My son-in-law, Glenn Dicker, is possessed by the Christmas spirit every year and hangs more lights, more Santas, inflates more penguins, and otherwise out-Yules all the other homes of Chapel Hill, NC.
Mark your calendars for Tuesday, July 21st. That's when I co-host a show with NPR Music's Bob Boilen from Joe's Pub. Come hear some cool music, and maybe watch live radio.
I have had the good fortune to have been surrounded these past two years at WBGO by some of the greatest players in jazz. That's what you come to expect when you are a part of the world's most significant jazz radio station. But it's the people who have touched me for more than the music that they create who truly are a part of my heart.
I love the Moodys- James and Linda Moody.
Last year we honored Moody at our Champions of Jazz Gala. The honoree's are chosen not just for what they have contributed as artists, but also what they are doing for the future of jazz. James has instituted a scholarship fund at Purchase College to support the training of jazz musicians. Moody's program is not just about teaching "musicianship". Its about forming the whole person. That's Moody. Being a musician is about being a whole person. His scholarship website says "creating opportunities for the next generation of jazz musicians". And to make sure, he is putting his time and his money where his mouth is. No one knows better than Moody about what it takes to be a jazz musician. At 83 years of age, he has earned the title of leader.
Twenty years ago, Moody met a single mom with twin teenaged boys. That was Linda. A great love story. Three months later they got married. I have never asked them, but it couldn't have been easy. Age difference, race difference. Both with kids. Being on the road. But these are two spectacular people and as you can see from the photo, they must have been just about the hippest couple around- Linda with her West Coast good looks and well, Moody is a jazz musician.
Last month, I was with Stefon Harris and out of the blue he told a story about Moody. They were playing a gig far away from home and right before they went out for the first set, Moody said to Stefon "where is your cell phone?". Stefon showed him and Moody told Stefon to call his wife and tell her that he loved her before he played a single note. That's Moody. Don't take anyone for granted, especially when you have found your soul mate. Moody and Linda truly are soul mates. When I heard that story, I called my husband. Then I called Moody and Linda. I had to tell them all that I loved them.
In this past year, I have had the opportunity to get to know them both Moody and Linda. I can say that my world has become richer for my friendship with Linda. Not a day goes by that this woman is not flying somewhere, planning something, getting ready for a host of young students to come visit, asking about my children, organizing, making this world a sweeter place.
So, I love James and Linda Moody. I love to watch them hold hands, finish each other's sentences, tell stories. And how lucky I am to have had the chance to listen to those stories- and laugh with them. As soon as we can, we will post the link to the Moody interview with Rhonda Hamilton the day before he was given the key to his ( and our) hometown of Newark. You will get to hear - if you didn't hear it live- some of Moody's great stories. With Linda sitting right beside him. Bet you will love the Moodys too...
There may be a bit of a glut of Flamenco dancers, singers and guitarists in NYC and environs nowadays, and tourists can get a skirt steak and soléa in more than a few Manhattan spots. But if you wanna get a look at the real deal "Flamenca pura," you will not be disappointed if you head out to Theater 80 on St. Mark's Place for a performance by Noche Flamenca. The group has started a six-week run at the venue and it's a perfect spot for them, so intimate you can see the sweat beads on the dancers' foreheads.
If you're a fan of Flamenco or if you've ever wanted to get an introduction to the art form, I highly recommend them. You can hear some more about Noche Flamenca on the WBGO Journal tonight. Here's a clip from a dress rehearsal last week. Dig. - Cruz
Excuse me, but I am about to step up on my soapbox.
I was at a dinner party the other night, and I said that I don't really get out much, My days are long between WBGO and my kids. But then someone at the table mentioned a performer who I had just seen, and then another one and yet another one. . . OK, maybe I get out more than I realized. How lucky am I to live in NY. I just pulled out a list of the events that our marketing crew will be attending this summer- I started to hyperventilate looking over the schedule. Add that to all of the ones that we had to pass on because we simply didn't have enough staff, it is mindboggling. So many great artists- and so much of it is FREE. Simone and Regina Carter FREE thanks to Lincoln Center Out of Doors, James Moody, Cyrus Chestnut, TS Monk FREE at Lincoln Park, Felix Hernandez and Rhythm Revue FREE in Prospect Park as part of a partnership with the Park, Heart of Brooklyn and us here at WBGO on September 27th. The list goes on. Do I take it for granted?
