JazzSet recorded the "Keys to New Orleans" concert, featuring pianists Jon Cleary, Henry Butler and Allen Toussaint, at the Kennedy Center on November 9. Mark Schramm was our onsite producer, Duke Markos at the recording console. Mark says the music was FANTASTIC, and more.
"Jon Cleary got us off to great start with his fast-moving set of short tunes, a mix of originals and Bayou classics. He plays and sings with great spirit. Infectious!"
"Henry Butler! Man, what an INCREDIBLE talent. He PLAYS the piano, the whole instrument -- what a left hand! He did a couple of his own tunes, and then (touchingly) one of Allen's compositions, 'Workin' in the Coal Mine.' Allen was and is an inspiration for Henry. They have a warm relationship on and off the stand. Henry sings in a deep, rich baritone."
"And then there was Allen. What can you say? The man is a legend for a reason. He opened both sets with two of his tunes, 'We are America' and 'Yes We Can,' which seemed appropriate given the setting and timing of this concert. Henry joined Allen for a little four-hand piano on Allen's tune 'Mr. Mardi Gras,' and Allen gave out some mardi gras presents to the audience while Henry played solo. Allen finished both his sets with extended versions of 'Southern Night' -- he painted a lovely picture of growing up in New Orleans, the people, the houses, the streets -- wonderful storytelling, and then the familiar song itself to finish up."
Catch the full set on JazzSet in early 2009! In Surround Sound.
Today is the 87th birthday of a jazz legend - Dr. Billy Taylor. Last night, on the eve of this very special day, Dr. T was one of several featured pianists at the 92nd Street Y in the Jazz in July series. He likes the name of that series because he came up with it himself when he helped to found a summer program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Just this month, Taylor quietly stepped down from his Jazz in July, and U Mass expressed gratitude for many summers on its website. Click to read the story.
Also this summer, Taylor is involved in a development right here in our town. Now we have a Brick City branch of Jazzmobile, the teaching organization he helped found in Harlem. Newark Jazzmobile is named for the late bassist Earl May, who first proposed it but did not live to see it happen. Click here for the Jazzmobile schedule. Houston Person plays tonight at Mildred Helms Park in the South Ward! Click and hear Billy Taylor play "A Night in Tunisia" on WBGO's (then) new Steinway, live on the air in the 1980s. Another Great Live Moment from WBGO.
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.
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!