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It's been a good year so far for jazz at the movies. La La Land, a modern-day love story in the style of Jazz Age musicals, has a heap of Oscar nominations. Elsewhere, in a much quieter affair, the documentary film I Called Him Morgan — based on the story of jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan — will open theatrically next month.

ancarlo Tello and Daniela Velez testify at Assembly committee hearing
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are examining the impact of President Trump's executive orders to toughen enforcement of immigration laws.

23-year-old Glassboro resident Daniela Velez is an unauthorized immigrant. She came to New Jersey with her family from Venezuela 14 years ago.  She told an Assembly committee the President's executive orders have put her life in turmoil.

Pothole filling machine
NJ Department of Transportation

New Jersey's Department of Transportation says filling potholes is a priority for highway maintenance workers.

You don't have to travel far to find one. New Jersey Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Schapior says constant fluctuations above and below the freezing point this winter have caused multitudes of potholes to erupt on New Jersey roadways.

Ang Santos / WBGO

There wasn’t much love for President Donald Trump from the hundreds of people who came to Republican Congressman Leonard Lance’s town hall meeting at Raritan Valley Community College.  A little ironic considering Trump’s Bedminster golf course sits only a few miles away.

“We actually have gone to his office his office to demand a town hall meeting, and it was kind of nice because a couple of days later there’s a town hall meeting.  I like to feel that we had something to do with it but I don’t think so,” said Michelle de Mico, a constituent of Lance’s.

Immigration
Bob Hennelly for WBGO

In the first several weeks of Donald Trump's presidency one of the hottest controversies has been sparked by the President's use of executive orders to make good on his campaign promises to crack down on illegal immigration here in the United States. How is New York City, a sanctuary city that has historically welcomed immigrant , responding?

Academy Awards
oscarwinners2017.com

A recent Hollywood Reporter poll, however, shows that 66% of Trump voters turn off the show when it goes political, but 43% of Clinton voters want speechifyers to slam Trump. And 60% of the country can’t name one best picture nominee. Well I can, and that’s Barry Jenkin’s Moonlight, and it’s the film of the year. Superbly made, with pitch perfect performances, in a script that began as a play and continually plays with our notions of black life and character.

The Future of NYC's Homeless Hotels

11 hours ago
Hotel
Topher Forhecz for WBGO

New York City and its mayor Bill de Blasio are sending mixed signals over plans to end the controversial practice of renting out hotel rooms to house its homeless population. This comes as the number of people sleeping in city shelters reached record numbers last year. De Blasio says he wants to end the practice, which critics call disruptive and expensive.  Documents show the city may continue the practice for up to nine years.

Glenn Close Shines Again in Revival of Sunset Boulevard

12 hours ago
Glenn Close
Michael Bourne for WBGO

WBGO Theater Critic Michael Bourne reviews the revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's revival "Sunset Boulevard."  Glenn Close returns to Broadway to star in the role she wowed audiences 23 years ago.

Alexandra Hill

City officials and members of Newark’s arts community gathered at city hall this week for the release of the NC350 year-end report. The detailed report highlights the yearlong celebration of the city’s 350-year history and its impact on the community.

Kawai Matthews

Bilal makes headlines, whether he's performing a fiery (and most hilarious) tribute to Prince at the BET Awards, or making a cameo on Common's Black America Again tour. But forget all of the stage fireworks and politics for a moment. What makes this singer so great is his range — not just vocally, but also with his uncategorical Soulquarian goodness. He dirties up our definitions of sound, melding jazz, rock, soul, and R&B. This program features our own unique recording of Bilal with Igmar Thomas' Revive Big Band, as well as a recent collaboration with the LA-based producer Adrian Younge, In Another Life (2015).

Phil Gregory / WBGO

New Jersey state Senate President Steve Sweeney is prioritizing special education as part of his school funding reform plan.

Sweeney says more funding for special needs programs in schools has been universally agreed upon by lawmakers and advocates during recent education hearings.  He believes families with special needs children are looked at unfairly in some communities.

Wil Haygood: Racism and The Academy Awards

Feb 23, 2017
Wil Haygood
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Author Wil Haygood believes that Hollywood is finally becoming emancipated.

Haygood had accused the Academy Awards in 2014 of being “culturally  biased” against African American actors and filmmakers when it declined to give a single nomination to the critically praised ,The Butler, the story based on the life of Eugene Allen, a black butler in the White House who served eight presidents.

Advocates want Christie to abandon his 'fairness formula'
Phil Gregory

Governor Christie will deliver his final budget address to the New Jersey legislature next week. Education and civil rights advocates hope it won't include his so-called 'fairness formula'.

Betsy Ginsburg with the Garden State Coalition of Schools hopes Christie abandons his proposal to provide the same amount of per pupil funding to all school districts.

"We believe that it is a misconceived band-aid solution for high suburban property taxes that will trigger a fatal educational hemorrhage in the state's poorest districts."

Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Danny Clinch

Buried somewhere in the fathoms of YouTube is a recent clip of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, apparently filmed with a smartphone in Santiago de Cuba. The band, synonymous with the ebullient spirit of New Orleans, is playing a staple of its book, Professor Longhair's "Go to the Mardi Gras." What's notable about this version of the song, from December of 2015, is the punchy assist provided by some Cuban percussionists, who fall right into step with its second-line groove. 

A Rutgers-Eagleton poll finds that most New Jersey residents are treated by private physicians, but they're open to other options.

3 percent say they go to an urgent care facility for treatment all of the time, while 46 percent do some of the time.

Linda Schwimmer is the President and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. She says urgent care centers are a better alternative than an E-R when your doctor's unavailable.

