Real Life Stories

We couldn't possibly make this stuff up.

Newark’s Jazz Club Scene: An Aural History Project from WBGO News

Do you remember the Playbill, the Cadillac Club? How about the Key Club or Sparky J’s? Do you know someone, a friend, a parent, a grandparent who used to hang out in Newark’s jazz scene back during the heyday?

WBGO News is looking for first-hand stories of Newark’s rich jazz history to capture as part of a new aural history project. We’re looking for remembrances from those times. What did the places look like, smell like, feel like, etc. Why were they so much fun during that time? What made the jazz clubs the place to be. What did they like about them. What performers did they see there? What songs got people moving? Did they perhaps meet their future spouse at a club?

We’re looking to interview people who have stories to tell about this aspect of Newark’s rich cultural heritage. You can reach us at jazzclubs@wbgo.org, or you can get in touch with news director Doug Doyle at 973-624-8880, ext. 264.

A Visit to the Montreal Guitar Show: Jerome Casanova

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

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.

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.

dizzy

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 www.wbgo.org.

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

Andrew Meyer

Cafe Society: The Wrong Place For The Right People

Cafe SocietyOne of the features airing on the WBGO Journal airing Friday night, 7:30 on July 3, 2009 is an interview with Terry Trilling-Josephson, the widow of Barney Josephson.  Drawing on interviews she did with her late husband, Terry has put together a new book about his life and Cafe Society, the groundbreaking Manhattan nightclub which broke down the barriers between the races in the 1930's, on stage and in the audience.  In addition to the interview which airs on the Journal, here's an hour-long special featuring the full interview with Terry and including musical selections from some of the jazz and blues artists who played Cafe Society or the club that marked Barney Josephson's return to the New York music scene, The Cookery.

Andrew Meyer

The Jazz Cat

Many here at WBGO are aware of how my wife Erica and I came upon Canyon, our orange tabby. We were at the Grand Canyon late one night during our honeymoon. And as we walked along the rim (a grand opportunity for Erica to push me off should she have any regrets), we heard a meow from below the edge. Up pops up this orange tabby, one who should have been dinner for any coyote that night. Yet for some reason he wasn't, rather - he simply approached us in want of some attention and affection. Long story short, after researching where he may have come from we arranged the local animal shelter (local? at the Grand Canyon? actually, yes.) to collect him. Some days and several hundred miles later whilst in Park City Utah, Erica and I couldn't get this fella out of our heads, so when we returned home to NJ we contacted the shelter and made arrangements to adopt him from 2500 miles away. Within a week I was picking him up from Newark Liberty Airport and the rest is history. "Grant Canyon" has lived very happily with us, and us with him, since.

Grant Canyon

Fast forward to last week... after Thanksgiving dinner with family I worked evening jazz for Awilda at the station. During a tune I stepped outside for some tea and a smoke, when out from seemingly nowhere - appears a very frightened kitten meowing and painfully desperate.

'Same as when Canyon appeared from the Grand Canyon, yet this time it was a kitten, a very frightened one, not at all in the wild; rather - in deep within the urban jungle, in the heart of a very unforgiving city.

This was no feral kitten, I've seen stray cats in the park and along the streets in garbage cans. This lil one was frightened to no end and in desperate want for the first person he saw to rescue him. I knelt down and sure enough he came to me meowing loud and with panicked eyes.

Thus, I picked him up, brought him into the station, fed him what little milk I had reserved for my tea, made a bed with my heavy sweater and continued the evening jazz broadcast.

Come 1 a.m. I set for home (back to civilized ruralscape) with kitten in arms all the while, to a warm home with a roaring fire, ample food, and a big sofa to sleep on and watch CNN. Life is good, very very good for this kitten suddenly. Only hours prior did the dark, cold, oil slicked streets threaten to be the only option.

'Not sure what to name him as of yet. "Canyon" was named for the Grand Canyon of course. But "Newark" doesn't fit this lil' one's face.

"Thurston" would be a great name (for Briscoe, our PD). "Cephas" has also been suggested (for our GM). Our Assistant General Manager Amy Niles suggested naming him after the relief host that night! That'd be good ol' Bill. And I admit, "Daughtry" would make for a great name.

For now however, since the situation's urban, and he's an orphan, when he drank the tea milk and looked up at me with those eyes in want for more, I shall call him "Oliver Twist."

Oliver Twist
"Please sir, may I have some more?" Oliver emerges from behind the toilet, he's glad to be off the streets.

Oliver Twist
...he's REAL glad to be off the streets.

But here is where you come in. Unlike commercial radio stations, WBGO is a public radio station, supported by its members for its members. Thus, Oliver Twist is all of ours in a sense. What would you name him? Make a comment below and voice your thoughts...

