WBGO Blog
  • Great Live Moments - Lizz Wright

    April 25, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Lizz Wright

    I remember when Lizz Wright visited WBGO in 2003. It was the last hour of Gary Walker's Morning Jazz program, and the end of another May membership drive (by the way, contribute here). WBGO was one of the first stops on a press junket to promote her debut release, Salt. The hype machine was gaining momentum, and word was spreading fast. Lizz Wright had the goods - a voice that belied an ancient soul, from a quiet, almost reluctant star in the making. At the end of the interview, Lizz sang "Amazing Grace" with such conviction, you would have thought she was standing in the red clay of Hahira, Georgia and reaching for heaven.

    "Open Your Eyes You Can Fly" is a song about freedom. When Flora Purim originally sang it in 1976, the meaning was literal. She had recently spent a year and a half in prison for drug possession. [That should be enough to make you investigate the source. And when you get there, you'll find some fascinating music from Flora's husband, the percussionist Airto, as well as Hermeto Pascoal. Alphonso Johnson's bass lines alone are a reason to hear the original recording.]
    Lizz Wright's freedom is decidedly different from that of Flora. While the original had the classic seventies funk-meets-Brazil sound of Return to Forever, Wright's update suggested that forever was a place that she had never left.
    -Josh

    Listen to "Open Your Eyes You Can Fly" from the WBGO Archives.

  • Play Threefold: Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin, & Jack DeJohnette

    April 24, 2008. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    chick_corea1.jpgbobby_mcferrin1.jpgjack_dejohnette21.jpg

    I dislike using qualitative language to describe music. Words fall short, especially when conjuring up the right descriptors for a performance I experienced last night at Carnegie Hall with Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin, and Jack DeJohnette. That doesn't mean that I couldn't write a novel about what I witnessed. The existence of a concert like this explains why I find myself helplessly committed to a life in music. It was performance art of the highest order. Excluding the encore, they performed one continuous improvisation that included Bobby singing fluently in many made-up languages, Jack losing himself in a voluminous drum solo, and Chick playing a hand drum like a robot. There were drumsticks flying in every direction, some of which landed in Bobby's hair, a game of four-handed piano playing, where Chick and Bobby swapped places on the piano bench, and a captive audience clicking their tongues in unison. Bobby then led us in "making tones," as Chick described it backstage, where the audience and musicians sang sustained notes -- in six-part harmony -- creating intricate cascading patterns in falsetto throughout Carnegie's cavernous hall. Miraculously, we some how pulled it off. During this part of the concert, which Chick proclaimed his "favorite moment," my colleague Doug Yoel, saw patterns floating in the air. I was hallucinating too. - Simon

    Here's what writer Dan Heckman from the LA Times thought of the trio at Disney Concert Hall.

  • Nicholas Payton - A Different Kind of "Blue"

    April 24, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Nicholas Payton, courtesy Tree Lawn Artists

    In October 2007, WBGO recorded a studio session with the Nicholas Payton Quintet. The band had just finished a week-long run at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola, and they had just recorded the music for Payton's debut on Nonesuch Records, Into the Blue. The record hit stores this week. Check out the studio session on NPR Music. It posted earlier today. Funny how that works....Timing is everything.
    -Josh