WBGO Blog
  • JazzSet: Swiss Movement Revisited at the Kennedy Center

    November 14, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Javon Jackson
    On November 10 at the KC Jazz Club, JazzSet recorded the "Swiss Movement Revisited" show, featuring Javon Jackson on tenor and special guest Les McCann, singing at the keyboard. The title comes from the 1969 Les McCann Trio live-at-Montreux LP with Eddie Harris on sax. Swiss Movement captured a primal-screamin moment at the end of the 60s, with the sly & infectious anthem that asks the question, "Tryin' to make it Real, Compared to What?"

    Mark Schramm was our onsite producer for "Swiss Movement Revisited," and Mark reports.

    "Javon has put together a crack band to play this music. They've been together for a year now and it shows. The arrangements are tight but the band plays loose and with tremendous energy. After "Where Is the Love?" (think Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway), Javon brings on Les, who uses a motorized cart to get around. In Les's first blues - earthy, soulful, funny, intense - every note has meaning. There's a quality of directness of expression with Les that is very moving in person.

    "They played Eddie Harris' 'Cold Duck Time' (click to listen to the tune with a guitar solo by David Gilmore) from Swiss Movement, then an uptempo Javon original, then quieted down for an "Amazing Grace" duet with Les and Javon. Javon backed him perfectly. There was a lady sitting next to me at the back of the room and she had tears coming down her face at the end of that song. She wasn't the only one.

    "An excellent 'Freedom Jazz Dance' followed (yet another great Eddie Harris tune), and then came the set closer, 'Compared to What.' This is Les's signature tune, and he sings that song (an anti-war anthem, let's not forget) with all the passion of the original. The driving rhythm got people up out of their seats, dancing in the back of the room. I don't think I've ever seen that at the Jazz Club!

    "Between sets and after the show, Javon signed CDs out front of the club. His new one, Once Upon a Melody (Palmetto), is excellent by the way. Almost every person who bought one asked, 'Do you have a CD with you and Les?' And the answer was no. I can't tell you how many people came up and THANKED us for being there recording the concert."

    **

    "Swiss Movement Revisited" airs on JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater the first Sunday in February, launching 26 weeks of JazzSet in Surround Sound, thanks to underwriting from Neural Audio. Let us fire up all six of your speakers!

    Becca Pulliam

  • Interview & Feature with 2009 NEA Jazz Master Toots Thielemans

    November 13, 2008. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    Toots Thielemans

    Toots Thielemans turned 86 years young last April (He certainly does not behave as if he's 86).   His choice instrument -- the chromatic harmonica -- is not only unconventional, but also unusual that his artistry and musical contribution is too often overlooked in the jazz community (I know I've neglected to pay attention). Not any more.  On October 17th, The National Endowment for the Arts crowned him the highest honor: Jazz Master.  In this interview with WBGO's Rhonda Hamilton -- conducted on November 26th, 1991 -- Thielemans speaks of his early American influences while growing up in Belgium, and his role in jazz as a premier guitarist and whistler.  Also hear a music feature with Toots, which WBGO produced for the live broadcast of the 2009 Jazz Master Award Ceremony.  The complete ceremony broadcast will be available on-demand in April 2009. - Simon Rentner

    Click here for the NEA Jazz Master Feature on Toots Thielemans.

    Click here for the full interview of Toots Thielemans with Rhonda Hamilton.

  • Coda: Trumpeter Jon Faddis and the Naked Campaign

    November 12, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

     

    It's been a week since our nation's historic election.  One of the most artful methods of election coverage was The Naked Campaign, a series of videos featuring New Yorker illustrator Steve Brodner.  As a project, the Naked Campaign demonstrates that all the tools of drawing, painting, writing, and filmmaking can be utilized to create a distinct point of view.  You don't necessarily have to agree with that point of view, but if you're a jazz fan, you'll certainly appreciate this final installment of the series.  Jon Faddis is the trumpeter.  Considering that Faddis is the protege of Dizzy Gillespie, who ran for president in 1964, it is a coda indeed.
    -Josh