• Toast of the Nation New York - The Crew

    December 31, 2007. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Since you may miss the litany of names at the end of the New York segment, meet the folks who bring you 2008. Remember that while you're binging on champagne, we usually drink ours at 12:15, when the show is over.

    Becca Pulliam is our uber-producer. She coordinates each of the locations for Toast of The Nation (DC, Boston, NY, Minneapolis, Denver, and SF) into a mosaic of live music from coast to coast. Becca makes this whole party possible. Oh, and "listeners like you."

    Michael Bourne is our host. You may remember him from such hit shows as - Afternoon Jazz on WBGO for the last 20+ years. Or 20+ years on Toast of the Nation. That's committment. Everything I can say about Michael, I've already said to him personally - usually while I'm helping him connect home audio devices, changing light bulbs in his apartment, or eating Cantonese specialties with him (too infrequently) at Phoenix Garden.

    Steve Remote at Aurasonic is our guy for audio. He brings his 24 foot GMC truck, affectionately know as "The Breadmobile," to the gig. As you can imagine, jazz clubs in New York are short on space. That means you have to build a recording studio outside, and connect it to what's happening onstage. No small feat. Steve Remote and his band of merrymen do it with aplomb. Robert Carvell manages stage tech, and Jon D'Uva will assist the recording engineer in the truck. Jon is a vegetarian. I have no idea what he's planning to eat for dinner at the barbeque palace upstairs, Blue Smoke.

    Jim Anderson is the Recording Engineer tonight. He possesses both sartorial splendor and golden ears. He will make tonight sound so good for listeners. In Jim's spare time, he's active in the New York chapter of the Audio Engineering Society. He's also the Chair of the Clive Davis School for Recorded Music at New York University. He gets some of the best drum sounds I've heard on jazz records. He also reads great books.

    David Tallacksen is the Technical Director and Codec Jockey. He's the youngest member of the crew. He is responsible for the audio transmission via codec to NPR, among other things. We don't trust that job to just anyone. David also shows a tremendous amount of patience with Verizon, who installs our ISDN circuits to transmit that audio. David has tested these lines over and over and over. Two of the three circuits work, as of 12:30pm on the broadcast day. Verizon has assured us they will fix the problem with our backup transmission lines today. Fingers crossed.

    Katie Simon is our Stage Manager. She makes sure the trains run on time, because I'm barking in her ear the entire show. Katie can blame her first job in public radio on WBGO. Now she's hooked. She's a producer for Storycorps, producer David Isay's oral history project for public radio. You may have heard the stories on Morning Edition every Friday. Guaranteed to make you a little teary-eyed., if you're just a wee sensitive. Michael Bourne nicknamed Katie "Supergirl" because she's just...super.

    Martin Goodman is operating the house sound for Jazz Standard. He will be making sure that the artists have their sound on the stage and in the club. Martin also interfaces with our broadcast in a big way, because we share all the same microphones used on the stage.

    I'm your humble field producer and director for the show. You can blame me if something goes wrong.

  • Toast of the Nation New York - The Place

    December 31, 2007. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Jazz Standard

    The Jazz Standard's address is 116 East 27th Street in Manhattan, between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue. The club seems to exist in some type of gray area, as far as Manhattan neighborhoods. The location is conceivably an eastern part of the Flatiron section of town, but more like a northern extension of the Gramercy area, since it's a full six blocks from the exclusive enclave of Gramercy Park.

    Whatever. I'm glad we're spending New Year's at Jazz Standard.

    Don't get me wrong. I've spent some quality time at clubs during the last six Toast of the Nation celebrations. Each one of them has contributed some special moments. And there are always some delightful stories when you work in the trenches to bring people across the country some live music. Here are the last six I've worked as field producer, in order:
    The Village Vanguard - Michael White's Original Liberty Jazz Band 2001/02

    Blue Note New York - Chick Corea New Trio with Gary Burton 2002/03

    Blue Note New York - Herbie Hancock Quartet 2003/04

    Yoshi's in Oakland for Joshua Redman's Elastic Band 2004/05

    Tipitina's in New Orleans for Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, The Hot 8 Brass Band, and Galactic 2005/06

    The now-defunct Tonic on the Lower East Side - Steven Bernstein's Millenial Territory Orchestra 2006/07

    So this year, we're at Jazz Standard. Thanks to Seth Abramson, it's one of the most creatively booked jazz clubs in the city. And thanks to Danny Meyer, it has some rockin' barbeque (not bad, considering we're above the Mason-Dixon line).

    Not so incidentally, WBGO broadcast Ben Allison's Medicine Wheel, with the kora player, Mamadou Diabate, live during the club's opening week celebration. It's been a long time since that show, but we're finally back at the club for another live shot. "Ain't that good news?"

  • J-Lo is 55!

    December 29, 2007. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Joe Lovano, that is.

