UNESCO -- the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization -- has named April 30 as International Jazz Day. And festivities begin on Friday, April 27, in Paris. For more information, visit the UNESCO web page.
UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock spoke with Alex Dutilh of France Musique yesterday about the pianist's involvement in International Jazz Day, as well as changes in jazz worldwide since Herbie started to play the music as a teenager in the mid 1950s. Herbie says,
. . . my experience [then] was that for the most part, the best jazz musicians were Americans. I can’t say that these days. I can’t say that today because, in my experience traveling around the world and hearing jazz musicians from different countries and seeing also jazz musicians that have moved to the United States and gotten experience working with great world class musicians in America and taken that back to their home countries, it’s expanded the professional level of jazz musicianship. Exponentially. So now it truly is an international music.
At sunrise on Monday, April 30, there will be a worldwide hookup of young players in New Orleans, Rio, Cape Town and Paris on a synchronized live version of Herbie's "Watermelon Man!"
Check out the April 30 events at UN headquarters in New York here.
And Monday night at 6:30, we'll broadcast the New Orleans concert as a special. Listen to WBGO and wbgo.org for more info.
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.
Earlier this summer, WBGO launched NPR's first concert series of live jazz webcasts, "Live at the Village Vanguard," which offers monthly shows from the legendary New York City venue. Next weekend, August 9 and 10, WBGO and NPR Music are teaming up to live webcast main stage acts from the JVC Jazz Festival Newport. On the bill are legendary pianist Herbie Hancock; producer, performer and Jazz Festival founder George Wein; guitarist Howard Alden; along with rising jazz stars Esperanza Spalding and Guillermo Klein y Los Guachos. I'll be your host. Should be fun.
Check out one of my favorite performances captured at Newport.
The Jazz Standard's address is 116 East 27th Street in Manhattan, between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue. The club seems to exist in some type of gray area, as far as Manhattan neighborhoods. The location is conceivably an eastern part of the Flatiron section of town, but more like a northern extension of the Gramercy area, since it's a full six blocks from the exclusive enclave of Gramercy Park.
Whatever. I'm glad we're spending New Year's at Jazz Standard.
Don't get me wrong. I've spent some quality time at clubs during the last six Toast of the Nation celebrations. Each one of them has contributed some special moments. And there are always some delightful stories when you work in the trenches to bring people across the country some live music. Here are the last six I've worked as field producer, in order:
The Village Vanguard - Michael White's Original Liberty Jazz Band 2001/02
Blue Note New York - Chick Corea New Trio with Gary Burton 2002/03
Blue Note New York - Herbie Hancock Quartet 2003/04
Yoshi's in Oakland for Joshua Redman's Elastic Band 2004/05
Tipitina's in New Orleans for Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, The Hot 8 Brass Band, and Galactic 2005/06
The now-defunct Tonic on the Lower East Side - Steven Bernstein's Millenial Territory Orchestra 2006/07
So this year, we're at Jazz Standard. Thanks to Seth Abramson, it's one of the most creatively booked jazz clubs in the city. And thanks to Danny Meyer, it has some rockin' barbeque (not bad, considering we're above the Mason-Dixon line).
Not so incidentally, WBGO broadcast Ben Allison's Medicine Wheel, with the kora player, Mamadou Diabate, live during the club's opening week celebration. It's been a long time since that show, but we're finally back at the club for another live shot. "Ain't that good news?"
Drummer Ed Thigpen has lived in Denmark since the early 70s, but we haven't forgotten him stateside. Especially given the recent death of Oscar Peterson. Thigpen recorded more than 50 records as a member of the Oscar Peterson Trio, but not very many as a leader.
In 1966, though, he made a record for Verve called OUT OF THE STORM. Not a lot of music here, and Thigpen doesn't solo much, but it's still worth checking out. At the time, Thigpen had recently left the Oscar Peterson trio. Trumpeter Clark Terry adds some mouthpiece-only solos for an nice effect. Thigpen plays tuned drums that sound like tympani at times. Kenny Burrell, Herbie Hancock, and Ron Carter round out the date. Give it a listen.
The last time I saw Ed Thigpen, he was teaching kids at a percussion clinic in New Orleans. As you can imagine, there were a symphony of drummers in attendance (which, in retrospect, is pretty easy for a rhythm town like NOLA). It was just around the time that he won a Humanitarian Award at the International Association for Jazz Education conference.
That seems fitting. He's a beautiful cat, and a tremendous educator. And for the record, he's a hell of a wire brush player.
Happy Birthday, Ed Thigpen.