Sound of me climbing onto my soapbox- I write this from a weekend away in another time zone where people whiz by in cars and I seem to go to the movies everytime I visit because that is what art is. That's not a dig to my movie loving/making friends, its just a statement about the lack of choices available here. We metro area NY/NJers sometimes forget just how arts rich are lives are. Even though I work in the arts, I forget too.This is my thank you to all of us who make it our business to insure that the arts are supported. The corporations who despite stock prices tumbling still find room in the budget to underwrite a concert that they know will introduce kids to great music. And that's where WBGO fits into the picture- we make as much of this accessible to those outside of the area with the live broadcasts and interviews that we do, and the blogging too.
So one big group hug- to all who produce, present, and support this great art of live performance- and for those of you who can attend, keep doing your part and support these events.And for those of you in Japan, and California, and Montreal and Korea and London and Texas who read this blog and listen to WBGO- keep your radio on and keep supporting the arts.
Thanks for listening.
This Sunday's telecast will be the 80th annual awarding of the Oscars. This Sunday's Singers Unlimited (10AM-2PM) will celebrate with songs from the movies. Most of the standards of the American Popular Songbook, songs of Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, the Gershwins et al, came from Broadway or Hollywood musicals. Most of the Broadway songs also came to the screen. I'll spotlight songs from the movies of Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, even Humphrey Bogart. I'll celebrate the birthday next week (and upcoming gig at Birdland) of Oscar-winning composer (and jazz pianist) Michel Legrand. I'll feature highlights from jazz and blues movies, also Oscar-winning songs performed by the likes of Nat Cole and Frank Sinatra -- although I won't be playing all of the Oscar-winning songs. "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" is not really in our groove on WBGO ...I started reviewing movies in 1967, and I've seen a thousand or two. I started going to the movies with my grandfather when I was 2. I don't remember any of those movies with him, but once in a while I'll be watching an old western and I'll have deja vu. I can't always remember what I was doing yesterday, but I can still name all the actors on The Late Show.
I rarely go to the movies nowadays. I get in cheaper as a senior, but most of the new movies aren't worth whatever the cost. I'd rather wait and rent newer movies -- although I'm much more often watching older movies on TV.
Herewith my all-time favorite movies:
1 THE SEVEN SAMURAI, the masterpiece of director Akira Kurosawa. Toshiro Mifune is downright feral on screen as one of the seven swordfighters who protect a farming village from bandits. My favorite of countless great moments: the little smile on the face of Daisuke Kato when his old comrade recruits him but tells him this time they might not survive, also the grace and power of Takashi Shimura drawing and shooting arrows during the climactic battle in the rain.
2 CASABLANCA, the first movie I bought on DVD. My favorite moment is any moment Claude Rains is on the screen.
3 THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, photographed in often painterly black and white by (should've-won-an-Oscar visual genius) Gregg Toland. It's the story of three men returning home after WWII, each of them struggling with who they used to be and who they've become, each of them getting a dramatic moment of redemption. Fredric March as a banker turns drunken babble at a banquet into a passionate hope for the future. Dana Andrews as an ex-officer who can't get a job walks through a field of broken airplanes and realizes that he's also junk. Harold Russell (who actually lost both hands in the war) shows Cathy O'Donnell as his girl next door what he looks like when he pulls off his hooks, but, rather than being horrified, she matter-of-factly picks up his hooks as if she's putting aside his slippers. It's the most deeply intimate scene I've ever seen.
4 YOU'RE TELLING ME, I think the funniest comedy of the funniest comedian, W.C. Fields. He's especially graceful doing his physical gags, and, for someone always thought grumpy, Fields is also very sweet, especially when he talks to a princess when he thinks that she's trying to kill herself. I think the funniest scene ever filmed is in another Fields comedy, when he's trying to sleep on the back porch and keeps being bothered by noise and neighbors in IT'S A GIFT.
