Encounters

Running into the jazz glitterati in the most unlikely places.

A Visit to the Montreal Guitar Show: Jerome Casanova

French luthier discusses and demonstrates his unique guitar-brass bell hybrid

Amy's Moodys

moodys1.jpg

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.

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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...

Digging on Dexter

It's the birthday of saxophonist Dexter Gordon, who holds a special place in the hearts of many people at WBGO. Perhaps no one here knew him better than our station mother, Dorthaan Kirk. Here's a story she just told me:

I met Dexter when I was touring Europe with Rahsaan Roland Kirk's band. Rahsaan loved Dexter, so I knew the name and the music before I ever met him. Anyway, we had some time off, so we went to Copenhagen. We saw an early concert at Tivoli Gardens with the Basie Band, then we joined some of Basie's guys and headed for the Club Montmartre. Copenhagen was Dexter's home, and he played that club all the time.
I remember so much about that evening. Dexter was wearing a blue jean suit. It was definitely the 70s! At the end of the night, it's 3 or 4am, and all of the musicians are at the bar. I'm keeping to myself, mostly, while all the guys are carrying on. Long, tall, and handsome as can be, Dexter walks out of the kitchen, comes right up to me, and says, "Who are you?" I was practically speechless, which you know never happens...
From that night on, Dexter always called me "Miss Rahsaan." I sure do miss him.

Here's Dexter playing Sonny Stitt's "Loose Walk" in Amsterdam, with a Swiss trio - George Gruntz piano, Guy Pederson bass and drummer Daniel Humair:

 

SportsJam - Trumpeter Jon Faddis

Doug Doyle and Trumpeter Jon Faddis

I had a blast interviewing trumpeter Jon Faddis for SportsJam, WBGO's new sports podcast/on-demand feature. Jon is a real sports fan who loves the old-timers from several different sports. I asked him to put together his all-time jazz band made up of sports stars. He selected Tiger Woods to be the saxophone of John Coltrane. Find out who else he picked, his thoughts on why he thinks jazz and sports are related and hear about his special sports relationship with his dad. Listen now.
-Doug Doyle

It ain't democracy until someone gets arrested

New Jersey's Senate Minority Leader wants the state Attorney General to investigate the arrest of former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan. Tom Kean, Jr. wants to know if Lonegan's first amendment rights were violated when a state trooper ordered his arrest outside Middle Township High School in Cape May County where Governor Jon Corzine was holding a town meeting.

Lonegan was taken into custody after he refused to remove signs from outside the school. Kean said "the right to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances is the foundation of U.S. democracy." He suggested that the Corzine administration was trying to intimidate opponents into silence.

The governor has been holding town hall meetings on his proposal to raise tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway as a means to bring down the state's debt and pay for infrastructure upgardes. But he has been criticized for requiring audience members to pre-register to attend. Here's what happened to the usually contentious Lonegan last week. - David Cruz

The elegance of Eliane Elias

Something For You CoverI 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

IAJE Evening 3 - Q's Jook Joint

Quincy Jones with WBGO’s Josh Jackson

Sometimes, everything works in your favor. Earlier this evening, I was God - well, the The Voice of God, actually - during the NEA Jazz Master Awards Concert. I only get this opportunity once a year, so I do my best to take advantage of the moment. When you're posing as a deity in a crowd of real ones, you might as well take control of reality. Michael Bourne refers to this unique ability of customizing your universe as being a Master of Space and Time.

Backstage was a real hang. Old friends Quincy Jones and Jon Hendricks, who share a lot of history, swapped stories about an era of music that I know only about because I read books. They lived it.

NEA Jazz Masters Quincy Jones and Jon Hendricks

But I'm not afraid to talk to anyone. So I struck a note with Hendricks shortly after I took this photo. At 86, he's 53 years my senior. And he has more energy then I do. No more than ten minutes later, I'm in a cab with him. We're meeting Quincy Jones and a couple of friends for dinner. This is really happening...

Food at Spice Room

We gather at Greg Couillard's Spice Room and Chutney Bar, a private dining area in a Yorkville mall. The room seats about 40. It's 11:30pm. The place is ours alone.

Couillard, from one of Canada's oldest families, and David Nganga, a Kenyan, are two of Toronto's finest chefs. They combine dishes with an understanding of spices from every world trade route - Africa, Asia, Indonesia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, India. They brought five courses of their own creation, and each one worked. Giant prawns, short ribs, lamb chops on a bed of chutney, flying fish and callalou pepperpot, Alberta filet mignon with foie gras, a dessert sampler to die for, and biscuits so good that a Southerner like myself had to ask for seconds.

Dinner with the Jazz Masters

I did not bring a microphone, nor a recorder. This wasn't the right time for such things. Anyway, we were improvising. What I can tell you is that the conversation went many places - New Orleans, Brazil, Toledo [OH], Dubai, Vegas, Miami's South Beach, New York. The stories were many - Q on the road with Lionel Hampton, Sing a Song of Basie, teaching kids about jazz and democracy, you name it.

What fascinated me most about Quincy Jones was his understanding of international politics. He knows the internal dynamics of most nation states, including the United States. He's an international businessman and a humanitarian. He has to know it all.

What you need to know about Quincy is that he is jazz. He never sleeps. He uses his power and wealth to affect social change. He's sending an envoy of New Orleans musicians to the favelas of Rio this year to show the rest of the world that poverty exists, and that it's inhumane. He's followed everywhere he goes (except to tonight's dinner) by a camera crew. They're making video podcasts. You should watch them.

He loves great food. His favorite is gumbo from New Orleans' Dooky Chase Restaurant, run by the Queen of Creole cooking, Leah Chase. Q knows the Chase family. He has the gumbo recipe, and someone cooks it for him when he's nowhere near New Orleans.

Quincy is also opening five clubs this year, in the US and abroad. They're called Q's Jook Joints. Frankly, wherever Quincy Jones is, that's where you'll find the real Q's Jook Joint. I'm glad that for one night, I got to jam there with two masters - Quincy Jones and Jon Hendricks.

When you're a Master of the Universe, even for just one day, you'd better know how to improvise.

-Josh Jackson

IAJE Evening 3 - Jazz Wonk(a)

Golden Ticket

Let's all pretend that I'm Grandpa Joe from Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory for a moment:

I never thought my life could be
Anything but catastrophe
But suddenly I begin to see
A bit of good luck for me

'Cause I've got a golden ticket
I've got a golden twinkle in my eye...

I had a backstage pass for the NEA Jazz Masters ceremony. It's a very precious item to have. Why did I, a lowly jazz radio blogger, get this? Well, as it happens, for one night, I was God. Or more appropriately, the "Voice of God" during the show. Hear God here.

Script

But Friday Night was not about me, and everything about the Jazz Masters who have contributed their lives to this music. So, now that I've been reassigned to mere mortal status, we'll move on to the show in these next few posts... - Josh