WBGO Blog
  • What's Going on in the News Today: A News Rap-up

    August 8, 2008. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    Beatboxer, hip-hopper and jazz musician Baba Israel takes a look at what's going in the world today with this news rap-up.
    Listen now!

    Obama heads on the road
    Will he be embraced by the globe?
    A world stage debut, full of risk and debate
    Obama reacts by draining a 3-point swish with soldiers in Kuwait
    I guess he can’t miss
    In France, Sarkozy greets him with a kiss
    Proclaims himself a “citizen of the world” in Berlin
    200,000 gather to observe him
    Flags waving instead of burning
    Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, West bank, and Britain, he’s on a roll
    Back in the US a nine point climb on the poll
    In this race, he’s got a head start
    While McCain rolls slow with Bush senior in a golf cart
    Obama's a rock star
    McCain in a new add calls him a pop star
    Comparing him to Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears
    Iraq who will step up whose got the upper hand
    Oops, white house employee emails, Malaki backs Obama’s exit plan
    16 months fact or fable?
    Now Bush and McCain move closer to the timetable
    Obama’s Iran policy
    Bigger carrots and bigger sticks?
    Or sweet bread and whips?
    Summer Olympics in Beijing
    Mongolia locusts potentially plaguing
    Leading to mass exterminating 550 square miles
    Of infestation their spraying
    Pollution curbs on cars, factories closing
    Athletes in masks prepare for air exposing
    Phelps controlling media moguling
    Selling super Speedo swimwear on prime time showing
    In Colombia hostages held by Farc
    Rescue mission how did the plan go?
    In a helicopter a team of elite commandos
    Landed undercover would it work?
    Commandos decked out in Che shirts and jeans
    Subdued the guards and rescued fifteen
    Politicians and American contractors
    Looks like there’ll be a movie deal
    With Hollywood backers
    Back in the US the place we call home
    Are you worried about the safety of your loan?
    the government got your back
    and the back of Freddie Mac
    Big brother with the biggest credit card
    14 digit limit time to start spending yall!
    What’s money in when it’s the trillions
    Lets just raise the debt ceiling
    You know make it a little higher
    This is America but what happened to Budweiser?
    Bailed out by the Belgians lets get it clear
    Now Stella is American for beer

    produced by Simon Rentner

  • Sonny, Thank You!

    August 7, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    sonny-rollins-at-summerstage.JPG

    OK.  One of the highlights of my live-performance-attending-life happened last night.  I got to see the man himself, saxophone colossus, tenor titan - Sonny Rollins!  Sonny is one of my all-time favorite tenor players, and this was my FIRST time actually seeing him live.  It was really an experience.  I love seeing all my favorites perform but this had a different thing to it.  Well...because he's Sonny.  His body of work, what he means to the history of this music, his contribution as an inventor, a trailblazer and artist...all that.  Growing up, my mom would play "Tenor Madness" incessantly.  And she and my step-dad would have very interesting debates about who "won" the tenor madness battle.  Sonny or the newer kid on the block - John Coltrane.  My mom always voted Trane and my stepdad would say "are you crazy?" listen to Sonny's toooone.  They would trade lines, singing what they thought supported their vote and well...it was a lot of fun to watch.  I always voted Trane myself, being the Trane-junkie I am.  But I gotta tell you...one day, I picked those traded solos apart bit by bit for a whole afternoon and well...I really gained a new appreciation for Sonny.  My appreciation for Trane was instant and almost innate.  But Sonny...it took some maturing for me to really get it like I got it now.  I always LOVED Sonny's playing, but there was something about living a little more life, and then listening to Sonny that made me appreciate him so much more.  But that was my introduction to the artist that would become such a staple in my life (and CD rotation).  Next was the Way Out West recording.  I wore that OUT!  One of my favorite vamps of all time is his on "I'm an Old Cowhand."  So pretty.

    But I digress :)

    Seeing Sonny yesterday was somewhat surreal.  Sonny represents an era; a moment in history that very few artists can demostrate with just their presence alone, like he can.  He opened the show with a calypso-feel tune, and was just so warm toward the audience and his band and was clearly having a lot of fun.  Then it happened.  I was standing at the edge of the stage with my camera, and he walked RIGHT up to me, bent down toward me and posed for my camera (the photo above - that's the one!)  Almost like saying "hello!" with his horn.  Man...that was a feeling. 

    He performed his classics like "St. Thomas" and "In a Sentimental Mood" (Yes, when he recorded the Duke Ellington classic, he definitely made it his own).  But he also performed newer originals.  When he went into "St. Thomas," I thought, "the show's over?"  Tisk, tisk...how very cliche of me.  I should have known that Sonny wasn't going out so predictably.  He played another hour, LOL!  He played this one tune that had this dope backbeat...not your typical "I'm a jazz musician playing a back-beat now."  No, this had some different stuff sprinkled on it.  Almost how I would imagine Tony Williams' version of a back beat...a little behind the beat...a little gritty.  And I was thinking man, Sonny is so hip.  He's so current, past and future.  That's what makes Sonny the man.  Well, one of the things.  All I can say is "Sonny, thank you."  You made my night, and gave me a memory that is one for the books.

  • Cole...Freddy That Is.

    August 5, 2008. Posted by Alice Stockton Rossini.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    Freddy and me after the gig
    Freddy and me after the gig
    The house lights flicker at a low-level dim while the stage lights illuminate the tinting instruments on stage. The crowd cheers as the great Freddie Cole walks to center stage and counts off the band. 1...2...3...4! BAM! The saxophone section hits the opening line with vigor and attitude as Freddy sings the opening lyrics to "It's only a Paper Moon."

    On July 23rd, Freddy Cole--Nat King Cole's younger brother--came to William Paterson university to play with some amazing young musicians. Among them was yours truly. It was an honor to play with a cat like Freddy Cole. Freddy reminds young musicians where the music comes from by primarily performing repertoire from the great American Songbook. Freddy's approach to music contains simplicity, but he accomplishes something that musician strives for- expressing his emotions to the audience through music. That kind of connection had the audience tapping their feet and clapping their hands. After the last number, the audience pleaded for one more number. Cole sat down at the piano and closed the concert with a beautiful ballad. The audience roared as Freddy exited the stage to a standing ovation. It was a humbling experience to play in Freddy Cole's band that night. It reminded me, that at the the end of the day, music comes down to one thing, emotion. No matter the complexity of a Bebop line or accuracy of intonation, if emotion is not present, a musician has nothing.

    I thank Freddy Cole for the opportunity to join him on the bandstand and am indebted to him for reminding me why I started playing music in the first place...Simply put, it's just really fun!