Slices of Toast: The Bad Plus New Year's on JazzSet


The latest edition of JazzSet, produced by WBGO Senior Producer Becca Pulliam, features music from last year's Toast of the Nation extravaganza (which happened to be my first gig with the station, as an assistant producer.) Follow the link for the full hour of music and Becca's rundown of the evening.

The Bad Plus - 6.30.09
The Bad Plus at the 2009 Montreal Jazz Festival

Arturo O'Farrill Sextet @ J&R Music World 1.17.09

Arturo O’Farrill at J&R Music World
Photo by David Tallacksen

Listen to our final concert from J&R Music World.

Today is the 100th anniv of Milt Hinton's birth .. we celebrated his 80th

Clark Terry was an MC. Ray Brown was the lead-off bass player, with youngster John Clayton. Sylvia Sims sang. Joe Williams sang. Doc Cheatham played duets with newcomer Wynton Marsalis. NY Mayor Dinkins sent a proclamation that June 23, 1990, was "Milt Hinton Day." A choir of first-call bassists canceled whatever to come together and celebrate.

Bassists, from left: Lynn Seaton, Lonnie Plaxico, Charnett Moffit, Jack Lesberg, Bob Haggart, Milt Hinton, John Clayton, Eddie Gomez, Dick Hyman, Richard David, Bill Crow, Major Holley, Ron Carter and Rufus Reid perform "The Judge Meets the Section" at MH 80th Birthday Concert at Town Hall on June 23, 1990.  Photo by Tad Hershorn
Bassists, from left: Lynn Seaton, Lonnie Plaxico, Charnett Moffett, Jack Lesberg, Bob Haggart, Milt Hinton, John Clayton, Eddie Gomez, Richard Davis, Bill Crow, Major Holley, Ron Carter and Rufus Reid perform at the MH 80th Birthday Concert at Town Hall on June 23, 1990. Photo by Tad Hershorn

As host Michael Bourne noted on the two-hour broadcast, the young-at-heart elder statesman had played on more than 600 albums. He and wife Mona Hinton were loved. Milt closed the concert with some solo slap bass, then honored a request to sing "Old Man Time." Dick Hyman on piano, Bob Rosengarden on drums. Please listen.

Women in Jazz - More!

Virgina Mayhew .. photo by Margot Schulman, Kenn Ctr
Virgina Mayhew .. photo by Margot Schulman, Kenn Ctr

The Fest climaxed on Saturday night with a full performance of Mary Lou's Mass featuring Carmen Lundy, the 20-piece Howard University vocal ensemble Afro Blue directed by Connaitre Miller, and the Geri Allen Trio with Kenny Davis and Andrew Cyrille (who  worked with MLW). Lundy and Allen quietly cast a breath-holding spell with Lazarus, the story of the rich man and the beggar that begins unforgettably with "There was a selfish rich man who clothed himself in purple and fine linens, there also was a beggar-man named Lazarus. . ." (at least I think those are the words). It is one of the 15 brief movements of the Mass, which also unfolds like a history of the music, and this performance was powerful and effective.

Earlier, Geri Allen received the Lifetime Achievement Award. And she's so young! Her daughter was there to enjoy this honor with Geri.

Virginia Mayhew led a piano-free quartet in MLW compositions including Medi I and Medi II. Virginia had taken the music off recordings at the Institute of Jazz Studies. Her saxophone has a wonderful dry tone. To open the concert, Ann Patterson's Maiden Voyage came from Los Angeles with MLW charts from the 1940s and 60s (written for Ellington). This big band played well. Carol Chaikin on tenor took some strong solos. Saxophonist Patterson is the musical heart, and has worked intensely since 1980 to organize and lead Maiden Voyage. There's no institution behind it. There's Ann. Claire Daly, bari from New York, soloed on Chief Natoma. Other tunes were Lonely Moments (which the late Hank Jones used to play), Scratchin in the Gravel, O.W., Scorpio from the Zodiac Suite, New Musical Express. The full swing to modern MLW arc was traversed.

In the 2010-11 season, JazzSet will feature this music from the 15th annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center. Stay with us!

Umbria Jazz Fest line-up announced .. link to the JazzSet Summer Festival Calendar

10 05 02 Allan Harris 2cropped

Allan Harris sang and hosts from the Umbria Festival -- July 9-18 in Perugia, Italy -- announced the schedule at a press party in NY on Monday evening. Harris, Sonny Rollins, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Manhattan Transfer, Melody Gardot, Enrico Rava, Stefano Bollani and many other artists are on the Umbria line-up.  To savor dates and details, click here and check out the the JazzSet Festival Calendar.

Better Get It In Your Soul .. Mingus at St. Bart's

s artworkThe low ceilings of several New York basements have put a lid on Mingus's music for a long time now. But this past Saturday night it was quite the opposite as the 11-piece Mingus Orchestra played music that stretched over a big footprint and soared into the domed cathedral of St. Bart's Church. As the concert progressed, it sounded better and better.


The Mingus Orchestra is piano-less. The woodwinds are colorful from flute to bassoon. A French horn is inserted between trumpet and trombone. There's a guitar, and on Saturday night, a harp. "Ecclusiastics," "Noon Night," "Let My Children Hear Music," "Haitian Fight Song," each piece occasioned neat new instrumental combinations. The bassoon was hard to hear, but I could easily appreciate the blues and the Ellington that course through this music.

