News

Chuck Stewart
Chester Higgins, Jr. / Courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

Chuck Stewart, one of the most prolific and admired photographers in jazz — an intimate chronicler of many of its icons and milestones, including the historic recording session for John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme — died on Jan. 20 in Teaneck, N.J. He was 89.

 

His death was confirmed by his daughter-in-law Kim Stewart, who has handled the licensing of his images in recent years.

 

Newark Today

42 minutes ago
Alexandra Hill

On this month's edition of Newark Today we are joined by Mayor Ras Baraka and  Bill Fitzsimmons with the Essex County Public Defender's office to talk about bail reform and how the new system will affect communities in Newark. 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Doug Doyle for WBGO

UCLA  honored basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at this past Saturday’s game at Pauley Pavilion, the famed court where the center dominated at the college level.  The Bruins won three national championships with his amazing scoring touch.

This past weekend's honor is just one of many accolades the Bruins alumnus has received lately.  Abdul-Jabbar was among 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House Ceremony in November of last year.  The hall of famer also received the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award in December in Brooklyn.

President Donald Trump
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The nation's new president is continuing to sound the themes of economic populism and nationalism that fueled his campaign.  In his inaugural speech in Washington, DC, President Donald Trump painted a dark picture of a country he vowed to take in a new direction.

Click above to hear more of the President's remarks and the oath of office.

Protestors
William Alatriste/City Council

Now that Donald Trump has been sworn in as the nation’s 45th President battle lines have been drawn over the confirmation of his controversial cabinet nominees like his pick to lead the Department of Labor Andrew Puzder, who is a fast-food tycoon.

Puzder is an ardent booster of free and unfettered market capitalism. At an economic policy forum he described how the founder of his global empire got started with just one hot dog stand in California:

August Wilson's Jitney made it's official debut on Broadway last night (Thursday) at the Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.  A great ensemble cast has already resulted in standing ovations. 

Jitney's scene is set in Pittsburgh, PA in a 1977 dilapidated unlicensed cab station, a place were locals go for cheap fares instead of the expensive regulated taxis.

Television and Broadway star Michael Potts has the audience sighing and laughing as Turnbo, who can't help sticking his nose into everybody's business:

Assemblyman John McKeon
Phil Gregory

Legislation being considered by New Jersey lawmakers would require residential and commercial properties with a lawn-sprinkler system to install a rain-sensing device before that property could be sold.

Assemblyman John McKeon says it's abhorrent to see sprinklers going off in a rainstorm.

"As water continues to become more precious and scarce, per gallon it's a lot more expensive to waste it, so whatever initial cost there might be for sensors it'll be easily recouped in a very short time."

Assemblyman Troy SIngleton
Phil Gregory

A bill advanced by the Assembly's Environment Committee would prohibit public schools and colleges in New Jersey from selling food in foam containers.

Assemblyman Troy Singleton says food remains on them, making the polystyrene containers difficult to recycle, so most recycling places won’t take them.

He says the foam products take years to degrade and small pieces end up littering streets and waterways.

"Because this stuff gets thrown out and finds its way into our waterways, by 2050 which isn't that far off we will have more plastic in our ocean than fish."

August Wilson's Jitney made it's official debut on Broadway last night (Thursday) at the Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.  A great ensemble cast has already resulted in standing ovations. 

Jitney's scene is set in Pittsburgh, PA in a 1977 dilapidated unlicensed cab station, a place were locals go for cheap fares instead of the expensive regulated taxis. 

Brandon J. Dirden, who plays Booster in the two-act play, has performed in several August Wilson productions and directed Seven Guitars:

August Wilson's Jitney made it's official debut on Broadway last night (Thursday) at the Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.  A great ensemble cast has already resulted in standing ovations. 

Jitney's scene is set in Pittsburgh, PA in a 1977 dilapidated unlicensed cab station, a place were locals go for cheap fares instead of the expensive regulated taxis.  That's also where Shealy, portrayed by veteran actor Harvy Blanks, runs his numbers game.

