WBGO Blog
  • Nicholas Payton's Into the Blue

    July 18, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

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    Here's an album I'm recently checking out. Jazz trumpeter and Crescent City native Nicholas Payton has a new CD out called Into the Blue. It's been five years since the trailblazing trumpeter put out his Sonic Trance which left me, for one, looking for the next thing. That album was so different from everything he had done before, so I was really curious to see what was next (there was a tribute album in between, but I'm referring to Payton's original music). Needless to say, I'm happy he's back in the spotlight.

    I checked him out at the Jazz Standard last month, playing tracks from the new record, and it was really cool. Not what I would have expected...but then again, I didn't know what to expect. What I got was a road less traveled that was paved with certainty, purpose and spontaneity all at the same time. The band included rhodes and percussion. Nicholas was singing more than a handful of tunes (yes, entire tunes) and did really interesting covers - Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out" for one (yeah 80s!).

    I recently read that this is the first album Payton has recorded in his home town of New Orleans. He had always recorded in New York - far away from the distractions of home. When I listen to this album, though I don't hear overt New Orleans influence, I can still feel the inspiration of home. It's a romantic and really feel good album. Nothing contrived, or regurgitated, like some groove-oriented jazz albums. It feels fresh, even in its familiarity. My favorite tune is the ballad "The Backward Step." It almost sounds like a meditation - but with a form, which I find really interesting. The melody is extremely poetic.

    I am happy to say that I am really enjoying this record. Well worth the wait.

  • John Coltrane and Duke Ellington

    July 17, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

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    I'm listening to Mid-Day Jazz with Rhonda Hamilton (as usual) and she decided to play Trane and Ellington's version of "In a Sentimental Mood."  I thought it was a really intriguing choice of tune.  Usually, this tune is associated with a sultry or romantic evening...or just relaxing at home alone, or something. Probably a bit cliché, but none the less kinda true.  But at 11 AM, I think it's such a thought-provoking choice of tune...and I must say I'm loving it.  It has a refreshing connotation...almost like my morning coffee, and I'm appreciating the tune all over again, as if for the first time...hearing it now, takes me to a certain time and place.

    I have to start off by saying that I know this album extremely well.  It's probably the 3rd earliest memory of music overall, that I have.  My parents would play this album when I was just a toddler.  I can still remember seeing the vinyl propped up against the baseboard.  The black and orange look of the album cover with the photo of John and Duke in a circle was always magical to me.  I suppose I had no choice but to fall in love with the record, as much as my mom played it, LOL!  Plus, I was named after one of the tunes on the record.  "Angelica" was their inspiration, though they switched up the spelling a bit.  Anyway, I'm saying all of this to say  that this is one of these records where I know every note...every inflection...but hearing it this morning gave me a totally new (yet subconsciously retro) perspective.  That's was great music does.  It allows you to rediscover it...redefine it for yourself, over and over again, decade after decade.  Thanks, Rhonda!

  • Great Live Moments - Philly Joe Jones

    July 17, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.

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    By the 1980's, jazz drummer Philly Joe Jones had formed Dameronia, a group dedicated to playing the music of the great pianist, composer and arranger Tadd Dameron.  Dameron was a major influence of the drumming giant early in his career.  Dameronia was well-received and produced a few LP's with this musical concept.  Listen to the "Tadd's Delight" from 1983 featuring Charles Davis on saxophones, Walter Davis, Jr. on piano and Larry Ridley on bass.  It is imaginable that Jones had a dual love playing this tune.  In addition to honoring Dameron, Miles Davis, who was another major influence (and colleague), made the tune famous in the 1950s. We originally recorded this special date live in 1983 from the Jazz Forum in New York City. This recording is particularly a highlight, as it was not long after, that jazz would lose this innovative drummer to a fatal heart attack.

    Jones, who would have turned 85 this month, remains one of the quintessential drummers of this genre.

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