At the height of the Cold War, the United States was also fighting a culture war. To counter Soviet propaganda, the U.S. State Department launched a public relations campaign called the Jazz Ambassadors program, sending Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Dave Brubeck and other leading jazz musicians on tours around the world.

Jordan Kleinman

John Patitucci is a bassist of lightning reflex and strong footing, equally comfortable laying down firm bedrock or dancing around a melodic idea. That flexibility extends to his career: he’s the longtime anchor of the Wayne Shorter Quartet; a linchpin in its spinoff trio, Children of the Light; and a former wing man to keyboardist Chick Corea and drummer Roy Haynes, among others.

Craig Taborn Quartet
Bart Babinski / for ECM Records

Sometimes a theme emerges by chance, revealing itself in the moment. That’s true of this week’s installment of Take Five, featuring new music by a range of smart and searching pianists. A couple of these tracks are from brand-new albums, and a couple are from albums due later in the year. Each is an illustration of deep focus and alert chemistry, along with first-rate pianism.

Zoran Jelenic

George Burton has been a pianist to watch in Philadelphia, his hometown, for almost 20 years now — since the late 1990s, when I was a close observer of the scene, and he was a jazz performance major at Temple University. Burton has since put in countless sideman hours with artists both local (saxophonists Odean Pope and Bootsie Barnes) and international (singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello), not to mention intergalactic (the Sun Ra Arkestra). But he hadn’t released his own album as a leader until last year. 

If you're in Clarksdale, Miss., home of the Delta blues, everybody says you have to go to Red's juke joint. The hole-in-the-wall club is the real deal. It's just a small room, a few tables and a fridge full of beer. Red lights are strung around a low ceiling. On the night we visit, octogenarian Leo "Bud" Welch plays in the center of the room, hunched over a sparkly, hot pink, electric guitar. Red Paden, the owner, sits out front, surveying from behind the bar.

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WBGO Member Event - Celebrating Ella Fitzgerald

Women's Jazz Festival at Schomburg Center March 27, 2017

WBGO News

Governor Christie delivers his budget plan to NJ Legislature
Tim Larsen/Governor's Office

In his final budget speech to New Jersey's Legislature Governor Chris Christie offered a $35.5 billion plan that does not include his so-called school fairness formula for spending the same amount on every student.

Christie says the 2008 school funding formula hasn't worked. He's willing to work with lawmakers on a new one, but says he wants it done within a hundred days.

Ang Santos / WBGO

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is laying out a new strategy to reduce homelessness across the five boroughs.  He says the city will stop using private apartments, known as cluster sites, and commercial hotels to house the homeless.  He says they’ll build new or expand on existing shelters.

“Ninety new shelters will be necessary.  We think it’s more than a fair trade off to build new and better facilities, cleaner, safer facilities.  The overall number of buildings that are addressing the homeless crisis will be reduced by forty-five percent,” de Blasio said.

Assembly Financial Institutions Committee votes to advance the measure.
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would require operators of publicly accessible payment and withdrawal machines to inspect them every day to make sure a skimming device hasn’t been installed on them.

Assemblyman Dan Benson is one of the sponsors of the measure. He says consumers might not be able to tell if an ATM had a skimmer that could be used to steal their personal information and empty their bank account.

College officials testify at NJ legislative hearing
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are focusing on hunger among college students.

Carey Wilson directs off-campus living at Rutgers University New Brunswick. She says a food pantry opened there in September to support students who don't have enough money for food.

"We have students who are disconnected from families and therefore lacking the support they need when times are tough.  We have returning adult students who are coming back to school after a layoff and have to support their family. We have students who are choosing between paying for textbooks and paying for food."

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