• Happy Birthday Moseka! WBGO Honors Abbey Lincoln

    August 6, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    It's Abbey Lincoln's birthday. A truly great singer and fearless jazz spirit, WBGO had the good fortune to share many moments with her over the years, and we honored her as a Champion of Jazz in 2006. We would like to share some of these with you as we honor her again today.

    Some knew her as Aminata Moseka, names she was given in Africa, or Anna Maria Woolridge, the name she was given at birth.

    Most jazz lovers know her as Abbey. Just as Ella was simply Ella, and Sarah was Sarah, Abbey needs no introduction or explanation: she's Abbey.

    Here are highlights from a 2002 interview at her home with WBGO's Josh Jackson:

    11 01 13_AbbeyLincolnFsm_ScottSternberg
    Photo by Scott Sternberg, courtesy of Enja

    Here is an unedited version of that 45-minute interview:

    On this recent edition of Jackson's weekly new-music program The Checkout, Lincoln's longtime pianist Marc Cary speaks about her influence and plays music from his recent solo record on Motema, For the Love of Abbey. Pyeng Threadgill is the singer.

    Cary reflects more on his time with Lincoln here, which includes this 1996 at New York's "Iridium" club, along with Michael Bowie on bass and Aaron Walker on drums, when she sang her composition "Bird Alone":

    Here is a video of Lincoln performing her composition "Down Here Below" with Cary:

    Abbey was featured several times on our nationally syndicated program JazzSet: Click here to hear a recording we made of Abbey in 1984 at the Peppermint Lounge in Orange, New Jersey with pianist James Weidman, and brothers Billy and Mark Johnson on bass and drums, respectively. Weidman also shares recollections of Abbey in this edition of JazzSet, which aired in 2011, three years after her death.

    Also in 2011, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves and Cassandra Wilson explored the Abbey Lincoln Songbook in this tribute to Abbey at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

    Bridgewater, Musical Director Terri Lyne Carrington, Wilson and Reeves
    Bridgewater, Musical Director Terri Lyne Carrington, Wilson and Reeves

    Also for JazzSet, Abbey performed at the Detroit International Jazz Festival in 2000, with Brandon McCune on piano, John Ormond on bass and Jaz Sawyer on drums.

    In 2010, WBGO's Michael Bourne hosted a special two-hour tribute and retrospective of Abbey's greatest recordings on our show Singers Unlimited.

    First hour:

    Second hour:

    Finally, Monifa Brown, the host of WBGO's Saturday Afternoon Jazz, contributes this poem to the singer.

    Happy birthday and thank you, Abbey, from all your friends at WBGO!


    By Monifa Brown

    © 2013

    Abbey Lincoln sings the songs of me and you

    Oh yeah, She could write it for a song

    Molding time and space into the here and now

    Unearthing encrypted tales risen from the dusty embers of Mother Earth


    Crocheting Indigo and Fuchsia singed lines with golden stroked wishes

    Weaving yesterdays with tomorrows into a patchwork of Turtle Dreams

    Shifting the continental plates with pure invention and intention…

    making our world seem wondrously small

    connecting you and I to he and she and him and her and them and us….

    ‘I Got Some People In Me.’  ‘I Got Some People In Me.’

    Abbey Lincoln sings the songs of me and you

    Oh yeah, She could write it for a song

    Cascading vowels that gather like kaleidoscopic images in the darkness of light

    Abbey was like the rainbow out the window amidst the fallen rain when the storm had cleared -

    A Bird Alone.

    When The World Is Falling Down – hold tight to her words

    Keep your hands wide open, let the sun shine through, you can never lose something if it belongs to you.”

    “Throw it Away! Throw It Away!”


    She IS the Nomo, the power of the spoken word

    A goddess whose muse is the magic of the secret world

    Freeing stunted spirits Who Used To Dance

    Abbey Lincoln sings the songs of me and you

    Oh yeah, She could write it for a song.

    Abbey Lincoln

  • WBGO Says Farewell To Jazz Pioneer Carline Ray

    July 23, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive, RIP

    We say goodbye to Carline Ray, who passed away July 18th. Over seven decades as a professional, the singer and bassist was a trailblazer and tireless advocate for jazz - and especially for the women who play it.

    On her eighty-eighth birthday earlier this year, Carline released her debut album, Vocal Sides. The album was produced by her daughter, Catherine "Cat" Russell, an acclaimed vocalist in her own right. To celebrate the occasion, Cat performed a special week of shows at Jazz at Lincoln Center in Carline's honor.

    Just before these shows, Cat Russell stopped by WBGO to chat with Gary Walker to talk about Carline's legacy and life in music, and we'd like to share this heartfelt conversation again with you now.

    Thank you Carline, we will miss you!


    Carline studied classical piano and composition at Juilliard, like her father, a member of James Reese Europe's Society Orchestra, starting at age sixteen. She soon found herself immersed in New York's jazz scene, and one night at The Nest - an after-hours club on 52nd Street - she was asked to sing. A pianist named Art Tatum shyly asked if he could accompany her.

    "Did I play alright for you?" he asked afterwards.

    Carline played in small groups with classmate Edna Smith, on both guitar and piano. Both were invited to join The International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an all-women band, after graduation. After the Sweethearts disbanded, she sang and toured with the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra.


    Back in New York in the 1950s, she sang backup for pop stars like Bobby Darin and Patti Page, and earned her master's at the Manhattan School of Music. She married pianist and bandleader Luis Russell in 1956, and daughter Catherine "Cat" Russell soon followed.

    Carline played and sang for many years with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, as they performed works by Duke Ellington and Mary Lou Williams. She was a longtime supporter of the nonprofit International Women in Jazz, and later for Musicians Union New York Local 802's Justice for Jazz Artists campaign.

  • WBGO Says Farewell to Pianist Mulgrew Miller

    May 29, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Pianist Mulgrew Miller, a lion of jazz and dear friend of WBGO, passed away early this morning from the effects of a stroke last Wednesday.

    The longtime director of jazz studies at William Paterson University, we were fortunate to have 'Grew as a guest in our studios many times over the years - every April for eight years, he brought the student groups he led at William Paterson into our studios for live broadcasts during Jazz Appreciation Month.

    On April 13 of this year, he brought his "Hawk Flies" septet and chatted with WBGO's Michael Bourne.

    Farewell, 'Grew, from all of us who loved you and your music. Warm wishes to his wife Tanya, daughter  Leilani and son Darnell, from your WBGO family.