New York City continues coronavirus related preparations for phase one of reopening which is still on track for Monday. Whether protesting or just out and about, Mayor Bill de Blasio wants folk off the streets.  

“I want people to stay home to the maximum extent possible. I want people to practice social distancing very very consistently.”

He says the MTA is working hard in getting the subway and buses as safe as possible.


Jazz musicians have always faced systems of discrimination in America.

Dean Moses / AMNY


A curfew going from eight pm to five am is being extended in New York City through Sunday following yet another night of mayhem.  A clearly agitated Mayor Bill de Blasio says he’s tired of people criticizing New York City and its police officers.

“To hell with all of them. I don’t care if they are left or right or center.  I am sick of people attacking the city of New York.”

As for the day after day of violence and looting

Barring a “precipitous backslide” in COVID-19 cases, New Jersey restaurants can offer outdoor dining and nonessential retail businesses can reopen their doors starting June 15, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.

A week later, on June 22, salons and barbershops can again serve customers, Murphy said, while gyms and health clubs can reopen sometime after that.

All will likely face capacity limits and be required to make other adjustments, such as using paper menus or performing temperature checks at the door, the Democratic governor said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says he’s confident the NYPD will be able to track protesters responsible for some of the violence over the weekend and looting stores in Lower Manhattan

“There are very small number of people doing this violence. Very Small.  We have to get them. We have to stop them.

Meanwhile de Blasio is praising the vast majority of police officers.

“Very tough circumstances these last few days.  They have shown a lot restraint.”

However, he calls some officer actions inappropriate.

Alexandra Hill / News

As protests erupted across the country this weekend, thousands descended on the city of Newark to express their outrage over the murder of an unarmed black man at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Among them was the city’s own Mayor, Ras Baraka.

Priscilla Jiminez

Along with some duo magic from Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch, and a ray of sunshine from Matt Wilson.

Normally, singer and songwriter Becca Stevens and her husband Nathan Schram, violist for Attacca Quartet, spend their summers apart while on the road. In fact, before their quarantine, they were lucky to have two straight weeks at home together. But after canceled tours, the two have used their newfound time to connect as a couple and as musicians.

2020 looked mighty bright for Nduduzo Makhathini. In January, jazz fans and critics alike jammed themselves into the Zürcher Gallery at the NYC Winter Jazzfest to get a glimpse of the rising star pianist. The buzz was real for the first South African artist ever to be signed to Blue Note Records.

New York City will be helping employees protect their workers from coronavirus with the city still on pace to start reopening within the next couple weeks.  Businesses must supply face coverings to their employees once they reopen and the city will give them to companies for free.  Mayor de Blasio is setting up a worker helpline for employees to send in coronavirus related workplace protection complaints.

Braxton Cook is a textbook example of what it means to blend genres while holding fast to the jazz vocabulary.

From go-to sidemen to artists who just never coveted the limelight, jazz is full of heroes who deserve more shine. Unsung is a new series on Afternoon Jazz that seeks to uncover those musicians that are key pieces in the jazz tapestry and beyond. 


It’s tough enough being an essential worker these days without having to worry about how you’re going to pay for additional schooling.  Essex County College is trying to help.

ECC will cover tuition and fees for a minimum of 6 credits for essential workers for the Summer 2020 term. All they have to do is provide a letter from their employer confirming that they are indeed essential. 


It’s estimated upwards of four hundred thousand people will be back at work with phase one of reopening still on track to start in New York City in the first two weeks of June. Mayor Bill de Blasio says companies will be required to do healthcare screenings once they open.

“It might be a temperature check in the morning as people come to their place of work.  It might be a questionnaire.”

New Jersey announced another 1,261 cases of coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the state’s total count of positive cases to 157,815.

Another 66 New Jerseyans died from complications of COVID-19. The state has now lost 11,401 to the outbreak.

State releases guidance on school graduations

Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration late Wednesday released guidance for how schools across New Jersey can hold modified in-person graduation ceremonies this year, as the state continues to deal with one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the country.

