A New Jersey appeals court has struck down state regulations dictating how high schools use the PARCC exams.

In a New Year’s Eve opinion, the three-judge panel scrapped state Department of Education rules that said schools had to give an English test in tenth grade and an Algebra test in any high school year and that students had to pass them to graduate.

According to the opinion, that policy violated state law, which says New Jersey high school students must take one combined exam in eleventh grade to determine whether they can get a diploma.

Ang Santos/WBGO

When someone dies at the hands of police, can local prosecutors be trusted to investigate the cops?

Some criminal justice advocates in New Jersey say no. They want police-involved violence to be scrutinized by outside investigators they believe will be more impartial than county prosecutors who may be cozy with local police departments.

Peter Leng Xiong

New Year, New Music: The Winter Jazzfest kicks off this Friday, and Take Five has your Week One field guide.

Zhang Dongdong

We've got the perfect music mix and special programs to look back on 2018 and bring in 2019.

Deneka Peniston

When Jason Lindner became embedded in New York’s jazz scene in the mid 1990s, he led an underground big band. These days, he's paving the way for a new breed of jazz synth artists, with the same renegade spirit.

On this episode of The Checkout, Lindner — the former keyboardist for David Bowie, trumpeter Avishai Cohen and so many others — speaks about his artistic growth, as expressed on The Buffering Cocoon, his third release with the band he calls Now Vs. Now. 


Rob Crocker, Sheila Anderson and Nicole Sweeney discuss highlights of the past year. 

As 2018 comes to a close, Gary Walker, Rhonda Hamilton and Bill Daughtry share their favorite jazz albums of the year. 

Courtesy of the artist

As we savor the season, WBGO looks back to a session from 2013, when the Ted Rosenthal Trio came in to share music from a new holiday album.

Courtesy of the artist

Pianist Cyrus Chestnut recently brought some holiday cheer to Afternoon Jazz.

Chestnut’s new album, Kaleidoscope, is a departure from what he is known for: jazz tinged with blues, soul and gospel. Although those elements are there, he goes back to his classical roots. The album, released on HighNote Records, features his trio with bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer Chris Beck.


WBGO's blues hosts, Michael Bourne and Bob Porter, ring in the new year with their favorite blues tunes of 2018.

Bryan Cranston
Michael Bourne for WBGO

Will an Oscar-winning movie become a Tony-winning play? Our Theater critic Michael Bourne reviews Network.

Bryan Cranston stars in this Broadway show.

Beale Street
Harlan Jacobson for WBGO News

As we head into the holidays, there’s a sleigh full of new films that either have opened or are opening before the end of the month. Some are in the Oscar hunt and need a week in theatres to qualify, all are hoping they’re good enough to attract your attention after you’ve cleaned up the wrapping and before you get to the champagne.

Fire Island
Jon Kalish for WBGO News

People often think of the the modern gay rights movement beginning in 1969 after New York activists clashed violently with police in what came to be known as the Stonewall Rebellion. But in the autumn of 1968, a series of criminal trials on Long Island demonstrated that gay men could band together to resist police harassment.

On the 50th anniversary of those trials, WBGO’s Jon Kalish takes a look back.

Click above to hear Jon Kalish's feature.

New Jersey is among nine states joining a federal lawsuit to block the Trump administration from allowing seismic testing off the East Coast, which is a first step toward opening up the Atlantic Ocean to offshore oil and gas drilling.

The lawsuit claims that blasting loud bursts of air to the ocean floor to search for fossil fuel deposits would violate federal environmental laws and endanger marine life.

Swet Tailor
Joe Favorito for WBGO News

Officially launched in 2015, Swet Tailor is a premium menswear brand that is defining a new kind of casual.   With strategic planning and knowledge and the endorsement of NFL stars like Carson Wentz and Nick Foles of the Super Bowl Champion Eagles, Swet Tailor is one of the fastest rising men's apparel companies in the U.S. 

The co-owners of Swet Tailor, Adam Bolden and David Kranz, live in Los Angeles, but recently joined SportsJam host Doug Doyle in New York City to talk about their brand, their sports connections and their families.

Jessica Cowles

A few years ago, the Trinidadian jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles released A Creole Christmas, a brilliant musical meld of Christian hymns, Venezuelan parangs, and island calypsos. He brought that festive sound into our studio in 2016, leading a sharp and versatile band.

Ang Santos / WBGO

For a third straight year, Newark police, fire, and medical responders donate and give out toys to families.  Mayor Ras Baraka says they’ve collected 30,000 toys for city kids this year.

“Last year they were pulling people over in their car and instead of giving them tickets they were giving them toys," Baraka said.  "I would like to be there that one time when somebody gets pulled over and ready to cuss and go crazy then they give them a toy.  That is probably priceless to see.  That was innovative and creative and prayerfully that continues to happen this year.”