Blanks who lights up the stage with his acting and wardrobe:

The Present
The Present for WBGO

British productions, even entire casts, have come to Broadway. Now comes a play (and all the actors, including Cate Blanchett) from Australia.  Theater critic Michael Bourne reviews The Present.

Dave Douglas performs with High Risk, featuring Shigeto, at the 2017 NYC Winter Jazzfest.
John Rogers / for NPR

Trumpeter-composer Dave Douglas found inspiration for his latest project, Metamorphosis, in the sky: specifically, from star formations and the mythologies that took hold around them.

“Halcyon Days,” which premieres here, is a potent, exploratory track from the session, featuring serious improvisers like Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet, Oliver Lake on saxophone and Andrew Cyrille on drums.

Jimmy Cobb in the kitchen of the Village Vanguard, 2013
John Rogers / WBGO/NPR

Jimmy Cobb, who turns 88 today, will probably always be hailed first in the popular conversation as the drummer on the Miles Davis album Kind of Blue. That’s how a cultural touchstone works, and Cobb, a 2009 NEA Jazz Master, hasn’t shied away from the distinction. But of course there’s an entire career full of other highlights to celebrate, moments that underscore Cobb’s strong glide with the beat and agile attunement to a band. Here are five tracks to savor. 

In the liner notes for "Infinitude", the new recording from sisters Ingrid and Christine Jensen, it's called "Nordicity", an organic description of the trumpeter and saxophonist.  I don't know about all that, but our own beloved and well lived Michael Bourne admires the absolute musical creativity which emerges from a seemingly casual environment. "Infinitude" - the state or quality of being infinite or having no limit. What a gift for the jazz musician, and here, they achieve fliight.

The first time I saw guitarist Yotam Silberstein perform he was part of the Jimmy Heath Big Band, and he was just Yotam. Before that, however, the legendary  James Moody had returned from a jazz workshop, telling anyone who would listen about "this young Israeli kid who plays like an old man!" The Moody compliment has depth as listeners have discovered on 4 previous releases comfort with the works of John Lewis, Clifford Brown and Joe Henderson, and a love for Brazil and Latin music, resulting in attention getting performances with Paquito D'Rivera and Monty Alexander.

Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak
Phil Gregory

Some New Jersey lawmakers are proposing legislation they say would balance the responsibility between drivers and pedestrians.

Current law gives pedestrians the right of way, but Assemblyman Bruce Land says some people don't pay much attention when they want to cross the street.

"People up and down the streets, they'll just cross right in the middle of the street without even looking. We're trying to get the onus on you have to cross in certain areas and make sure you look both ways so it's not just put right on the drivers.

Ignition interlock device displayed at  Assembly committee hearing.
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are considering changing the state's drunken-driving laws to increase the use of devices that require a breath sample from a driver before allowing a vehicle's engine to start.

Assemblyman Joe Lagana says his bill would cut driver's license suspension times for those convicted of drunken driving, but mandate installation of ignition interlock devices.

Ignition interlock device displayed at Statehouse hearing,
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are considering changing the state's drunken-driving laws to increase the use of devices that require a breath sample from a driver before allowing a vehicle's engine to start.

Assemblyman Joe Lagana says his bill would cut driver's license suspension times for those convicted of drunken driving, but mandate installation of ignition interlock devices.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Recent Quinnipiac University Polls show a split in New York City voters overall approval of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

When it comes to Mayor de Blasio, voters polled by Quinnipiac University are divided evenly, give or take a few percentage points on his favorability, leadership skills, or whether he deserved to be re-elected.  Poll assistant Director Tim Malloy says they’re even 50-50 on de Blasio’s public disputes with Donald Trump.

Tim Raines
Newark Bears

Former Montreal Expos and New York Yankees outfielder Tim Raines got the word this week he had hoped to hear for many years.  He will be inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in July.  Raines will be joined by former Houston Astros star Jeff Bagwell and former Texas Rangers' catcher Ivan Rodriguez who also spent time with the Yankees. 

