March 12, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
I am a city dweller, plagued by the New Yorker bias. That is, I very rarely go to New Jersey for anything other than to work at WBGO. However, I am not so entrenched that I won't shake my preconceptions for the right set of circumstances. So last night, I ventured to SOPAC for a performance from the SF Jazz Collective, a pride of eight musicians of the highest caliber.
Each year, the collective features original commissions, as well as arrangements of a noted modern jazz composer. This season, the band turns their all-seeing eye on composer and saxophonist (and Newark native) Wayne Shorter.
The end of time was the beginning of the set. Saxophonist Miguel Zenon's arrangement of Shorter's "Armegeddon" set us on the trailhead.
Here's what followed:
This That and the Other - a Joe Lovano original
The Angel's Share - penned by Matt Penman, a New Zealand import
Diana - from Shorter's Native Dancer, arranged by Renee Rosnes
Go - Stefon Harris arranged this Shorter composition with some backbeat boom bap. Great way to end the first half.
The second set pushed ahead into the abstract, modern aesthetic that makes the collective such a great band to hear. Drummer Eric Harland's "The Year 2008" set the tone, a composition built around a recorded vocal chant, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Rosnes' "Aurora Borealis" followed. Trumpeter Dave Douglas contributed "Secrets of the Code," an original work that used snippets of Wayne Shorter's music as source code embedded as a thread throughout the composition. Great stuff. The newest member of the collective, trombonist Robin Eubanks, ended the evening with his arrangement of Shorter's "Black Nile."
Only two complaints. The piano monitor levels in the house made the trombone articulation inaudible. That's just the music nerd in me. The other issue is this: I could not hear all of the band's repertoire in a single night. The SF Jazz Collective had more music in the kitty, but I'll have to see them again to hear the rest. Will do.
© 2008 WBGO
January 10, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Face it. You gotta be bold when you're a piano player, your last name is Goldberg, and you're playing in Toronto. More specifically, if you're Aaron Goldberg, and you're playing across the street from the CBC's Glenn Gould Studio, named after Toronto's famous son who OWNS Bach's Goldberg Variations. But I'm getting off topic.
The Aaron Goldberg Trio, with bassist Rueben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland, played some bold music. After opening with "Taurus" from the Sunnyside trio release, Worlds, Aaron called the quarterback option - his composition, "The Sound of Snow." It's from, of all things, the CD that accompanies the Baby Loves Jazz board book series. Specifically, from Mingus Mouse Christmas Time.
Eric Harland left his house at 6am. His flight from New York to Toronto was cancelled. Then he went to Newark. Then his flight was delayed. And delayed. So, He didn't get to Toronto until 6:30pm. The hit was 7pm at the Bassett Theater. Glad he made it thru customs!
Check out Eric's mini-clinic on "Shed," a song dedicated to Joshua "Shedroff" Redman.
And the last one was a burner.
More on the way. - Josh
© 2008 WBGO
January 8, 2008. Posted by Grey Johnson.
WBGO staff were invited to attend a game at the new Newark Arena as guests of the NJ Ironmen. Membership Manager Grey Johnson brought his ten year old daughter and avid soccer player, Georgie. This is her report.
I went to the Newark Arena last night to see a professional soccer game. Let me tell you something, it was the best night of my life! The teams were the New Jersey Ironmen against the Detroit Ignition. Unfortunately, the NJ Ironmen lost. But the competition was still great! The soccer field was huge but the teams were very good at the passing, goalkeeping and kicking, [they could kick the ball across the whole field with one kick!] I loved this building, everything is so modern! They do concerts, hockey, soccer, and more in this building. When I heard this news, I wondered how they changed the arena from a stage into a soccer field into an ice rink in only two hours! Luckily, I came across a woman who worked at the arena that could tell me the answer. She said that the soccer field was a rug that people roll up after the game is over. Under that soccer field, is a coat of ice, and under the ice is wood. If they want to make it into a stage, they melt the ice and put in a stage. Everyone was very nice to me too.
© 2008 WBGO
January 2, 2008. Posted by Michael Bourne.
"It's what I do ..."
I never know what to say when I get a compliment. I've always been amazed that people actually like me and like what I do -- and that I get paid to do what I do. I've sometimes felt that if I say "thank you" I feel as if I'm acknowledging that whatever nice thing someone is saying to me is true.
