• WBGO Congratulates the 2016 Grammy Winners!

    February 16, 2016. Posted by Nicole Sweeney.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    WBGO celebrates the 2016 Grammy Award winners that call 88.3FM WBGO home!

    Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap Photo by: Alberto E. Rodriguez
    Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap Photo by: Alberto E. Rodriguez

    Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap won Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for their album: The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern. Tony Bennett recently talked with WBGO Afternoon Jazz Host Michael Bourne about his Bel Canto training, love of Art Tatum & more. Listen here!

    Drummer Antonio Sanchez won Score Soundtrack for Visual Media: Birdman -WBGO's "The Checkout" highlighted a 2012 concert featuring Antonio Sanchez. Listen here!

    Best Tropical Latin Album: Rubén Blades With Roberto Delgado & Orchestra, Son De Panamá

    Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn won for Best Folk Album: , Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn-WBGO's Morning Jazz Show host Gary Walker talks with Bela Fleck about music & more. Listen here!

    Best World Album: Angélique Kidjo, Sings

    Eliane Elias wins Best Latin Jazz Album: , Made in Brazil -Revisit Eliane Elias playing the music of Bill Evans at a live WBGO Broadcast here!

    Best Jazz Instrumental Album: John Scofield, Past Present

    Christian McBride wins Best Improvised Jazz Solo: Christian McBride, Cherokee- The host of Jazz Night in America was recently featured as JNIA  and follows him around his hometown of Philadelphia. Check it out here!

    Cecile McLorin Salvant wins Best Jazz Vocal Album:, For One to Love - We loved having Cecile as a guest on the WBGO "Checkout". Listen here!

    Maria Schneider wins Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals: "Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)” (David Bowie album) AND Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album: The Thompson Fields - WBGO's Gary Walker talks with Maria about this Grammy Award winning album! Listen here!

    Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra win Best Instrumental Composition: , "The Afro Latin Jazz Suite” - WBGO recently had Arturo O'Farrill and his boss level septet live in the WBGO studios! Listen here!

    Best Blues Album: Buddy Guy, Born to Play Guitar

    Best Regional Roots Music Album: Jon Cleary, Go Go Juice

  • Toshiko Akiyoshi's Jazz Orchestra Brought The Club To Concert Halls

    February 16, 2016. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    Toshiko Akiyoshi developed a reputation as a fierce bebop player. But she says she wasn't completely accepted in the jazz world as a woman and an Asian. (Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist)

    Pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi was the first Japanese musician to become popular with jazz fans in the U.S. Oscar Peterson demanded that his label record her; Charles Mingus hired her for his band. Then she went on to form her own acclaimed Jazz Orchestra. On Tuesday afternoon, Akiyoshi reassembled that group for a rare performance at the Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall.

    Back at the grand piano in her Upper West Side brownstone, 86-year-old Toshiko Akiyoshi says the occasion for her orchestra's reunion is to celebrate two milestones — when she started her professional career, and when she moved to the U.S.

    "It's very easy to remember, because I started in '46, so it will be the 70th anniversary," Akiyoshi says. "I came to this country in '56, so it will be the 60th anniversary in this country."

    Akiyoshi put together her first Jazz Orchestra in Los Angeles in 1973 with her husband, saxophonist Lew Tabackin — he was playing with the Tonight Show band, and helped fill her 16-piece orchestra with some of the best studio musicians in town. Akiyoshi says all of the sax players could also play flute and clarinet; that led to her signature style.

    "The saxophone players — if you wanted to be studio player, you had to double everything. So I thought, 'Maybe I can write a woodwind section.' And it became one of my trademarks."

    Along with the texture of woodwinds, the Toshiko Akiyoshi Big Band is distinctive in its use of Japanese instruments and themes.

    A few years after the band was formed, the musicians performed in Minneapolis, where a University of Minnesota student named Maria Schneider heard them play.

    "That concert was so powerful for me," Schneider says. "The music was so beautiful, and there was something about it being displayed in that concert hall — and her conducting and her playing — just the whole took me, and it made me all of a sudden ask the question, 'Wow, could I do that?'"

    Schneider is composing for and leading her own jazz orchestra. She says Akiyoshi helped pave the way.

    "It wasn't that she was a woman," Schneider says, "but it was that somebody was doing jazz that was infused with classical — it was concert music."

    Akiyoshi studied classical piano in Manchuria, China, where she was born in 1929. At the end of WWII, her family was forced to return to occupied Japan.

    "We came back and my parents lost everything," Akiyoshi says. "I could not hope to get the piano. And it was during occupation time. And [there were] many clubs: There was the officer's club, NCO club, the Sergeant's Club, and they all need musicians. On top of that, the Japanese wanted to dance, too, and there wasn't that many musicians. So I was hired immediately."

    Akiyoshi was a teenager. She studied jazz and began to perform in small combos. In 1952, pianist Oscar Peterson heard her in a Tokyo nightclub, and he persuaded the head of Verve Records to record her.

    Akiyoshi came to the U.S. to study at what was then called the Berklee School of Music in Boston. She was the first Japanese musician at the school. She moved to New York and developed a reputation as a fierce bebop player, but she says she wasn't completely accepted in the jazz world as a woman and an Asian.

    "In those days, 'Japanese play jazz, really?' And when it come to girl — 'Really, really?' kind of thing."