Many analysts consider Raines to be the second-best leadoff hitter in baseball history behind Rickey Henderson who played for the now defunct Newark Bears in 2003.  Raines, meanwhile, managed the Bears from 2009 to 2011. 

Ang Santos / WBGO

Mayor Ras Baraka says planning and investment is ready to complete Newark’s long awaited park project to revitalize the space in front of Prudential Center.

It’s been talked about for eleven years but now it finally looks like the 'Triangle Park Project' is ready to bring new retail and public open space to the Prudential Center.  Newark Deputy Mayor Baye Adofo-Wilson says there’s been a change in design.

“At one time the project was a triangle, but because of a street and some realignment it became more of a rectangle.  So we ended up changing the name,” said Wilson.

David Sciarra testifies at Assembly Education Committee hearing
Phil Gregory

The New Jersey Assembly has launched hearings to examine how to revise the school funding formula of 2008.

David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, told the Assembly Education Committee the Christie administration has repeatedly failed to provide money in the budget to fully fund the formula.

He says Christie's proposal for state school aid to be based on an equal per pupil amount in every district would turn the clock back 50 years.

David Garten

Political expression isn’t a new impulse for pianist and composer Arturo O’Farrill, who leads the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. But he’s taking his most direct action yet with “Musicians Against Fascism,” a concert he has organized at Symphony Space. Scheduled for this Thursday, the eve of the presidential inauguration, it’s an act of protest involving more than a dozen notable jazz artists. 

Ang Santos / WBGO

Newark’s Department of Public Safety is introducing its first class of school crossing guards to their ranks.  Twenty-eight vetted and trained residents are being assigned to the most traffic burdened areas of the city.   

“We had a group of people, we went through 500 people to get these 28.  They are the first point of security that these kids will see going to school and out of school,” says Anthony Ambrose, Director, Newark Department of Public Safety.

Mayor Ras Baraka says hiring more crossing guards has been a request from city parents since he took office.

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno announces her candidacy in Keansburg
Phil Gregory

The woman who's been New Jersey's Lt. Governor for the last seven years, has kicked off her campaign to replace her boss in 2018.

In her first campaign speech, Kim Guadagno told supporters in Keansburg that she wants to be governor because she believes the state can do better.

"You want your governor to be committed to making New Jersey a place for families, who strives to do better, who answers the phone, who is there in a crisis, who walks in your shoes, who cares fearlessly and without exception about you, and only you."

Scott Pioli
Atlanta Falcons

Scott Pioli's 25th NFL season has been another magical one.  He's the Assistant General Manager of the Atlanta Falcons, a team that has advanced to the NFC Championship Game this Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

Success is nothing new for Pioli.  He has been named NFL Executive of the Year by various national media outlets five different seasons during his career, including honors from the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated and Pro Football Weekly. 

Nat Hentoff during the annual "A Great Night in Harlem" Benefit Concert at The Apollo Theater in New York City.
STEPHEN LOVEKIN / FILMMAGIC VIA GETTY IMAGES

 

The first and most famous book by Nat Hentoff — Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya, co-credited to Nat Shapiro and originally published in 1955 — is an oral history that rings with the authority of scripture. “This is the story of jazz,” it begins, “as told by the musicians whose lives are that story.” 

 

Donny McCaslin
Jimmy King

 

“No plan,” David Bowie muses in the first verse of a haunting new song by that title. “Wherever I may go / Just where, just there / I am.” These existential lyrics are inextricable from their real-world context: “No Plan” was conceived just as Bowie was confronting his own mortality, with a quiet determination to forge the experience into art.

Welcome to the new WBGO.org! Our site is now more flexible than ever, so you can enjoy listening to the music you love and reading our coverage on any device.

We’re excited to introduce a strong new editorial focus, with in-depth features, news, artist interviews and more. There’ll be something new here every day.

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