oscar peterson

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.

Montreal - Here I Come!

I write this sitting in the press room of the Festival International de JAZZ de Montreal, looking out at a sea of banners announcing JAZZ JAZZ JAZZ and more wonderful JAZZ. Facing me is the image of a special man we lost last year, Oscar Peterson, displayed proudly on the building that houses two of the main stages of this great festival. Tonight, I will walk past Oscar to hear Dee Dee Bridgewater and then two of the greatest living pianists of our day- Hank Jones and Oliver Jones, performing together, with Oscar Peterson looking over all of us.

Oscar Peterson

Its too early- even for this festival- for the music to start from all of the outdoor stages surrounding the Place des Arts, but the soundchecks go on, the crews deliver cases of instruments and cables and speakers, and the excitement builds. The WBGO team will be blogging from "The Montreal Jazz Festival" in the coming days, sharing some of the highlights not only of the festival, but the wonderful city that welcomes us all every year to share in this extraordinary event.

If you are here, let us know. Share your thoughts and experiences. Where are you eating? What are you seeing? Who have you discovered? With so many events going on, we can't possibly bring all of them to those of your reading this. But you can share your experiences. I promise to put up some photos as I go.

I can't sit still anymore- I've got a whole city to explore... First stop: got to buy my tee shirt!
-Amy

IAJE Evening 3 - Tread Well for Oscar

Oscar Peterson’s Award

Just after the promenade of NEA Jazz Masters, a spot of good news for US foreign relations. NEA Chairman Dana Gioia and Canada Council for the Arts chair Karen Kain presented an award posthumously to Oscar Peterson. Hear Chairman Gioia read the proclamation.

Kelly, Oscar's wife, and Celine, his daughter, accepted the award.

During the ceremony, Oscar's childhood neighbor, Oliver Jones, sat at the piano and played tribute to his dear friend. The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, directed by NEA Jazz Master David Baker, joined Oliver for the musical salute:

Oliver Jones and The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra - NEA Jazz Masters Awards 2008

Dave Young, Oscar's longtime bassist (1974-2006), joined Oliver for a trio take on Oscar's "Hymn to Freedom":

Oliver Jones Trio Plays for Oscar Peterson - NEA Jazz Masters Awards 2008

This was just the beginning of a phenomenal evening for jazz.

Addendum:

As I post this, there's an amazing show happening at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. The concert's called "Simply the Best." Herbie Hancock, Nancy Wilson, Quincy Jones, and everyone in Canada are coming out for Oscar. The concert is free to the public. Nearly 2,000 seats were awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to those who lined up at the box office. Fans began showing up at 5:30 a.m. We're hoping to secure rights to air the show on WBGO at a later date... - Josh

A few thoughts on Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson's passing this week got me to thinking about one of my first exposures to jazz...

I wasn't always a news guy.

As some of you might know, in a previous life, I did tech work in theater, both Off-Broadway and summer stock in Vermont. One summer in the early 90's, I was involved with a production of a new Doug Carter Beene play (which eventually moved to New York) called The Country Club. I wouldn't necessarily call it the most memorable of Beene's plays (who has had great success on the New York stage), but one of the things I remember the best from that production is the music selected for scene changes: Oscar Peterson Plays The Cole Porter Songbook.

Album Cover

I didn't know nearly as much then about jazz as I do now (you can't work at a place like 'BGO and not at least soak it in through osmosis), but I did recognize that this was a special album and a tremendous talent. I ended picking up a copy of this for my own cd collection. It was one of my first brushes with jazz, a good place to start. Thank you, Oscar.