• Coming Soon - Live at Gracie Mansion

    June 16, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Gracie Mansion

    We're broadcasting live from Gracie Mansion in about an hour. Each year,
    WBGO broadcasts the opening celebration for the JVC Jazz Festival New York.
    Saxophonist Igor Butman is currently on the stage, and we'll join the action
    when the Rodriguez Brothers play. They'll have vibraphonist Joe Locke joining
    their set, and you can hear it live. Showtime is 6:15pm ET. All times are

  • Martial Solal at MoMA

    June 16, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    Saturday night a big event took place as pianist Martial Solal and bassist Francois Mouton from France drew perhaps 200 people (guess-timate) to the Museum of Modern Art, despite a monsoon-like rainstorm. Solal's repertoire is what student pianists had to learn in the 1970s. Examples from Saturday night are Cherokee, I Remember April, Round Midnight, Tea for Two, Body & Soul, Have You Met Miss Jones, Caravan, All the Things You Are, Ellington medley. What he does with them is his own! And Modern as in MoMA, I would say. His appearance at the Modern was part of its jazz film series, because he wrote the score to Godard's Breathless. But it would be fascinating to explore Solal's music in relation to the Modern collection, because he breaks up the melodies like 20th century painters fractured the natural visual order. If anyone knows more about this, please comment! His hands look totally relaxed, and seem to do exactly what's required, nothing extra. That can be fast fingers or a hand-fling or a pull-off, or two-handed glissandos going straight out from the center of the keys. Solal's mind must be as relaxed as his hands. Au contraire, Moutin dances with his bass, jerks, jumps, the two men are a contrast, decades apart in age but a great duo and appreciating each other a lot. Though Solal told us "I'll get tired before you do," eventually he closed the concert. Before it had begun, a drenched David Cruz -- spotted in the audience -- commented that it may be awhile before Solal (born in 1927 in Algiers, settled in Paris in 1950) is back. He has a new CD, though, and I hope lots of people will find their way to it.

    He has a new CD -- Longitude -- with notes by the Rutgers Inst of Jazz Studies' (and WBGO's) Dan Morgenstern, who writes , "There are few greater pleasures in a jazz lover's life than listening to the music of Martial Solal. At 80, Solal seems to find as much joy in the creation of his unique artistry and transmit just as much of a sense of discovery to the listener as ever in his long and brilliant career."

  • Pianist Esbjorn Svensson Dies

    June 15, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Add new comment | Filed under: News, Notes, reuters

    Esbjorn Svensson

    Reuters has reported that pianist Esbjorn Svensson died yesterday, during a
    scuba diving excursion. He was 44 years old.

    In 2001, I had the opportunity to interview the members of EST in New York,
    just as the Swedish trio was gaining some recognition in the US. I say that
    because they were already huge stars in their native Sweden. The show,
    Introducing EST, coincided with the release of Somewhere Else Before.

    Listen to it here. It includes some sections of that interview with Esbjorn,
    Dan Berglund, and Magnus Ostrom, as well as a live in-studio performance.
    You can also listen to EST from North Sea Jazz, courtesy JazzSet and Radio

  • Guillermo Klein: Live at the Village Vanguard

    June 11, 2008. Posted by WBGO.

    Guillermo Klein. (Image Credit: John Rogers)

    A purveyor of dazzling rhythms and rich melodies, Argentinean composer and pianist Guillermo Klein gathered his New York-based collaborators in Los Guachos at the famed Village Vanguard for a rare stateside appearance, presented live on air by WBGO and live online by NPR Music.

    Klein presented a set of songs drawing from both the extensive back catalog of Los Guachos and their new disc Filtros. Long-time fans of Klein will recognize the opener "Venga" and the closing medley "Con Brasil Adentro / Fugue X" from acclaimed recent releases; also featured were repertory works like "Juana" and the Gershwin-meets-Venezuela hybrid of "Fascinating Rhythm / Moliendo Cafe." In between, there was much material of more recent vintage, including the premiere of a new piece called "Textura de Sueno," set to the text of Nicaraguan poet Gioconda Belli.

    The music was full of Klein's trademarks: tricky rhythmic patterns, lush harmonic layers and plenty of singing. Vocalist Carmen Canela also made the journey from Barcelona, where she has been working frequently with Klein's Spanish groups, though all the members of the band joined in on "Yeso." Having played together off and on for 13 years, and having rehearsed extensively prior to the gig, it came as no surprise that Los Guachos sounded tight and well-equipped to navigate its leader's dense-but-rewarding songs.

    Known for his highly original approach to composition, Klein feeds off the improvisational energy of jazz, but also integrates sounds from a broad range of musical experiences. Among them are the folkloric tangos and chacareras of his native Argentina, though 20th Century European modernism, counterpoint, minimalism, drones, complex meters, children's songs, and human voices — including his own untrained but emotional delivery — are all featured heavily. The results are unclassifiable, but frequently buoyed by intense lyricism and thick, active grooves.

    After moving to the U.S. to study at the Berklee College of Music, Klein came to New York in 1994. Less than a year passed before he found himself leading a big band every Sunday night at the Greenwich Village basement club called Smalls. Though his songbook continued to increase in size and complexity, and his circle of collaborators included many of New York's most talented young jazz musicians, he enjoyed little commercial success. Feeling homesick, Klein moved back to Argentina in 2000, and has been living in Spain for several years.

    Beloved by many musicians of his generation, the Vanguard crowd received Klein warmly. This performance was also a reunion for those players who were part of Los Guachos, the compact big band with whom Klein made the critically acclaimed studio albums Los Guachos II and Los Guachos III (the first volume remains unreleased). Their latest effort, Filtros, was released on the day preceding the concert; it's Klein's first collection of new material since 2005.