WBGO Blog
  • Jon Batiste And Stay Human: Newport Jazz 2014

    August 4, 2014. Posted by WBGO.

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    Jon Batiste embraces the crowd at the 2014 Newport Jazz Festival. (Image Credit: Adam Kissick for NPR)

    Jon Batiste has a way with exits, as musicians from New Orleans tend to. Days before his day-ending set at the 2014 Newport Jazz Festival, the pianist and singer walked out of The Colbert Report's theater with a studio audience and a dancing Stephen Colbert in tow. And following a high-energy Newport set — where his expanded Stay Human band played turbocharged versions of standards, rags and his own party anthems — he switched from piano to melodica and led the band into the main stage audience.

    Batiste's newest album is called Social Music, and it's easy to see how he could catalyze a gathering. As he paraded into the crowd, he switched into a number you might hear at a New Orleans jazz funeral parade, one that signaled his intent with a wink: "Just A Closer Walk With Thee."

    Set List

    • "My Favorite Things"
    • "On The Sunny Side Of The Street"
    • "People In The World"
    • "Shreveport Stomp"
    • "It's Alright (Why You Gotta)"
    • "The Star-Spangled Banner"
    • "St. James Infirmary"
    • "The Entertainer"
    • "Just A Closer Walk With Thee"

    Personnel

    Jon Batiste, piano/melodica/voice; Eddie Barbash, alto saxophone; Ibanda Ruhumbika, tuba; Barry Stevenson, banjo/bass; Joe Saylor, drums; Jamison Ross, keyboard/percussion/voice. With Grace Kelly, alto saxophone.

    Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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  • In Time For The World Cup, 'Explorative' New Music From Brazil

    June 13, 2014. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

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    Flame Collective. (Image Credit: Cezar Altai/Courtesy of the artist)

    Brazilian song has a way of capturing the imagination, and Rio de Janeiro is its crucible. From maxixe and choro in the 19th century to samba and bossa nova in the 20th, Rio's history of melding rhythms with deep lyricism has been extraordinary.

    For Brazilians, these songs have even greater significance. In a country where formal education is still not open to all, popular song offers a sentimental education.

    "Most Brazilians learn how to speak, how to write and even how to feel by listening to Brazilian songwriters," says Thiago Thiago de Mello.

    De Mello is part of a rising generation of Rio songwriters who take Brazil's music seriously. The son of Amadeu Thiago de Mello, an Amazonian poet, he combines Brazil's rich literary traditions and African-inspired rhythms, such as samba, forró and pagode, with jazz, rock and electronica.

    He and his peers call their original take on Brazilian music "explorative." Like the bossa nova of Tom Jobim and João Gilberto, and the tropicália of Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, the name may not fully translate into English. But it evokes Brazil's utopian heritage and ambitions — aspirations which feel appropriate as Brazil takes its place among the world's economic powers, and hosts the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.

    "My Brazil is a world of the powerful imaginations that precede me — of a countless amount of dreamers," singer-songwriter Pedro Sá Moraes says. "It's a peculiar state in which imagination is so strong, it can be binding — but it can also liberate."

    Sá Moraes, de Mello and other members of Coletivo Chama, a Rio arts organization, recently visited WBGO's studios to share some of their compositions. We will feature these live performances on The Checkout on July 15. Here, we share five recent studio recordings by Sá Moraes, de Mello and their colleagues — recordings which showcase their abilities as arrangers as well as composers and performers.

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  • Winter Jazzfest 2014: Tips Of The Iceberg

    January 13, 2014. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

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    Rene Marie. (Image Credit: John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com)

    The logo for the 2014 Winter Jazzfest, marking the festival's 10th anniversary, is a giant iceberg floating into New York harbor. Like the iceberg, this year's edition was both big — 90-plus groups over five nights, representing just a small portion of a larger scene — and cold and wet, in that it rained both nights of the music marathon last Friday and Saturday evening. But Winter Jazzfest was hot on the inside, as we soaked up great music like a sponge.

    It's a lot to process. So on Sunday, after some strong coffee and sleep — more coffee than sleep — we compared notes via online chat with WBGO colleague Alex Ariff and fellow travelers David Adler, Derrick Lucas and Brad Farberman — who covered the fest for the Village Voice, Jazz 90.1 FM in Rochester, N.Y., and Time Out New York, respectively.

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