WBGO Blog
  • Warren Wolf + Lage Lund: Live From 92Y Tribeca

    November 16, 2011. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

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    Warren Wolf (left) and Lage Lund. (Image Credit: John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com)

    A vibraphonist from down the turnpike in Baltimore; a guitarist from across the pond in Norway. Both have dedicated themselves to hard-swinging jazz of the highest order, and both journeyed to downtown Manhattan to lead bands in the next installment of The Checkout: Live From 92Y Tribeca.

    Warren Wolf is best known as a vibraphonist — notably, on his 2011 self-titled album, and as the malletman in Christian McBride's Inside Straight band. Plenty of musicians know him also as a drummer or as a pianist; he's toured and recorded in both capacities. After studying, then teaching at Berklee College of Music in Boston, he moved back to Baltimore — the place where he met several of the musicians joining him on stage here.

    Lage Lund came to New York City in 2002 — after a stint at Berklee — and he quickly found his way into the jazz scene. His chops and vision won him the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2005. He's been able to lead more bands lately; in 2010, he issued Unlikely Stories, a disc of original tunes, followed up with a live trio set this year called Small Club, Big City. He brings a band of first-call New York musicians to the date.

    On Wednesday, Nov. 16, The Checkout: Live series paired the bands of Lage Lund and Warren Wolf in a double bill, in performance at 92Y Tribeca. The concert was broadcast on air via WBGO and in an online video webcast at this page on NPR Music, with a live online chat. For more information about this series and the full concert archive, visit npr.org/checkoutlive.

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  • Do The Astral Plane: Five Songs Where Jazz Meets Electronic Music

    November 15, 2011. Posted by Simon Rentner.

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    Jazzanova. (Image Credit: Ben Wolf)

    Remember when jazz was a so-called "dance" music? When swing drove masses to ballrooms and inspired popular dances like the Lindy Hop, Charleston and Jitterbug?

    Probably not; most of us will never know what the '30s and '40s were like, when jazz was more than a spectator sport. But in this age of electronic music, with sampling and loops, getting down to jazz sounds isn't so uncommon — sampled saxophones and ride cymbals have re-emerged in dance halls in innovative forms of house music. Here are few successful fusions of jazz and electronica.

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  • Bill McHenry Quartet: Live At The Village Vanguard

    November 9, 2011. Posted by WBGO.

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

    When he leads a band playing his own tunes, the New York-based tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry makes uncommon, beautiful music. Call it modern jazz if you must; it can get a bit abstract, a little loose. But "modern jazz" often connotes something hypertechnical, or noodly, or lost in advanced harmony, and this isn't exactly that. It's often slow, or at least deliberately spacious, and aspiring to something pretty and aching. And it's finished by a player who gets a meaty, lustrous sound from the horn.

    Later this month, Bill McHenry will release a new album's worth of this music — his third with his current quartet — called Ghosts of the Sun. But before that, he plays a week at the Village Vanguard with a completely different lineup, including the great seasoned drummer Andrew Cyrille. NPR Music and WBGO presented a live video webcast and radio broadcast of the Bill McHenry Quartet from the club Wednesday, Nov. 9, in which McHenry played some of the tunes on the new album.

    McHenry has now led five records with a quartet featuring guitarist Ben Monder, plus one disc of duets. But Monder is out for this date; Orrin Evans is in on piano, providing a change in both timbre and approach. Eric Revis, the longtime bassist for Branford Marsalis, brings his versatility to the gig. And then there's Andrew Cyrille, a drummer who has made his name working in the so-called avant-garde strains of jazz, but has lived through much more than that. He's soon to be 72; his bandmates are in their 30s and 40s.

    Raised in Maine, McHenry came to New York in 1992. That makes him something of a late bloomer compared to the generation of musicians around him, at least regarding the public spotlight. But working in Guillermo Klein's Los Guachos and in a quartet co-led with trumpeter John McNeil, as well as other sideman opportunities, have given him chances to shine. And on Ghosts of the Sun, he continues his working relationship with the drummer Paul Motian, now several records strong; they share a knack for compositional style and coloring outside the lines.

    At the Village Vanguard, McHenry is becoming a regular sight, whether as sideman or leader. In fact, in 2009, NPR Music and WBGO recorded the Bill McHenry Quintet — a completely different group — at the legendary New York club, a performance still available on this site.

    Set List

    Compositions by Bill McHenry unless otherwise noted.

    • "Pavonine"
    • "3rd Bar Blues"
    • "Ms. Polley"
    • "Liza" (Gershwin)
    • "William"
    • "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)" (Bricusse/Newley)

    Personnel

    • Bill McHenry, tenor saxophone
    • Orrin Evans, piano
    • Eric Revis, bass
    • Andrew Cyrille, drums

    Credits

    • Josh Jackson, producer and host
    • David Tallacksen, mix engineer
    • Michael Downes, assistant
    • Lara Pellegrinelli, moderator