• Cedar at Smoke .. Luciana at Kennedy Center

    May 2, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    The JazzSet team is in two cities tonight!

    I, Becca, enjoyed TWO Cedar Walton Trio sets at Smoke. Highlight of first: a Strayhorn medley -- Lush Life at a clip, Daydream with a Latin feel, Rain Check with drum breaks each of which got applause. Highlight of second: Ironclad, which Mr. Walton reminded me is on is live at Yoshi's album. He said "we could play that all night." It has a wonderful ending that they cycle over and over, and evokes Ahmad Jamal. I'm a long-time Cedar Walton fan, for his clarity, commitment, colorfulness, on top of it-ness, logic. David Williams on bass, Joe Farnsworth on drums, at Smoke through Saturday. The young guys to my left were from Japan, the young woman who sat on my right for the second set from Italy.

    Then in an email that I read when I got home, Duke Markos -- who's in Washington DC to record Luciana Souza for JazzSet -- wrote enthusiastically of her set, "Yes, real bossa nova. Using time and space (not quite as much time and space as Shirley Horn). No frenetic lines of notes. Thoughtful. Reflective. Spare in spots. You have to concentrate. The lyrics are central. She has a wonderful group. They step up when asked, nice interplay in the background. This is her last regular concert before she goes on her 1 year hiatus [to have] her baby."�

  • WBGO Widget

    May 1, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    WBGO Widget Grab

    Attention Mac users. While I was trolling on the interwebs tonight, I saw something that took me by surprise.  Gary Von Schilling (someone I don't know, but he's clearly a fan of WBGO) created a widget that directs you to our web stream.
    Find it here.

  • Michael Bourne Interviews Frank Wess

    May 1, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Frank Wess Photo by Paul Slaughter

    When someone like Frank Wess comes to WBGO, you better be prepared to hear some amazing stories.  Michael Bourne interviewed Frank Wess, who is currently spending his evenings playing music at the Village Vanguard.  The 86-year old Wess will forever be a Basie man, and he told a great story about a Count Basie tour in Europe.  When the band arrived, there were no charts for the musicians to play.  This could be a bandleader's worst nightmare, taking a band overseas without music.  But Basie's response? "Well, you guys never look at them anyway, and I didn't want to pay for the extra freight."  Hear what else Frank Wess had to say.

  • Rhonda Hamilton Interviews Guitarist Russell Malone

    May 1, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Rhonda Hamilton and Russell Malone

    Rhonda Hamilton interviewed guitarist Russell Malone yesterday.
    Fortunately, Russell didn't share any of his really colorful jokes with our audience. If he did, the FCC would level some hefty fines.
    He did, however, talk at length about his experience with Jimmy Smith. When Russell met the organist in Atlanta, he asked to sit in with the band. Russell played everything he knew, trying to impress Jimmy. The audience went wild. Then, Smith called a ballad, "Laura," and Russell did not know the song. That humbling experience led to an all-night lesson in music in Jimmy Smith's hotel room. Smith had played with some great guitarists, notably Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery. He taught Russell Malone a valuable lesson - to put himself into the music, rather than trying to emulate those guys. Listen to the interview.

  • Great Live Moments - Clarence Gatemouth Brown

    May 1, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    BB King and Clarence Gatemouth Brown

    This photo of B.B. King and Clarence Gatemouth Brown was taken at the 2005 New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival. It's from "Last Days of Fame," a powerful piece of photojournalism by Jennifer Zdon.

    Gatemouth and I shared a birthday, though we were separated by half a century. I first met him at WWOZ in New Orleans. He sat in our tiny on-air studio, his head buried beneath a black Stetson, his hands wrapped around a small pipe. The occasional waft of an illicit substance. This must explain the fact that, as Michael Bourne once discovered, Gatemouth Brown loves to eat grape jelly on everything...including steak. Strange things happen.

    In 1999, I attended the Public Radio Program Directors conference in Memphis, Tennessee. The Peabody Hotel, as I recall, where mallard ducks marched through the hotel hallway (led by a man in a tuxedo, suggesting penguin not duck) and climbed a flight of custom-made steps into the lobby fountain. This was part of the hotel's daily schedule. Strange things happen.

    I went to BB King's Blues Club on Beale street one night. Gatemouth Brown was performing live. WBGO and JazzSet were broadcasting the show. NPR's Bettina Owens threw a huge party to celebrate the fact that this concert was NPR's first live webstream! I had no relationship whatsoever with any of this, other than kid spectator. One year later, however, I was working on an NPR show. And the next year, I started working at WBGO. Strange things happen.

    Listen to Gatemouth perform "Strange Things Happen," from the WBGO Archives.