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Ang Santos / WBGO

Thomas Chapin’s undeniable talent could have been enough inspiration for an Emmy-Award winning documentarian to make a movie. Stephanie Castillo who has just put the finishing touches on Night Bird Song:  The Incandescent Life of Thomas Chapin has another pretty important reason.  She’s his sister in-law.

Governor Christie has been insisting that marijuana is a gateway to other drug use. Now, his opposition to legalizing recreational marijuana in New Jersey is focusing on the revenue it might generate.

Speaking at an event in Toms River where he highlighted his efforts to combat opioid addiction, Christie said some are moving at breakneck speed to legalize marijuana in the state because they believe it will bring in about $100 million of tax revenue.

As part of efforts to curb the opioid addiction problem, Governor Christie and other officials are urging New Jersey residents to safely dispose of prescription drugs they no longer need.

Collection boxes at police departments and pharmacies provide a convenient way to get rid of those medications.

Angelo Valente leads the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. He says after drugs are dropped off, they're incinerated.

MM Music Agency

Hugh Masekela was an up-and-coming trumpeter, all of 20, when he took an overnight train from Johannesburg to Cape Town to meet a pianist everyone was talking about in South Africa: Abdullah Ibrahim, then known as Dollar Brand. Ibrahim, 25 at the time, was the forward-thinking figure needed to complete South Africa’s greatest bebop band of all time, The Jazz Epistles. 

Manhattan School of Music is home to undergraduate and graduate degree programs in jazz, developed under the leadership of jazz artist and educator Justin DiCioccio.  For Jazz Appreciation Month, we have three of the school's jazz ensembles: MSM Jazz Orchestra, MSM Mingus Ensemble, and MSM Jazz Arts Vocal Big Band.

Wolfgang Almer / Late Blossom Blues

Bluesman Leo ‘Bud’ Welch and his manager Vencie Varnado make an unlikely duo from a small Mississippi town.

Albert Spevak / ambassadortv.com

‘I Was Saved by the Bell:  Stories of Life, Love, and Dreams That Do Come True’ is a new memoir from Peter Engel, a producer who suffered decades of missed opportunities.

“These stories kind of chronicle my journey of searching for a hit.”

He says some were small, some were downright ridiculous, some were humorous, and some were really big.

“The show that I really would have wanted to do was ‘Saturday Night with John Lennon’,” Engel said. “Everything was going fine and I got a call from John’s guy and he says John has a little change that he wants in the contract.”

Drummer Alvester Garnett has worked with Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter and Cyrus Chestnut, among others: Hear him on Ella: Accentuate the Positive, a new Ella Fitzgerald tribute album by his wife, violinist Regina Carter. 

He recently sat down with Sheila Anderson to discuss his years in the Malden Diplomats Drum and Bugle Corp in Boston, and how he learned to tap dance and play piano before the drums.


Holocaust Survivor Recalls an Act of Kindness

Apr 25, 2017

The bottom line at Auschwitz is, eighty percent of the people who were sent from Hungary, Jews, upon arrival in the gas chambers.  The other twenty percent will be sent to slave labor camps all over Nazi occupied areas.  I see people dying all around me.  They’re dying of hunger, dying from diseases, accidents on the work sites from really hard labor.  They’re going to kill you.  One morning we are standing at attention when an S.S.

New Jersey's Attorney General says heroin that's mixed with fentanyl is becoming more pervasive in the state.

Attorney General Chris Porrino says fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and he's heard that some drug dealers will lace one bag in a hundred with a lethal dose.

"You might ask yourself, why would a drug dealer intentionally kill one of his or her customers? And the answer is marketing. Because the word on the street then travels that that particular dealer has the most potent heroin out there and that's what's selling."

New Jersey officials are considering some tweaks to the bail changes that have been in effect in January.

Senator Sandra Cunningham is working on legislation that would take a history of gun violence into consideration when determining if a defendant should be released while awaiting trial. 

"We've had a lot of people in Jersey City who have been hurt because that's happened with gang members and people who have just gotten out immediately and either did the same crime again or did something that was really hurtful at that point."

Hear Four Ensembles From The Famed University of North Texas Jazz Program

Apr 25, 2017

The University of North Texas College of Music has a rich jazz history. In 1947, it became the the first university in the world to offer a degree program in jazz. Today, the UNT jazz program, housed within America's largest music school, has spawned the careers of numerous Grammy-winning artists, including Norah Jones and Snarky Puppy's Michael League.

Parents and officials from some New Jersey school districts that get significantly less state aid than required by the school funding formula packed an Assembly committee hearing.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli questioned Acting Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington about the Christie administration’s budget plan to hold school funding at current levels.

“Is the Department’s position that the status quo and the effect of the status quo is having is acceptable?

Harrington says the state does not have the money to fully fund the formula.

Chelsea Beck/NPR

Before his election, back in October, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump laid out a 100 Day Action Plan. He called it his Contract With The American Voter. Among other things, it called for the full repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, suspension of immigration from certain "terror-prone regions," and the lifting of "roadblocks" to let "infrastructure projects like the Keystone Pipeline move forward."

William P. Gottlieb / Library of Congress

The immortal Ella Fitzgerald, First Lady of Song, was born a century ago — April 25, 1917 — and there has been no shortage of commemorative celebration. We caught the spirit and asked some of our on-air hosts at WBGO to curate this edition of Take Five. Their enthusiasm compelled us to expand the column to six tracks, spanning the golden era of her roughly five-decade recording career.

courtesy of the artist

It's hard to imagine an artist more steeped in the culture of New Orleans than Troy Andrews, better known as Trombone Shorty. Andrews grew up in the Tremé, a neighborhood that's become practically synonymous with brass-band music. At age 4, he marched in the street with his brother's band; by 13, he was playing in the New Birth Brass Band. He's also donated instruments and founded the Trombone Shorty Foundation to help pass along New Orleans' musical culture to a new generation.

