• Sondheim's "Merrily" Rolls Along at City Center

    February 13, 2012. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    City Center kicks off the 2012 season of "Encores" with a revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical "Merrily We Roll Along," a show that famously flopped on Broadway but is loved by Sondheim fans. "Merrily" has been re-worked through the years, and the newest incarnation (by songwriter Sondheim and director James Lapine) is playing through Sunday 2/19 at New York's historic (and recently renovated) City Center. WBGO Journal theatre critic Michael Bourne plays songs from "Merrily" and other "Encores" as he talked with "Encores" artistic director Jack Viertel.


  • Miche Braden: Bessie Smith and "The Devil's Music"

    January 30, 2012. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Singer Miche Braden, who stars as Bessie Smith in "The Devil's Music," a play  currently at St. Luke's Theatre in New York City, talked with WBGO's Michael Bourne in our studios about the challenge of playing the legendary blues singer, and how she prepared for the role. Enjoy!


  • Jazz On The Mountain 2012: Michael's Mohonk Memories

    January 30, 2012. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    I'm not superstitious -- okay, I am, but I'm not triskaidekaphobic. I'm not afraid of the number 13. Some...unusual things happened before this year's "Jazz on the Mountain" weekend, over the King weekend, at the Mohonk Mountain House, my 13th jazzfest as an MC and artistic whatever -- and we started on a Friday the 13th.


    All that said, much more luckily, we sold out the enormous castle on the lake, more folks than ever before came through the jazzfest's ongoing connection with WBGO, and JOTM 2012 was, especially musically, blissfully triumphant.


    So many of the shows offered musicians who'd never played together, and yet everyone played together uniquely and wonderfully. I heard, show after show, music that reminded me why I first fell in love with jazz.


    Anat Cohen, Ken Peplowski, and John Scofield all played trios with what I called "my house band": bassist Martin Wind and drummer Matt Wilson. Each of the trios was dynamically different. All of the trios were surprising and delightful.

    _DSC8478 - Version 2

    Scofield's "Julia" was a highlight, and Anat pretty much stole the weekend. I always ask the folks who come to Mohonk who they like best, and again and again, folks said Anat: of course they liked that she's a great player, but that, even when she's not playing, when she's listening to the other players, she's so happily, so palpably, feeling the music.

    _DSC8564 - Version 2

    Anat also joined Ken and Paquito D'Rivera for what I called "my Clarinet Fantasy" -- my three favorite clarinet players blowing the roof off, especially on a whirlwind of Pixinguinha's "Um a Zero."


    George Wein came up that night just to hear the clarinets. Having attended more than a thousand concerts he's produced, I felt proud that George enjoyed one of mine.

    _DSC8722 - Version 3

    Hilary Kole sang with Paquito's band for the Saturday evening party, highlighted by incendiary scats on "Night in Tunisia." Kate McGarry sang, as always charmingly, with Fred Hersch. Allan Harris was also a hit, singing with pianist Takana Miyamoto songs from Allan's forthcoming album of songs that Tony Bennett recorded with Bill Evans.

    _DSC8573 - Version 2

    Before everyone left on Monday morning, we all joined in what I call the Parlor Games. I, frankly, invite to Mohonk artists that I like personally as much as I like musically. I wanted to hear my favorite pianist, Fred, play with my favorite bassist, Martin, and my favorite drummer, Matt. Fred also played duets with Paquito, Anat, Ken, and for two of my favorite singers, Hilary and Kate, singing together "Get Out of Town."


    Fred et al also played a beautiful piece Martin composed as a memorial for his wife Maria's brother. I shuffled bits and pieces of poems and lyrics into a collage for what we called The 3M (Matt/Martin/Michael) Trio.


    And for a grand finale, the three saxophonists blew the roof off.


    We're already looking ahead, not at all superstitiously, to "Jazz on the Mountain" 2013 ... Michael Bourne

  • Bourne Confronts a Christmas Penguin

    December 21, 2011. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    I celebrate my birthday every year with the kids in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, always around the time when my son-in-law, Glenn Dicker, yulefully spectacularizes their house.

    Here's some pictures of me and my daughter Elizabeth amongst some of this year's Dicker-ations, so enjoy!

    Never Underestimate a Christmas Monkey
    Never Underestimate a Christmas Monkey
    The Time Has Come to Confront the Penguin
    The Dickers' Happy House of Yule