Spotswood resident Keesha Sanchez testifies at review panel hearing.
Phil Gregory

Patients with illnesses not eligible for New Jersey's medical marijuana program are urging the list of qualifying conditions be expanded.

41-year-old Keesha Sanchez from Spotswood has RSD, a condition that causes severe burning pain in her arms and legs. She'd like to try medical marijuana in hopes of some relief.

"There's days that I wake up and the swelling that are in my feet that I can't walk. My husband has carried me to the bathroom, carried me to bed. I have two children. I've lost the last three years from this progression."

 

Tigran Hamasyan knows his way around a dreamscape. As a pianist and composer, he draws inspiration from jazz, folkloric and classical sources, in ways that feel both hypermodern and practically ageless. This synthesis is well captured in the video for his composition “The Cave of Rebirth,” which has its premiere here. 

 

Opponents rally outside the New Jersey Statehouse
Phil Gregory

A few dozen environmental activists rallied in front of New Jersey's Statehouse to oppose construction of a natural gas pipeline though the Pinelands.

The proposed 21-mile pipeline is part of a South Jersey Gas project to convert the B.L. England generating plant from coal and oil to natural gas.

Dave Pringle with New Jersey Clean Water Action says a vote by the Pinelands Commission to approve the project would violate its comprehensive management plan to protect the heavily forested area that's an important natural resource.

"Long Tall" Dexter Gordon is one of the best known and significant musicians on his instrument: he was one of the first tenor saxophonists to adopt the bebop style, and influenced players such as John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. Gordon's widow and former manager-producer, Maxine Gordon, and saxophonist Abraham Burton join Morning Jazz host Gary Walker to discuss the man and his music.

Marcia Ball is an old friend to WBGO's Performance Studio and Steinway B. When she plays solo, she fills the room with her busy left hand and raspy Southern-twinged voice - you don't miss a band at all. But Marcia's been leading a band for decades now.

She says though she never really mentored in a traditional sense, she always surrounds herself with superior musicians. "I have people in my band who can guide me musically." 

Ray Castro is an analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective
Phil Gregory

Those in New Jersey striving to preserve the Affordable Care Act say it's the political fight of a generation.

Maura Collinsgru leads the New Jersey for Health Care coalition. She says repealing Obamacare without an adequate replacement would threaten every community.

"The loss of federal funds, jobs, and coverage losses will harm not only already struggling families. It will strain the resources of state, county and local governments."

This archival material comes from our Playdate series and was originally published March 24, 2014. Click here for Playdate Show #8, which features, among others, Larry Coryell.

This poignant "Body and Soul" was played by guitarist Larry Coryell with pianist Albert Dailey, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Billy Hart at the Village Vanguard on April 26, 1984.

Lamoureux
USA Hockey for WBGO

Many refer to two-time Olympic silver medalists Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux as just "The Twins."  They seem to be okay with that even though they are both married now.  They realize people will group the Team USA hockey players together for obvious reasons, especially since they've been teammates all their lives.  The twins from Grand Forks, North Dakota joined Hilary Knight and Meghan Duggan on a recent promotional tour of New York City.

Sarah Vrablik / Speckle Photo

A New Jersey woman has found a unique way to raise awareness of her heart condition. 

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a genetic condition, thickens the walls of the heart and disrupts blood flow in the body.  If it goes undetected or mistreated, it becomes life threatening.  Such is the case for Lisa Salberg of Rockaway Township, whose family has battled HCM for generations.

Old and new, invention and reinvention: this week, Take Five is a study in contrast and dualities. It's also a heads-up for several albums we're looking forward to this spring, and some gigs that you should have on your calendar. Listen up and dive in.

Ishmael Martinez / WBGO

There were 163 reported protests, riots, rebellions, and uprisings across the United States in the summer of '67.  No communities more impacted than Detroit and Newark.  Max Herman is the author of ‘Summer of Rage: An Oral History of the 1967 Newark and Detroit Riots’.  He says that year is difficult for many residents of both cities to revisit.

“In Newark it has been commemorated but in Detroit, I think for the first time they’re having a program this summer,” Herman said.

 

Jacob Collier capped off an already wild year by winning two Grammy awards a few weeks ago for "Flintstones" (Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals) and “You And I” (Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella). This was the year where the British multi-instrumentalist says he took his sonic wonderland playground – his “room” in his parent’s home in the UK – and take it on the road.

Ang Santos / WBGO

It’s been over twenty years since the state took control of Newark Public School’s because of low graduation rates and overall poor student performance.  It’s been a rocky road for the city’s education system since, and many residents believe not much has changed over the course of time.

At First Avenue School in Newark’s North Ward, about 100 city residents gathered to hear Mayor Ras Baraka’s latest updates on regaining local control of schools.  They had their own concerns.

Indian Head
Luna Stage for WBGO

Indian Head is a provocative play by Obie Award-Winner Nikkole Salter.   Indian Head was commissioned in partnership with the NJPAC Stage Exchange, a program of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.  It is currently wowing audiences at Luna Stage in West Orange, New Jersey.

Mark Whitfield and his family band with Gary Walker at WBGO
Isaiah McClain


Guitarist Mark Whitfield’s skillset is so varied. He’s been on the road with Brother Jack McDuff, Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae and Chris Botti. He’s friends with George Benson.

Mark says he’s most proud of his most recent events – his first recording in 7 years was just released, and the fact that it was made alongside his two sons; pianist Davis and drummer Mark, Jr. Both father and sons are Berklee grads - and so is band bassist, Yasushi Nakamura.

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