• Winter JazzFest 2017

    January 11, 2017. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    New York City Winter JazzFest isn’t an ordinary music gathering. Because it coincides with APAP – Association of Performing Arts Presenters – as one industry insider told me, what occurs this week in Manhattan is “the biggest music happening in the world that the world isn’t aware of.” NYCWJF is the place where deals get done, new bands showcased, but, perhaps, most importantly, inspiration spawns. Every year, there’s usually a few musicians that shines above rest. They get consideration for honorary designation bestowed by The Checkout --The Jason Lindner Award. This goes to the musician with the most activity during the two day madness. And, naturally, it isn’t a coincidence that his year’s honoree was also one of the hottest artists to emerge in 2016 – as reflected to our recent NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll. It’s the guitarist Mary Halvorson. Her festival appearances include Chicago’s cellist Tomeka Reid and her Quartet, the Brooklyn-based trombonist Jacob Garchik and his fascination for Fantasia with his three guitar ensemble Ye Olde, New York downtown mainstay Marc Ribot and the Young Philadelphians, and Halvorson’s own unruly Octet, as represented on her critically acclaimed recording. As with many of the “buzzed about” happenings at the fest, Halvorson’s humble 7pm hit in a New School classroom was a scene onto itself – the room was uncomfortably packed – with long, asymmetrical lines of anxious, agitated fans winding to the elevator, patiently waiting only to get a peep of some adventurous, cerebral, and unclassifiable music.

    Go to The Checkout from WBGO and WBGO 88.3FM Facebook pages to see all of our coverage from the festival by using the hashtag. #WBGOWinterJazz

  • Singer Tessa Souter Sits in for a Salon Session

    January 10, 2017. Posted by Corey Goldberg.

    Singer Tessa Souter joins Sheila Anderson for this Salon Session, taking us from the Wayne Shorter album that first introduced her to jazz to the story of how an attempt to rekindle a romance pushed her to pursue singing.


  • Kenia Talks to Awilda Rivera

    January 9, 2017. Posted by Corey Goldberg.

    Brazilian singer Kenia joins Awilda Rivera to talk about her latest release, On We Go.


  • Prolific Author And Jazz Writer Nat Hentoff Dies At 91

    January 8, 2017. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    Nat Hentoff during the annual "A Great Night in Harlem" Benefit Concert at The Apollo Theater in New York City. (Image Credit: Stephen Lovekin/FilmMagic via Getty Images)

    Nat Hentoff, the author of dozens of books and decades of columns, has died at 91.

    His son Nick Hentoff confirmed his father's death on Twitter Saturday night.

    Hentoff was a writer for the Village Voice for 50 years. He also wrote for many publications over his lengthy career, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, United Media syndicate and Down Beat magazine.

    He frequently wrote about issues surrounding civil liberties — the Voice describes him as a "civil libertarian." His 1982 novel The Day They Came to Arrest the Book tells the story of a high school that seeks to remove the book Huckleberry Finn from the school curriculum and library over racism and other issues. A student from the school newspaper fights the effort — an allegory on censorship.

    He also was a lover and frequent writer on jazz music. From age 11, he was hooked on the genre after hearing the song "Nightmare" by Artie Shaw coming through an open door at a record store.

    "It just reached inside me," Hentoff told NPR's Guy Raz in 2010. "I rushed into the store, 'What was that?' "

    Over the six decades he spent covering jazz, he attended plenty of performances and met many musicians.

    He "got to be very good friends" with jazz great Dizzy Gillespie. At one point, he sat in on a recording session featuring Abbey Lincoln, Coleman Hawkins and Max Roach. "The music just became part of you as you heard it," Hentoff said of the experience.

    His most memorable show he attended was Duke Ellington "with his full orchestra" at Symphony Hall in Boston, playing the jazz work "Black, Brown and Beige."

    "It was the history of black people in the United States from slavery to the present," Hentoff told NPR in 2010. "And it was so extraordinary. At the end ... people were so moved they could barely applaud until they gave a standing ovation."

    Hentoff started writing for the Village Voice in 1958 until he was "excessed" in 2008 by new managers. A few days after his firing, he told NPR that condolences he received from readers afterward were "like reading one's obituary while you're still alive." But he vowed to keep writing.

    In his final column for the Voice in 2009, he recalled advice he received from one of his mentors in journalism, the muckraker I.F. Stone:

    "If you're in this business because you want to change the world, get another day job. If you are able to make a difference, it will come incrementally, and you might not even know about it. You have to get the story and keep on it because it has to be told."

    Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

  • The Top 30 Live Jazz Performances of All Time

    December 31, 2016. Posted by Steve Williams.

    WBGO announcers made a list of their favorite concert performances and we're playing them for you this weekend as an appetizer for Toast of the Nation, our all night coast to coast feast of jazz concerts, airing tonight at 8. Here are a few picks from the list.


    superband live

    As remnants of Hurricane Hugo swirled outside New York City's Town Hall on a blustery night in 1989, inside an all-star cast including Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, James Moody, Frank Wess, Harry “Sweets” Edison and Johnny Coles was telling Hugo to sit down!

    Featured out front were the charged voices of Ernestine Anderson and Ernie Andrews. With Gene Harris at the piano, the evening took off on a “Surrey with the Fringe on Top", visiting Erroll Garner, The Gershwins, Ellington and Armstrong, with some “Serious Grease” to make any soul get in touch.

    For me it represents a template by which I measure other live performances. Thanks to the insight of Concord Records, it remains a wonderful, engaging listen.


    concerts by the sea

    Only 33 at the time, Erroll Garner was already recognized as a piano giant. But the venue was considered to be less than acoustically perfect and the piano was not the best Erroll had ever laid his talented hands on (some actually claim it was slightly out of tune!).

    This event, part of the "Sunset Series" and a precursor to the Monterey Jazz Festival (which would debut 3 years later in 1958) was not officially recorded by the event's promoter or Erroll's label, Columbia Records. But a jazz fan from the Armed Forces Radio Network captured the music on open reel for his own personal enjoyment.

    Long story short: Erroll, with bassist Eddie Calhoun and drummer Denzil Best kill. Erroll's manager Martha Glaser grabs the tape, gets it into producer George Avakian's hands and "Erroll Garner's Concert by the Sea" is released the following year. To this day it is considered one of the great concert recordings in jazz history.

    Of course in radio, with it's time constraints and formats that must be adhered to, we're only able to play one (or if we "accidentally" let the album track to another) cut from the album at a time. However, this is a performance that begs to be listened to from beginning to end – on vinyl if possible. My advise to you: Put 41 minutes aside and give this album listen.