    Her husband, Lew Tabackin, says she continued to face discrimination, but he says they have no regrets.

    "I think we did pretty well, considering we had a band for 30 years," Tabackin says. "We did some really great things. You know, we made a contribution. How many people can actually feel that they've made a contribution?"

    Toshiko Akiyoshi disbanded her orchestra in 2003 to focus on her first love — and, at 74, to try to get better.

    "I started missing piano," Akiyoshi says. "Because I started as a pianist, and all my writing come from my experience as a player. So 30 years I say maybe I stop, disband it. Maybe I try to concentrate on playing piano. Maybe I'll be able to play just as good as before. I can at least try."

    Akiyoshi says she hopes she's given something back to jazz, which she says has been very kind to her.

    Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

  • WBGO Celebrates Valentine's Day

    February 12, 2016. Posted by Nicole Sweeney.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    We asked our announcers to dig into their romantic memories and give us songs that remind them of love.

    Mid Day Jazz Host Rhonda Hamilton
    Mid Day Jazz Host Rhonda Hamilton

    Mid-Day Jazz Host Rhonda Hamilton:

    "A Time For Love": Many artists have recorded this Johnny Mandel composition. Shirley Horn’s version on her CD with strings, “Here’s To Life”, produced and arranged  by Mandel is especially lush and romantic. The entire album provides a perfect soundtrack for a lovely, loving evening.

    "The Island":  Any song that conjures up images of a tropical island puts me in a romantic mood. When Sarah Vaughan sings it on her album, “Crazy & Mixed Up” she transports you to a place so warm and sensual, you never want to leave.

    "Like A Lover": I was actually on the island of Anguilla with my husband when I first heard Carla Cook perform her gently swinging arrangement of this song.  It was a clear night with a warm tropical breeze, the stars were shining and we were just steps away from the sea. Whenever I want to revisit that romantic setting, I close my eyes and listen to Carla sing “Like a Lover.”

    Afternoon Jazz /Singers Unlimited Host Michael Bourne

    Michael Bourne
    Afternoon Jazz/Singers Unlimited Host Michael Bourne

    "I'll Remember April" by Andy Bey, Tuesday In Chinatown. Michele returned to my life in April, and whenever I play this song on the show I remember.

    "Speak Low"  Tony Bennett, Astoria,  one of the greatest lyrics about love and life.  "Time is so old and Love so brief.  Love is gold and Time a thief!"  It's also the only song I've ever requested Tony to sing, and he did!

    "Devil May Care" Bob Dorough - The only love song I can (more or less) sing and it's about the connection to a loved one, so deep, almost magical and yet truly real.

    Jazz After Hours Host Brian Delp

    Jazz After Hours Host Brian Delp
    Jazz After Hours Host Brian Delp

    "Broadway Romance" Dave Brubeck-The first time I heard this many years ago on the Great Plains, it evoked everything I imagined a New York romance to be; years later, I was proven right....

    "Autumn In New York" Charlie Parker with Strings-My wife and I danced to this at our Novermber wedding  while our guest pelted us with fake autumn leaves - much easier to clean up than rice!

    "The Quintessence" Quincy Jones-Phil Woods alto saxophone just drips sensuality and oozes gold.

    On Air Announcer Rich Keith

    When I started in radio back in the 70s, I fell in love with Ray Charles' version of Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen's "Come Rain or Come Shine". I got engaged to my wife in 1980 and one of the things we had to think about for the wedding in 1981 was our first song.  I suggested this song. Luck intervened when Streisand (my wife is a huge fan) decided to sing the song on one of her albums released around that time...so I was in.  The problem we ran into was that few of the wedding bands that we interviewed knew the song (as it was written in 1946)...and the ones who did sounded like they were playing "The Hokey Pokey". I got a copy of the Ray Charles version (my favorite) and the Streisand version (my wife's favorite) on a cassette and gave it to the band we ended up with, asking them to come up with something in between.  It must have worked out OK because were still married 35 years later.

  • Aaron Goldberg And Leon Parker Talk With Gary Walker

    February 11, 2016. Posted by Josh Landes.

    Innovative pianist Aaron Goldberg and reclusive percussionist Leon Parker have teamed up for a collaboration that, in their own words, seeks to "expand the sonic, communicative, and expressive possibilities of the piano trio setting". They sat down with WBGO's Gary Walker to talk about this ambitious plan.


  • The ELEW Trio With Veal And Tain

    February 11, 2016

    Eric Lewis' career has circulated both in and out of what he calls "the jazz republic." Performing under his given name in the 1990s, Lewis was a powerful up-and-coming pianist who toured in the bands of Wynton Marsalis and Elvin Jones. As his career progressed — or failed to, from a business perspective — he found that a lot of contemporary rock music also spoke to him deeply. So, performing under the name ELEW, he devised a new theatrical, high-energy method of solo piano he called rockjazz, and his cover songs took him to TED Conferences, national tours, America's Got Talent, celebrity gatherings and the White House. But he never left the late-night straight-ahead jam sessions: In fact, he's just recorded And To The Republic, a return to the jazz trio format featuring some major players.

    Jazz Night In America follows ELEW to the studio, and to Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola within Jazz at Lincoln Center, where his burning band includes Reginald Veal on bass and Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums.

    Copyright 2016 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.