Erin Baiano

When Cassandra Wilson sings a story, it’s heartfelt and soulful, brimming with that Wilsonian introspection. She’s sung new insight into Miles Davis, the Great American Songbook, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Robert Johnson. Her originals come from a place deep inside.


courtesy of the artist

Marlene VerPlanck was a “girl singer” with the big bands of Charlie Spivak, Tex Benecke and the Dorsey Brothers, but she became a more familiar voice in everyone’s life when she became one of the most active jingles singers in the business. “MMM, good. MMM, good. That’s why Campbell’s soups…” That was the ubiquitous Marlene, singing about airplanes and selling musically everything else.

Tom Marcello / Flickr

Ben Riley, a subtle and versatile jazz drummer best known for his affiliation with Thelonious Monk in the 1960s and Kenny Barron, one of Monk’s pianistic heirs, in all the years since, died on Saturday at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York. He was 84.

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WBGO News

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear legal arguments next month in New Jersey's quest for legalized sports betting.

Advocates are optimistic the state will win its case.

Lobbyist Bill Pascrell the Third believes the state's chances of success are better than ever.

Congressman Frank Pallone is also confident, but as a backup he's working on a measure that would allow all states to legalize sports betting and online gaming.

A bill moving in the New Jersey Senate legislature would prevent former offenders from being disqualified from consideration for public sector jobs or state-issued professional licenses.

Senator Sandra Cunningham says her bill would allow offenders who’ve completed their sentence to petition a court so they could once again get a professional license or be hired for a public job.

An advocacy group says steps some public schools are taking to reduce chronic student absenteeism in New Jersey are making a difference.

Peter Chen with Advocates for Children of New Jersey says 9.7 percent of students in kindergarten through 12th grade missed 18 or more days of school last year. That's down from 10.3 percent the year before.

"Even though the decline was only 0.6 percent, that's about 8,000 fewer students who are chronically absent, which is 8,000 fewer students who are more on track to graduate from high school."

Governor-elect Phil Murphy says legislation to phase-in a $15 minimum wage in New Jersey will be a high priority when he takes office in January.

Murphy joined legislative leaders and labor officials at a Statehouse event where some workers said it's tough to get by on less than $15 an hour.

Sayerville resident Anthony Banos says he works at a warehousing distribution center and has a part-time job at a retail store.

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