WBGO Blog
  • Guitar Heroes at the Met Museum .. Cuba NOLA at Symphony Space

    February 27, 2011. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    George Ben & his New Yorker guitar, made by John D'Angelico (1905-64)

    The New Yorker Hotel at 34th & Eighth inspired the New Yorker guitars, made in Little Italy by luthier John D'Angelico (1905-64). You can see the outline of the hotel in the skyline in the mother of pearl inlay in the headstock (next to Geo Benson's sunglasses), and the gold-plated brass tailpiece with stair steps makes a similar walk up. Chet Atkins loved his New Yorker to pieces, then June Carter swept it off its stand with her skirt. She said she thought it would bleed, it was so human.

    D'Angelico's instruments are the first in a line of three generations of NY guitar makers of Italian descent at the Metropolitan Museum til July 4. The second, James D'Aquisto (1935-95), learned from D'Angelico and made guitars played by Grant Green and Jim Hall. Green always put his guitar in the front seat and his friends in the back, according to a witness quoted in the exhibition notes. Jazz-rocker Steve Miller brought his D'Aquisto to a recent concert at the Met, where he reminisced about watching  "Jimmy"  reject scores of pieces of fine wood, barely handling them, and let himself be drawn to the one he wanted use. It sounded like a mystical experience.

    In the full exhibit of 30 Italian instruments including a Stradivari guitar + 50 instruments from these NY makers, to me the D'Aquisto sequence is the heart, as his guitars become more and more beautiful, with less and less metal or plastic to hold things together. Then luthier #3 John Monteleone (born 1947) outdoes even himself with a climactic grouping of four related guitars, one for each season. Winter, for example, is in Alpine spruce, maple, ebony, mother-of-pearl and diamonds. Anthony Wilson has composed a piece for this amazing group, and he and three other players will perform the piece on the summerfallwinterspring guitars in April at the Museum. In the meantime, John Pizzarelli is in concert in connection with the show on March 31st. And there is live guitar music in the gallery every other Thurs @ 2:30. The next such serenade takes place March 10.

    http://www.metmuseum.org has lots of information. There is a free App on iTunes that can be your guide when you tour the exhibit. I went to the opening and again last Sunday afternoon; Guitar Heroes popular!

    I'll write about Arturo O'Farrill's concert @ Symphony Space last night, later.

  • The 3 Cohens at the Portland Jazz Festival

    February 26, 2011. Posted by Alex Rodriguez.

    Add new comment | Filed under: concerts
    Photo by Glenio Campregher
    Photo by Glenio Campregher

    This week, WBGO web producer and Portland, Oregon native Alex W. Rodriguez traveled to his hometown to attend the Portland Jazz Festival. How has jazz in his hometown fared, eight years after he left for the East Coast? Watch this space to find out, as Alex shares his experiences throughout the main festival weekend.

    This afternoon, the three Israeli siblings Anat (left), Avishai (center) and Yuval Cohen played for an enthusiastic crowd at Portland's Crystal Ballroom. Along with bassist Matt Penman, drummer Eric Harland and pianist Aaron Goldber, they played an energetic set of hard-swinging jazz that offered an opportunity for each of the three siblings' musical personalities to shine. Read more

  • Esperanza Spalding at the Portland Jazz Festival

    February 26, 2011. Posted by Alex Rodriguez.

    Add new comment | Filed under: concerts
    Esperanza Spalding started her live show in a similar pose
    photo by Sandrine Lee

    This week, WBGO web producer and Portland, Oregon native Alex W. Rodriguez traveled to his hometown to attend the Portland Jazz Festival. How has jazz in his hometown fared, eight years after he left for the East Coast? Watch this space to find out, as Alex shares his experiences throughout the main festival weekend.

    Last night, bassist-singer-composer-jazz phenomenon Esperanza Spalding made her wildly-anticipated appearance at this week's Portland Jazz Festival. As the main Friday night attraction, Ms. Spalding sold out Portland's 880-set Newmark theater within days of winning the Best New Artist Grammy award earlier this month. She played music from her latest record, Chamber Music Society, and captivated her hometown crowd throughout the 90-minute performance. Read more