WBGO Blog
  • Bourne Goes Hollywood

    February 20, 2008. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    This Sunday's telecast will be the 80th annual awarding of the Oscars. This Sunday's Singers Unlimited (10AM-2PM) will celebrate with songs from the movies. Most of the standards of the American Popular Songbook, songs of Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, the Gershwins et al, came from Broadway or Hollywood musicals. Most of the Broadway songs also came to the screen. I'll spotlight songs from the movies of Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, even Humphrey Bogart. I'll celebrate the birthday next week (and upcoming gig at Birdland) of Oscar-winning composer (and jazz pianist) Michel Legrand. I'll feature highlights from jazz and blues movies, also Oscar-winning songs performed by the likes of Nat Cole and Frank Sinatra -- although I won't be playing all of the Oscar-winning songs. "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" is not really in our groove on WBGO ...I started reviewing movies in 1967, and I've seen a thousand or two. I started going to the movies with my grandfather when I was 2. I don't remember any of those movies with him, but once in a while I'll be watching an old western and I'll have deja vu. I can't always remember what I was doing yesterday, but I can still name all the actors on The Late Show.

    I rarely go to the movies nowadays. I get in cheaper as a senior, but most of the new movies aren't worth whatever the cost. I'd rather wait and rent newer movies -- although I'm much more often watching older movies on TV.

    Herewith my all-time favorite movies:

    1 THE SEVEN SAMURAI, the masterpiece of director Akira Kurosawa. Toshiro Mifune is downright feral on screen as one of the seven swordfighters who protect a farming village from bandits. My favorite of countless great moments: the little smile on the face of Daisuke Kato when his old comrade recruits him but tells him this time they might not survive, also the grace and power of Takashi Shimura drawing and shooting arrows during the climactic battle in the rain.

    2 CASABLANCA, the first movie I bought on DVD. My favorite moment is any moment Claude Rains is on the screen.

    3 THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, photographed in often painterly black and white by (should've-won-an-Oscar visual genius) Gregg Toland. It's the story of three men returning home after WWII, each of them struggling with who they used to be and who they've become, each of them getting a dramatic moment of redemption. Fredric March as a banker turns drunken babble at a banquet into a passionate hope for the future. Dana Andrews as an ex-officer who can't get a job walks through a field of broken airplanes and realizes that he's also junk. Harold Russell (who actually lost both hands in the war) shows Cathy O'Donnell as his girl next door what he looks like when he pulls off his hooks, but, rather than being horrified, she matter-of-factly picks up his hooks as if she's putting aside his slippers. It's the most deeply intimate scene I've ever seen.

    4 YOU'RE TELLING ME, I think the funniest comedy of the funniest comedian, W.C. Fields. He's especially graceful doing his physical gags, and, for someone always thought grumpy, Fields is also very sweet, especially when he talks to a princess when he thinks that she's trying to kill herself. I think the funniest scene ever filmed is in another Fields comedy, when he's trying to sleep on the back porch and keeps being bothered by noise and neighbors in IT'S A GIFT.

    5 BOSSA NOVA, the romantic comedy I've watched every birthday since 2000, about a lawyer (Antonio Fagundes) who falls in love with an English teacher (Amy Irving) in Rio, dedicated to (and featuring songs of) Antonio Carlos Jobim.

    My all-time favorite music for a movie was the all-star jam that happens throughout Robert Altman's KANSAS CITY. Being there when some of the music scenes were filmed was one of the best jazz experiences of my life, especially the tenor battle of Joshua Redman as Lester Young with Craig Handy as Coleman Hawkins. They filmed way more music than was needed, music that was so great that an all-music version was created, called Robert Altman's JAZZ '34. Bob asked me to write the opening scene-setter that Harry Belafonte reads on the soundtrack -- my first and only time ever actually working on a movie.

    -- MBourne

  • WBGO WINS BIG AT NEW YORK ASSOCIATION OF BLACK JOURNALISTS AWARDS

    February 19, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.

    nyabj-for-angelika.jpgThe WBGO News Department was awarded six honors in the 2008 New York Association of Black Journalists Annual Scholarship and Awards Dinner.  NYABJ recognizes the best in Print, New Media, Radio, Magazine and Television reporting of issues that affect the Black Diaspora.  WBGO News Director Doug Doyle led the way for the station's talented department, which received more radio awards than any other radio station.

    Doug Doyle wins in the Spot News/General Category for story CorpsGriot

    David Cruz, Adele Oltman, Andrew Meyer and D. Doyle win in the Public Affairs Category for WBGO Journal: 40 Years After the Riots

    Doug Doyle wins in the Arts and Entertainment Category for Glee Club

    Doug Doyle wins the International Category for Going to Ghana

    Doug Doyle and Jen Poyant win in the Sports Category for Ring of Honor

    Doug Doyle, wins 2nd place in the General Features-Long Category for The Clubhouse

    The WBGO News Department has more 35 NYABJ Awards since Doyle took over the news department in 1998.

    Special honorees included TV anchorwoman Roz Abrams, the late Gerald Boyd, Alphonso Van Marsh of CNN and Wilbert Tatum of The Amsterdam  News. Also honored was Eric Tait, former ABC News and freelance documentary producer and WBGO major donor.  Mr. Tait won in the Documentary Category for his program Lift Every Voice & Sing: The Choral Music Legacy of the Historical Black Colleges and Universities.

    Way to go, WBGO!

  • Over Drive

    February 17, 2008. Posted by .

    Rob Crocker played John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" as the winter fund drive faded into memory at 6 p.m. Sunday. Goals were met, audience sustained, and nobody got hurt too badly.

    These fund drives are a major undertaking and consume the entire staff, so when its over, there is a collective "Whew!" around here. Listen to how quiet we sound for the next few days. Jock exhaustion.

    Since this drive began, we've gone through the Super Bowl, Super Tuesday, the Super Bowl parade, the NHL and NBA All Star games and said Bye Ya to "Smooth Jazz" radio. We heard from you in Sudan, Iraq, Japan, UK, Ireland, Kuala Lampur, Bayamon, Sao Paolo and even exotic Lubbock, Texas.

    Thanks to all of you who made a pledge this time around. You do nothing less than keep jazz alive on the radio. - David Cruz