WBGO Blog
  • WBGO In South Africa 6: Final Thoughts

    April 2, 2015. Posted by Rhonda Hamilton.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    When we first arrived in South Africa, everyone in our WBGO group was excited – but I don’t know if we realized that what awaited us was a profound and potentially life-changing experience.

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    Our visit to the Lesedi Cultural Village was a great introduction -  a lighthearted and entertaining historical perspective on traits and traditions of the region’s tribes or ethnic groups.

    As we took in the sights, sounds and tastes of Soweto, we were able to get some sense of the challenges of everyday life in the present time.

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    The Apartheid Museum took us on an emotional roller coaster - down into the depths of man’s inhumanity to man, and back up again, to see how the spirit of one man – Nelson Mandela – could illuminate that darkness, and bring people into the light of a “Rainbow Nation.”

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    South Africa’s beautiful landscape contains vast mineral resources, which has created enormous wealth for some and unimaginable poverty and misery for others.

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    On the bus ride to the Pilanesburg Game Reserve, we passed near some of the world’s largest platinum mines.

    What astounds me is that miners must travel two hours down into the mines to begin their work. After their long shift, it’s another two hours back up to the surface.

    Photo by Steve Evans
    Photo by Steve Evans

    Getting up close and personal with South Africa’s wildlife was another highlight of our trip. It’s an unforgettable thrill to see these beautiful creatures roaming free, right in front of you.

    In some cases, like this wildebeest, beautiful may not be the most appropriate word.

    Our safari guide told us the story that after God created all the animals, he had some spare parts – so he gave the wildebeest the tail of a horse, the horns of a cow and the beard of a goat!

  • WBGO's Lezlie Harrison Remembers Dale Fitzgerald

    April 1, 2015. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    WBGO says goodbye to  jazz advocate and friend Dale Fitzgerald, who passed away March 20 at age 72. Lezlie Harrison knew him well: she and Dale created The Jazz Gallery with trumpeter Roy Hargrove in 1995, and worked side by side for more than two decades. She offers this heartfelt remembrance. Farewell Dale, and thank you!

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    Photo courtesy of Ingrid Hertfelder

    It's been just over a week since my hip, cool, smart, dapper, funny, daring, stubborn, generous, complex, ride-or-die friend, of 26 years,  Dale Kelley Fitzgerald, Executive Director of The Jazz Gallery,  physically departed this earth.

    Our friendship was founded on our love for jazz music, art, and culture. We turned that love into creating The Jazz Gallery.

    We jokingly called The Jazz Gallery our child. When we first acquired the space on Hudson Street, it was used to give trumpeter Roy Hargrove a space to rehearse. Dale was also Roy's business manager and often had to assuage Roy's neighbors who complained about his late night trumpet playing. It was there that The Roy Hargrove Big Band was created. The Gallery  eventually  morphed into an art gallery that showcased jazz related art work, with music as background. In 1995 we officially opened our doors in August with an exhibit that celebrated the extinct jazz club, the Tin Palace.

    Over the last twenty years I have worked with and supported his efforts to establish a home for the youngest generation of jazz musicians to create and showcase their artistry. This year our baby turns 20 and our fearless Founder is gone.

    When I returned to WBGO last June as a part time on-air announcer,  he was thrilled. He was always “taking notes” to give me after each show to improve on the listening experience. In writing this, I really miss him as he was also a great editor and he I am sure he’d have me make changes somewhere!  He was my champion. I will miss him dearly Though my heart is heavy, love remains.

    Plans are underway to honor Fitzgerald with a celebration at The Jazz Gallery soon.

    In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to an education fund for his young son, Gabriel.

  • Cassandra Wilson Sings Billie Holiday

    March 31, 2015

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    Cassandra Wilson. (Image Credit: Mark Seliger/Courtesy of the artist)

    One hundred years after she was born, Billie Holiday remains iconic in American music, not to mention jazz singing. Cassandra Wilson has made her career in jazz singing by embracing a wide range of American music, and it holds true on her latest project: a new album rearranging the Billie Holiday songbook. The new Coming Forth By Day, created with rocker Nick Cave's producer and rhythm section, reshapes songs like "Good Morning Heartache" and "Strange Fruit" with fresh textures and resonances.

    For Billie Holiday's centennial, Jazz Night In America presents Cassandra Wilson in concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., performing her take on the classic tunes.

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