Ku-umba Frank Lacy recited the Mingus poem that begins "Consider Me Oh Lord, a colored boy. . . . Who am I? Caught in a crack that splits the world in two from China to Alabama to Lenox Avenue. . . ." Lacy's speaking voice seemed made for this space. He was back to sing the lyric by Joni Mitchell -- a love poem to jazz and naked picture of racism -- on "Goodbye Porkpie Hat," also exquisite. Then the horns paraded up and down the center aisle for "Better Get It In Your Soul" to close a jubilant night.

From left to right, the musicians are one row: Lacy on trombone, John Clark on French horn, Kenny Rampton on trumpet, Scott Robinson on flute and alto, Wayne Escoffery on tenor, Doug Yates on clarinet and bass clarinet, Michael Rabinowitz on bassoon, and Edmar Castaneda on harp, Jack Wilkins is on guitar, Boris Kozlov on bass. Donald Edwards was subtle on drums. Gunther Schuller did some conducting, and sweetly reminisced that he had sung in this church 72 years ago. He described Charles Mingus as "several persons wrapped in one -- philosopher, political activist, poet" in the titles to his compositions.

Sue Mingus presented the concert, free to the public, as part of the Mingus High School Competition with the Manhattan School of Music. St. Bart's was full, and young people especially kept coming; I assume some were competitors. I felt as though I’d seen a night of New York jazz history in the making.

If any mistakes in the above, pls correct. I didn't get a program.


Christian McBride: The Movement Revisited at Second Ebenezer Church in Detroit

JD Steele & Christian McBride .. Courtesy Det Intl Jazz Fest, Photographer Jeff Forman
JD Steele & Christian McBride .. Courtesy Det Intl Jazz Fest, Photographer Jeff Forman

DETROIT – Bassist Christian McBride and his quintet, narrators representing four icons of the Civil Rights Movement, J.D. Steele and the Second Ebenezer Majestic Voices, the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra, and more than 2,000 people gathered in one mega-sanctuary Sunday night for The Movement Revisited, McBride's jazz opus, presented for free by the Detroit International Jazz Festival for Black History Month.

The first reading was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s opening address "On the Importance of Jazz." for the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival with the theme that “This is triumphant music." Anthony L. Brock Jr., a student at the Detroit School of the Arts, delivered it -- short and meaningful. (Link to text below)

Following the “Freedom / Struggle” overture, poet Sonia Sanchez spoke words of Rosa Parks, whose refusal in the mid 1950s to move back in a city bus launched the 381-day boycott in Montgomery, AL. Parks later lived in Detroit. Willis Patterson, Emeritus Professor of Voice from the University of Michigan, spoke Malcolm X's words; Malcolm Little grew up in Lansing, became known as Detroit Red. Dion Graham from The Wire spoke Muhammad Ali's words; Ali now lives near here. Bishop Edgar L. Vann II of Second Ebenezer re-created the "I Have A Dream" speech. King delivered the first known version at Cobo Hall on June 23, 1963. According to the Civil Rights Timeline in the printed program, 125,000 people marched on Woodward Avenue that day. The organizer was Rev. C. L. Franklin, Aretha's father.


Two weeks ago in a performance of TMR that I saw at Juilliard, students did the playing and speaking, to great effect. After all, the four who are now icons were young when they led the Movement. Yet Sunday night, I sensed that at least two of the narrators had lived the history and were drawing on experience. That perspective is perishable; savor the moment.

With the speakers on the left, the orchestra to the right, the center was for Christian's quintet -- Ron Blake, Geoff Keezer, Warren Wolf, Terreon Gully. Blake soloed on tenor in response to the words of Malcolm X, post Mecca -- “All credit is due to Allah; only the mistakes are mine.” Gully’s drums dramatized Ali. J. D. Steele and the choral music were true highlights with “She Said” for Parks, “Rumble in the Jungle” for Ali, "Free at last, free at last!" after King. The oratorio is Christian's vision, his music draws from the era, his bass lines are the foundation. His underscoring of the speakers’ words helped to inspire flawless reads.

As laid out in the Timeline, between 1962-69 Detroit was ground zero for the formation of the Freedom Now Party, Operation Negro Equality, Northern Negro Grassroots Leadership Conference, Freedom School (following a protest at Detroit Northern High School), Citywide Citizens Action Committee or CCAC, Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement or DRUM, League of Revolutionary Black Workers, to name some. There was violence and loss of life too. Many in the audience at Second Ebenezer lived the history, making this performance The Movement Revisited even more powerful.

Text of the MLK speech at the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival

Earlier in the week, Christian answered to Five Questions about the piece in the Detroit Free Press.

Jeff Gerritt's editorial "Michigan Man Malcolm X Deserves a Lasting Tribute"

Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute

Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University

Detroit International Jazz Festival

Broadway By The Year

Scott Siegel is the producer and host of an extraordinary series of concerts at The Town Hall in New York. "Broadway by the Year" celebrates musical theatre year by year with some of Broadway's best singers and dancers. This season is Siegel's 10th anniversary and begins February 22nd with the musicals of 1927, including the first great dramatic musical, "Show Boat." March 22nd spotlights musicals of 1948, including the first Tony-winning Best Musical, "Kiss Me, Kate." May 10th features musicals of 1966, including "Cabaret," "Mame," and "Sweet Charity." Siegel's season finale on June 14th will be that much more special, presenting one song from one musical each of the last 20 years, plus Scott's choice of a song from the Broadway season happening now.

We talked about "Broadway by the Year" for the February 19th WBGO Journal, but this blog special includes our continuing conversation about our favorite shows, plus songs from four of Scott's previous "years" at The Town Hall.

-- Michael Bourne