WBGO Blog
  • The Top 30 Live Jazz Performances of All Time

    December 31, 2016. Posted by Steve Williams.

    WBGO announcers made a list of their favorite concert performances and we're playing them for you this weekend as an appetizer for Toast of the Nation, our all night coast to coast feast of jazz concerts, airing tonight at 8. Here are a few picks from the list.

    gwalker_70GARY WALKER - GENE HARRIS AND THE PHILIP MORRIS SUPERBAND LIVE AT TOWN HALL NYC.

    superband live

    As remnants of Hurricane Hugo swirled outside New York City's Town Hall on a blustery night in 1989, inside an all-star cast including Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, James Moody, Frank Wess, Harry “Sweets” Edison and Johnny Coles was telling Hugo to sit down!

    Featured out front were the charged voices of Ernestine Anderson and Ernie Andrews. With Gene Harris at the piano, the evening took off on a “Surrey with the Fringe on Top", visiting Erroll Garner, The Gershwins, Ellington and Armstrong, with some “Serious Grease” to make any soul get in touch.

    For me it represents a template by which I measure other live performances. Thanks to the insight of Concord Records, it remains a wonderful, engaging listen.

    rkeith_70 RICH KEITH - ERROLL GARNER, CONCERT BY THE SEA 1955

    concerts by the sea

    Only 33 at the time, Erroll Garner was already recognized as a piano giant. But the venue was considered to be less than acoustically perfect and the piano was not the best Erroll had ever laid his talented hands on (some actually claim it was slightly out of tune!).

    This event, part of the "Sunset Series" and a precursor to the Monterey Jazz Festival (which would debut 3 years later in 1958) was not officially recorded by the event's promoter or Erroll's label, Columbia Records. But a jazz fan from the Armed Forces Radio Network captured the music on open reel for his own personal enjoyment.

    Long story short: Erroll, with bassist Eddie Calhoun and drummer Denzil Best kill. Erroll's manager Martha Glaser grabs the tape, gets it into producer George Avakian's hands and "Erroll Garner's Concert by the Sea" is released the following year. To this day it is considered one of the great concert recordings in jazz history.

    Of course in radio, with it's time constraints and formats that must be adhered to, we're only able to play one (or if we "accidentally" let the album track to another) cut from the album at a time. However, this is a performance that begs to be listened to from beginning to end – on vinyl if possible. My advise to you: Put 41 minutes aside and give this album listen.

  • Dave Grusin with Gary Walker on the GRP Records Story

    November 21, 2016. Posted by Corey Goldberg.

    GRP Records co-founder and Oscar-winning composer Dave Grusin joins Gary Walker to talk about the birth of the label that was both at the cusp of the digital recording revolution and responsible for the preservation of some of the most seminal recordings in jazz.

    grusin pic

  • Ted Nash Talks (and Plays) Presidential Speeches with Gary Walker

    November 7, 2016. Posted by Corey Goldberg.

    Ted Nash of Jazz at Lincoln Center brings his ambitious new album project - musical interpretations of great presidential speeches on freedom - to Morning Jazz with Gary Walker.

    ted nash

  • The Brubeck Songbook on Singers Unlimited

    November 1, 2016. Posted by Corey Goldberg.

    It's not often that a host gets to be a guest on their own program, but this Singers Unlimited session honoring the songbook of Dave and Iola Brubeck is a special event. Michael Bourne takes a turn as an interviewee along with the composer's son, bassist and trombonist Chris Brubeck, singer Hilary Kole, and pianist Adam Birnbaum as Gary Walker guides us through stories and performances captured in our studio - a taste of what's to come this Sunday, November 6th at NJPAC at 3pm.

    interview_kole_669

  • Bob Porter on Working with Rudy Van Gelder

    August 26, 2016. Posted by Corey Goldberg.

    RVG

    Rudy Van Gelder died at 91 this week at his home in New Jersey. During his career he took audio recording to a new level. He created the Blue Note sound, a sound that was his signature. Recordings captured by Rudy took on a timeless value, an audio session with seemingly no time stamp.

    Gary Walker talked with WBGO's Bob Porter, who produced 100 recordings at Van Gelder's studios with the legendary recording engineer.

    Michael Cuscuna interviewed Van Gelder for the Blute Note Perfect Takes collection.