michael bourne

When MB Met Fred

The Brooklyn Museum is showing a retrospective of artist Fred Tomaselli now through January 2nd. Tomaselli’s work involves a collage of mixed media: painting, photographs, and a variety of images that have become Tomaselli signatures. Birds. Bugs. Leaves. Beads. Even actual pills that he sticks onto the pieces. One of his most amusing works shows a colossal baby trampling a cityscape like Godzilla. It’s Tomaselli’s son, and as you look closer you see that the cityscape is actually a jumble of toys. One of his most spectacular pieces shows Adam and Eve driven out from a burst of eyes and teeth and creatures, a Big Bang of life’s miscellany. He’s also done works that look like intimate close-ups of chemical elements or human cells. Microcosms. Macrocosms. And sometimes both all at once. I talked with Fred Tomaselli at his Brooklyn studio for the 11/12/10 WBGO Journal. You can hear the entire interview as a web extra, and you can see here a slideshow of Tomaselli’s works in the show at the Brooklyn Museum.

-Michael Bourne

Broadway By The Year

Scott Siegel is the producer and host of an extraordinary series of concerts at The Town Hall in New York. "Broadway by the Year" celebrates musical theatre year by year with some of Broadway's best singers and dancers. This season is Siegel's 10th anniversary and begins February 22nd with the musicals of 1927, including the first great dramatic musical, "Show Boat." March 22nd spotlights musicals of 1948, including the first Tony-winning Best Musical, "Kiss Me, Kate." May 10th features musicals of 1966, including "Cabaret," "Mame," and "Sweet Charity." Siegel's season finale on June 14th will be that much more special, presenting one song from one musical each of the last 20 years, plus Scott's choice of a song from the Broadway season happening now.

We talked about "Broadway by the Year" for the February 19th WBGO Journal, but this blog special includes our continuing conversation about our favorite shows, plus songs from four of Scott's previous "years" at The Town Hall.

-- Michael Bourne

Michael Bourne Interviews Bill Daugherty

[caption id="attachment_1168" align="alignnone" width="450" caption="The Cast of "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?""]The Cast of "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?"[/caption]

Bill Daugherty is the creator and star of the off-Broadway revue "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" It's all songs of the 1930's, songs that tell the story of America's first Depression. It's playing weekends at the Triad cabaret theatre on West 72nd. We also talked about other shows he's done, and I've included songs. Listen to the interview:

Set list:
"Humpty Dumpty Heart" from show When The Lights Go On Again
Bill singing "I'm All Smiles" from album Look to the Rainbow
Bill singing "Sit Down, You're Rocking The Boat" from show Broadway Unplugged 4
Nancy Anderson singing "True Blue Lou" from album Ten Cents a Dance
Bill singing "Look to the Rainbow" from album Look to the Rainbow
-- MBourne

An Interview With Odetta

Odetta

A voice of the Civil Rights Era has been hushed.
Odetta, a champion of the real folk blues, died. She was 77.
In 2001, WBGO's Michael Bourne spoke with Odetta during the Blues Hour. She had recently released a tribute record to folk singer Leadbelly.
Click here to listen to some of that interview.
-Josh

FIJM Interview: McCoy Tyner

McCoy Tyner and Michael Bourne

Any time McCoy Tyner drops by is a good time. He visited Afternoon Jazz today, as we broadcast live from the Montreal International Jazz Festival.

Listen to McCoy Tyner with Michael Bourne.

Is This The New Face of Jazz?

Nikki Yanofsky

When a 14 year old says clap and a sold out room of people of every age does so willingly, something is happening. Her name is Nikki Yanofsky and while her audience could have easily been attending a performance of Wicked, they chose to come to the Montreal Jazz Festival. And this kid is choosing to sing jazz. She sings her lungs out. Maybe not her heart, cause quite frankly at 14, she doesn’t have the right to sing the blues, but the audience didn’t care one bit. She reminded me of reading Julie Andrews writing about her life as a 12 year old phenom in England- she could hit every note, but she had years to go before she learned how to sing. I am prepared to wait.
And then I listened to an audience full of people singing happy birthday to Hank Jones who is about to turn 90 this month. Michael Bourne was with me and he has already eloquently described the Jones and Jones experience. Hank Jones and Oliver Jones treated me to an evening that I may never get to witness again. And Nikki Yanofsky gave me a clue to what I have to look forward to in the future.
But the shining star of the evening was our divine Dee Dee Bridgewater. Gutsy. Beautful. After her show, watching the line of people waiting to meet her as she signed autographs at Archambault ( the hidden gem of a media store in the Place des Artes), personified the meaning of adoring fans. Dee Dee glowed. They loved her French, her English, her spirit.
I went to three different concerts. A night of jazz in many forms. And I loved every minute of it.

