• James Moody at 83

    March 27, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    I'm in the mood for Moody, simply because it's his birthday. Jazz legend James Moody, one of Newark, New Jersey's finest, turned 83 yesterday. Last year, WBGO celebrated Moody's contribution to music at our annual gala. Daniel Karcher and I created a video vignette for the award presentation. Here it is:

    So next time you see Moody, wish him a happy birthday. Give him a hug, and you can wear his cologne for the rest of the day. I like to think that wearing Moody's cologne is like that line from Walt Whitman's Song of Myself - "A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt."

    On a more serious note, you can see Moody and lots of his music playing friends on Monday night, March 31st at BB Kings. The concert is a benefit for the James Moody Scholarship Fund at Purchase College. Information about the fund and the fundraiser here.

  • On the Shoulders of Giants

    March 26, 2008. Posted by Doug Doyle.

    Kareem Abdul-JabbarEven though Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has had his fill of basketball, he says he can never get enough jazz. You can tell the NBA's all-time leading scorer enjoys talking about his early days in Harlem and his love of jazz. Find out more.

    Click here for the latest session of SportsJam, WBGO's new podcast/on-demand feature. When you hear how serious Kareem is about music and basketball, you can understand why he has been so successful on and off the court. It's great to hear that Kareem listens to WBGO when he's in NYC, a place where he gave Knicks fans nightmares.
    -Doug Doyle

  • The Legendary João Gilberto, The Original Bossa Nova Recordings (1958-61)

    March 25, 2008. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive


    In America, this compilation is a rare gem,  a "must-listen-to" from WBGO archives: The Legendary João Gilberto, The Original Bossa Nova Recordings (1958-61).

    It doesn't get much better than this, folks. These are the first studio recordings made by João Gilberto, the living legend on vocals and guitar. This wasn't going to be my first blog entry on bossa nova, which celebrates its 50th Anniversary in less than two weeks, but I couldn't resist. I just discovered this compilation on CD - in beautifully re-mastered pristine fashion - tucked away in WBGO's library. So I feel obliged to share it with the WBGO family and readers of our blog.


    The first sessions from this compilation occurred in July of 1958, when he recorded Chega de Saudade and Bim Bom. I hate making grandiose comparisons between cultures and genres of music, but here are a few for the sake of driving home the importance of this music. This record is like Charlie Parker's Dial and Savoy sessions, or Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives and Hot Sevens, or Miles Davis' album Kind of Blue, or Ornette Coleman's Something Else!!!! This music is completely new, and revolutionary. It documents the first time João Gilberto sang while playing guitar, introducing his bossa nova rhythm to the world.


    Like Louis Armstrong on his cornet, Gilberto revolutionized the way to solo on his instrument. Listen to the way the guitar and vocals relate as a whole: no other guitarist/singer ever sounded like two musicians, singing in one rhythm, and accompanying himself in another. Plus his voice, which is literally pitch-perfect, has no trace of vibrato, a style he mastered after countless, maniacal hours of practice. To top it off, these are some of the first recordings featuring the bossa nova's perfect trinity: Gilberto, composer Antonio Carlos "Tom" Jobim, and lyricist Vinicius de Moraes. In Jobim's words: "João Gilberto appeared as a light, as a big star in the firmament, in the heavens. He became a focus, because he was pulling the guitar in one way and singing the other way, which created the third thing that was profound." Brazilian music would never be the same. - Simon Rentner

  • Ornette Coleman Interview

    March 23, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Ornette Coleman Photo by Jimmy Katz
    Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Ornette Coleman at his midtown loft and studio, the latter of which he affectionately calls "The Doghouse." When I left, I had an earworm moment. I could not shake "Midnight Sunrise" from my head. On that recording, from Dancing in Your Head, Ornette plays his saxophone with the Master Musicians of Joujouka during a religious ceremony of Sufi trance music.
    That's a pretty good indication of how my time with him sounded - sometimes mystic, sometimes swirling with idea and sound, always emphasizing humanity, freedom, and eternity. See, Ornette Coleman is not without his own musical language and his own sound grammar. The best way to understand what Ornette Coleman is saying is to listen to what he has to say. Because at 78, he still has a lot on his mind.

    Listen to the interview here.

    Jazz legend Ornette Coleman is the recipient of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Music and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He will be performing at Town Hall this Friday, March 28th.
    -Josh Jackson

  • Memories of Ms. Melba Liston

    March 21, 2008. Posted by .

    Melba ListonOn the latest edition of our new podcast "We Insist!: Jazz Speaks Out," the subject is pianist, composer, humanitarian and Brooklynite Randy Weston and his groundbreaking recording Uhuru Afrika. Host Angelika Beener talks with Weston about his music and his love of Africa. They also talk about the first meeting between Weston and Melba Liston, the great trombonist and arranger who became a a 40+ year collaborator.

    Randy says Melba was the key component to the success of many of his greatest recordings, including, most dramatically, "Uhuru Afrika." You can hear more about Ms. Liston, Babatunde Olatunji, Langston Hughes, Geoffrey Holder and others in this interesting program which you can listen to on-Demand. Hear a humble genius talk about his great friend and musical partner.

    Randy Weston on Africa and Jazz

    You can also listen to other conversations with Terence Blanchard, who talks about Miles Davis' "A Tribute to Jack Johnson" and Dr. Robin D.G. Kelly, who talks about jazz and the Civil Rights Movement.

    Terence Blanchard on Miles and Jack Johnson

    Dr. Robin Kelley on Jazz and Civil Rights