gary walker

David "Fathead" Newman: 2/24/33-1/20/09

Saxophonist David Newman
photo by John Rogers

David "Fathead" Newman died yesterday, January 20 @ 6:00pm. He had suffered from pancreatic cancer for over a year but tried to keep his music alive to the very end. His widow Karen would like to thank everybody that supported his music over the years. Donations can be made in his honor to The Jazz Foundation. A memorial service will be announced in the very near future.

Last year, David Newman joined WBGO's Gary Walker on Morning Jazz. You can hear the interview:

-Josh

Gary gets “official” birthday gift

Gary receives his official gift
Morning Jazz host Gary Walker recently celebrated his 60th birthday, and the jazz community wasn’t the only one to recognize this important milestone. At Gary’s surprise birthday celebration, he received the following proclamation:

The Newark Municipal Council Hereby issues this resolution commending Gary Walker on the auspicious occasion of celebrating his 60th birthday on October 17, 2009 @ The Glenridge Community Center. The governing body joins with all residents of the city of Newark to extend heartfelt congratulations during this wholesome event

Congrats Gary!

Interview - Frank Foster with Gary Walker

Frank Foster and Gary Walker

Morning Jazz Host Gary Walker spoke with Frank Foster this morning.

Click here to listen to the interview.

And did you miss our IAJE coverage of the ASCAP Commissions, honoring Uncle Frank?
-Josh

Kudos to Morning Maestro Gary Walker

As my tenth anniversary at Jazz 88 is fast approaching, I remember my first few days at the radio station. I didn't know enough about the music to comment on anything. I had to rely on my personal Jazz Dictionary, Gary Walker. Thanks to the morning maestro, I've learned so much about jazz now...to a point where I play air drums, piano and sax in the studio in between newscasts. I'm also blessed to be working at a radio station where so many talented artists come to visit. Two recent events made me realize I've actually become a part of the jazz community. Trumpeter Jon Faddis agreed to shoot the breeze with me about sports and jazz on SportsJam and bassist John Lee complimented my work during a recent visit to Cecil's Jazz Club in West Orange. Very cool to have two terrific guys who played with Dizzy Gillespie make me feel special!

Doug Doyle

Davell Crawford at Baryshnikov Arts Center

Gary Walker at BAC

WBGO and the Jazz Foundation of America partnered with Baryshnikov Arts Center to present another night of free live music. Gary Walker hosted the evening, which featured a concert an interview session with the New Orleans pianist and wunderkind, Davell Crawford.

Listen to the concert here.

Davell Crawford at Baryshnikov Arts Center

And if you missed the Henry Butler show at BAC,
You can still hear it here.

-Josh

Gary Cleanhead Walker and David Fathead Newman

Cleanhead and Fathead

David "Fathead" Newman, the legendary Texas-born saxophonist and long-time Ray Charles bandmate, is spending four nights this weekend at Iridium Jazz Club. Many of his good friends will join him onstage for an early celebration of his 75th birthday. Fathead was Paul Schaefer's guest on the David Letterman show earlier this week. And he was Gary Walker's guest on WBGO's Morning Jazz show today.

Listen to the interview now.

Sez Me - Bourne Blog II

I don't know how Gary Walker does it.

Contrary to the rumours that jazz is dead, or that the record industry is dead, and that soon there won't be any more CDs, we get hundreds of new jazz and blues CDs in the mail every year, plus almost that many more re-issues. Somehow, as the WBGO music director, Walker must face the Herculean labour of listening through the CDs that come every week.

I'll walk by his office, look in to grunt hello, and Walker will have 4 or 5 or more towers of CDs on his desk. He'll be listening on his headphones. He'll be, quite often, scowling. I'll grunt and head back to the studio.

There, on a wooden shelf, are the CDs that we're playing in the "new" slots on the WBGO music format clock. Usually, more than a hundred new CDs. Which is more or less 100 hours of music. Which is more or less four days of listening. Non-stop sleepless listening. Which is why I actually hear very little of the new music I play before I actually play it.

I trust in Walker's judgment, and, if he's considered these CDs to be WBGO-worthy, I can play these CDs. I can also depend on my own 35 years of playing records on the radio to have an immediate instinct about which records I can play day after day. I know the musicians, or at least most of them. I know the tunes, or I can get a feeling of the whole track listening to the first few seconds. Which is why I always tell musicians, and especially singers who want my advice about recording, to show me what you've got right from the jump. No 40-second vamps before the music kicks in on the first track. I might not listen beyond the first 40 seconds. Which is discouraging for some musicians I've talked with, but that's reality.

"Reality is..." is what Wylie Rollins, the WBGO program director who hired Walker and me, always said as a preamble to bad news. Reality is there's never enough time to listen. Which is annoying to all the musicians who send me CDs and then e-mail or call me a week after and want to know what I think, only to be told that I have not listened yet and might never have time to listen. I'm not kidding that I have dozens of CDs, including some I got more than a year ago, including some by artists I love, including some CDs I actually bought, that I have not yet played.

All of that said, I do listen to music from time to time, more often to music that I very much like already, which is a whole other blog. Herewith, in the meantime, and I don't mean to sound mean, is what I listen for when I listen to a new album or artist, especially singers:

Repertoire ... I want to hear some tunes I haven't heard so often that I can't stand hearing them again. If it's something that's been done countlessly, do it like it's never been done before. If it's something new, do it brightly.

Arrangement .. I want to hear something new in even the oldest tunes. And, again, in tunes old and new, I want to hear melodies and harmonies and rhythms done so brightly that the music grabs me by the ears.

Talent ... Some singers I've heard can't come close to singing in tune. Some singers I've heard think that singing oodles of highly emoted but meaningless notes is exciting. When there's nothing that gets to me more deeply than someone who can sing one true note.

Showbiz ... I come from the theatre. I want to see someone on stage with presence, someone who connects with the audience. I believe that art ought to be entertaining.

I realized when I first blathered these points at greater length that the first letters of the four words -- Repertoire, Arrangements, Talent, Showbiz -- spell RATS. Unless you turn the letters around ...

... MBourne