May 22, 2014. Posted by Tim Wilkins.
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:
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 .."
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!
© 2014 WBGO
March 24, 2014. Posted by Alex Ariff.
Welcome to Playdate #8, the last in our series of highlights from WBGO's archive of live recordings. We've packed this show, which airs on WBGO-FM March 25 at 6:30 p.m., to the brim with excitement, and there's even more at WBGO.ORG/PLAYDATE.
First up is JazzSet's historic trip to Cuba in December of 1998. You'll hear trombonist Steve Turre jam on conch shells in the streets of Havana with a seven-woman percussion group, trumpeter Roy Hargrove grooving hard with locals, and more music and stories from producer Becca Pulliam and field engineer Duke Markos.
To read and hear more about this trip, visit this blog post we created for JazzSet's twentieth anniversary.
The view of the Habana River from Producer Becca Pulliam's hotel room
Show #8 also features pianist Harold Mabern, The Dave Holland Quintet at the 1998 Mount Hood Jazz Festival, tenor saxophonist Frank Wess with the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and music from the two hosts of JazzSet: saxophonist Branford Marsalis, who hosted the show in its first decade, and vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, our current host.
You'll also hear part of an intimate performance by guitarist Larry Coryell with pianist Albert Dailey, bassist George Mraz and drummer Billy Hart at the Village Vanguard on April 26, 1984.
That morning, Count Basie passed away. Coryell dedicates his version of "Body and Soul" to the legendary organist, pianist and bandleader, who embodied for many jazz lovers, the sound and sense of "swing."
At WBGO.ORG/PLAYDATE, you can hear the full audio from this performance, as well as "On Green Dolphin Street," which features Coryell's group with innovative saxophonist Geroge Braith. On the track, Braith plays the Braithophone - a multi-reed instrument of his own invention.
© 2014 WBGO
March 18, 2014. Posted by Becca Pulliam.
Playdate #7 delivers The Message! Tonight at 6:30 p.m., host Matt Wilson presents hard bop innovator Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers live at New York City's Jazz Forum, in a vivid broadcast first heard on WBGO in 1983.
Terence Blanchard and Donald Harrison, Jr. play trumpet and alto on "One by One," written by former Messenger Wayne Shorter. The pianist is Johnny O'Neal, still a must-see these days at New York clubs like Smalls and Smoke.
Also from the present day, Jazz Forum's proprietor, Mark Morganelli, gives Playdate a succinct, affectionate portrait of his friend Blakey who - Mark recalls - drove a Rolls Royce.
Morganelli sent us this photo of Mr. Blakey behind Woody Shaw at the Jazz Forum, a loft near Bleecker and Broadway.
Born in Pittsburgh in 1919, Art Blakey emerged in the late 1940s playing drums with Thelonious Monk. He formed the Jazz Messengers in the middle 1950s.
As host and drummer Matt Wilson says, "The Messengers were a jazz school before before there were jazz degrees from conservatories... an on-the-bandstand education."
Over its thirty-plus years in existence, The Messengers produced more than ninety top-flight musicians, ranging from Wayne Shorter to Johnny Griffin, Wynton Kelly to Keith Jarrett, and Lee Morgan to Wynton Marsalis.
Coincidentally, also from 1999 in this episode, we hear the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band play an exclusive arrangement of Monk's "Off Minor."
We note with sadness the passing of drummer Ralph Penland earlier this week in California. Here on Playdate #7, Penland sounds great playing "Sky Dive" in Freddie Hubbard's sextet on New Year's Eve 1990.
Guest tenor Ernie Watts joins the band, and the late keyboard man George Duke and bassist Stanley Clarke are in the audience at Catalina's for this set, first heard as part of New Year's Eve Coast to Coast, from WBGO and NPR.
On the air, Freddie notes Penland's extraordinary drumming and says, "It's very seldom in Hollywood that I have a chance to play jazz... I haven't had this much fun for a long time!"
And that's just to whet your appetite. Want more? Head to WBGO.ORG/PLAYDATE to stream all our shows and enjoy our web extras. Thanks for playing!
© 2014 WBGO