November 13, 2008. Posted by Simon Rentner.
Toots Thielemans turned 86 years young last April (He certainly does not behave as if he's 86). His choice instrument -- the chromatic harmonica -- is not only unconventional, but also unusual that his artistry and musical contribution is too often overlooked in the jazz community (I know I've neglected to pay attention). Not any more. On October 17th, The National Endowment for the Arts crowned him the highest honor: Jazz Master. In this interview with WBGO's Rhonda Hamilton -- conducted on November 26th, 1991 -- Thielemans speaks of his early American influences while growing up in Belgium, and his role in jazz as a premier guitarist and whistler. Also hear a music feature with Toots, which WBGO produced for the live broadcast of the 2009 Jazz Master Award Ceremony. The complete ceremony broadcast will be available on-demand in April 2009. - Simon Rentner
© 2008 WBGO
November 12, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
It's been a week since our nation's historic election. One of the most artful methods of election coverage was The Naked Campaign, a series of videos featuring New Yorker illustrator Steve Brodner. As a project, the Naked Campaign demonstrates that all the tools of drawing, painting, writing, and filmmaking can be utilized to create a distinct point of view. You don't necessarily have to agree with that point of view, but if you're a jazz fan, you'll certainly appreciate this final installment of the series. Jon Faddis is the trumpeter. Considering that Faddis is the protege of Dizzy Gillespie, who ran for president in 1964, it is a coda indeed.
© 2008 WBGO
November 12, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.
JazzSet recorded the "Keys to New Orleans" concert, featuring pianists Jon Cleary, Henry Butler and Allen Toussaint, at the Kennedy Center on November 9. Mark Schramm was our onsite producer, Duke Markos at the recording console. Mark says the music was FANTASTIC, and more.
"Jon Cleary got us off to great start with his fast-moving set of short tunes, a mix of originals and Bayou classics. He plays and sings with great spirit. Infectious!"
"Henry Butler! Man, what an INCREDIBLE talent. He PLAYS the piano, the whole instrument -- what a left hand! He did a couple of his own tunes, and then (touchingly) one of Allen's compositions, 'Workin' in the Coal Mine.' Allen was and is an inspiration for Henry. They have a warm relationship on and off the stand. Henry sings in a deep, rich baritone."
"And then there was Allen. What can you say? The man is a legend for a reason. He opened both sets with two of his tunes, 'We are America' and 'Yes We Can,' which seemed appropriate given the setting and timing of this concert. Henry joined Allen for a little four-hand piano on Allen's tune 'Mr. Mardi Gras,' and Allen gave out some mardi gras presents to the audience while Henry played solo. Allen finished both his sets with extended versions of 'Southern Night' -- he painted a lovely picture of growing up in New Orleans, the people, the houses, the streets -- wonderful storytelling, and then the familiar song itself to finish up."
Catch the full set on JazzSet in early 2009! In Surround Sound.
© 2008 WBGO