Feeling Good in Take Five, with Slim Gaillard, Bobby Hutcherson, Dexter Gordon and More

Sep 17, 2018

Feeling Good with WBGO — that's the theme of our fall fund drive, which kicks off this Friday. We'll be focusing on the music that makes our listeners feel good, and celebrating the ways that it brings us together. As a build-up to the drive, here's a special edition of Take Five featuring feel-good tracks curated by our announcers, ranging from throwback classics to hot-off-the-press new releases. 

We hope you can join us in Feeling Good with WBGO, now as always. Make your pledge and become a member today.

Bobby Hutcherson, “Montara”

I call this the perfect song. It starts off low, as if someone forgot to turn up the volume — but what's really happening is the melody preparing your soul to embrace one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever made. Bobby plays the vibes as if your heartbeats are the notes.

When I hear this song, a calm comes over me and peace takes over my entire body. I feel like I'm floating above the clouds. It’s a musical high like no other.

— Nicole Sweeney, host of Evening Jazz

Dexter Gordon, “Daddy Plays the Horn”

“Daddy Plays The Horn” is the title track from a Bethlehem LP from 1955. It was Dexter’s first LP, and his first recording of any kind in three years. The title is in honor of his twin daughters Deirdre and Robin, while the theme is all of six notes long. The performance has pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Larance Marable blowing the blues with authority.

— Bob Porter, host of Portraits in Blue, Saturday Morning Function and Swing Party

Henry Conerway III, “The Feel Goods”

I met drummer Henry Conerway III at Newport, where he was part of Jazzmeia Horn’s backing trio. He told me he was releasing a new album in September. A few days later he stopped by WBGO with his bassist Kevin Smith (a friend of Nicole Sweeney) and passed along a copy of With Pride For Dignity.  For some reason my eyes immediately fell to the title of the second-to-last track, “The Feel Goods.”

What starts off with pianist Kenny Banks, Jr. — playing a gospel-tinged intro as if to prep you for worship — quickly morphs into an uptempo toe-tapper that (true to the title) will make you feel good! Banks’ piano carries the tune with the ever-present tempo set by Conerway, and solos for Smith and Conerway with some call-and-response mixed in along the way.

— Bill Daughtry, host of Friday Afternoon Jazz

Slim Gaillard, “When Banana Skins Are Falling, I’ll Come Sliding Back To You”

Bulee “Slim” Gaillard was born on 1916 to an Afro-Cuban mother and German-Jewish father. He was brought up in various European countries before arriving in Detroit as a teenager. He got into music playing guitar and piano. He was also a singer and songwriter who teamed up with bassist Slam Stewart, in New York, to record the hit song “Flat Foot Floogie” in 1938. He signed to MGM in 1947, and recorded “When Banana Skins Are Falling” in 1949.

— Bob Porter, host of Portraits in Blue, Saturday Morning Function and Swing Party

BIGYUKI, “Eclipse (Featuring Chris Turner)”

“Let’s get down to the basics,” Chris Turner croons soulfully at the start of BIGYUKI’s “Eclipse,” a single from his album Reaching For Chiron. It sums up this song perfectly. 

For the foundation of a song to feel good, all you really need is an upward-slithering bass line like this one, and a heavy, slow, funky beat.  Add BIGYUKI’s Japanimatronic flourishes on keys and synth, Taylor McFerrin’s electro soundscapes, and Turner’s dirty harmonic vocoder to the mix and you have all the makings of a sexy song due for repeated listens.

— Simon Rentner, host and producer of The Checkout