• Please Take Action to Support Public Broadcasting

    February 12, 2011. Posted by Brandy Wood.

    In 2010, Americans rated public broadcasting as an “excellent” use of taxpayer dollars, second only to defense spending. 80% of those polled said funding for public broadcasting is money “well spent.” *


    Federal funding is the “lifeblood” of public broadcasting, providing critical seed money and basic operating support to local stations, which then leverage each $1 of federal funding to raise over $6 from local sources -- a tremendous return on the taxpayer investment.  Federal funding provides the margin of revenue needed by local stations to produce quality local programs and to make a market for national producers.

    Federal funding provides essential support for public broadcasting’s mission to ensure universal access to high-quality non-commercial programming that educates, informs, enlightens, and enriches the public, with a particular focus on the needs of underserved audiences, including children and minorities.  This is particularly true for WBGO which uses this funding to ensure that we have adequate staff and other critical support for the New York/New Jersey market’s only full time jazz radio station.

    Congressional efforts to eliminate federal funding are likely to begin this week with the House's consideration of legislation to fund the federal government for the remainder of this fiscal year. The Continuing Resolution (CR), approved during last fall's lame duck session, expires on March 4th.  We expect the House Appropriations Committee will recommend a CR extension that includes a provision eliminating all funding for public broadcasting.

    Please act today to send a clear message to Congress: Funding for public broadcasting is too important to eliminate.   Click here to send a letter to your Representative.

    *2010 Roper Opinion Poll

  • Jason Moran Presents "713 --> 212: Houstonians in NYC"

    January 13, 2011. Posted by Alex Rodriguez.

    2010 was a good year for Jason Moran. He celebrated ten years of music-making with his trio, The Bandwagon, alongside Tarus Mateen and Nasheet Waits. Their latest release for Blue Note, Ten, received rave reviews and found a place on nearly every jazz critic's "Best of 2010" list. To top it off, the MacArthur Foundation awarded Moran a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, which comes with a cool $500,000 in award money.

    Moran is off to an ambitious start in 2011 as well. This weekend, he has organized a pair of concerts at 92Y Tribeca (200 Hudson Street, Manhattan) to feature his fellow Houstonians who are tearing up New York's jazz scene today.

    Tomorrow (Friday), the event features songwriters Bryan Michael Cox, Leron Thomas, Alan Hampton and Josh Mease, backed by Moran and other members of the Houston cadre such as Kendrick Scott, Robert Glasper and Eric Harland. The concert begins at 9:00 p.m.

    Saturday's concert features jazz more prominently, including sets by Billy Harper with Michael Carvin, Jason Moran & Marcos Varela, Kendrick Scott's Oracle with Mike Moreno, Jamire Williams & Erimaj, Robert Glasper & Jason Moran with guests, and an interview with Dr. Bob Morgan, the band director at Houston's High School for Performing and Visual Arts who has mentored most of these musicians. The concert begins at 9:00 p.m.

    If you check it out, stop by and say hello to WBGO's Josh Jackson, who will be recording the concert and will feature highlights on his weekly show, The Checkout, sometime next month.

  • Mary Lou Williams Centennial Celebrations Rise Again!

    October 6, 2010. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Mary Lou Williams Centennial CelebrationI'm just back from the Mary Lou Williams Centennial Celebration in Madison, WI (where I lived from 1969-82). Mary Lou was briefly an Artist-in-Residence at UW Madison in 1976. Meeting/interviewing her then and immersing myself in her residency put me on my track. Thirty-some years later, it was my honor to participate in this celebration. Madison, by the way, remains one of the all-time hospitable cities - centered on an isthmus between two beautiful lakes - and the home of a dedicated jazz community.

    From Fri through Sun, Howard Landsman and his committee hosted events around town, featuring the UW Hiphop Ensemble, The Music of Mary Lou Wms from 1929-78 presented by her mgr and the Director of the MLW Foundation - Fr Peter O'Brien, and a symposium with Profs Sherrie Tucker, Guy Ramsey, Ted Buehrer and Farrah Griffin. Both MLW biographers - Linda Dahl and Dr. Tammy Kernodle - were in town. On Saturday night at the Capitol Theater, the MLW Collective featuring Madison Poet Laureate Fabu, the magnificent Geri Allen on piano, Kenny Davis on bass, Kassa Overall (the nephew of the current WI Gov and his wife!) on drums, and guest vocalist Carmen Lundy. Everyone was great and all hail Geri. In the first half they presented MLW's Zodiac Suite from the 1940s, but what I loved most was "Peter's Blues" in the second half, animated by Geri's elbows.

