April 23, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Meet Paul Barbarin, one of the most important people in the history of New Orleans music, and the "how" we call jazz.
The Barbarin family constitutes one of the original lines of Creole musicians who were present at the creation of a new music. Paul's father, Isidore, played the alto horn in The Onward Brass Band, one of the early traditional brass bands in the city.
Before I moved to New York, I used to work at WWOZ in New Orleans. I started as a volunteer, operating the board for a woman named Betty Rankin. Every Saturday morning, while most people my age had hangovers from Friday night, I was in a tiny peach-colored building in Louis Armstrong Park, playing LPs, cassettes, and the occasional CD for a lady who wanted no business with those details. She spent her ninety minutes as "Big Mama," the host of "The Moldy Fig Jam." I was 22, and this was the most amazing radio I had ever heard in my life. She told stories about every jazz musician in the city who had ever picked up an instrument with the purpose of playing traditional New Orleans jazz.
As it happened, Big Mama was an associate curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive. She handled the extensive oral history of New Orleans' music, and she knew both the collection as well as the musicians' whose lives she had helped to document. On any given Saturday, she talked about Paul Barbarin as if he were in the studio with us. It was the beginning of my post-college, real world education. On one such occasion, it was the first time I had ever heard his song, "Bourbon Street Parade." She told her audience about the street parades, how Barbarin kept that tradition alive. In the 1960s, he revived the Onward Brass Band, the name of the group that his father played a part. In fact, Paul Barbarin died in a parade, leading the band. [While I'm no fan of death, that's a great way to shuffle off this mortal coil.]
Years later, on the cusp of 2002, I was the field producer for NPR's Toast of the Nation. We're at the Village Vanguard, with Michael White and The Original Liberty Jazz Band. Hear them play "Bourbon Street Parade" from that evening.
When I hear this song, I remember how I got this far into jazz. Because I live with music.
PS Watch the video of Paul Barbarin's funeral. The musicians are playing "Just a Closer Walk With Thee."
Watching that is knowing why New Orleans matters. Onward.
© 2008 WBGO
April 15, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Thad Jones and Mel Lewis created one of the most enduring rituals in New York. They started a big band in 1966, one that included some of the most gifted composers and improvisers in the city, many of whom were making their living as studio professionals or in Broadway pit bands. Max Gordon at the Village Vanguard booked them for three consecutive Monday evenings, and the rest is history. Both Jones and Lewis are gone, but the spirit of their music (as well as the original compositions and arrangements from their bands) continues with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.
Every February, the VJO plays a weeklong showcase at the Vanguard. On the thirty fourth anniversary of the band, WBGO recorded the group on Monday night, of couse. As it happened, that was Valentine's Day, 2000.
We'll feature "Samba Con Getchu," a composition from Bob Brookmeyer, one of the early members of the Thad Jones - Mel Lewis Orchestra. The VJO included Jay Brandford, Ralph Lalama, Dick Oatts, Rich Perry, Gary Smulyan, Saxophones / Glenn Drewes, Earl Gardner, Joe Mosello, Scott Wendholt, Trumpets / Luis Bonilla, Jason Jackson, John Mosca, Douglas Purviance, Trombones / Ted Rosenthal, Piano / Dennis Irwin, Bass / John Riley, Drums
© 2008 WBGO
April 9, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
The Village Vanguard is is one of my favorite places in New York. With that simple statement, it gives me great pleasure to introduce WBGO's newest adventure. We're starting a monthly concert series from the legendary jazz club. Our eventual plan is to air the shows live on WBGO, and stream them simultaneously on NPR's Music site. Last night, we took the first of many baby steps.
Guitarist Adam Rogers made his debut as a leader at the Vanguard, and we recorded our initial show for this series. An evening of "firsts," so to speak.
Here's the basic information:
Adam Rogers, guitar
Mark Turner, tenor
Edward Simon, piano
Scott Colley, bass
Jeff "Tain" Watts, drums
Long Ago and Far Away
We also recorded the second set. Someday you'll get to hear that, too! Stay tuned to the blog for more information about WBGO's new series, Live at the Village Vanguard.
© 2008 WBGO
March 13, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
I talked to guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel yesterday, and he played some songs. Here's one of them:
Kurt recently released The Remedy, a two-disc collection of music recorded live at the Village Vanguard in 2006. Highly recommended listening.
Kurt is one of the most gifted voices in jazz. But don't believe me.
View the Kurt Rosenwinkel project at ArtistShare.
© 2008 WBGO
December 31, 2007. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
The Jazz Standard's address is 116 East 27th Street in Manhattan, between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue. The club seems to exist in some type of gray area, as far as Manhattan neighborhoods. The location is conceivably an eastern part of the Flatiron section of town, but more like a northern extension of the Gramercy area, since it's a full six blocks from the exclusive enclave of Gramercy Park.
Whatever. I'm glad we're spending New Year's at Jazz Standard.
Don't get me wrong. I've spent some quality time at clubs during the last six Toast of the Nation celebrations. Each one of them has contributed some special moments. And there are always some delightful stories when you work in the trenches to bring people across the country some live music. Here are the last six I've worked as field producer, in order:
The Village Vanguard - Michael White's Original Liberty Jazz Band 2001/02
Blue Note New York - Chick Corea New Trio with Gary Burton 2002/03
Blue Note New York - Herbie Hancock Quartet 2003/04
Yoshi's in Oakland for Joshua Redman's Elastic Band 2004/05
Tipitina's in New Orleans for Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, The Hot 8 Brass Band, and Galactic 2005/06
The now-defunct Tonic on the Lower East Side - Steven Bernstein's Millenial Territory Orchestra 2006/07
So this year, we're at Jazz Standard. Thanks to Seth Abramson, it's one of the most creatively booked jazz clubs in the city. And thanks to Danny Meyer, it has some rockin' barbeque (not bad, considering we're above the Mason-Dixon line).
Not so incidentally, WBGO broadcast Ben Allison's Medicine Wheel, with the kora player, Mamadou Diabate, live during the club's opening week celebration. It's been a long time since that show, but we're finally back at the club for another live shot. "Ain't that good news?"
© 2007 WBGO