Meeting the people that support Jazz 88

WBGO's Fall Program Guide Goes Digital

WBGO has been mailing out the Upbeat program guide for decades. We recently discovered some gems from the early years and thought we would share a few of those covers here.

WBGO has been at the vanguard of technology with online streaming of our programs, HD, HD2 (the jazz bee), mobile apps and more. In an effort to keep Upbeat in step with all these forward thinking efforts, we have created a digital version of our familiar program guide, which you can view online, magazine style with embedded links right to further information on our website. Take a test drive of this new service below and let us know what you think.

Newark, NJ: An "Organ Town" for Over 50 Years

Dr. Lonnie Smith plays in the studio tomorrow at 3 p.m.
Dr. Lonnie Smith plays in the studio on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Recently, WBGO has had the good fortune of acquiring an excellent Hammond C-3 organ (pictured below) that now sits in our studio. On Saturday, the acclaimed organist Dr. Lonnie Smith will make an appearance with his organ trio (featuring drummer Jamire Williams and guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg) to give it a whirl -- and as it turns out, this performance will be part of a long history of the jazz organ entertaining Newark audiences. <!--more-->

Faddis Fuels WBGO Member Night

WBGO Members were treated to yet another spectacular event (free of charge!) as they took the best seats in the house to enjoy Jon Faddis and the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra playing the Miles Davis/Gil Evans arrangements of Porgy and Bess.

Then they followed Midday Jazz host Rhonda Hamilton to Juilliard's Glorya Kaufman Dance Studio where they enjoyed fruit, cheese and snacks while being refreshed with cocktails mixed with Double Cross Vodka and Red Jacket Orchards juices - the reception's sponsors.

With a great view of the bustle of Broadway just below, Rhonda took the microphone and talked with Carl Allen, Artistic Director of Juilliard Jazz, and Jon Faddis, who shared some great Dizzy stories and ended by doing a station ID with Rhonda. The studio was filled with WBGO members, Juilliard donors, and musicians including Howard Johnson, Andy Farber and Steve Turre showed up to enjoy the show and lent their celebrity to the evening.

One young guest commented as he left, "It feels GOOD to be a WBGO Member."


WBGO's Latin Jazz Cruise Dance

On Thursday a boat-full of Latin Jazz lovers made their way up and down the East And Hudson Rivers as they took in the beautiful sights of New York City and danced the night away to the great sounds of the Steve Kroon Sextet. It was a great time, check out the slideshow below! Don't forget, Felix Hernandez' Rhythm Revue Dance Cruise is coming up, so get your tickets now!

My Two Jazz Cats

On this pet pledge day, I thought it would be a good time to introduce you to the latest addition to our home.  Say hello to Dinah.


Four and  a half months old, adopted from a shelter in Bloomfield a few weeks ago and making herself quite at home.

You might remember our other cat, Dizzy, who moved in a year ago last Spring.


These two jazz cats are still getting used to each other.

dizzy and dinah 1

But they love hanging out and listening to WBGO all day long (which their human companions are sure to leave on the radio while they're at work.)

dizzy and dinah 2

This household proudly supports WBGO!

Have you done your part for you and your pets?

Call and make a pledge at 1-800-499-9246 or pledge online at

Thanks for making member-supported, pet-pleasing Jazz88 possible!

Andrew Meyer

Louis Armstrong House Trip

Here's a preview of what we will be seeing tomorrow on our Members-only trip tomorrow morning to the Louis Armstrong House and Museum.  We'll also be lunching together afterward at the Pio Pio Restaurant in Queens.  Stay tuned for more details and photos of our trip.

Members Night a Success

michel-and-rhonda1Nearly 100 WBGO Members piled into the Blue Note jazz club in New York City, Wednesday evening, April 22, for a set by the fiery Dominican jazz pianist, Michel Camilo and his trio. Midday Jazz host Rhonda Hamilton mingled and led the foot-stomping to Camilo’s incredible sound, and then jumped up onstage to interview the still-sweating pianist. Michel expressed his love for WBGO and talked about his non-stop touring schedule—Japan, Europe, the Canary Islands. Rhonda took questions from the audience. “Will Camilo have a big band album out?” “Soon,” said the pianist. “The band plays so tightly; how long have they been together?” “The bassist, Charles Flores, has been with me for 6 or 8 years, and the drummer, Cliff Almond, since 1989.” “Will you play just one more tune!?” “Yes,” and Camilo launched into an incredible solo that somehow combined all the melody, all the passion and all the syncopation shifts of the evening. Though you sometimes couldn’t actually SEE Michel’s hands on the piano, they were moving so fast, we could all FEEL what came out.

