February 20, 2008. Posted by Stevan Smith.

    What's going on all! Welcome to my blog series "DIGGIN' THE CLASSICS"! When new releases in the music world get slow, we all tend to dig into our collections for some vintage pleasure. Join me for my weekly (or whenever I feel like it) quest for soundtrack satisfaction. This is a blog for music lovers! "Walk With Me".

    This edition celebrates: Yusef Lateef- The Gentle Giant (1972)

    1. Nubian Lady
    2. Lowland Lullabye
    3. Hey Jude
    4. Jungle Plum
    5. The Poor Fishermen
    6. African Song
    7. Queen of the Night
    8. Below Yellow Bell

    Now I will admit, I am really picky when it comes to instrumental recordings. There has to be something powerful about a rhythm that speaks without words. Yusef Lateef is most definitely gifted in this area. Lateef defines his brand of music as "-insert here-", but don't call it jazz. "The Gentle Giant" is evidence of his unique talents. With Lateef playing various instruments (flute, tenor, and oboe) and a 9-minute cover of "Hey Jude" (?), there is enough variety on this album to prevent it from boring the "A.D.D." listener. One stand out track is, "Nubian Lady". The title say's it all. With it's melodic rhythms and ultra cool vibes, songs like these leave no room for words. That would just mess things up.
    "I'm smiling, but don't call it jazz fool!"

    Another track that stands out is "Queen of the Night" (must be something about the ladies). A funky track that has a bass line tailor made for hip-hop. It is this variety that makes this album one of his most interesting works. This Lp speaks to generations, and most likely opened the door for world music. Some refer to this album as being erratic compared to his prior works. I feel this is just a classic display of any artists' journey to evolve. This album is a honest contribution to the foundation of jaz......I mean "-insert here-". It dares to be different. ...And it is the "different" that makes it an instant classic.
    "What do you mean by different?"

  • Bourne Goes Hollywood

    February 20, 2008. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    This Sunday's telecast will be the 80th annual awarding of the Oscars. This Sunday's Singers Unlimited (10AM-2PM) will celebrate with songs from the movies. Most of the standards of the American Popular Songbook, songs of Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, the Gershwins et al, came from Broadway or Hollywood musicals. Most of the Broadway songs also came to the screen. I'll spotlight songs from the movies of Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, even Humphrey Bogart. I'll celebrate the birthday next week (and upcoming gig at Birdland) of Oscar-winning composer (and jazz pianist) Michel Legrand. I'll feature highlights from jazz and blues movies, also Oscar-winning songs performed by the likes of Nat Cole and Frank Sinatra -- although I won't be playing all of the Oscar-winning songs. "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" is not really in our groove on WBGO ...I started reviewing movies in 1967, and I've seen a thousand or two. I started going to the movies with my grandfather when I was 2. I don't remember any of those movies with him, but once in a while I'll be watching an old western and I'll have deja vu. I can't always remember what I was doing yesterday, but I can still name all the actors on The Late Show.

    I rarely go to the movies nowadays. I get in cheaper as a senior, but most of the new movies aren't worth whatever the cost. I'd rather wait and rent newer movies -- although I'm much more often watching older movies on TV.

    Herewith my all-time favorite movies:

    1 THE SEVEN SAMURAI, the masterpiece of director Akira Kurosawa. Toshiro Mifune is downright feral on screen as one of the seven swordfighters who protect a farming village from bandits. My favorite of countless great moments: the little smile on the face of Daisuke Kato when his old comrade recruits him but tells him this time they might not survive, also the grace and power of Takashi Shimura drawing and shooting arrows during the climactic battle in the rain.

    2 CASABLANCA, the first movie I bought on DVD. My favorite moment is any moment Claude Rains is on the screen.

    3 THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, photographed in often painterly black and white by (should've-won-an-Oscar visual genius) Gregg Toland. It's the story of three men returning home after WWII, each of them struggling with who they used to be and who they've become, each of them getting a dramatic moment of redemption. Fredric March as a banker turns drunken babble at a banquet into a passionate hope for the future. Dana Andrews as an ex-officer who can't get a job walks through a field of broken airplanes and realizes that he's also junk. Harold Russell (who actually lost both hands in the war) shows Cathy O'Donnell as his girl next door what he looks like when he pulls off his hooks, but, rather than being horrified, she matter-of-factly picks up his hooks as if she's putting aside his slippers. It's the most deeply intimate scene I've ever seen.

    4 YOU'RE TELLING ME, I think the funniest comedy of the funniest comedian, W.C. Fields. He's especially graceful doing his physical gags, and, for someone always thought grumpy, Fields is also very sweet, especially when he talks to a princess when he thinks that she's trying to kill herself. I think the funniest scene ever filmed is in another Fields comedy, when he's trying to sleep on the back porch and keeps being bothered by noise and neighbors in IT'S A GIFT.

    5 BOSSA NOVA, the romantic comedy I've watched every birthday since 2000, about a lawyer (Antonio Fagundes) who falls in love with an English teacher (Amy Irving) in Rio, dedicated to (and featuring songs of) Antonio Carlos Jobim.

