WBGO Performances and Interviews

Steve Williams / WBGO

Suffice it to say that Jools Holland has a full dance card. He's the presenter of a radio show on BBC 2 and the driving force behind Later…with Jools Holland, the celebrated and inventive BBC TV program he created in 1992. 

But more than anything, Holland is a crafty and fun-loving musician who drops everything for the opportunity to sit behind a piano. So he recently put the busy schedule on hold and flew into New York to celebrate his 60th birthday (January 25) and perform in the Big Apple for the first time in more than a decade. 

Chris Tobin / WBGO

The Baylor Project — a flagship of the vocalist Jean Baylor and the drummer Marcus Baylor, partners in music as in marriage — will be in the running for two Grammy awards this month. Tellingly, the nominations are in different genre categories: Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Traditional R&B Performance.

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Before she honored the life and music of her “friend and sister” Geri Allen with a Winter Jazzfest concert at the New School, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington gave us a live preview last Friday on WBGO’s Afternoon Jazz.

Carrington — leading a group with vocalist Lizz Wright, pianist Helen Sung and bassist Kenny Davis — filled our performance space with the spirit and music of Allen, who passed away last June, two weeks after her 60th birthday.  

Chris Tobin

The polyglot queen of "New Flamenco" doesn't have to work to captivate a room. Buika's voice, a deep entanglement of late-morning sunlight and curling smoke, takes care of all that — as she effortlessly reminded us during a recent visit with her band, in advance of a Winter Jazzfest concert on Friday at the Town Hall. 


Isaiah McClain / WBGO

Stacey Kent is always a delight, and one of the most worldly singers I know. She recently came to Newark to talk with me about her new orchestral album, I Know I Dream, and to sing some of the songs with her group. 

 


Bex Wade

 Shirazette Tinnin is a versatile musician whose next album, Sonic Wallpaper, will highlight her individuality and spotlight her composing, including songs with her own lyrics. 

She’s a jazz-trained drummer whose influences range from Art Blakey to Sheila E. It was after seeing Sheila E. on TV, at age 4, that Shirazette decided that she wanted to play drums.

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Allan Harris is a classic crooner with considerable range. His new album, Nobody’s Gonna Love You Better, offers an extraordinary mix of songs from across the spectrum, from standards (“I Remember You,” “Moody’s Mood for Love”) to rock songs by Jimi Hendrix and Steely Dan to his own soulful originals.

He's also created a musical, Cross That River — the story of an ex-slave who became one of the black cowboys in the Wild West. Many of the cattle drovers after the Civil War were black, but we’ve rarely ever seen them in movies.

deedeebridgewater.com

It’s been a busy year for vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater.  WBGO’s Ang Santos caught up with the jazz icon in New York City, as she tours in support of a new album.

Ang Santos:  Joining us on the WBGO Journal is Dee Dee Bridgewater, at the Blue Note in New York City.  No stranger to our airwaves, Thanks for being with us.

Dee Dee Bridgewater:  You’re welcome

AS:  You’re touring for your new album, 'Memphis, Yes I’m Ready'. To my understanding the album was a project that spanned over several years?

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.


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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.

Melissa Walker and Christian McBride
Isaiah McClain/WBGO

It’s astonishing that bassist Christian McBride is only 45. He’s been playing with everyone for decades. Roy Hargrove and the Jazz Futures early on. Diana Krall. Sonny Rollins. And plenty of other jazz masters, including his mentor Ray Brown.

Isaiah McClain / WBGO

A pair of great pianists, Helen Sung and Isaiah Thompson, recently stopped by Morning Jazz to play and chat about what moves them to move us.

Sung was in the first class of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, studying with Ron Carter, Jimmy Heath and Clark Terry — with all of whom she would one day play professionally. She has just returned from China, performing Monk’s music to packed houses in Beijing and Shanghai. After Monday’s performance with the Mingus Big Band at Jazz Standard, she and the band will travel with Mingus’ music to Tokyo for a week.

Isaiah McClain / WBGO

Pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias is known around the world for combining her love of jazz with the music of her native Brazil. She recently visited our studio with her husband, bassist Marc Johnson, to talk about her engagement this weekend at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and reminisce about her journey in music.