Thanks to the Blue Note Staff who were so gracious and made it all seem easy, to WBGO staff—Assistant General Manager Amy Niles who got the deal rolling, Program Director Thurston Briscoe who made the Camilo connection, down to helping organize autograph seekers in Michel’s dressing room, to our Membership staff David Rosenak and Rita Keith without whom we simply would not be able to accomplish a Members Night. And thank you members for all of your support and for joining the fun on this night. More Members Nights ahead. Stay tuned.

See Photo Gallery of Members Night

WBGO Jazz Leadership Society Brunch with Simone!

Simone sings at Theater Square Grill during WBGO's JLS burnch 4/19/09

The crowd was enthusiastic and the performance fantastic on Sunday, April 19 when over 125 of WBGO’s most loyal and generous supporters turned out for the Singers Unlimited Brunch at NJPAC's Theater Square Grill. The annual event, which honors members of WBGO’s Jazz Leadership Society, featured a concert by Simone, the daughter of legendary singer Nina Simone. Backed up by her quintet of veteran jazz players, Simone sang for the delighted Jazz Leadership Society members in a concert broadcast worldwide through WBGO Jazz88 and via the internet on

Listen to the full broadcast here!

WBGO’s weekday morning host, Gary Walker emceed, filling in for WBGO’s Michael Bourne, currently on the mend from knee surgery. Gary led the audience in a chorus of “Hurry Back Michael” chants to cheer up Michael, WBGO’s long-time weekday afternoon announcer and host of the popular Singers Unlimited program. Between songs, Gary and Simone bantered about her career and growing up as Nina Simone’s daughter. Simone was wonderfully gracious and patiently autographed her CD Simone on Simone for dozens of grateful Jazz Leadership Society members in attendance.

Prior to the live broadcast, WBGO’s General Manager Cephas Bowles and Chairman of the Board of Directors Tim Porter welcomed the Jazz Leadership Society members and thanked them for their support.

Jazz Leadership Society (JLS) members receive a number of exciting benefits including insider access to the world of jazz, such as the annual Singers Unlimited Brunch. Basic JLS membership begins at the $1,000 annual gift level, with additional benefits available at the Silver ($2,500) and Gold ($5,000+) levels. For example, on March 23rd, Silver and Gold members were invited to an intimate evening with legendary jazz impresario George Wein.

For more information about how you can become a member of the Jazz Leadership Society, please contact Vincent Bochis at 973-624-8880, ext. 285 or at, or visit the JLS page on

Members Night with Rhonda and Dianne

Rhonda Hamilton and Dianne ReevesLast Friday NJPAC was surrounded by snow, but inside the Victoria Theatre there was an awful lot of warmth. It was a Members Night and about 100 WBGO Members turned out in the bad weather to hear, see and feel what happens when McCoy Tyner and his trio, and then Dianne Reeves with a quartet, take over the stage. McCoy still plays with commanding strength and seemed on top of his game, but the night clearly belonged to Dianne.  She sang a little Brazilian, a nice grouping from her most recent CD and threw in some holiday classics, but always it is the warmth of her heart and the clarity of her emotional take on each lyric, each song that is so winning. Even trite Christmas songs you have heard so many times before, hit their mark. She can tell a good story too, sometimes around the edges of a song, sometimes right through the middle. You can tell how generous and gracious she is in her performances, so it was no surprise (but a nice one nonetheless) that she took the time to say hello to WBGO Members at the dessert reception at Theatre Square Grill after the show. Midday Jazz host Rhonda Hamilton introduced her to the members and then both Dianne and Rhonda spent time connecting with "these special people."  Together they made the point that the work that WBGO Members do to keep the station alive and thriving is crucial. Sure, we knew that. But it is nice to hear it from such beautiful hearts.  Go here if you would like to see photos of the reception.