    My all-time favorite music for a movie was the all-star jam that happens throughout Robert Altman's KANSAS CITY. Being there when some of the music scenes were filmed was one of the best jazz experiences of my life, especially the tenor battle of Joshua Redman as Lester Young with Craig Handy as Coleman Hawkins. They filmed way more music than was needed, music that was so great that an all-music version was created, called Robert Altman's JAZZ '34. Bob asked me to write the opening scene-setter that Harry Belafonte reads on the soundtrack -- my first and only time ever actually working on a movie.

    -- MBourne


    February 19, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.

    nyabj-for-angelika.jpgThe WBGO News Department was awarded six honors in the 2008 New York Association of Black Journalists Annual Scholarship and Awards Dinner.  NYABJ recognizes the best in Print, New Media, Radio, Magazine and Television reporting of issues that affect the Black Diaspora.  WBGO News Director Doug Doyle led the way for the station's talented department, which received more radio awards than any other radio station.

    Doug Doyle wins in the Spot News/General Category for story CorpsGriot

    David Cruz, Adele Oltman, Andrew Meyer and D. Doyle win in the Public Affairs Category for WBGO Journal: 40 Years After the Riots

    Doug Doyle wins in the Arts and Entertainment Category for Glee Club

    Doug Doyle wins the International Category for Going to Ghana

    Doug Doyle and Jen Poyant win in the Sports Category for Ring of Honor

    Doug Doyle, wins 2nd place in the General Features-Long Category for The Clubhouse

    The WBGO News Department has more 35 NYABJ Awards since Doyle took over the news department in 1998.

    Special honorees included TV anchorwoman Roz Abrams, the late Gerald Boyd, Alphonso Van Marsh of CNN and Wilbert Tatum of The Amsterdam  News. Also honored was Eric Tait, former ABC News and freelance documentary producer and WBGO major donor.  Mr. Tait won in the Documentary Category for his program Lift Every Voice & Sing: The Choral Music Legacy of the Historical Black Colleges and Universities.

    Way to go, WBGO!

  • Over Drive

    February 17, 2008

    Rob Crocker played John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" as the winter fund drive faded into memory at 6 p.m. Sunday. Goals were met, audience sustained, and nobody got hurt too badly.

    These fund drives are a major undertaking and consume the entire staff, so when its over, there is a collective "Whew!" around here. Listen to how quiet we sound for the next few days. Jock exhaustion.

    Since this drive began, we've gone through the Super Bowl, Super Tuesday, the Super Bowl parade, the NHL and NBA All Star games and said Bye Ya to "Smooth Jazz" radio. We heard from you in Sudan, Iraq, Japan, UK, Ireland, Kuala Lampur, Bayamon, Sao Paolo and even exotic Lubbock, Texas.

    Thanks to all of you who made a pledge this time around. You do nothing less than keep jazz alive on the radio. - David Cruz

  • Love is on the Air

    February 13, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    trane_hartman2.jpgThis Valentine's Day our announcers are celebrating by sharing their favorite love songs with you.
    Let us know if you share their sentiments, or tell us what your must-have CD is on the most romantic day of the year.

    Rhonda Hamilton's Picks

    "Cheek to Cheek" by Irving Berlin. This song has sentimental value for me. I lost my mother when I was 12 years old, but I remember when I was a very little girl she taught me to sing this song. It was one of her favorites and the first song I ever learned.

    "Loving You" by Stephen Sondheim. This song is from Sondheim's musical Passion. The melody is very pretty, but I chose the song for its words. The lyrics express a very passionate, all-consuming, life changing love.

    "Luiza" by Antonio Carlos Jobim. I chose this song for its melody. The lyrics are in Portuguese so I don't understand them, but the melody is so heartbreakingly beautiful, you can sense that it is a song of longing and a very deep and passionate love.

    There are countless versions of "Cheek to Cheek", but one classic is by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
    Nancy Wilson & Peabo Bryson sing "Loving" You on the CD Color and Light - Jazz Sketches on Sondheim
    Michel Camilo plays "Luiza" on his Solo CD.

    Brian Delp's Picks

    "Witchcraft" (Frank Sinatra) Love is truly a spell that ensnares us all...
    "If You Could See Me Now" Love lost sometimes teaches us more than love found...
    "Autumn Nocturne" The best season to find love (not spring!)

    Monifa Brown's Picks

    1. Shirley Horn "Too Late Now"
    To me Shirley Horn is synonymous with the ballad - she is the Queen of the ballad! With the whisper of a single phrase she has the ability to send tingles down your spine. She had the ultimate control of her voice, not to mention she was as sensitive as a piano player. Her phrasing was impeccable and the timbre of her voice was so sweet. I loved the way she could take a line from a song and stretch it out like taffy, bending and twisting new meaning into each word.
    The lyrics to this Burton Lane song really convey what it feels like to be in love:

    Too late now to forget your smile
    The way we cling when we danced awhile
    Too late now to forget and go on to someone new
    Too late now to forget your voice
    The way one word makes my heart rejoice
    Too late now to imagine myself away from you

    It is one of my ultimate favorite love songs and Shirley Horn for me sings the definitive version.