Sez Me ... The Montreal Jazz Festival

Montreal Jazz Festival Logo
What annoyed me most about the heart attack last year was that I missed the Montreal Jazz Festival. I'm not kidding. FIJM (Festival International de Jazz de Montreal) is one of the most enjoyable times of my life every year. Except for last year, I've gone every summer since 1992. I feel close especially to all the extraordinary folks who run the jazzfest, especially in the press room. Musically, the jazzfest offers an extraordinary variety, ticketed concerts in the evening, free outdoor concerts all day, and everything they do, they do with style, including the t-shirts. Everything happens in or around Place des Arts, in the middle of a metropolis but with the vibes of a carnival. And there's a Pizzadelic in walking distance in three directions.

I'll be there for it all this year, Thursday June 26th through Sunday July 13th, first as a judge for the GM and Galaxie band and composition competition, then broadcasting live from the heart of the festival on WBGO, 2-6:30 Wednesday the 2nd, Thursday the 3rd, and the 4th of July. I'm looking forward musically to the "Invitation" series of Hank Jones, especially the opening concert of duets with Oliver Jones. I've never heard my favorite pop group, Steely Dan, in concert, and they're playing two in Montreal, with Cat Russell as an opening act. I always expect compelling new singers every year, this year "nouvelles divas" Ima and Melody Gardot. And another festival favorite, Dave Brubeck, this year is playing a trio concert and recreating the octet.

One jazzfest ritual I will happily continue is falling by Club Soda at midnight for ... whatever is happening, usually music that's weird, often music that's wonderful. I realized at Club Soda two years ago how much jazz keeps on being re-defined -- and still swings. I wrote an essay for Down Beat to that effect, but too much of the piece, including the point (and punchline) of the piece, was lost editorially. So here's the piece, as meant to be read ...

(Summer, 2006, at the Montreal Jazz Festival)

