• 'Treme,' Ep. 26: That's What Buddy Bolden Said

    October 22, 2012. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    The Lambreaux men protest the demolition of housing projects. (Image Credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO)

    Certain episodes of Treme seem to wear their ideological hearts on their sleeves, and this was one. You open with Desiree's mother's house getting torn down in a city mix-up; you have Davis throwing around phrases like "preservation through neglect"; you see housing projects torn down amid protest with the implication of a corrupt deal; you get protagonists like the Bernette family being harassed by police; you witness clueless developers trying to build a national jazz center while waiting for the other shoe to drop. (Perhaps the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music gives a clue to the writers' thinking?) Nothing involving anything "official" seems to work like it ought to.

    But you still have music. Pianists and keyboard players feature prominently here, with Jonathan Batiste, Joe Krown and Tom McDermott making guest appearances, and we also hear some trad-jazz and classic R&B. To help recap the music, here's Josh Jackson of WBGO.

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  • For The Love Of James Moody: Five Tributes

    October 19, 2012. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Clarinet and saxophone player Paquito D'Rivera wore a James Moody T-shirt during a recent recording session in Brazil. (Image Credit: Jorge Rosenberg/Courtesy of the artist)

    "James Moody is the most beloved jazz musician in the world," reedman Paquito D'Rivera says.

    These may be strong words, but D'Rivera is far from alone in his appreciation of the tenor saxophonist, who died in 2010. On the bandstand, Moody was universally admired for his musicality, his generosity — he gave away mouthpieces, saxophones and, once, even the coat off his back — and his ability to illuminate any room with his personal warmth.

    "He always had this big smile on his face," pianist Kenny Barron says. "Whenever he saw you, you got a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. He was just always that way."

    Barron and Moody played together over the course of 40 years, and it was Moody who persuaded Dizzy Gillespie to hire Barron for his first big gig in 1962, when he was only 19.

    "Moody was so humble — he always felt like he needed to learn more," Barron says. "He'd say, 'Hey, can you play these chord changes for me? I'm not really getting it.' Of course, when you did, he'd eat 'em up!"

    D'Rivera and Barron are just two of the dozens of Moody's famous friends, including Jimmy Heath, George Benson and the Manhattan Transfer, who perform Friday night in the "For Love of Moody" concert at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The event raises money for a scholarship fund bearing Moody's name, and is the keystone of the inaugural James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival — a weeklong celebration of the saxophonist's legacy in his hometown of Newark — which runs through Sunday.

    "He was one of the most giving human beings," Heath says. "Everybody who knew Moody knew he was a beautiful person."

    The musicians will perform round-robin style in a "living room" created on the stage of NJPAC's Prudential Hall. Jokes will be told and stories shared. Moody, who often played practical jokes to break the tension in any room he found too stuffy, would have liked this informality, Barron says.

    "Moody just had that enthusiasm and lust for life, you know?" he said.

    Here's a list of five recordings by artists playing Friday's concert. They all capture moments when the musicians shared the stage with Moody, or were inspired by him. For more coverage of the James Moody Democracy In Jazz Festival, visit the WBGO blog.

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  • Philip Dizack: What You Learn When You're Older

    October 16, 2012. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Philip Dizack at WBGO, with saxophonist Jake Saslow in the background. (Image Credit: Josh Jackson/WBGO)

    A lot can happen in six years. For Milwaukee-bred trumpeter Philip Dizack, it marked the passage of an era worth documenting in his own artistic chronology.

    "End of an Era represents a moment when what you had is gone," he says about his new album during this session from WBGO's The Checkout. "For me, it's specific things like family relationships that ended. Both of my grandparents passed away. All those things were very personal, but I saw that everyone goes through something. And it's all the same."

    Deep listening brought Dizack to jazz. His father designs home audio environments for audiophile clientele. "When I was younger, my dad would always have people over at our house," Dizack says. "He'd always have new sets of speakers, he'd always be listening to different kinds of music. So I went to bed hearing music playing in my dad's living room."

    Those recordings included some monumental creative output from Miles Davis and Oscar Peterson, as well as new music by trumpeters who had arrived: Roy Hargrove and Nicholas Payton. "Those were the people I learned from before I even knew I wanted to be a musician," Dizack confirms.

    Dizack brought a quintet to WBGO to play music from End of an Era.

    "I feel like when you're young, and people who are older than you tell you, 'Well, you'll learn when you're older,' this is what you learn," Dizack says. "You learn by going through these experiences and really having to sort through the difficulties of learning and growing as a person."

    Personnel: Philip Dizack, trumpet; Jake Saslow, tenor saxophone; Eden Ladin, piano; Linda Oh, bass; Justin Brown, drums. Recorded Sept. 7, 2012, at WBGO in Newark, N.J.

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