"I love your interviews!"
"It's what I do ..."
"You got so many pledges that last hour!"
"It's what I do ..."
I've been "doing" for 35 years on the radio, and it was only after 25 years that I felt that apparently I'm good at this, good at ... what I do.
New Year's Eve was my 21st coast-to-coast broadcast and my 23rd anniversary as a jock on WBGO. My first shift was filling for Rhonda in the afternoon, December 31, 1984. January 1st is the birthday of Milt Jackson, and so I played a day-before birthday tribute. Phone rang, and the voice said "This is Bags. Thanks." And in that moment I knew that I was a jazz jock in the jazz capitol of the world.
Even though we broadcast from Newark, and there's considerable Jersey pride at WBGO, I usually tell people elsewhere in the world that I'm from the jazz station in New York. We apparently, last I heard any numbers, have more listeners and more members in New York than in New Jersey -- although, really, I say New York mostly because I live in New York.
I only recently realized that I'm a commuter.
Back before the various large edifices that have gone up in Newark since I first came to the station -- law school, arts center, FBI, and now the Rock -- the walk on Raymond Blvd twixt train station and radio station was darker. I never felt especially in danger. I've always been quite grizzly, and I've seen folks on the street fear me. What was weird in the 80's was when folks in New York asked me if I carried a gun to protect myself in Newark.
Tempus fugit ...
23 years ...
I knocked the station off the air 20 minutes before I first came on the air. I was expected to record myself on a cassette. Remember them? Various plugs and wires were involved, and I somehow plugged the entire on-air signal into the cassette recorder. Nobody knew what was happening and the phones started ringing about the dead air. I didn't know what was happening, but I thought maybe I should un-plug the cassette recorder, and at once WBGO was resounding loudly again.
I'm still the clumsiest jock on WBGO. I'm not kidding when I get crabby about "too many buttons!" I've pushed the wrong buttons and played the wrong CDs countlessly. We didn't have CDs when I came to the station. We played music from a wall of LPs. Remember them? I remember when the first CD player came in. There was what looked like a spice rack in the studio with four CDs. One was "Glenn Miller in a Digital Mood" -- which I never played even once. I was afraid that if I endeavored to play a CD I'd blow the station off the air again.
I'm proud to say that since that first clumsiness, I have knocked the station off the air only one other time. Readings said our power was too high for the FCC max, so I pushed the button that lowers the power and the power lowered to zero. After a scramble of engineers like the code blue for a heart attack, we came back.
We now have an all-new computerized system for on-air spots, calendars, produced programs, and IDs. It's been working for almost a month now, and I've only screwed up a half dozen times. I once said to Josh Jackson, who's a whiz at working all this new tech and was so quickly and seeming effortlessly editing a special we were producing on a machine with a screen full of multi-colored squiggles, "I feel like a baboon looking at a rocket ship ..."
I'm much more technologically adept than I used to be. I'm helpless about the squiggles, but I sometimes can get through an entire shift without pushing a wrong button. Even a monkey can learn how to ride a bike.
I've actually never learned how to ride a bike -- but that's another story. Now comes ... blogging.
E-mail, I can do.
Googling, I can do.
Porn, any baboon can do.
I've owned a computer for two years, and by now I'm not as cyber-challenged as I first was.
I've actually been able to listen to baseball on my computer.
I've finally been able -- without help -- to buy stuff on my computer.
Now comes ... blogging.
I've been asked and encouraged to blather about ... whatever.
Baseball. Batman. Musicals. Traveling. Why I think of myself as Dutch. Why I've lately become obsessive about "Pride and Prejudice" and Jane Austen. And other things I love. And also ... love.
When I was initially asked to blog about what I think about, my immediate answer was "Who cares?" I'm blogging now only because my loved ones have insisted that listeners who like me might like to know ... what I do when I'm not doing what I do on WBGO. And also how I do what I do. I've been requested to explain how I program Singers Unlimited -- which will involve confessing a variety of eccentricities I've heretofore never talked about -- when the easiest answer is nonetheless
"It's what I do ..."
I'm Michael Bourne.
© 2008 WBGO