Courtesy of The Roy Hargrove Estate

This time each year, amidst the warmth of year-end highlights and holiday wishes, we pause to remember those we have lost.

But while it's an occasion for sadness, it's also an opportunity to celebrate their legacies in full. That's the spirit with which Jazz Night in America offers this In Memoriam episode, featuring testimonials by some of those who knew the artists best.

Taxes paid by New Jersey fire insurance policyholders into a fund meant to help the state’s firefighters largely go unused, according to a report released Wednesday by the state comptroller.

The New Jersey State Firemen’s Association and local firefighters relief organizations across the state have amassed nearly $245 million to help needy firefighters, but they can only spend it in limited circumstances so much of the money remains in reserve.

“This money has sat unused for decades,” said Andrew Cliver, assistant director of the comptroller’s investigations division.

Isaiah McClain / WBGO

There is a tune on pianist Ray Angry’s debut album, One, titled “Circles Inside You.” Angry’s concentric creativity includes work with Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, The Roots, Joss Stone and Esperanza Spalding — an interesting mix which alone invites a listen. 

Sarah Escarraz / Jazz at Lincoln Center

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis is back with lively arrangements of holiday classics like "Jingle Bells" and "White Christmas." Catherine Russell joins the orchestra as a guest vocalist.


The chief of staff to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy testified at the State House Tuesday that he told an employee accused of rape to leave state government in late March, but the man did not resign until October.

Pete Cammarano testified that he told accused rapist Al Alvarez on March 26, 2018, that he should step down as chief of staff in the New Jersey Schools Development Authority, a post he got after Murphy took office.

But Alvarez remained on the job until October, when he quit after being called by a Wall Street Journal reporter. Alvarez denies the sexual assault.

As the New Jersey legislature prepares to vote on a $15 minimum wage bill, advocates for restaurant employees are making their case to ensure the industry isn’t left out.

Seven states have a ‘One Fair Wage’ bill, where restaurant employees make the state minimum wage with tips on top.  Opponents of the restaurant wage hike say it would hurt the industry, particularly small businesses.  Advocates believe otherwise.

Lawmakers in New Jersey have approved a bill that would require the state attorney general to investigate any deaths that occur while suspects are in police custody or during an interaction with police.

Activists who say local prosecutors cannot impartially investigate police officers they regularly work with are gratified with the move.

Yet state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, the man who would find himself in a newly powerful role should the bill become law, said it could damage faith in the justice system.

New Jersey Transit will meet a federally mandated deadline to install positive train control, an automatic braking system, by the end of the year, officials announced Monday.

Gov. Phil Murphy said late trains and curtailed schedules that riders experienced over the last year as officials rushed to meet the Dec. 31 deadline should ease up as the transit agency begins testing the equipment.

“NJ Transit can now focus its energies on improving communications and conditions and on on-time reliability and service,” Murphy said at a Monday press conference.

Ann McDonough
T. Charles Erickson

In 1879, Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” raised eyebrows and prompted discussions because it was play in which a woman, Nora leaves her husband and children.

Last year, playwright Lucas Hnath created a sequel and brought “A Doll’s House, Part 2” to Broadway to critical acclaim.  Now “A Doll’s House, Part 2” is running at the George Street Playhouse.

Veteran actress Anne McDonough, who plays the nanny Anne Marie, chats with WBGO's Doug Doyle.

Nancy Wilson
Doug Doyle for WBGO

It was 2005 that Grammy-winning singer Nancy Wilson was honored at the WBGO Champions of Jazz Gala along with Ahmet Ertegun and the Jazz Foundation of America.

The music world now is mourning the loss of Nancy Wilson, who passed away from a long illness earlier this week at her home in California. She was 81.

Pianist, composer and bandleader Michael Wolff was Nancy Wilson's musical director from 1978 to 1982.

Here's the full interview (below) with Michael Wolff and WBGO News Director Doug Doyle.

Alexandra Hill / News

A pilot program that teaches girls how to code is expanding across the Newark Public Schools in the hopes of engaging more girls in the fields of science and technology, which have largely and historically been dominated by males. WBGO's Alexandra Hill reports the district is enlisting the help of international non-profit organization Girls Who Code in order to do so.


Bruce Caines

Ang Santos:  This is an interesting program.  We have a combination of music, gospel, jazz…bring us into this program a little bit.  What should people expect when they come to see this? 

Chris Whitaker:  This is a version of ‘Handel’s Messiah’ like you’ve never heard before.  It’s basically like Handel landed in the 21stcentury and crafted a modern oratorio for our time.  It’s the original ideas, melodies, and lyrics from the Messiah, but it’s reimagined though a contemporary lens.

AS:  A venue could really make or break this kind of show, am I correct?