WBGO Blog
  • A Change is Gonna Come (I still believe it will...)

    January 21, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.

    This year will mark the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. On this day - Martin Luther King Day - I reflect longer than usual on the times we're living in. I ponder on how much has changed since his being snatched away from us on that spring day in April. And I wonder what the real possibilities are for our nation to come together. There are still so many who believe that we should not even be honoring the civil rights leader and that his legacy is not worthy of a national holiday. In 2008, you would think we would have come a lot further than this. Then again, at 30 years old, I have older siblings who were alive when Dr. King and others were still fighting for the rights of Blacks to sit in the front of the bus. That always puts things into perspective for me. It's been a long time, but then again...not so much.

    With the presidential race and the mantra of change in the forefront of our minds, I can say that I am still hopeful. Many are actually tired of hearing the word change, and want to hear tangible-type strategies for real problems that we are facing at this very fragile time in American and world history. I am one of those people. But if we are already tired of hearing about change, then we've got a long way to go...and so we do. Change is what it took for Dr. King to realize the dreams of so many Americans in this country. Change is what it's going to take to get us out of the deep trouble we're in as a nation four decades later. As I listen to one of my favorite singers, Bilal, sing "A Change Is Gonna Come", it is extremely haunting. Sam Cooke made this civil rights ballad in the heart of the movement, and the meaning is extremely apparent, when you look at the times. When I listen to Bilal - a singer of my generation, sing it here - I listen with a different ear. The fact that the lyrics are still so relevant...and the song is still so haunting let's me know that a CHANGE still needs to come. And I believe it will. Thank you, Dr. King.

     

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. - A Reminder

    January 21, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Video

    A reminder of why you don't have to work today...

     

  • When You Know - Rhonda Hamilton with Dianne Reeves

    January 18, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Rhonda Hamilton Interviews Dianne Reeves 1.18.08

    "It's what it is in that moment." That's singer Dianne Reeves' definition of jazz.
    Dianne Reeves is on her way home to Colorado today. She has just finished the final touches of her new recording, When You Know.
    It comes out April 15th - so pick up a copy when you drop off your taxes.
    Dianne has won multiple Grammys - for her live recording, In the Moment. For her tribute to Newark's own Sarah Vaughan, The Calling (Dianne's favorite). For her soundtrack to the film Goodnight and Good Luck. And when it comes to matters of love, there are few singers in jazz with the emotional depth of Dianne Reeves. So it is not surprising that the new record is a cycle of love songs. When You Know ends with the title track, a song about Dianne's spiritual connection. It also includes jazz versions of The Temptations' "Just My Imagination" and Minnie Ripperton's "Loving You," innocent love songs that Dianne remembers as a child.
    Can't wait until the record comes out? You're in luck. Dianne and her band (pianist Geoff Keezer, guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist Reginald Veal, and drummer Greg Hutchinson) will debut the music live in concert - when else? - Valentine's Night at The Apollo.

    Listen to Rhonda Hamilton's interview with Dianne Reeves.

    - Josh Jackson

  • The elegance of Eliane Elias

    January 18, 2008

    Something For You CoverI rarely work the morning shift around here. 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. newscasts are Doug Doyle territory and for good reason. It takes a special man to get up at 3:30 a.m. and get here in time to deliver the news at 6 a.m., sharp. Frankly, I ain't that special, man. Those of you who've heard me at that time in the morning, know what I'm talking about.Still, when Doug's out, I get the call. One recent morning, however, I was sitting at my desk, staring blankly at my computer monitor, the written word failing me, when all of a sudden, dripping from the speakers behind me, like honey on a nubile neck, comes Eliane Elias singing Jobim's "Photograph (Fotografia)."

    The vocal, so lush and silken, insinuated itself into my soft gray matter and swirled around like the café in my café con leche. I closed my eyes and drank deeply, Eliane inside my brain. MMM. It's just about the only thing that went right that morning.

    Eliane Elias is just smooth, man, (as both a singer and a pianist) so if you get a chance, I urge you to join us (yes, I'll be there) tomorrow at J&R Music's Park Row store (23 Park Row, NYC, Second Floor) for a FREE live performance and broadcast of some of the material from her new release "Something For You: Eliane Elias Sings and Plays Bill Evans."

    The performance starts at 4 p.m. and, even if you're in Rio, Brasil, you can hear it live. - David Cruz

  • Born Standing Up

    January 18, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Born Standing Up Cover ImageSteve Martin one of the funniest comedians of all time. He's also a talented banjo picker in the Earl Scruggs' style. Lately, however, Martin's writing consistently grabs my attention. I'm almost finished with his new memoir, Born Standing Up.

    [disclosure - my wife works for the company that publishes this book. Then again, they also publish such intellectual drivel like the recent bestseller, The Secret.]

    Martin walked away from standup comedy in 1981. While he was still on top. Born Standing Up offers his personal take on a time, a place, and a person (himself) that no longer exist. It's a fascinating real life story, expressed with astonishing honesty and clarity. When Steve Martin writes about standup comedy - being alone on a stage, in front of an audience that expects you to entertain - he refers to it as "the ego's last stand."

    His description of the act is very much how I think an improvising jazz musician must feel at times:

    "My most persistent memory of stand-up is of my mouth being in the present and my mind being in the future: the mouth speaking the line, the body delivering the gesture, while the mind looks back, observing, analyzing, judging, worrying, and then deciding when and what to say next."

    Fortunately for musicians, silence is an option.
    - Josh Jackson