• Christian McBride And Inside Straight: Live At The Village Vanguard

    November 11, 2009. Posted by WBGO.

    Christian McBride performs at the Village Vanguard. (Image Credit: John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com)

    In 2007, Christian McBride had a hankering to play the Village Vanguard again. He hadn't played there for a decade, in part because the extraordinarily versatile bassist hadn't led an acoustic working band for many years. Thus, the birth of a quintet dedicated to McBride's vision of straight-ahead, hard-swinging jazz — one literally designed to perform at the legendary Manhattan jazz club.

    Now one record in, 2009's Kind Of Brown, Inside Straight is now a touring ensemble, and it has returned to the Vanguard for a week of performances. WBGO and NPR Music was there to record the band's early Wednesday night set, live on air and in an online audio/video webcast.

    Judging by its performance, the phrase "Inside Straight" captures this band's aesthetic well: It's both "inside" a comfortable groove pocket and "straight"-forwardly bluesy. McBride's choice of tunes can be harmonically tricky, but they never deviate far from song form and tonality; they're nifty exercises for sophisticated and smart blowing. With him is a mix of veterans and younger musicians. Drummer Carl Allen, saxophonist Steve Wilson and pianist Eric Reed (replaced on tour with Peter Martin) have long been known as stellar instrumentalists; vibraphonist Warren Wolf is easily the youngest member, but he adds elegant textures to the proceedings. And, of course, McBride shines at both soloing and keeping time: He wields a tremendously supple, round and fluid double bass.

    Given his accomplishments, it bears consideration that McBride is still well short of 40. Within weeks of arriving in New York City, he joined Bobby Watson's band; within a year, he was touring with a young Roy Hargrove and a veteran Freddie Hubbard. While he accumulated sideman credits with everyone who was anything in the '90s New York scene, he was also refining his own concept of jazz without borders: He played upright and electric bass with equal elan, and put together bands that fused the entire history of African-American groove music. His forthcoming album Conversations With Christian is a series of duets with musicians all over the stylistic map.

    Given his penchant for the genre-less, and his busy schedule as both performer and advocate — when not performing, McBride is co-director of the Jazz Museum in Harlem, and through this year is the creative chair for jazz at the L.A. Philharmonic — the arrival of Inside Straight was a somewhat unexpected turn. But McBride has always kept one firmly planted foot in playing that which is unmistakably jazz, and doing so with the best of them. On Wednesday night, he led a handpicked band of old friends tailored to its home turf.

    Set List

    • "Brother Mister" (McBride)
    • "Theme For Kareem" (Hubbard)
    • "Starbeam" (McBride)
    • "Sophisticated Lady" (Ellington)
    • "Theme To 'Alice'" (A. Bergman/M. Bergman)
    • "Used 'Ta Could" (McBride)


    • Christian McBride, bass
    • Steve Wilson, alto saxophone
    • Peter Martin, piano
    • Warren Wolf, vibraphone
    • Carl Allen, drums


    • Josh Jackson, producer and host
    • David Tallacksen, mix engineer
    • Josh Webb, recording assistant
  • Newark Art Parade features Jazz88 saxman

    November 10, 2009. Posted by Brandy Wood.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    WBGO Pres & CEO Cephas Bowles with Gary Barat of the Barat Fdtn with the Jazz88 saxman sculpture
    The Newark Arts Council created an art parade for the Open Doors weekend in Newark, when art galleries opened their doors in the evening for a great night out in Newark. The Barat Foundation created mobile sculptures for the occasion, including one of the Jazz 88 saxman! The parade ran right in front of the station around 5:30pm on Friday, October 23rd.

    Thanks to the Newark Arts Council and the Barat Foundation for creating a great event and the fun WBGO Jazz88 saxman moving sulpture. Click here for information about the Open Doors weekend.

  • WBGO wins Avaya Communications Makeover!

    November 10, 2009. Posted by Brandy Wood.

    Avaya Communications truck in front of WBGO in Newark, NJ
    WBGO President and CEO, Cehpas Bowles, had the following to say about this exciting opportunity for WBGO, "Owing to Vice President for Operations and Engineering David Tallacksen’s awareness and personal initiative, WBGO will receive a brand new digital telephone system free of charge from Avaya.  In late summer 2009, the phone giant ran an online “communications makeover contest” asking businesses and non-profit organizations to tell them via video why they deserved a new telephone system.  David prepared a wonderful video, which was shot in one of our production studios, and laid out the rationale for a new station system.  Avaya liked what they saw and rewarded David’s work with one of 20 free phone systems.  I understand that there were almost 2,000 entrants nationwide.  The Avaya team traveled to WBGO on Friday, October 23 to make the announcement."

    Watch David's video entry here.

    Congratulations, big time, to David Tallacksen and to WBGO.