WBGO Blog
  • And you don't stop ...

    January 15, 2008

    Residents of a Bronx building where hip hop was born say they have a plan to buy it so that they can keep it affordable. Tenants at the building on 1520 Sedgwick Avenue got word last year that the owners wanted to opt out of a state affordable housing program, which could mean big rent increases for them. They want to buy each apartment for a few thousand dollars each.
    During the 1970s, DJ Kool Herc spun records at parties in the basement rec. room, ushering in the the hip-hop era. While a lot of today's hip hop annoys me, the stuff that came out of the Bronx in the late 70's and early 80's is forever ingrained in my mind (and soul.)

    I was never at one of Herc's basement parties or any of those classic sets in abandoned buildings in the Bronx of the early 1980's. But I can remember my utter amazement at seeing break dancers and rappers for the first time in pre-Disney Times Square (circa 1980.) I'm sure I had no clue at the time that I was witnessing the birth of a nation.

    Here's a clip of Herc from a European documentary on the birth of hip hop. Dig it. - David Cruz

  • IAJE Day 2 - The Gil Evans Commission

    January 15, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Wil Swindler

    Each year, IAJE and the Herb Alpert Foundation award the esteemed Gil Evans Commission, honoring an emerging jazz composer. In addition to a modest fellowship, the honoree receives an all-expense paid trip to the IAJE conference to showcase the work. Past winners include Maria Schneider and John Hollenbeck.

    This years winner is Wil Swindler, a Denver-based saxophonist and composer. Swinder brought presented his commissioned work, "Glass," featuring his Elevenet. They are - Wil Swindler (Alto Saxophone), Peter Sommer (Tenor Saxophone), Art Bouton (Alto Flute), April Johannesen (Bass Clarinet), Al Hood, Clay Jenkins (Trumpets), Jason Johnston (French Horn), Dave Stamps (Trombone), Gary Mayne (Tuba), Dana Landry (Piano), Erik Applegate (Bass), Jim White (Drums).
    I asked Wil to describe the ideas behind his composition. Here's what he said:

    This piece is composed on a four-note melodic cell transposed by major thirds to create a 12-note collection out of which the melodic and much of the harmonic material presents itself. It passes through a variety of time signatures and rhythmic feels, never straying from the four note cell and its derivative motives. Keep an ear out for the use of ensemble interjections during the alto solo - it is an acoustic representation of how a soloist might use a harmonization pedal to supplement some improvised lines.

    Check out an audience recording of "Glass":
    Wil Swindler Elevenet - Glass

    -Josh Jackson

  • Smurfin' the Web

    January 14, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Chick Corea Smurf Cover

    Yeah, that's really the cover of a Chick Corea record. As if The Leprechaun and The Mad Hatter weren't enough...

    I just read that the Smurfs, the lovable band of blue forest denizens who lived in mushroom houses, are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year. Belgian Pierre Culliford (aka "Peyo"), a projectionist turned comic artist, introduced the original blue man group in a 1958 comic strip, a story of Johan & Peewit in "Le Journal de Spirou". I, however, remember them very fondly from my TV-heavy childhood. At that time, I thought Gargamel and Asrial (meow) were a lot cooler. Expect a Smurf Tour later this year (yes, really), plus new comics and DVDs of the television series. "La - la - la la - la la, sing a happy song ..."

     

    "La - la - la la - la la, Smurf the whole day long ..."
    -Josh Jackson