May 19, 2015. Posted by Tim Wilkins.
WBGO says goodbye to friend and music lover extraordinaire Bruce Lundvall, who passed away today at 79 from complications of Parkinsons' Disease.
Born in Englewood, New Jersey in 1935, Lundvall fell under the spell of jazz on Manhattan's 52nd Street in his teens. He rose from an entry-level job at Columbia Records to lead the label in North America for two decades. He nurtured the careers of - among many others - Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock, Stan Getz, and Wynton Marsalis, James Taylor and Willie Nelson.
Lundvall then ran Blue Note Records for nearly three decades. He took over the dormant label in 1984, and turned it into a powerhouse that celebrated artists from the label's golden age, such as McCoy Tyner and Joe Henderson, and supported new talent, including singers Norah Jones, Dianne Reeves and Cassandra Wilson.
Bruce was an honoree at WBGO's Champions of Jazz Gala in 2012. In this excerpt, record producer Tommy LiPuma describes meeting Lundvall for the first time in the 1970s, and discovering their shared love of jazz, although both worked extensively - and very successfully - with pop acts at the time:
Artists whose careers he championed - including singer Bobby McFerrin and Paquito D'Rivera, who Lundvall brought to New York from Cuba with Irakere in 1978 to record a Grammy-winning album, expressed their thanks and performed songs Bruce had chosen for the occasion.
In this excerpt, McFerrin tells the story of how Lundvall agreed to back his 1984 solo album The Voice, which became a platinum-seller for Elektra:
"Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you very much!" said a beaming McFerrin, summing up the feelings of everyone in the room after he sang two of Lundvall's bebop favorites - Charlie Parker's "Scrapple From The Apple" and Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight."
Thank you, Bruce, from all of us. Because of you, the music you loved lives on in our hearts and minds, and in generations to come.
© 2015 WBGO
May 19, 2015
The late Kenny Wheeler's stunning compositions and imaginative improvisations on trumpet and flugelhorn left deep impressions on generations of musicians. Two such devotees — trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and saxophonist Steve Treseler — revisited Wheeler's compositions after his death in 2014 at age 84. And in doing so, they realized they wanted to record their arrangements, paying tribute to the man who catalyzed their own careers. So Jensen, raised in Vancouver and now based in New York, traveled back across North America to meet Treseler, who resides in Seattle, to make the album and play a gig while they were there.
Jazz Night In America explores the legacy of Kenny Wheeler through the music that Jensen and Treseler arranged and performed live at the Royal Room in Seattle. They're accompanied by Jensen's working rhythm section — pianist Geoffrey Keezer, bassist Martin Wind, drummer Jon Wikan — and local vocalist Katie Jacobson. Watch the concert here.
© 2015 WBGO
May 16, 2015. Posted by Michael Bourne.
BB was actually named King. He was born Riley B. King on a cotton plantation in 1925. He grew up around Indianola, Mississippi, and he first became known in Memphis — where he worked as a singer and DJ on radio station WDIA.
That's when his nickname Beale Street Blues Boy was shortened to Blues Boy, and then to BB.
T-Bone Walker was an early inspiration, and I always remember the look on his face when I quoted something he’d said about how much he loved listening to Django Reinhardt.
With his eyes closed and his face beaming, he smiled and he said only “Django …”
BB’s own sound on the guitar he called Lucille was magisterial. When he played a note, a finger of his left hand quivered on the string, so that every note sounded like a bell, echoing.
BB loved listening to Frank Sinatra sing, and his own voice was as down-to-earth and heartful. When he was singing, he didn’t play. When he was playing, Lucille was singing.
No blues artist popularized the blues around the world like BB King. No blues artist ever sang or played the guitar like BB King.
He was — and always will be — the King of the Blues.
Guitarist Dave Stryker sent me this picture of of his "prized possession" - a Red clear vinyl Crown Records 195.
Pretty much says it all. For Dave, for me, and for all of us.
Thank you, BB.
© 2015 WBGO