January 9, 2008. Posted by Michael Bourne.
I don't know how Gary Walker does it.
Contrary to the rumours that jazz is dead, or that the record industry is dead, and that soon there won't be any more CDs, we get hundreds of new jazz and blues CDs in the mail every year, plus almost that many more re-issues. Somehow, as the WBGO music director, Walker must face the Herculean labour of listening through the CDs that come every week.
I'll walk by his office, look in to grunt hello, and Walker will have 4 or 5 or more towers of CDs on his desk. He'll be listening on his headphones. He'll be, quite often, scowling. I'll grunt and head back to the studio.
There, on a wooden shelf, are the CDs that we're playing in the "new" slots on the WBGO music format clock. Usually, more than a hundred new CDs. Which is more or less 100 hours of music. Which is more or less four days of listening. Non-stop sleepless listening. Which is why I actually hear very little of the new music I play before I actually play it.
I trust in Walker's judgment, and, if he's considered these CDs to be WBGO-worthy, I can play these CDs. I can also depend on my own 35 years of playing records on the radio to have an immediate instinct about which records I can play day after day. I know the musicians, or at least most of them. I know the tunes, or I can get a feeling of the whole track listening to the first few seconds. Which is why I always tell musicians, and especially singers who want my advice about recording, to show me what you've got right from the jump. No 40-second vamps before the music kicks in on the first track. I might not listen beyond the first 40 seconds. Which is discouraging for some musicians I've talked with, but that's reality.
"Reality is..." is what Wylie Rollins, the WBGO program director who hired Walker and me, always said as a preamble to bad news. Reality is there's never enough time to listen. Which is annoying to all the musicians who send me CDs and then e-mail or call me a week after and want to know what I think, only to be told that I have not listened yet and might never have time to listen. I'm not kidding that I have dozens of CDs, including some I got more than a year ago, including some by artists I love, including some CDs I actually bought, that I have not yet played.
All of that said, I do listen to music from time to time, more often to music that I very much like already, which is a whole other blog. Herewith, in the meantime, and I don't mean to sound mean, is what I listen for when I listen to a new album or artist, especially singers:
Repertoire ... I want to hear some tunes I haven't heard so often that I can't stand hearing them again. If it's something that's been done countlessly, do it like it's never been done before. If it's something new, do it brightly.
Arrangement .. I want to hear something new in even the oldest tunes. And, again, in tunes old and new, I want to hear melodies and harmonies and rhythms done so brightly that the music grabs me by the ears.
Talent ... Some singers I've heard can't come close to singing in tune. Some singers I've heard think that singing oodles of highly emoted but meaningless notes is exciting. When there's nothing that gets to me more deeply than someone who can sing one true note.
Showbiz ... I come from the theatre. I want to see someone on stage with presence, someone who connects with the audience. I believe that art ought to be entertaining.
I realized when I first blathered these points at greater length that the first letters of the four words -- Repertoire, Arrangements, Talent, Showbiz -- spell RATS. Unless you turn the letters around ...
© 2008 WBGO
January 9, 2008
I am not, by any stretch, a morning person. Working Doug Doyle's morning shift means a 3:30 a.m. wake-up for me. I feel much better getting to bed at 3:30 a.m. than I do getting up at 3:30 a.m., but, hey, I ain't complaining. (That's not why you read this blog, right?)
But one of the great reasons for getting up so early is that I get to listen to Gary Walker in the morning. He mentioned on the air today that it was on this date (January 9) in 1945 that John Birks Gillespie first recorded "Salt Peanuts," one of the greatest jazz tunes ever written, in my opinion. (Composed by Diz and Kenny Clarke, whose birthday is today, by the way.) Jazz heads have heard Diz and Miles and many, many others play "Salt Peanuts," but a young friend, not a Jazz head, reminded me that "Salt Peanuts" was also the tune you hear in the bathroom fight scene from Jim Carrey's movie "Cable Guy." That is Owen Wilson on the receiving end. "You know, from this angle, you look just like Dizzy Gillespie." - David Cruz
© 2008 WBGO
January 8, 2008. Posted by David Tallacksen.
The WBGO broadcast team is now up in Toronto, where we'll be hanging for the next few days and bringing you some of the highlights. After a few hours work, our broadcast booth is now up and has been tested. The Metro Toronto Convention Center is well-appointed and professionally staffed - it makes our job rather easy. We hope you'll keep tuning in right here at the WBGO blog, and keep listening to WBGO!
© 2008 WBGO
January 8, 2008. Posted by Grey Johnson.
WBGO staff were invited to attend a game at the new Newark Arena as guests of the NJ Ironmen. Membership Manager Grey Johnson brought his ten year old daughter and avid soccer player, Georgie. This is her report.
I went to the Newark Arena last night to see a professional soccer game. Let me tell you something, it was the best night of my life! The teams were the New Jersey Ironmen against the Detroit Ignition. Unfortunately, the NJ Ironmen lost. But the competition was still great! The soccer field was huge but the teams were very good at the passing, goalkeeping and kicking, [they could kick the ball across the whole field with one kick!] I loved this building, everything is so modern! They do concerts, hockey, soccer, and more in this building. When I heard this news, I wondered how they changed the arena from a stage into a soccer field into an ice rink in only two hours! Luckily, I came across a woman who worked at the arena that could tell me the answer. She said that the soccer field was a rug that people roll up after the game is over. Under that soccer field, is a coat of ice, and under the ice is wood. If they want to make it into a stage, they melt the ice and put in a stage. Everyone was very nice to me too.
© 2008 WBGO
January 8, 2008
It may be time to re-examine the French, y'all.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is in Egypt today and the paps have been on his tail, not because he's the prez of France or because he's doing anything especially earth-shaking. Nowadays, the recently-separated Sarkozy, 52, is attracting attention for the company he's keeping, one lovely and talented former super-model and heiress Carla Bruni.
Bruni, 39, is not only quite beautiful (she's a super-model, for goodness sake.) but the Italian-born French citizen sings pretty good, too. She released an album in 2003 that was actually quite well received. So, I looked her up. Here's some of Carla Bruni on a Euro TV show. It ain't jazz but I could listen to this. - David Cruz
© 2008 WBGO