January 4, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
I haven't seen Denzel Washington's film, The Great Debaters. But I'm already hooked on the soundtrack with Sharon Jones, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and The Carolina Chocolate Drops. Among others, they collaborate on the opening track, a ring shout called "My Soul is a Witness."
A ring shout is one of the most infectious and powerful types of music you'll ever hear. It's basically a religious song using traditional African dance patterns, with a counter-rhythm that can start easy but get extremely complex, depending on how intensely the performers get possessed by the spirit. Shouts were common ritual during slavery, and you might even find traces of the style in rural church services in the South, the Georgia coastal islands and the Tidewater region of Maryland and Delaware.
For The Great Debaters, "My Soul is a Witness" is recreated from the original field recording by Alan Lomax. In 1934, Lomax spent six weeks in Louisiana. In one of the Acadian (Cajun) towns, Lomax recorded a series of ring shouts by Austin Coleman, with Joe Washington Brown and Samson Brown.
Hear the original version of "My Soul is a Witness," as performed by Austin Coleman.
I spoke with G. Marq Roswell, the Music Supervisor for The Great Debaters, about the music he selected music for the movie. You can hear that on The WBGO Journal. Or listen below. - Josh
© 2008 WBGO
January 4, 2008
We've been hearing about the Iowa Caucuses for more than a year now, so it was great to finally get it over with. I usually look at all politics with a jaundiced eye, and the Iowa Caucus was no exception. It wasn't that big a surprise that Sen. Barack Obama and Governor Mike Huckabee won their respective races. The polls predicted the outcome in the days leading up to the vote. Still, Obama's victory speech took many of us by surprise. His delivery has changed some over the last 18 months, but I've always thought he was just a so-so orator. When he took the stage to address his supporters yesterday, though, he actually looked like someone who could be president.
Now, i'm not endorsing any candidate or any party, and I recognize that the winner of the Iowa Caucus doesn't automatically become the nominee (or the president.) But, if, as Obama suggested, we look back at yesterday as "the day it all began," his speech, with its measured cadence and perfectly-placed emotional punches, will be remembered right up there with the most significant in our political history. Just in case you missed it, you can see it below. - David Cruz
© 2008 WBGO
January 4, 2008. Posted by David Rosenak.
Oliver Lake sent this clip to me. Oliver, besides being one of the founding members of the World Saxophone Quartet, as well as a killer improvisational performer in the vein of Dolphy and composer of big band, string and small group music, is also a poet and painter. He looks at the world around him, and marvels at the surrounding surprises. This clip includes a wonderful surprise. Enjoy. Thanks Oliver.
I'm David Rosenak.
© 2008 WBGO
January 3, 2008. Posted by Cephas Bowles.
As the General Manager of WBGO, I am a jazz fan and listen to the station quite a bit. While I work at the station, and had an above-average knowledge of jazz prior to moving back to Newark to assume this gig, I'm not all knowing and actually learn quite a bit about jazz and what I like from the station. Thank you, WBGO announcers!!!! In this short post, I want to share with you SOME of the things that I like about jazz.
I lust for the sound of a driving rhythm section. There's nothing better than being able to peck out the rhythm with one's neck (thank you Cecil Brooks III) while driving down a wide open road with jazz blasting from the radio. Drummers are among my favorites--Art Blakey, Max Roach, and Roy Haynes.
I like the melodic sound of the vibraphone played so beautifully or pretty , as Michael Bourne says, that you have to stop to listen to it. I like Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Locke and Stefon Harris. There are others but those three stand out. I love Cal Tjader and regret that I didn't go to see him when I lived out West and he was still with us!
I adore the big sound of the Hammond B-3 played by someone who knows how to get every ounce of funk and bass from this king of instruments. Add a great guitarist and drummer and you have listening heaven. The sound overwhelms you. I don't know anyone who can sit still while a good organ trio is doing its thing. I loved Charles Earland. Jimmy Smith was great but didn't move me the way the Earland did. (Yes, I realize that I've just trangressed against an icon of the B3!!!) Joey D., McGriff, Radam, they're good but nobody fills the shoes left by the Mighty One.
I like the sound of lyrical pianists who play effortlessly and take those compositions and make them sing. Horace Silver and Cyrus Chestnut are two of my favorites! I also love jazz pianists who sound like they are playing percussion. Michel Camilo, Don Pullen and Danny Mixon are examples. And, then, there are those pianists who command the instrument to perform--Harold Mabern and McCoy Tyner.
I like uncommon instruments played well. Andy Narell on steel pans; the late Roland Kirk playing nose flute, manzello and stritch; Steve Turre with his shells; Regina Carter playing lots of violin; and Toots Thielemann's whistling. Paquito D'Rivera's Tango Band includes a guest bandoneon player. I love the sound of that accordion-like instrument.
I love Latin and Brazilian jazz. Again, so rhythmic and full of fun.
There are so many great saxophonists who swing. The late great Jackie Mac, James Carter, Eric Alexander, Joe Lovano, and countless others.
I love the young guys who are working hard to develop their chops on various instruments and who value the music historically and practically.
I truly appreciate the knowledge of jazz and love of music that the WBGO announcers bring to the table each day and the fact that the station's Board of Trustees are committed to the 24/7 presentation of this music.
I value your interest in music as demonstrated by your review of this very modest post and your attention to all that WBGO does for you and other music fans. I also appreciate the opportunity to share a bit of myself with you through this blog.
Each staff person at WBGO is a fan of the music. If you come to our events or talk with us on the phone or elsewhere, you'll learn that for yourself. Many of us work in WBGO's back room. That is, the second floor of our office building where some WBGO staff members think it's too quiet and too far from the jazz action. It isn't and, best of all, we have radios and computers that bring the sound to us just fine!!!! Thanks for allowing us to do this for you and for us.
These are a few of my favorite things--some of life's simple and all-too-often unspoken pleasures. I hope that you have some and will share them with family and friends. Record parties and word-of-mouth comments work well to introduce people to this music and to whet the appetites of those unfamiliar with our favorite things.
WBGO General Manager
© 2008 WBGO
January 3, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Here's a sampling of Now vs. Now, though it's mostly a hit for the drummer, Mark Guiliana. It features multiple keyboards, electronic FX on trumpet, a beat boxer, electric bass, and drums. Guaranteed to the unnerve the jazz purist tendencies in you. Here they are rockin' it at the Zinc Bar.
© 2008 WBGO