February 11, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.
Like many of you, I was home last night watching the Grammys. I started not to watch it, because often times it's long, tedious, and not very interesting. At least for someone like me who doesn't listen to a whole lot of mainstream music. But it was a Sunday night, and I was routing for a few albums, and so I thought...why not? I ordered up my dinner and plopped in front of the screen.
As I was watching the red carpet special, the E! host caught up with Herbie Hancock. Herbie mentioned to the host that it had been 43 years since a Jazz album won the overall Best Album category. Well, the Grammys have only been around for 50! That really blew my mind. I then began to really think about that and frankly, it truly bothered me. I knew that the lack of well-rounded programming on the Grammys was always frustrating to me and many others, but Herbie's comment really put it into perspective for me. I mean, think about it...I don't think I've ever just seen a quartet or a quintet just burn out on a Grammy stage. Jazz is always packaged in some cheesy, or watered-down package on mainstream award shows. Bad enough that the Jazz categories don't get televised! Then when they DO show jazz-type performances, they are so "Vaudevilled" out, that it's no wonder that the masses (especially a lot of young folks) don't become necessarily interested in Jazz...the representations are all wrong!
OK, now that I'm done venting, let's talk about some of the highlights for me, and the things I'm very proud of about this year's Grammys.
HERBIE HANCOCK WON THE GRAMMY FOR ALBUM OF THE YEAR!
YES!!!! And well deserved. It was not "stolen" as I've read a couple places in the press this morning. I thought it was so commendable on the behalf of the academy to recognize Herbie in this way. I think the young artists - Winehouse, Kanye and the like, needed that. The music industry at large needed that. They needed to see where so much of their inspiration comes from. And that at 67, Herbie is still a giant among giants. You don't have to check out Maiden Voyage or Empyrean Isles to know just how bad this cat is (though I strongly suggest everyone does). He is always one to be contended with because he remains ahead of his time. And River: The Joni Letters, is just a beautiful album.
Another special highlight for me was Terence Blanchard getting the Grammy for Best Large Ensemble Jazz Album for his
A Tale of God's Will: A Requiem for Katrina. This album is truly special, and I'm so glad it was acknowledged in this way. I was also happy for the late Michael Brecker to be honored.
I hope that Herbie's high-profile victory will open up the discussion about the importance of Jazz, and spark the programming folks at the Grammy's to consider including more Jazz performances, and exposing the thriving genre to a lot of folks that need to be hipped...and would greatly enjoy appreciate the music.
Congratulations to everyone!
© 2008 WBGO
February 8, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.
This is another up-and-coming artist that I'm really excited about. Jaleel Shaw is one of the most talented and interesting young players that has come along in the latest wave of young lions. I first met Jaleel around 2002 - he was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition that year as well. I was completely blown away by this cat. This year, he is a recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award, along with another great young talent, Kendrick Scott.
Oh, and Happy Birthday too!
© 2008 WBGO
February 7, 2008
So, here we are more than week into the "I heart jazz" fund drive. (That's my name for it.) It's hard to take stock of where we are with this thing, beyond the dollar figure, which is around halfway to the goal so far.
We take these fund drives seriously because it's true that 50 cents of every dollar comes from our listeners. So, we plan, have meetings, design strategies, employ consultants and generally bust our collective hump (the membership department, mostly) to have a successful drive. To make sure the drive is easier on the ears. To make sure you don't turn your radio off or (worse) turn to another station.
At the risk of over-sharing, I'll tell you that, this time around, we wanted to concentrate on being briefer (or is it more brief) during our breaks. Get in. Drop the message. Give the number. Get back to the jazz. I don't think anyone actually used those words, but that was the idea.
All our fund drives have a life of their own. They are affected by the events that take place around us (Super Bowl. Super Tuesday. Fat Tuesday. Ticker tape parade, even 9/11.). Like most drives, we started this one out watching the clock, then loosened that up a bit and then went back again.
It's caused some testy exchanges, I'll admit. We don't all agree on these matters. All of it was behind the scenes and all a regular part of any fund drive at a public radio station. I'm not convinced that you tune out because our breaks are too long. I think you think our drives are too long.
But, maybe we can put this blog to good use. I know you're reading our posts. We have ways of counting that sort of thing. So, if you're reading this post, do me a favor. Click on the comments link and leave a comment. What turns you off about our fund drives? What might you do differently? (disclaimer: this is me, Cruz, asking this question and it should not be mistaken for an official WBGO inquiry.) - David Cruz
© 2008 WBGO
February 6, 2008
Robert Nesta Marley was born on this day (Feb 6) in 1945 in Jamaica, W.I. His friends called him Bob. He died in 1981. Simple math will tell you that he barely got a chance to live. But the music he crammed into his 36 years will outlive all of us.
If all you know about Bob Marley is "I shot the Sheriff," I urge you to dig deeper. The man was one of the most eloquent and sensitive songwriters ever. Whether he was singing about the oppression of hate or the deliverance of love, his lyrics were simply - true. Marley is Dylan is Lennon and McCartney is Jagger and Richards and then some. But, as hip as those cats were, they still couldn't break it down like Bob.
"I-and-I no come to fight flesh and blood, but spiritual wickedness in high and low places; so while they fight you down, stand firm and give Jah thanks and praises! I-and-I don't expect to be justified by the laws of men. Oh, You may find me guilty but truth, truth will prove my innocence. When the rain falls, it don't fall on one man's house. Just remember that!"
You don't have to be a Rasta to dig that! Happy Birthday, Bob. This world misses you, bro. - David Cruz
© 2008 WBGO
February 6, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.
If you checked out the list of my Top 10 favorite albums of 2007, you remember that Mike Moreno was among them. For those of you who are not familiar, here's your chance to check out this fabulous guitarist. The synergy and fire that this band brings is reminiscent and fresh at the same time, as is Moreno's brilliant playing. Saxophonist John Ellis' tone is one of the sweetest I've ever heard, and Moreno's tunes are classics in the making. Don't be surprised if you see them popping up in various musician's repertoires in the near future. Kendrick Scott's lyricism and dynamics on the drums are awe-inspiring, as usual.
© 2008 WBGO