5 BOSSA NOVA, the romantic comedy I've watched every birthday since 2000, about a lawyer (Antonio Fagundes) who falls in love with an English teacher (Amy Irving) in Rio, dedicated to (and featuring songs of) Antonio Carlos Jobim.
My all-time favorite music for a movie was the all-star jam that happens throughout Robert Altman's KANSAS CITY. Being there when some of the music scenes were filmed was one of the best jazz experiences of my life, especially the tenor battle of Joshua Redman as Lester Young with Craig Handy as Coleman Hawkins. They filmed way more music than was needed, music that was so great that an all-music version was created, called Robert Altman's JAZZ '34. Bob asked me to write the opening scene-setter that Harry Belafonte reads on the soundtrack -- my first and only time ever actually working on a movie.
I'm not sure what genome sequence has been altered in the Ellis family. Saxophonist John Ellis is enough of a character. But his brother wins the prize. Watch the video below, and I think you'll agree.
With a little less than three weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report for spring training, the Mets made the move we Mets fans have been hoping for, getting lefty Johan Santana from the Twins for relatively cheap. Pending finalization of the plan (which we all expect shortly) the Mets will have solidified the team's pitching and made several of us here at Jazz 88 very (VERY!) happy.
On Day 1 of our Jazz with Heart Fund Drive it's good to know that someone's got cash to spare. And while we're not asking you to pledge a Johan Santana-like amount, we do hope that you'll do your share to keep this great music alive on the radio 24/7. Did you know that Johan Santana is from Venezuela? He is. And we just happen to have a great Latin Package that features "A Taste of Cacao: Latin Jazz with a Venezuelan Flavor." It's available, along with "Putumayo Presents Latin Jazz" for a pledge of $125. That makes you a part of the family, which you will come to appreciate immediately. Now, repita por favor: Let's Go Mets! Let's Go Mets! - David Cruz
I rarely work the morning shift around here. 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. newscasts are Doug Doyle territory and for good reason. It takes a special man to get up at 3:30 a.m. and get here in time to deliver the news at 6 a.m., sharp. Frankly, I ain't that special, man. Those of you who've heard me at that time in the morning, know what I'm talking about.Still, when Doug's out, I get the call. One recent morning, however, I was sitting at my desk, staring blankly at my computer monitor, the written word failing me, when all of a sudden, dripping from the speakers behind me, like honey on a nubile neck, comes Eliane Elias singing Jobim's "Photograph (Fotografia)."
The vocal, so lush and silken, insinuated itself into my soft gray matter and swirled around like the café in my café con leche. I closed my eyes and drank deeply, Eliane inside my brain. MMM. It's just about the only thing that went right that morning.
Eliane Elias is just smooth, man, (as both a singer and a pianist) so if you get a chance, I urge you to join us (yes, I'll be there) tomorrow at J&R Music's Park Row store (23 Park Row, NYC, Second Floor) for a FREE live performance and broadcast of some of the material from her new release "Something For You: Eliane Elias Sings and Plays Bill Evans."
The performance starts at 4 p.m. and, even if you're in Rio, Brasil, you can hear it live. - David Cruz
And Now for Something Completely Different ...
Since we're headlong into the New Year, and the 2007 listmania has ended - Best Of, Top Ten, Bottom Eleven etc. - permit me to right an historic wrong among jazz critics. Since I'm not one of them.
There's no debating that jazz has become an international phenomenon. However, the stale argument about who's moving the music forward still rages. While Americans can clearly take ownership of our national treasure, it's foreign-born artists like the Austrian pianist, Hans Groiner, who are finding ways to bring improvisation and art music back into the mainstream. Without any further discussion, bear witness to the Most Overlooked Artist, two years running:
If you'd like to hear The Shape of Jazz to Come, check out Hans Groiner Plays Monk on MySpace.
- Josh Jackson