• Bill McHenry Quintet: Live At The Village Vanguard

    June 8, 2009. Posted by WBGO.

    Bill McHenry Quintet. (Image Credit: John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com)

    Everything about Bill McHenry's musical profile would seem to indicate that he's merely a generic player. He's a tenor saxophonist who arrived in New York in the early-'90s wave of young talent, released a few records on small independent labels and chose not to hide his enthusiasm for melodies and chord changes. But those in the know recognize McHenry as one of the most distinct voices of his generation — one who possesses the rare ability to distill abstruse modern ideas into gorgeous, palpably warm music. That voice was on display with his newest band, a quintet featuring a likeminded cohort in drummer Paul Motian, in a live performance from the Village Vanguard.

    McHenry called a set of intriguing originals, plus a couple of standard ballads chosen with care. On his compositions, twisting horn themes often in unison motion gave way to solos that drifted in and out of apparent form; the slow tunes were clearly picked with a view toward torch-song beauty. And when he stepped to the fore, he wowed with his command of subtle details in shading and shaping even the most technical of phrases.

    Joining McHenry on the front line were poised trumpeter Duane Eubanks and passionate alto saxophonist Andrew D'Angelo, who both took solos with forays into extended technique. Bassist Ben Street both walked time and toyed with it authoritatively; drummer Paul Motian, he of the uncommon accents, was as immediately recognizable as always.

    When Bill McHenry arrived in New York in 1992, he was overshadowed by the Young Lions of his generation. But in the years since, he has slowly, quietly developed a celebrated musical identity whose bloom has only recently been noticed by more than his peers. Both New York Times jazz critics, Ben Ratliff and Nate Chinen, listed McHenry's last record, Roses, among their favorite album of any genre in 2007.

    As a bandleader, McHenry is known for extracting lyricism from musical templates which verge on the abstract and the formless. It's a tricky aesthetic to pursue, but his penchant for melodic coherence keeps the ship beautifully afloat, even seemingly simple. (It helps that he possesses a distinctive, fully ripened tone, bristling with echoes of an earlier era.)

    McHenry is no stranger to the Village Vanguard. He took this current quintet to the venue in 2008, and appears as a sideman or co-leader several times a year. In fact, this broadcast performance marked his second week in a row playing the Vanguard — the previous week, he upheld his longtime spot in the horn section of Guillermo Klein's Los Guachos.

    Set List (Set One)

    • "Blues In A"
    • "Violetta"
    • "The Meaning Of The Blues" (Troup)
    • "Lines"
    • "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" (Styne/Cahn)
    • "A21X27100"
    • "Thrush"
    • all compositions by Bill McHenry unless otherwise noted

    Set List (Set Two)

    • "Chromatic Scale in A"
    • "My Melancholy Baby" (Burnett/Norton)
    • "Norman"
    • "Study #1"
    • "Lyrical in C" / "La Cama"
    • "Other Birds"
    • "Thrush"
    • all compositions by Bill McHenry unless otherwise noted


    • Bill McHenry, tenor saxophone
    • Duane Eubanks, trumpet
    • Andrew D'Angelo, alto saxophone/bass clarinet
    • Ben Street, bass
    • Paul Motian, drums


    • Josh Jackson, producer and host
    • David Tallacksen, mix engineer
    • Josh Webb, recording assistant
  • NJCU's Wayne Shorter Combo at WBGO

    May 28, 2009. Posted by Brandy Wood.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    NJCU Ensemble in WBGO performance studio

    WBGO was filled with aspiring young jazz musicians, many of whom have a chance to perform live on Jazz 88 last April.

    New Jersey City University's Wayne Shorter Combo performed the second installment in the 2009 Next Generation JAMS, WBGO's celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month.

    The ensemble was coached by Bob Malach, who worked with the legendary Horace Silver.

    Click below to listen to their full set:

    Jason Teborek—piano
    Michael Preen—bass
    Jonathan DiFiore—drums
    Jeremy Fratti—tenor saxophone

  • Becca Pulliam nominated for Award for Broadcasting

    May 22, 2009. Posted by Brandy Wood.

    Becca Pulliam in her office at WBGO

    WBGO's Becca Pulliam, producer of JazzSet, was recently nominated for The Willis Conover–Marian McPartland Award for Broadcasting. The winner will be announced at this year's Jazz Journalists Association Awards celebration on June 16th at the Jazz Standard. If you're a member of the Jazz Journalists Association, you can vote here until June 4th .

    Becca has been busy recording great live sets up and down the east coast and will head out to Detroit in July.

    WBGO congratulates Becca on this nomination. Break a leg!