    2. John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman - "My One and Only Love"

    This is without a doubt one of the most sophisticated and romantic love songs I know. The balance of John Coltrane's robust yet lyrical, eloquent and tender playing alongside Johnny Hartman's cool, unruffled and warm baritone - is nothing short of sublime.

    It is hard to believe that until this recording, Johnny Hartman was relatively unknown despite his prowess as a singer. And even more shocking is the fact that it was not until three decades later --when his singing was featured in the heart-wrenching "Bridges of Madison County" with Clinton Eastwood and Meryl Streep (love this movie!)-- that he was introduced to an entire new generation of audiences.

    The lyrics to "My One and Only Love" are also beautiful:

    The very thought of you makes
    My heart sing,
    Like an April breeze
    On the wings of spring
    And you come to me all your splendor,
    My one and only love

    The shadow's fall and spread their
    Mystique charms in the hush of night,
    While you're in my arms.
    I feel your lips, so warm and tender,
    My one and only love

    If this is not romance - I don't know what is!

    3. Abbey Lincoln - "Strong Man"

    I love Abbey Lincoln and I love Oscar Brown Jr., who penned the song for Abbey. As the story has been told, Abbey told Oscar that she was tired of singing songs about ‘no good men' and that she wanted to sing a song about a man she could be proud of.

    Abbey recorded "Strong Man' on a 1957 session called "That's Him," alongside an all-star cast that included Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Kenny Dorham, Paul Chambers and Wynton Kelly. I grew up listening to this album...my dad loved it. The song brings back great memories of listening to music with my dad as a kid and now as an adult who is blessed with my own ‘strong man,' the song has taken on an even deeper meaning.

    Abbey Lincoln is a remarkable storyteller and really knows how to get to the heart of a song and enrapture her listeners in anything she sings. Her gifts make her truly unique and there is no one around who sings quite like Abbey (who happens to be a brilliant composer in her own right). Abbey Lincoln is also an incredibly emotive singer who has an unparalleled ability to manipulate time, melody, phrasing and subtle nuances of the music, which allow her to completely own any song she sings.

    Gary Walker's Picks

    Dianne Reeves, "Just A Little Lovin'" from "That Day" on Blue Note Records:

    " Just a little lovin' early in the mornin'
    Beats a cup of coffee for starting out the day
    Just a little lovin' when the world is yawning
    Makes you wake up thinking
    Good things are coming your way"

    Put me down for that day starter kit!

    Sarah Vaughan, "The Island" from "Crazy & Mixed Up" on Pablo Records

    " Make believe we've landed on a desert island
    Bathe me in the waters, warm me in the moonlight
    Taste me with your kisses, find the secret places...."

    By now, that box of chocolates is a melted mess. Replace with wine. Stir. Return.

    Kurt Elling, "Not While I'm Around" from "Flirting With Twilight" on Blue Note Records

    "Nothin's gonna harm you, not while I'm around
    No one's gonna hurt you, no sir, not while I'm around
    Demons are prowling everywhere, nowadays
    I'll send them howling
    I've got ways...."

    One definition of the comfort found in a special relationship. Sound too corny? Consider: one night the two of you are coming out of a great hang at your favorite late night joint. Suddenly you're surrounded by would be evil doers. One of you is a third degree black belt, singing Kurt's song and whuppin' some butt.

    Now that's luv, L....U....V

    Rob Crocker's Picks

    1) Joe Cuba "To Be With You"
    Joe's single swept over Brooklyn. All of us in school thought this was exactly what we were trying to say to our girlfriends.

    2) King Pleasure "This is Always"
    "This isn't Sometime. This is Always". Simple but endearing lyrics about love. From High School till adulthood they've touched me.

    3) Sarah Vaughan "That's All"
    I first heard this as a kid on WCBS-AM, my mother's favorite radio station. "I can only give you love that last forever" or "I can only give you country walks in springtime..." These were some of the lyrics that caught my young mind.

    Michael Bourne's Picks

    I have a personal connection to three love songs. I've actually "performed" all three during the free-wheeling "parlor games" that I host on the last Monday morning of the January jazzfest at Mohonk Mountain House. "Old Devil Moon" because, while I've played the American Popular Songbook for decades on the radio, it's the only standard that I've (more or less) "sung" in public ever. "As Time Goes By" because the fundamental things about love always indeed apply. "I'll Remember April" because my Other Half walked in the door on an April 13th and, after not seeing each other more than 25 years, lovingly walked right into my very cells.

    John Cooper's Picks

    Marcus Roberts "Single Petal Of A Rose".
    Taken from his recording The Truth Is Spoken Here. One of the prettiest versions of this I've ever heard.

    John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman - "Dedicated To You"
    This recording features the classic My One & Only Love, but over the years I've found this song to be my favorite. The power of love to move an artist to create music, paint or write a book is a powerful force indeed.

    Rachel Z - "Iyakutanda"
    Taken from her recording Trust The Universe. The song title is Zulu for I LOVE YOU. Rachel plays this in duet with Gumbi Ortiz. The melody is beautiful while being easy and complex at the same time. Just like love.