“Jazz cannot be limited by definitions or by rules. Jazz is, above all, a total freedom to express oneself.”
Duke said so in a 1952 Down Beat – and on the back of the Down Beat t-shirt I was putting on the last day of the Montreal Jazz Festival. I’d never read the t-shirt before, but Duke’s quote was timely. I’d been thinking about the definition of jazz all through the festival.
“How come you can’t hear jazz at the jazz festival?” was the question asked almost verbatim twice when I was interviewed on the fest’s first day by the CBC and talk radio CJAD. During one of the interviews on the Place des Arts, an actual Dixieland band was walking by. “One way you can hear jazz,” I said snidely but truly, “is to pull your fingers out of your ears and listen.”
I’ve been scribbling about jazz in this magazine since 1969 and playing jazz on the radio since 1972, and in all that time I’ve heard no more pointless (or relentless) argument than the question of what is or is not jazz. It’s usually been most disputatious between generations. Many who loved Louis Armstrong hated Charlie Parker. Many who loved Charlie Parker hated Ornette Coleman. Many who loved Miles Davis hated … Miles Davis. What became most evident to me in Montreal was how much every generation re-defines jazz.
“We try to always have music that’s got some element of jazz,”said Laurent Saulnier, officially V.P. of programmation but I always think of him as V.P. of The Edge. He’s always pushing the festival’s musical parameters, especially electronically, and yet he deeply believes that the biggest word in the logo (Festival International de JAZZ de Montreal) should always be bolded. He’s teased me for years about being an old fart, always nudging me to listen especially to the DJs every midnight at Club Soda.
I’ve usually run screaming from anything hip-hop-ish, but (maybe because I’ll soon be 60, one of those zero ages when one looks back and forward much more keenly) I was game to hear a group Laurent was excited about called Plaster.
Three cats, all Quebecois, play keyboards, bass, and drums connected to computers. Though the grooves they generated were often thunderous, there was a playful bounciness to the bits and pieces of melodies they twisted electronically or criss-crossed with samples, including the voice of a wittily distorted politician. I became more and more fascinated by the interplay, especially between keyboardist Alex MacMahon and drummer Philippe Goncalves. These were not, as I’ve often felt about electronica, machines playing. These were musicians playing the machines. These were composers and actual improvisers, especially when counterpointing riffs.
And at the very thought of the word riffs, I almost leapt up shouting “It’s the Basie Band!” I could hear in Plaster parallels to the way Basie built calls and responses of the sections, always with the rhythm solid and propulsive. And how did Basie define jazz? Something about music that makes you pat your foot? Mine was patting like crazy.
I was just as delighted when British singer Jamie Lidell played a midnight gig. Solo on the stage, he worked several electronic whiz-bangs, turning fragments of sound into rhythmic melodies, shifting tempos and moods while keeping a straightahead pulse, all the while singing sounds or words. And when he was joined by the whimsical pianist Gonzales, he was even scatting blues. Too much of the scat singing I hear nowadays is only babble in 4/4. Jamie Lidell, with his voice and his machines, was creatively improvising phrases like a saxophonist or a drummer, like a jazz singer is supposed to.
Maybe I’m getting into an argument about what is and is not hip-hop, but what I’ve heard of hip-hop and electronica sounds too often like a stampede of jive elephants. Lidell’s hipper (and hopper?) pachyderms whirled like ballerinas. I’ve rarely felt any emotion from rap other than lust or anger, but Lidell was charming, laughing, and, as I shouted when I saw Laurent Saulnier dancing in the crowd, “This kid is swinging!”
Not all of these hip-hop-electro-whatevers were so compelling, “jazzy” or otherwise. I quickly became aware which of these new musicians were, like Plaster and Jamie Lidell, creatively to be reckoned with and which were playing only new clichés. Microtone Kitchen, even with six turntables, seemed unable to spin the recognizable shape of a composition, and the grooves were monotonous as the clatter of train tracks. Bauchklang, with six singers grunting electro-funky beats all vocally, sounded to me and (in their pseudo-street posturing) even looked like wannabe rappers on an old Soul Train. And one thing jazz certainly never is is dated.
Continuum is what I was hearing all across the musical spectrum in Montreal. Computers, I realized, offer jazz a new musical technology—no different than when Charlie Christian plugged in. And not all that was new that I heard was electrified.
Don Byron is an artist who’s always played everything (from klezmer to Puccini, from Duke’s Jungle Band to cartoon tunes) as if the music is new now. Byron’s Ivy-Divey Trio (with Jason Moran and Billy Hart) celebrated the Lester Young Trio (with Nat Cole and Buddy Rich) in the jazzfest’s Jesus Room, and affectionately more than reverently.
Likewise in the Salle de Gesu, The Bad Plus was not your father’s Bill Evans Trio. They played what pianist Ethan Iverson whimsically called “covers” (including back-to-back songs of Ornette Coleman and Burt Bacharach) among original pieces that often sounded to me like musical Rubik’s Cubes that they (and especially drummer Dave King) twisted into colorful configurations way beyond Rubik’s geometry.
Around the corner at the Spectrum, the trio EST also bent the usual triangle into other polygons. Though they sometimes involved electronics, even acoustically they played powerfully, often melodies that sounded less like tunes and more like pure momentum. Do they compose in AABA form? No. Could I always pat my foot? No. But even footless, EST was swinging other parts of me quite (I felt jazzfully) headlong.
I should mention that all the while I was waxing ecstatically about “new jazz” at the festival, there was oodles of “old jazz” – although, actually, what Dave Brubeck played in Montreal (and everywhere else he plays) was ageless. Everyone I heard pissing and moaning about not hearing jazz at the festival was not hearing McCoy Tyner! Wayne Shorter! Yusef Lateef! And plenty of straightahead Canadian jazzers we never get to hear below the 49th parallel. I especially enjoyed pianist Lorraine Desmarais fronting a big band with what I characterized in my notes only as punch!!
Streetnix is the most festive jazzband every year at the jazzfest. A quintet fronted by alto saxist Jennifer Bell with trumpet, trombone, tuba, and drums, they can march in the street or play the littlest stage of the Place des Arts, playing anything from Oliver Nelson’s “Hoedown” to AWB’s “Pick Up the Pieces” -- all the while kids are getting faces painted like cats and kids of all ages (like me) are laughing.
I’ve always loved singers, but too often I hear the same songs the same ways. Not so every year in Montreal. Fest faves like Dee Dee Bridgewater and John Pizzarelli were, as always, swinging and funny, him singing Sinatra, her singing chansons. Two other faves of mine were singers who criss-cross songs from all styles, each with unique chops and charms, each with I feel a true jazz sensibility. Susie Arioli sweetly sings songs of Fred Astaire or Roger Miller with a breeziness like the brushes on the snare drum she always plays when she sings. Terez Montcalm, with a Joplinesque rasp in her voice, can get frisky when she’s torchy, singing “For Heaven’s Sake” with an upbeat or spelling “L-O-V-E” with the joy of that word’s every definition.
And speaking of definitions, as I was at the outset, wondering what “jazz” means, whaddaya call Jamie Cullum? He sang pretty much anything and everything. ”Old Devil Moon” and a Dinah Washington song. Something folk-ish. Something rap-ish. He sang a heartfelt “Some Other Time” like I’ve never heard before. He played piano. He danced on the piano. He crawled through the audience singing “Nature Boy” and even conducted a sing-along. What I called him in my notes is Talent To Burn! And I also wrote “It’s all jazz!”
I mean, what was Jamie Cullum really (and wonderfully entertaingly) doing on that stage in Montreal? Same as Jamie Liddell. Whichever British Jamie was performing, he was, with total freedom, expressing himself. And that is what jazz is! Duke said so!
Read my t-shirt …

