• Blame It On Terell Stafford

    March 14, 2011. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    jazzStafford_160x130Terell leans back and plays from his knees - I remember observing on this night in March, 2008, at the Kennedy Center Jazz Club - and paints with the bell of his horn. Bruce Barth is the pianist, Phil Palombi on bass, Dana Hall on drums. Another time I appreciated Terell, he was with the Clayton Brothers quintet and a local orchestra closing  the Detroit Jazz Fest. The piece was John Clayton's dedication to Hank, Thad and Elvin Jones. The audience hung on every note of Terell's solo - fast, brilliant and driving on a cool Labor Day night.

    "Blame It On My Youth" is by Oscar Levant (1906-72), the pianist, film composer, acid-tongued comedian, TV guest and host, and - as  Gary Burton would say when he performed this song - "all-around strange guy." Jack Paar signed off his late night TV shows, "Good night, Oscar Levant, wherever you are."

    Tuesday night, Terell Stafford is at the Village Vanguard.

  • One Minute of Fred Hersch

    March 4, 2011. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    You have probably heard the Waltz in D-Flat major by Frédéric Chopin a/k/a the Minute Waltz because you can play it in 60 seconds.  Well, here is Fred Hersch with a Minute Waller, as in Thomas "Fats" Waller (1904-1943), the composer of "Crazy 'Bout My Baby."  In 60 seconds.

    Our solo Hersch comes from the Village Vanguard as heard on JazzSet in 2006.  This weekend, Fred is playing at the Jazz Standard in New York.

  • Jazz on the Mountain 2011 -- Mohonk Mountain House

    January 20, 2011. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    Photo by Sam Calello
    Photo by Sam Calello

    Mohonk was again a great success, especially musically. Mohonk Mountain House was sold-out Saturday and close to full Friday and Sunday, including this year more than two dozen WBGO supporters who booked through the station. Our supporters enjoyed a special dinner with the artists on Saturday evening, and plenty of WBGO listeners came up to me through the weekend to say how much they listen to and love Jazz 88.

    John Pizzarelli played guitar and sang opening night, joined by his brother, bassist Martin Pizzarelli. John was as funny telling stories as the brothers were swinging, playing especially Nat Cole, Duke Ellington, and bossa nova favorites. John's climactic solo on "Lady Be Good" was as virtuosically plectral as I've ever heard him.
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  • Billy Taylor at WBGO

    December 31, 2010. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    "Dr T" came to try out the station's new Steinway. I think he likes the piano. He runs through the entire keyboard! This comes from the late 1980s.

    I hope you can listen to Toast of the Nation at 9pm Fri 12/31 and 3pm Sat 1/1 for a 30-minute remembrance of Dr Billy Taylor (1921-2010), hosted by Rhonda Hamilton. Dr Taylor invited Rhonda to host a live New Year's broadcast on NPR in 1979. She speaks about how much that meant to her, and we hear clips from some of his many NPR shows.

  • Slices of Toast: New Year's at the Green Mill 1993

    December 27, 2010. Posted by Becca Pulliam.


    At 12:15am ET New Year's morning, Toast of the Nation will be live from The Green Mill, the famed speakeasy of old Chicago.  And it won't be our first time there.  On 12/31/1993, we broadcast Reginald Robinson and John Weber playing two pianos behind and above the bar.  Very dramatic.

    Reginald Robinson composes ragtime piano pieces.  Jon Weber recently has guest-hosted several editions  of Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz.

    From New Year's Eve 1993, here is Robinson's "The Strongman," back-announced by Weber.  Hear that happy Green Mill crowd then and again this Friday night/Saturday morning, ringing in 2011 Central Time.

    10 10 27 Green Mill Lounge

    For more, click below for some "slices" of our previous toasts:

    Clark Terry

    James Moody

    Betty Carter & JD Allen

    The Bad Plus (JazzSet)

    And tune in to your local NPR station for this year's broadcast!