• 'Treme,' Ep. 27: The Fat Man

    October 29, 2012. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    DJ Davis (Steve Zahn) gains an audience with Fats Domino and his many gold records. (Image Credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO)

    Born in 1928, Fats Domino enjoyed the first of his many hits — almost all of which were created in New Orleans — when "The Fat Man" rose up the R&B charts all the way to No. 2. That was in 1950. Which explains all the records on the wall at his house, and the regal status he is afforded.

    That, and other musical explainers, are in our latest Treme music recap, with WBGO's Josh Jackson.

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  • 'Treme,' Ep. 26: That's What Buddy Bolden Said

    October 22, 2012. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    The Lambreaux men protest the demolition of housing projects. (Image Credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO)

    Certain episodes of Treme seem to wear their ideological hearts on their sleeves, and this was one. You open with Desiree's mother's house getting torn down in a city mix-up; you have Davis throwing around phrases like "preservation through neglect"; you see housing projects torn down amid protest with the implication of a corrupt deal; you get protagonists like the Bernette family being harassed by police; you witness clueless developers trying to build a national jazz center while waiting for the other shoe to drop. (Perhaps the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music gives a clue to the writers' thinking?) Nothing involving anything "official" seems to work like it ought to.

    But you still have music. Pianists and keyboard players feature prominently here, with Jonathan Batiste, Joe Krown and Tom McDermott making guest appearances, and we also hear some trad-jazz and classic R&B. To help recap the music, here's Josh Jackson of WBGO.

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  • For The Love Of James Moody: Five Tributes

    October 19, 2012. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Clarinet and saxophone player Paquito D'Rivera wore a James Moody T-shirt during a recent recording session in Brazil. (Image Credit: Jorge Rosenberg/Courtesy of the artist)

    "James Moody is the most beloved jazz musician in the world," reedman Paquito D'Rivera says.

    These may be strong words, but D'Rivera is far from alone in his appreciation of the tenor saxophonist, who died in 2010. On the bandstand, Moody was universally admired for his musicality, his generosity — he gave away mouthpieces, saxophones and, once, even the coat off his back — and his ability to illuminate any room with his personal warmth.

    "He always had this big smile on his face," pianist Kenny Barron says. "Whenever he saw you, you got a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. He was just always that way."

    Barron and Moody played together over the course of 40 years, and it was Moody who persuaded Dizzy Gillespie to hire Barron for his first big gig in 1962, when he was only 19.

    "Moody was so humble — he always felt like he needed to learn more," Barron says. "He'd say, 'Hey, can you play these chord changes for me? I'm not really getting it.' Of course, when you did, he'd eat 'em up!"

    D'Rivera and Barron are just two of the dozens of Moody's famous friends, including Jimmy Heath, George Benson and the Manhattan Transfer, who perform Friday night in the "For Love of Moody" concert at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The event raises money for a scholarship fund bearing Moody's name, and is the keystone of the inaugural James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival — a weeklong celebration of the saxophonist's legacy in his hometown of Newark — which runs through Sunday.

    "He was one of the most giving human beings," Heath says. "Everybody who knew Moody knew he was a beautiful person."

    The musicians will perform round-robin style in a "living room" created on the stage of NJPAC's Prudential Hall. Jokes will be told and stories shared. Moody, who often played practical jokes to break the tension in any room he found too stuffy, would have liked this informality, Barron says.

    "Moody just had that enthusiasm and lust for life, you know?" he said.

    Here's a list of five recordings by artists playing Friday's concert. They all capture moments when the musicians shared the stage with Moody, or were inspired by him. For more coverage of the James Moody Democracy In Jazz Festival, visit the WBGO blog.

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