    It's Lovano's 55th birthday today, and he's celebrating it with a three-day run with his quintet at the Palazzo del Popolo in Orvieto, Italy. What a way to end a monumental year. Wish I could be there, since Italy's Umbria region is one of my favorite places to be, but I'll be spending my New Year's Eve at Jazz Standard, with Trio da Paz, Kenny Barron, and a great New York crew for NPR's Toast of the Nation (hope you'll be listening!).

    Incidentally, Toast of the Nation is where Lovano's 2007 began, as a member of the McCoy Tyner Quartet (bassist Christian McBride and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts make four) at Yoshi's. You can hear the fruits of that week at Yoshi's on record.

    It's been such a banner year for Joe. Check out the video below. And when you see him again, raise a glass of my favorite Umbrian wine, Paolo Bea's Sagrantino de Montefalco, in honor of him.

    Happy birthday, Joe Lovano. You're a class act.


  • My Musical Memories

    December 28, 2007. Posted by David Rosenak.

    I remember it like yesterday, the song still playing in my twelve-year-old mind. (Pardon me, boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?) That Christmas, which as Jews we celebrated secretly, at least in terms of the gifts -- that Christmas, Santa left me a sparkling new green bike with a cool chrome spring over the front wheel, and tassels streaming from the handlebar grips. But right behind the bike, tied up in a big blue bow, was a gray Zenith 45-rpm record player, with automatic changer. And, with it came a steel-blue box set of Glenn Miller records, along with two early Elvis 45s. (Love Me Tender and Heartbreak Hotel.) Somehow my heart opened to that music, somewhere between late swing and early rock and roll, in 1958, in Joplin, Missouri. I listened to those songs over and over again, and anytime I hear them today I'm taken back to that moment, sitting on the floor amid wrapping paper, playing disc jockey for my audience of little sisters.

    Even the mention of a white sport coat and a pink carnation still brings back the sweet fragrance of Sally Burgess' hair as we danced the slow dance cheek to cheek at the junior prom. - Hearing Dave Brubeck's Take Five always returns me to the first moment I heard this great jazz tune as a young disc jockey at KTXR-FM in Springfield, Missouri. - I'm leavin', on a jet plane, don't know if I'll be back again, all I know is I am on my way, takes me back to Vietnam's red mud, and that yearning feeling to rise above the jungle of war and somehow return, intact, to the "world."

    What is it about our music that it grips us so? Perhaps just that it remembers for us all of those things we've lived through, the dreams we've forgotten, the tears we've tried to forget, the loves we still carry in our heart. These are all very personal memories, known only to me, but remembered for me by the music of my time, the music of my life - the score I've lived to, if you will - collected in celebration and sorrow, imbedded into my DNA, an inescapable escape to the past.

    Even the old groups still fulfill our need to relive our own history. The Rolling Stones, who's edges should be somewhat rounded after having rocked and rolled around the earth for so long, are looking more rugged, or is it ragged, forever sticking out their musical tongues for audiences so eager to be taken back to some memorable moment of their youth.

    Not too long ago I read of scientists discovering an event that happened before the Big Bang. They detected - a vibration - the most basic unit of music. (It only takes vibration and rhythm to make music.) I immediately thought of God, all alone in the unformed void, suddenly beginning to hum, some low murmur, the beginning of some cry, some rapture exploding God's heart, and then a universe bursting open into life! A song is born!

    Imagine - the first music each of us ever hears is the song of our own mother's heart! - the vibration of her dreams and the rhythm of her determination - singing to us, so reassuringly, over and over, again and again - "remember," "remember," "remember," "remember." And, then, our own heart, suddenly finding its rhythm, joining in on the refrain - "remember," "remember," "remember."

    May the music we share with you now and into the coming year, serenade your heart through your distant memories, of a life well sung.

    I'm David Rosenak.

  • A few thoughts on Oscar Peterson

    December 28, 2007. Posted by Andrew Meyer.

    Oscar Peterson's passing this week got me to thinking about one of my first exposures to jazz...

    I wasn't always a news guy.

    As some of you might know, in a previous life, I did tech work in theater, both Off-Broadway and summer stock in Vermont. One summer in the early 90's, I was involved with a production of a new Doug Carter Beene play (which eventually moved to New York) called The Country Club. I wouldn't necessarily call it the most memorable of Beene's plays (who has had great success on the New York stage), but one of the things I remember the best from that production is the music selected for scene changes: Oscar Peterson Plays The Cole Porter Songbook.

    Album Cover

    I didn't know nearly as much then about jazz as I do now (you can't work at a place like 'BGO and not at least soak it in through osmosis), but I did recognize that this was a special album and a tremendous talent. I ended picking up a copy of this for my own cd collection. It was one of my first brushes with jazz, a good place to start. Thank you, Oscar.