- Michael Bourne

Next Generation JAM - WBGO Studio Sessions

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and it's been a busy time in the WBGO Performance studio. The next generation of jazz players from metro area music programs has been visiting Michael Bourne on Afternoon Jazz. Here are some highlights:

First up, the SUNY-Purchase Jazz Endeavor came to WBGO on April 9th. The group features recipients of the James Moody Scholarship.
Hear them play.

Today, we featured the students from Manhattan School of Music.

Manhattan Scool of Music

Check out the Manhattan School of Music Ensemble.

The New School, tutored by bassist Reggie Workman, came to WBGO.
The New School

Listen to The New School Jazz Ensemble.

Tune in Wednesday, April 30th at 8pm. I'm your host for a performance of Combo Nuvo, featuring faculty and students from the NYU School of Music.
This is a collaboration between WBGO and the Clive Davis School for Recorded Music at NYU. Special thanks to Jim Anderson and Dave Schroeder.
And finally, on May 20th, WBGO presents students from the Berklee College of Music on Midday Jazz with Rhonda Hamilton. So much for just one month of jazz appreciation. WBGO loves this music year-round. And you?
-Josh

SportsJam: Michael Bourne = Dr. Death?

BourneDr. Death

When Dr. Michael Bourne talks baseball he's serious, really serious. The St. Louis Cardinals fan tell all in a recent session of SportsJam. I learned things I never knew about Michael, especially his opportunity to become involved in professional wrestling as a manager. Not hard to imagine if you think about it. Michael probably would have gone around the ring shouting "YOU, YOU" like he does during Jazz 88 membership drives!!
Listen to Michael Bourne on SportsJam.
-Doug Doyle

Mohonk Redux

Here are a few images from Jazz on the Mountain, Michael Bourne's yearly January retreat at the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz. Fran Kaufman took these photos. Fran is always on the scene, taking shots of music in the making. Now thru February 24th, you can see more of Fran Kaufman's jazz photography at Brooklyn Academy of Music's Brooklyn Next Art series.

Here's Steven Bernstein and the Millennial Territory Orchestra:
Steve Bernstein and MTO by Fran Kaufman

Vibraphonist Joe Locke:
Joe Locke by Fran Kaufman

Brasileiros - Maucha Adnet, Duduka da Fonseca, and Helio Alves:
Maucha Adnet Duduka da Fonseca Helio Alves by Fran Kaufman

And Michael Bourne very much in his element with Maucha Adnet and Dena DeRose:
Maucha Adnet Michael Bourne Dena DeRose by Fran Kaufman

Finally, a note from Michael Bourne:
"Jazz on the Mountain" was the best it's been in the 9 years I've been working the jazzfest at Mohonk Mountain House. All three nights the enormous hotel was sold-out, first time ever for the whole Martin Luther King weekend. Every concert was a hit, which was especially heartening since I book artists that I personally like. Joe Locke was especially a hit, playing opening night with The Brazilian Trio (Helio Alves, Nilson Matta, Duduka da Fonseca) and Maucha Adnet, playing an electrifying show Saturday afternoon and getting a standing O with his own new Force of Four group, joining Dena DeRose on Sunday afternoon, and highlighting the free-form "Parlor Games" on Monday morning. When I asked folks which were favorite shows, every artist was enthusiastically named, including singer Kendra Shank, Steven Bernstein and the Millenial Territory Orchestra, Hipmotism with saxophonist Erik Lawrence and singer Marya Lawrence. Marya Lawrence was the surprise of the weekend, twice playing seriously bopping solos on a slide-kazoo. The Frank Vignola Quintet blew the roof off Sunday evening with the swinging vitality of Django's Hot Club Quintet but without trying to imitate Django. I "performed" "As Time Goes By" during the Monday morning musical mixing and matching of players from the weekend. We've already pretty much programmed next year's jazzfest, which will be my 10th at Mohonk." -- MBourne