Cameron Robert/NPR

Editor's note: This story contains some explicit language.

The connection between Killer Mike and George Clinton might not seem immediately obvious. One is a 42-year-old Atlanta rapper who, alongside El-P in Run the Jewels, sells out shows across the country without the boost of radio play. The other, now 75, founded the pioneering groups Parliament and Funkadelic in the '60s and presided over a funk empire whose onstage manifestations included dozens of musicians and a spaceship that descended from the rafters.

Broadway's Indecent Brings Up Painful Memories

Apr 21, 2017
Indecent
Michael Bourne for WBGO

A play now on Broadway tells the story of a play that became a scandal a hundred years ago — in Yiddish.  Theater Critic Michael Bourne reviews Indecent.A play now on Broadway tells the story of a play that became a scandal a hundred years ago — in Yiddish.   Theater Critic Michael Bourne reviews Indecent.

Mesh Network
Jon Kalish for WBGO

For many Americans a broadband connection to the internet is an essential necessity of 21st Century life. And yet there are some who can't afford it. A small town in Vermont is the latest in a series of efforts to organize a wireless network that offers high-speed internet access at a price that low-income people can afford. WBGO's Jon Kalish reports on the wireless mesh movement.

Click above to hear Jon's report on the WBGO Journal.

Police say about a dozen people in Newark became ill after ingesting the synthetic marijuana K2.

A state law, enacted four years ago, that bans those products is having some effect.

Bruce Ruck with the New Jersey Poison Education and Information System says since the ban took effect, calls are down to the poison center about the products treated with chemicals designed to mimic the effects of marijuana.

Theresa Fowler Pittius
Doug Doyle for WBGO

A Broadway veteran and Monmouth County native is training local kids and adults to follow in her footsteps on stage.  Saturday (April 22) marks the launch of Red Bank Performance Prep, and education division of the long-time downtown Red Bank events and entertainment company, Flipping Fun.

Theresa Fowler Pittius was an original cast member of Cameron Mackintosh's highly acclaimed, International Broadway Touring Production of Oliver.  She's been involved with many other Broadway projects and is now giving back to the community that helped make her dreams come true.

Newark Today

Apr 20, 2017

On this edition of Newark Today we talk policing and federal consent decrees in New Jersey's largest city with Mayor Ras J. Baraka, activist and leader of The People's Organization For Progress Larry Hamm, and former U. S. District Attorney for the state of New Jersey Paul Fishman. 

It's not over yet, but the flu season is New jersey is nearing an end.

State epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan says some people came down with the flu later in the season than usual, but the number of flu-related illnesses is decreasing now.

"'We definitely had more intense activity this year. This is what we expect when we see a predominance of the type AH3 strain. It tends to be a little bit more severe illnesses.'

Tan says low to moderate levels of flu activity are still being reported throughout New Jersey and it’s not too late to get a flu shot.

New Jersey lawmakers are concerned about an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

State health officials say 50 percent of sexually active 15-to-25 year olds will get a sexually transmitted disease unless they take precautions to prevent it.

Senator Jeff Van Drew says that's troubling.

"I have noticed with younger people, they feel that they're invincible and they really don't worry about it anymore, and STDs are a greater problem than ever. I wonder if we should have a renewed energy toward that issue."

Mike Nichols
Daniella Gutierrez for WBGO

The Third Annual Mike Nichols Charity Hockey Game this Friday, April 21st at Prudential Center will benefit spinal cord research and quality of life initiatives. 

Proceeds from the game featuring many former and current NHL stars will go to the Nichols Family Trust to provide for Mike's medical needs, as well as the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which is dedicated to curing spinal cord injuries by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for individuals living with paralysis.

Robert Ashcroft / Courtesy of the Artist

Growing up in the Ironbound District of Newark, New Jersey, Wayne Shorter savored almost nothing more than the suggestion of a daring escape. “When we got our bicycles, we would go down to the marshes, where Newark Airport is now, and ride the bikes a little bit into the soft earth, and in those tall weeds,” he said. “We’d go as far as we can — like, dare each other: 'How far can you go?'”

Janis Siegel of the Manhattan Transfer is one of the most versatile singers in jazz and song. She can sing (always delightfully) vocalese, standards, gospel, doo-wop, a kaleidoscope of “pop” songs, bossa novas, and then some. Requinte Trio is a new group she’s been working with recently, featuring pianist John DiMartino and guitarist and vocalist Nanny Asiss.

The front-runner for the Republican nomination in the governor's race in New Jersey is proposing a property tax relief plan.

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno wants to provide a credit of up to $3,000 for homeowners who pay more than 5 percent of their household income toward the school portion of their property tax.

The Chief Justice of New Jersey's Supreme Court is urging the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to stop arresting immigrants in courthouses.

In a letter to the Homeland Security Secretary, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner is raising concerns about the recent arrests of two unauthorized immigrants who showed up for appearances in state court.

When individuals fear they'll be arrested for a civil immigration violation when they set foot in a courthouse, Rabner says witnesses to violent crimes may stay away and remain silent.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Senator Cory Booker wants a commitment from the Trump Administration to support federal funding for improvements to railways between New York and New Jersey.  Funding for the Gateway Tunnel Project could be compromised under President Trump’s proposed federal budget.

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