WBGO Blog
  • Kenya Revisited

    April 7, 2008. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    After listening to WBGO for years as a fan, I now find myself selling underwriting spots for the station as a Senior Account Executive. Not only do I have the unique opportunity to do something I enjoy for living, but working with underwriters to get their messages on air has its unexpected benefits. There are some great perks to my job. For instance, I talk to underwriters who "get it" when it comes to WBGO and the "Jazz lifestyle" on a daily basis.

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    One of these occurrences happened on April Fool's day, when my client from the Manhattan School of Music invited me to the John C. Borden Auditorium for the 50th anniversary concert celebrating Kenya, the landmark recording by Machito and his Afro-Cuban's Jazz Orchestra. Bobby Sanabria led the MSM orchestra in a recreation of the music from that incredible album.

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    The joint was jumping! It is rare to attend an event where young and old; black and white; Jews and gentile get together and get down! By the the second encore -- when Bobby put on his porkpie hat and danced around -- I felt like I was transported back to the Palladium in its heyday!

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    But the highlight of the evening occurred when NEA Jazz Master Candido Camero took the stage with the young pros of the MSM Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra. Candido performed on the original Kenya recording and will be celebrating his 87th birthday this month. It's remarkable that this was the first time Kenya was played for the public. The whole experience was incredible, a once in a lifetime event that makes me proud to be part of WBGO and the jazz community! By the way, PBS and the BBC filmed the show for a special broadcast in January and February of 2009. - Randy Moore

  • Great Live Moments - Harold Mabern

    April 7, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Harold Mabern - Photo by Steve MynettIt's a Memphis Monday, courtesy of Harold Mabern. WBGO has recorded pianist Harold Mabern as a member of George Coleman's quartet. We've also recorded Mabern's own quartet at American Museum of Natural History.
    Check out this version of Harold Mabern's trio, recorded in 1984 at Citicorp Center in New York. Bassist Jamil Nasser (like Mabern, a Memphis native) and drummer Frank Gant, two veteran trio performers (check out those Ahmad Jamal records!) make the trio. They play "Ray's Idea," a song composed by bassist Ray Brown and Walter "Gil" Fuller during the heyday of Dizzy Gillespie's big band.
    -Josh

  • The Real Robert Glasper's Birthday Bash

    April 7, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive, Remix

    Robert Glasper Has His Cake

    I went to Robert Glasper's Third Annual Birthday Bash at Club Drom Saturday night. Make that Sunday morning. Though the show was advertised for an 11:30 hit, the music actually started at 1:15am. No worries. During the downtime, Robert treated the audience to a personally curated playlist of hip hop and party music. All emanating through the club's sound system, and sourced from his iPod.

    The core ensemble was the Robert Glasper Experiment - Glasper on Fender Rhodes, Derrick Hodge on his Callowhill 5-string electric bass, Casey Benjamin on alto sax and keytar (with Talk Box mod - imagine Frampton Comes Alive meets Common's "Don't Break My Heart," from Finding Forever), and drummer Chris "Daddy" Dave punching an endless array of beats.

    Q-Tip and Roy Hargrove

    Q-Tip and trumpeter Roy Hargrove joined in on the fun, as did singer Bilal. All of these individuals (and some of the musicians who were just there to check out the show) are part of something very exciting happening in music - the realization of hip hop and jazz coming together in a meaningful way. I can think of many examples of jazz and hip hop intermingling, so don't let me be misunderstood. These two forms have spoken to each other before. However, the current dialogue is spawning a certifiably important sound in music - a nexus of rhymes, beats, and improvisational flow that is socially aware, energetic, and heavy on the soul. And did I mention FUN?

    Casey Benjamin

    Call it nu-jazz, neo-soul, conscious hip hop, all of the above or none of the above. Or anything you wish. Basically, it's the return of functional music in a commercially saturated culture, a communal act of creation that has its roots in jazz, blues, and spirituals, stretching back to traditional African custom and practice. The Robert Glasper Experiment is all about droppin' the scientific method in a live setting. This kind of music has been underground for a very long time now. But ask any of the well-wishers onstage or in the club, and they will tell you that its time has come.
    -Josh