When WBGO Membership Director Roslyn Turner asked me to write a letter to our listeners, I told her immediately that I'd be glad to do it. Funny thing is, I've been intensely pondering for the past few days the words I would offer. What message would I send to you at a time like this?

Jon Batiste spent his 33rd birthday playing an intimate, private concert with his band in the round while Jazz Night in America captured the show.

NYC Providing Service For Residents In Isolation

May 27, 2020

New York City is providing free services to those in isolation with coronavirus.  In an effort to help people and try and make sure folks who test positive stay in quarantine for two weeks, the city has brought on what Mayor Bill de Blasio calls resource navigators. They will make daily phone calls to people and get them what they need for free.

“Medical check ins.  It means meals. It means laundry. It means making sure you get any medicines delivered that you need.  It means mental health support.”

NYC Mayors Office

New York City continues to increase coronavirus testing and is preparing for its test and trace program.  Mayor Bill de Blasio says more testing sites are coming online with the hopes the city will be able to do 50-thousand tests a day by August.

“Testing is what gives us the ability to know what’s going on person by person and in the whole city. And now we’re are going to have something on a vast scale we didn’t have before which is tracing.”

New Jersey reported 703 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 155,764.

Another 54 people died of complications from COVID-19. The state has now lost 11,191 residents to the pandemic.

N.J. to allow outdoor graduations

Starting July 6, New Jersey schools and colleges can hold outdoor graduation ceremonies “that comply with social distancing,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday.

John Rogers

Quarantine. Lockdowns. Social distancing. As restrictions ease for some and remain for others, what does the new normal look like for concert goers and their audiences? When will the live music experience return in full? 2021? 2022? No answer seems definitive. 

In his 13 years working as a bartender at Harrah’s casino in Atlantic City, Jason McKnight has just about seen it all.

“Shakeups and downturns and expansion of gaming in other states and the list goes on,” he said. “I mean, you name it, we’ve done it.”

But in his estimation, nothing compares to the threat COVID-19 poses to the iconic resort town.

“This one’s on another level,” he said. “We don’t know if people are going to just flock back in like nothing happened, or if people are going to be very scared and very wary to be around that many people.”

A Congressional Effort to Aid COVID Essential Workers and their Families

May 23, 2020
Robert Hennelly
Port Authority of NY & NJ

As states across the nation open up their economies, we are just beginning to get a sense of the toll on the families of essential workers, like nurses and firefighters, who either died in the pandemic or maybe permanently disabled from their bout with COVID19.

It should come as no surprise that the members of Congress from our region that led the charge for the passage of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund are teaming up to introduce the Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act.

Seeing Eye
Seeing Eye

There are 90 accredited schools around the world that train guide dogs for the blind. Many of them have been closed by the coronavirus pandemic. The oldest such school in the U.S. is the Seeing Eye located in Morris Township, New Jersey.

WBGO's Jon Kalish reports on how the the Seeing Eye is coping with the pandemic.

Alexandra Hill / News

Restaurants and restaurant owners and employees across New Jersey have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with many being forced to lay off employees and shut their doors, only to survive on pick up and delivery orders since the shut down began back in March, but some have managed to adapt and have even answered the call to feed those in need and those on the frontline.

NYC Beaches Open For Memorial Day Weekend

May 22, 2020

 New York City beaches will be open for Memorial Day weekend.   Mayor de Blasio is clearing up a bit of confusion when he said a few days ago beaches will remain closed.  He now is inviting folks to come to the beaches but says there’s no swimming.   


“You can walk, you can sit down, you can bring a chair.  You can bring a blanket. But you have to follow the same concepts.  Socially distance from people who are not a part of your own household.”


A self-proclaimed introvert, Nicholas Payton has found his “bag” while in quarantine.

Jorge Santana, who died on May 14, left behind an impressive but often undervalued body of work.

He was a formidable guitarist, and while he never received the same attention as his older brother, Carlos, he deserves much wider recognition. This selection of tracks is a good place to start.