It's Election Day, Get Out And Vote!

Election Day, 2008

Usually, going to vote at my polling station in Glen Ridge doesn't take a whole lot of time, a matter of minutes. It's an in and out affair. This morning, it was a very different story.

 Election Day, Linden Ave School

From the time I walked in the door at the Linden Ave School, it took me a half hour! Everyone seemed good-natured about the wait, which I was told by poll workers had been as long as 45 mintues earlier. All I can say is it's great to see so many people getting out and taking care of their civic duty! 

Looking for the latest information on the elections? You can find it on our website.  Also tune in tonight beginning at 8pm as WBGO and NPR bring you wall-to-wall coverage of the results of Election 2008!

Andrew Meyer

Notes From The SS WBGO

Ahoy readers. Josh Jackson sends posts from the Village Vanguard so I have decided to do the same from the co-anchor chair during the drive. <!--more-->

On with Eulis Cathey tonight. Pledge central is buzzing after Rob Crocker and Brian Delp had a really fun show and Rob is riding high as he breezes by to catch his train.

Eulis has such a nice and easy style. It's why so many of you like to listen to him. Tonight, he is boosting his mellow moods with some  highlights from the Latin Package. If you all are dancing where you are like I am in the studio, it's going to be a hot night!

We have a theme this drive- sure, it is our fiscal finale, but everyone who calls or makes a pledge during the first week of the drive is entered to win a choice of one of 4 cruises donated by Jazz Cruises LLC. I have never been on a cruise, so I have never understood the lure of just hanging out on the water, but spending a whole week with some of the greatest jazz musicians of today, now that's something that I could go for. So now I am hoping that someone tonight wins the cruise and doesn't have anyone to go wtih and decides to take me. Eulis is playing Pancho Sanchez's take on Watermelon Man from the Latin Package and I am singing along. Then I realize that Pancho Sanchez is going to be on the Playboy Jazz Cruise ( along with Herbie Hancock who wrote the piece). I could be on that cruise and sing along with it live? Oh man, I gotta go!

Eulis has a listener who is a big Oscar Peterson fan and he likes to play an Oscar Peterson selection each Saturday night. It's always a highlight for me as a listener too. One of the thank you gifts is a seven cd collection from the Oscar Peterson Trio and the hard part is deciding which track to play.  One cut on this CD is Oscar's version of Tea for Two, simple but pure Oscar. Always closely associated with Oscar was Art Tatum and we talk about this really interesting CD called a "reperformance" of Live at the Shrine. Tea for Two is one of the selections on that. This is a CD not without controversy- I try to explain it in simple terms- basically it is all about preserving the intonation and removing the distractions inherent with early recordings ( the tracks on this cd were originally recorded in 1933 and 1949). David Tallacksen talked about the technology on this blog when it was previewed at the IAJE in January. It's the kind of cd that you need to own and listen on your own time. A pledge of $88. Totally worth it. You might have seen this cd in a store and thought that it was just another release of something you may have already in your cd collection. That's why the fund drives are so great- they give us the chance to explore some of the special releases that we as listeners may overlook. I'm glad that a bunch of you decide to go for it. And get entered in the cruise giveaway.

The phones aren't ringing as much as I would like. Maybe the audience doesn't understand how important this fund drive is to keeping WBGO on the air. I have to believe that lots of people who listen don't realize that we get most of our funding from our listeners. And of course, the readers of this blog.  Not commercials. So we have to educate. And remind people how important this radio station is to them. How much of a stake that each one of us has to keep this station on the air. And on the web.

Its 4 minutes to go and we haven't made our goal. It feels like a defeat. Because I know how many people are listening. What did we do wrong? Do people not believe us when we say that we are not messing around here, this is really serious? We do our best to get that point across.

And tomorrow we do it all again- hopefully with your help.

A TRIP TO LOST JERSEY AND ELLIS ISLAND'S FORGOTTEN SIDE

 When you hop on the ferry to visit Ellis Island, you get a taste of America's immigrant roots. 

 Ellis Island Main Building

However, only a fraction of the island is open to the public. 

 Ellis Island hospital complex

The vast hospital complex which covers the south side of Ellis Island has been abandonned for about 50 years and is off-limits to the public, but that's going to be changing. 

connecting hallway

Efforts are underway to stabilize and restore these buildings. 

After an initial trip with a group of Jersey lawmakers six years ago, I had a chance to go back recently to check on the progress that's been made in preserving not only the buildings but the history that goes with them. What I found can be heard in the next feature in WBGO News' Lost Jersey series, which airs on our next WBGO Journal, Friday, August 1 at 7:30pm.

Andrew Meyer

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...