WBGO Blog
  • 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.