    On Sunday morning 8am at Mt Zion Baptist Church, the awesome Leotha Stanley (a committee member) conducted Mary Lou's Mass - a Catholic mass in a Baptist church. After briefly noting that slight mismatch, Stanley launched the choir into an excellent performance, not one bit less stunning than the celebratory May 2010 pfmnces at St. Francis Xavier in Greenwich Village and The Kennedy Center. WOW. Carmen Lundy's singing of the Lazarus story makes time stop for me. Professor George Shirley from the U of MI was the baritone soloist. Sitting in the balcony of this med sized, straightforward sanctuary and facing the choir and a single, modern stained glass window behind it, I had a slightly elevated perspective and felt the joy rising.

    Prof Jimmy Cheatham of the UW Experimental Black Music Ensemble (1972-77) brought MLW to campus in '76. He has passed away, but his wife Jeannie Cheatham came from San Diego to enjoy and be honored by the City of Madison. On Sat night, some of the musicians (older now, like me) gathered to jam in Jimmy and Jeannie's honor. (That link leads you to the Jimmy & Jeannie Cheatham Collection, now online from the Marr Sound Archive at  Univ of Missouri in Kansas City.) It was small with a lot of love. You could not ask for more.

  • Newark’s Jazz Club Scene: An Aural History Project from WBGO News

    August 10, 2010. Posted by Andrew Meyer.

    Do you remember the Playbill, the Cadillac Club? How about the Key Club or Sparky J’s? Do you know someone, a friend, a parent, a grandparent who used to hang out in Newark’s jazz scene back during the heyday?

    WBGO News is looking for first-hand stories of Newark’s rich jazz history to capture as part of a new aural history project. We’re looking for remembrances from those times. What did the places look like, smell like, feel like, etc. Why were they so much fun during that time? What made the jazz clubs the place to be. What did they like about them. What performers did they see there? What songs got people moving? Did they perhaps meet their future spouse at a club?

    We’re looking to interview people who have stories to tell about this aspect of Newark’s rich cultural heritage. You can reach us at jazzclubs@wbgo.org, or you can get in touch with news director Doug Doyle at 973-624-8880, ext. 264.

  • Today is the 100th anniv of Milt Hinton's birth .. we celebrated his 80th

    June 23, 2010. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Clark Terry was an MC. Ray Brown was the lead-off bass player, with youngster John Clayton. Sylvia Sims sang. Joe Williams sang. Doc Cheatham played duets with newcomer Wynton Marsalis. NY Mayor Dinkins sent a proclamation that June 23, 1990, was "Milt Hinton Day." A choir of first-call bassists canceled whatever to come together and celebrate.

    Bassists, from left: Lynn Seaton, Lonnie Plaxico, Charnett Moffit, Jack Lesberg, Bob Haggart, Milt Hinton, John Clayton, Eddie Gomez, Dick Hyman, Richard David, Bill Crow, Major Holley, Ron Carter and Rufus Reid perform "The Judge Meets the Section" at MH 80th Birthday Concert at Town Hall on June 23, 1990.  Photo by Tad Hershorn
    Bassists, from left: Lynn Seaton, Lonnie Plaxico, Charnett Moffett, Jack Lesberg, Bob Haggart, Milt Hinton, John Clayton, Eddie Gomez, Richard Davis, Bill Crow, Major Holley, Ron Carter and Rufus Reid perform at the MH 80th Birthday Concert at Town Hall on June 23, 1990. Photo by Tad Hershorn

    As host Michael Bourne noted on the two-hour broadcast, the young-at-heart elder statesman had played on more than 600 albums. He and wife Mona Hinton were loved. Milt closed the concert with some solo slap bass, then honored a request to sing "Old Man Time." Dick Hyman on piano, Bob Rosengarden on drums. Please listen.