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.
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...
As the General Manager of WBGO, I am a jazz fan and listen to the station quite a bit. While I work at the station, and had an above-average knowledge of jazz prior to moving back to Newark to assume this gig, I'm not all knowing and actually learn quite a bit about jazz and what I like from the station. Thank you, WBGO announcers!!!! In this short post, I want to share with you SOME of the things that I like about jazz.
I lust for the sound of a driving rhythm section. There's nothing better than being able to peck out the rhythm with one's neck (thank you Cecil Brooks III) while driving down a wide open road with jazz blasting from the radio. Drummers are among my favorites--Art Blakey, Max Roach, and Roy Haynes.
I like the melodic sound of the vibraphone played so beautifully or pretty , as Michael Bourne says, that you have to stop to listen to it. I like Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Locke and Stefon Harris. There are others but those three stand out. I love Cal Tjader and regret that I didn't go to see him when I lived out West and he was still with us!
I adore the big sound of the Hammond B-3 played by someone who knows how to get every ounce of funk and bass from this king of instruments. Add a great guitarist and drummer and you have listening heaven. The sound overwhelms you. I don't know anyone who can sit still while a good organ trio is doing its thing. I loved Charles Earland. Jimmy Smith was great but didn't move me the way the Earland did. (Yes, I realize that I've just trangressed against an icon of the B3!!!) Joey D., McGriff, Radam, they're good but nobody fills the shoes left by the Mighty One.
I like the sound of lyrical pianists who play effortlessly and take those compositions and make them sing. Horace Silver and Cyrus Chestnut are two of my favorites! I also love jazz pianists who sound like they are playing percussion. Michel Camilo, Don Pullen and Danny Mixon are examples. And, then, there are those pianists who command the instrument to perform--Harold Mabern and McCoy Tyner.
I like uncommon instruments played well. Andy Narell on steel pans; the late Roland Kirk playing nose flute, manzello and stritch; Steve Turre with his shells; Regina Carter playing lots of violin; and Toots Thielemann's whistling. Paquito D'Rivera's Tango Band includes a guest bandoneon player. I love the sound of that accordion-like instrument.
I love Latin and Brazilian jazz. Again, so rhythmic and full of fun.
There are so many great saxophonists who swing. The late great Jackie Mac, James Carter, Eric Alexander, Joe Lovano, and countless others.
I love the young guys who are working hard to develop their chops on various instruments and who value the music historically and practically.
I truly appreciate the knowledge of jazz and love of music that the WBGO announcers bring to the table each day and the fact that the station's Board of Trustees are committed to the 24/7 presentation of this music.
I value your interest in music as demonstrated by your review of this very modest post and your attention to all that WBGO does for you and other music fans. I also appreciate the opportunity to share a bit of myself with you through this blog.
Each staff person at WBGO is a fan of the music. If you come to our events or talk with us on the phone or elsewhere, you'll learn that for yourself. Many of us work in WBGO's back room. That is, the second floor of our office building where some WBGO staff members think it's too quiet and too far from the jazz action. It isn't and, best of all, we have radios and computers that bring the sound to us just fine!!!! Thanks for allowing us to do this for you and for us.
These are a few of my favorite things--some of life's simple and all-too-often unspoken pleasures. I hope that you have some and will share them with family and friends. Record parties and word-of-mouth comments work well to introduce people to this music and to whet the appetites of those unfamiliar with our favorite things.
WBGO General Manager