sweet basil

Moody's Mood from 12/31/84 - counting down to Toast of the Nation

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WBGO has been co-producing live all-night cross-country New Year's Eve specials with NPR since at least Dec 31 1982. 

In 1984, James Moody opened his live NYE set from Sweet Basil in NYC with "Moody's Mood."  He sounds fabulous from the git-go.  I don't know why (I think it's the rhythm in which he delivers them) but my favorite five words are always ".. and then the girl says .."

Harold Mabern, Todd Coolman and Eddie Gladden are on piano, bass and drums.  More great live NYE moments to come. Check back often, and tune into the broadcast this New Year's!

Great Live Moments - Al Grey and Buddy Tate

Empty Swing by rein (Flickr)
When I listen to swing music these days, I love it with a sense of loss, a disconnect. Nearly all of the swing legends are gone. This music has the feeling of a time that no longer exists, not that it ever did for me. I had to find it. Twenty-six years ago, however, swing still had some traction in our culture.
I would like to put myself back in that time. I'd be the coolest eight year old in the world, digging the scene at Sweet Basil. Trombonist Al Grey and saxophonist Buddy Tate are playing "Undecided." I can't believe I'm hearing this.
Chances are, however, I was anticipating the release of Michael Jackson's Thriller, which came out in records stores the week after this recording was made.
As I listen to this performance from the WBGO Archives, I am reminded of the vitality of the swing era, and that the music still had resonance in 1982. Count Basie was still alive. So were a number of his associates. Tate was one of them. Grey another. Tate was the tenor player that had the unenviable task of replacing Herschel Evans in Basie's band. Al Grey joined Basie much later, but he had previous stints with Benny Carter and Lionel Hampton. These were swing men through and through.
So much seems different now. By the end of 1982, Time Magazine declared the computer as Man of the Year, the first-ever distinction for an object. These real men are gone, except for their music. Here I am in 2008, writing a blog entry on my laptop, trying to get closer to an analog era. How do I feel about it? Decidedly Undecided. All I know is that it's easy to get lost in ones and zeros, better to be found alive, and even greater to be swung....Tempus fugit, baby.
-Josh
PS That amazing photo courtesy of Rein. Check out her photostream.

Great Live Moments - Heath Brothers

Percy and Jimmy Heath, Rockefeller Center, 1977.
The Heath brothers I have known are not confectioners who created an English toffee bar. They played jazz.  Much sweeter than candy...

Saxophonist Jimmy Heath, drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath, and the late bassist/cellist Percy Heath were jazz family long before the Marsalis clan. Separately, the sum of their music making covers the totality of modern jazz - Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, the Modern Jazz Quartet. I could go on and on, but enough already! Together, the Heath Brothers were a cohesive jazz combo that brought their collective experience to the stage to form their own brand of brotherly jazz.

WBGO has recorded a number of Heath Brothers performances. They include a beautiful recording from New Jersey Performing Arts Center's Prudential Hall, as well as a club date at Iridium. And that's just during my seven year tenure at the station! In 1984, WBGO recorded The Heath Brothers on New Year's Eve. December 31, 1984 at Sweet Basil in New York. The pianist was Stanley Cowell.

Check out the Heath Brothers playing "Sleeves" from the WBGO Archives.
-Josh

PS While you're still here, watch this clip from Danny Sherr's award-winning video about the siblings, Brotherly Jazz.

 

Great Live Moments - James Moody

James Moody

Welcome to Great Live Moments, a showcase for WBGO's live recordings.
First up - James Moody, who recently celebrated his 83rd birthday.
On November 20th, 1982, Moody and his quartet played Sweet Basil.
The quartet featured pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Rufus Reid, and
drummer Michael Carvin. WBGO was there to broadcast the performance.
Moody played flute on a bossa nova classic, Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Wave."
Hear it now.
-Josh