from the unforgettable hour she spent with us on the air in 2010. Farewell Margarett, we will miss you!

    Part I

    Part II

    Cooper

    Margarett Cooper hosted an hour with me in the spring of 2010, a gift from WBGO supporter Gordon Davis.  96, she was, at the time.   Everyone kept mentioning her age, but her spirit belied her age.

    I especially enjoyed hearing stories about her hearing performances of Art Tatum and the other jazz greats she wanted to play as a guest DJ.    She said she was nervous, but her hour was sweet and swinging -- like Margarett Cooper herself.

    She was planning her next host-an-hour when she passed away. one month shy of her hundredth birthday. For us, she is ageless.

    - Michael Bourne