WBGO Blog
  • Born Standing Up

    January 18, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Born Standing Up Cover ImageSteve Martin one of the funniest comedians of all time. He's also a talented banjo picker in the Earl Scruggs' style. Lately, however, Martin's writing consistently grabs my attention. I'm almost finished with his new memoir, Born Standing Up.

    [disclosure - my wife works for the company that publishes this book. Then again, they also publish such intellectual drivel like the recent bestseller, The Secret.]

    Martin walked away from standup comedy in 1981. While he was still on top. Born Standing Up offers his personal take on a time, a place, and a person (himself) that no longer exist. It's a fascinating real life story, expressed with astonishing honesty and clarity. When Steve Martin writes about standup comedy - being alone on a stage, in front of an audience that expects you to entertain - he refers to it as "the ego's last stand."

    His description of the act is very much how I think an improvising jazz musician must feel at times:

    "My most persistent memory of stand-up is of my mouth being in the present and my mind being in the future: the mouth speaking the line, the body delivering the gesture, while the mind looks back, observing, analyzing, judging, worrying, and then deciding when and what to say next."

    Fortunately for musicians, silence is an option.
    - Josh Jackson

  • When comedy and jazz particles collide

    January 18, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    And Now for Something Completely Different ...
    Since we're headlong into the New Year, and the 2007 listmania has ended - Best Of, Top Ten, Bottom Eleven etc. - permit me to right an historic wrong among jazz critics. Since I'm not one of them.
    There's no debating that jazz has become an international phenomenon. However, the stale argument about who's moving the music forward still rages. While Americans can clearly take ownership of our national treasure, it's foreign-born artists like the Austrian pianist, Hans Groiner, who are finding ways to bring improvisation and art music back into the mainstream. Without any further discussion, bear witness to the Most Overlooked Artist, two years running:

     

    If you'd like to hear The Shape of Jazz to Come, check out Hans Groiner Plays Monk on MySpace.
    - Josh Jackson

  • When music, life and mother nature collide

    January 17, 2008. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    The Katrina Project

    The Katrina Project tells the story of the infamous hurricane and its affect on the arts and cultural life in New Orleans. Tonight's standing-room-only gallery reception featured a discussion with photographers Douglas L. Adams, Jr. and Norman DeShong. Moderator David Cruz was also joined by panelists Tanisha McHarris, Roland Angland, and Yanada Essex.

    The conversation was frank and honest - the kind we should hear more of, since the Crescent City's troubles continue. I encourage you to take a listen.

    Katrina Project Gallery Discussion

    The hauntingly beautiful gallery continues for just a short time more, so check it out - you can find out more here.