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Nasheet Waits Reflects on His Project 'By Sea,' at Winter Jazzfest with WBGO's Greg Bryant


No two paths are alike through the Winter Jazzfest, which has been a fond ritual of musical overload for more than 15 years.

As usual, the WBGO team hit the ground running during this edition of the fest: broadcasting live performances from the Bowers & Wilkins Sound Lounge; participating in panel discussions like “Jazz & Gender”; conducting artist interviews, or making connections; and just generally covering a whole lot of ground, both musical and literal.

The whole experience has been especially bracing for the newest member of WBGO’s on-air team, Jazz After Hours host Greg Bryant. His first week on the job happened to coincide with Winter Jazzfest, and he dove right in — as you’ll hear in this on-the-spot interview with drummer and composer Nasheet Waits, conducted just before his Friday hit at the Zinc Bar, with a new project called By Sea.

After Bryant connected with Waits, he stayed for the set, which featured saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, pianist Nduduzo Makathini and bassist Rashaan Carter. “It was a perfect blend between the cerebral and the visceral,” Bryant tells me, speaking by phone. “The crowd was super locked-in, and I think it helped that the music drove really, really hard. It had some math in it, certainly, but the visceral nature of the music kept people engaged.”

Along with his wife, the accomplished singer and composer Dara Tucker, Bryant went on to catch assorted other highlights of the Winter Jazzfest Marathon, including Makaya McCraven’s In These Times, Lakecia Benjamin’s Pursuance: The Music of the Coltranes, and vocalists Kat Edmonson and René Marie.

In other words, Bryant is clearly one of ours: entirely committed to the music, and compelled to seek it out. He answered my call, in fact, during a break between sessions at this year’s Jazz Congress, at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Please extend a warm welcome to Greg Bryant! And hear him on Jazz After Hours, Monday from midnight to 6 a.m. and Tuesday through Friday from 1 to 6 a.m.