February 29, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
I don't really care so much about why Herbie Hancock won a Grammy. All of the bloggers from the indie rock camp should get over it, which, I'm sure, they have by now (it's just the Grammys, folks...). I'm just happy that jazz gets any attention from television. On that note, check out CBS Sunday Morning this weekend. Correspondent Rita Braver visits Herbie Hancock at home. What she discovers about Herbie is as interesting as you can imagine from someone as interesting as Herbie Hancock. Jazz people already know this. Now, folks who watch TV before church service can get an insider portrait of the recent GRAMMY Album of The Year winner. And how many of us have ever been inside Herbie's pad, anyway?
And tomorrow, The Harvard Foundation (for Intercultural and Race Relations) of Harvard University will name Herbie Hancock 2008 Artist of the Year at their annual Cultural Rhythms ceremony. Cool.
© 2008 WBGO
February 29, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.
I've been hosting a new podcast with our News department entitled, We Insist!: Jazz Speaks Out.
It's a 4-part series that discusses jazz in terms of social political advancement and expression in Black culture.
We launched it for Black History Month, but it's so much broader than that, and has really become a wonderful experience for me.
I've interviewed some of my favorite musicians, and favorite people, for that matter. It's been completely eye-opening for me as well.
I'm a self-professed "jazz nerd" as some would say. I simply say a lover and appreciator and a part of the culture (but that's a lot wordier, LOL).
With all of that said, working on this has been a huge life lesson for me, and I'm discovering so many new ideas and concepts. And I'm pleased that we're sharing it with all of you!
Last week, I interviewed the great Randy Weston at his home. David Cruz, our producer, and I hopped on the train to head to BK (that's Brooklyn, for non-natives) to talk to the man himself. What an amazing experience. First of all, when I stepped into Weston's home, it was almost like going to Africa. His home just FELT like the motherland - and he and his wife have the warmest spirit. We sat at the piano and talked about Uhuru Afrika, a wonderful piece of work that was one of the earliest intergrations of African and African-American music. He talked about his first trip to Africa and what led him there, the amazing roster of musicians that were a part of Uhuru Africa, and why Africa is not far at all from Jazz, and how it's really quite central. I won't give it all away - you'll have to check it out for yourselves. And please - feel free to send emails with your thoughts, and even input on some albums you think are relevant to the program to firstname.lastname@example.org
Look for the Randy Weston episode soon. Before that, Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard calls in to discuss Miles Davis' A Tribute to Jack Johnson.
You don't want to miss it...
© 2008 WBGO
February 27, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
It's the birthday of saxophonist Dexter Gordon, who holds a special place in the hearts of many people at WBGO. Perhaps no one here knew him better than our station mother, Dorthaan Kirk. Here's a story she just told me:
I met Dexter when I was touring Europe with Rahsaan Roland Kirk's band. Rahsaan loved Dexter, so I knew the name and the music before I ever met him. Anyway, we had some time off, so we went to Copenhagen. We saw an early concert at Tivoli Gardens with the Basie Band, then we joined some of Basie's guys and headed for the Club Montmartre. Copenhagen was Dexter's home, and he played that club all the time.
I remember so much about that evening. Dexter was wearing a blue jean suit. It was definitely the 70s! At the end of the night, it's 3 or 4am, and all of the musicians are at the bar. I'm keeping to myself, mostly, while all the guys are carrying on. Long, tall, and handsome as can be, Dexter walks out of the kitchen, comes right up to me, and says, "Who are you?" I was practically speechless, which you know never happens...
From that night on, Dexter always called me "Miss Rahsaan." I sure do miss him.
Here's Dexter playing Sonny Stitt's "Loose Walk" in Amsterdam, with a Swiss trio - George Gruntz piano, Guy Pederson bass and drummer Daniel Humair:
© 2008 WBGO
February 25, 2008. Posted by Doug Doyle.
I had a blast interviewing trumpeter Jon Faddis for SportsJam, WBGO's new sports podcast/on-demand feature. Jon is a real sports fan who loves the old-timers from several different sports. I asked him to put together his all-time jazz band made up of sports stars. He selected Tiger Woods to be the saxophone of John Coltrane. Find out who else he picked, his thoughts on why he thinks jazz and sports are related and hear about his special sports relationship with his dad. Listen now.
© 2008 WBGO
February 25, 2008
While we celebrate Jazz every day here for its energy and complexity, and relish in the swing of it, and nod our heads in approval at a monster solo, it can be easy to forget that Jazz has been at the forefront of social change movements and African-American history and culture for more than a century, supporting freedom movements abroad, civil rights struggles at home and fighting against war and racial injustice both here and abroad.
To celebrate that, we've launched a new podcast series called "We Insist!: Jazz Speaks Out." Over the four half-hour episodes, host Angelika Beener talks to some of the brightest lights in Jazz about how the music influenced them and how they influenced the music. Guests include USC Professor Dr. Robin D. G. Kelly, pianist Randy Weston; trumpeter Terence Blanchard; saxophonist Marcus Strickland and others.
Some of the featured music includes: Max Roach's "We Insist;" Miles Davis' "Jack Johnson;" Randy Weston's "Uhuru Afrika;" John Coltrane's "Alabama;" Sonny Rollins' "Freedom Suite;" and many more. The series launched Friday and we'll add epsodes weekly.
Listen (and subscribe) to the first episode here. - David Cruz
© 2008 WBGO