Rhonda Hamilton with Makoto Ozone
Isaiah McClain/WBGO

Makoto Ozone’s wizardry on the piano has made him a star not only in his native Japan but around the world. 

He taught himself to play the organ when he was just a toddler and then as a preteen, switched to the piano after hearing Oscar Peterson in concert. Ozone has spent his life mastering jazz and classical music, and he’ll demonstrate his proficiency in both with a performance Tuesday night at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, followed by concerts Thursday through Saturday at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall with the New York Philharmonic.

Shervin Lainez

Hilary Gardner is becoming best known as a member of the trio Duchess, but she's been singing around the New York scene ever since she came from Alaska in 2003.  Her first album, The Great City, celebrated New York, now her beloved hometown. 

Her new album, The Late Set, is all intimate duets with pianist Ehud Asherie. 

David Tallacksen / WBGO

Saxophonist Chico Freeman started his jazz life as a kid on the front porch of his Chicago home, peering in the open window as his father Von, and his guitarist uncle George held jam sessions that started by day and lit up the night.

Chico would go on to tour with McCoy Tyner, Sam Rivers, Dizzy Gillespie and Bobby Hutcherson — and work with blues giants Buddy Guy and Memphis Slim. It’s all there, which is the reason so many listeners readily go where Chico steers the ship; it’s guaranteed to be an engaging musical journey.

Greg Allen

Thelonious Monk changed the way musicians approach jazz. It's not a legacy to be viewed in a museum, but a living body of work for artists to challenge themselves today, finding new arrangements and expressions, surprising themselves at every Monk call and response.

Isaiah McClain / WBGO

Michael Shannon is an actor known for the intensity of his performances, whether in films like 99 Homes, prestige cable series like Boardwalk Empire or Broadway plays like Long Day’s Journey Into Night. He’s also an intense jazz fan, as he discussed with WBGO’s Gary Walker on Morning Jazz.

Motema

Arturo O’Farrill makes music steeped in the pantheon of Afro-Latin culture. He can’t help it. It’s in his DNA.

Chris Tobin / WBGO

This Labor Day, WBGO presented four hours of music, recorded live at this year’s Charlie Parker Jazz Festival. We have highlights from the broadcast right here.

Nobody understands bebop piano better than Barry Harris, who at 87 is one of the great elder statesmen of our music. He graced us with his wit, erudition and piano mastery in a recent visit to Morning Jazz.


Christian Sands is a pianist with a deep connection to jazz’s history, but he doesn’t see that as a static proposition. Quite the contrary.

“Jazz is such a conglomerate of different styles and different sounds, and always has been,” he said while paying a visit to Morning Jazz. “The world is so big and yet so small, because we’re all connected. That’s the way the music sounds today, because we’re all pulling from different places.”

Vocalist Claudia Acuña discovered the full swing of imagination in music at a young age, growing up in Chile. Early inspiration came from a diverse range of artists: Violeta Parra, Michael Jackson, Mozart. Acuña then found herself drawn to jazz and its limitless freedom of expression. During a recent conversation with Sheila Anderson, the Chilean singer, songwriter and arranger shared her story.

Willerm Delisfort, a pianist and composer born in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami, has established himself over the last six years as a well-respected musician on the New York jazz scene. He sat down with Sheila Anderson on Salon Sessions to share some of his favorite records, talk about his latest project, and break down the meaning behind his phrase "honest music."

Bill Charlap — pianist, bandleader and the artistic director of Jazz in July at the 92nd Street Y — knows a thing or two about being a custodian of jazz traditions.


Dorothy Darr

"I've got a pocketful of blues here still, you know?" says Charles Lloyd, the saxophonist-flutist-composer-bandleader who, at 79, has become one of jazz's enlightened elders.

The new album by saxophonist Don Braden and bassist Joris Teepe is called Conversations — as good a title as any to describe the results, both musical and colloquial, of their visit to Morning Jazz. They came with drummer Steve Johns, played a few tunes, and spoke with Gary Walker about the origins of the new record.

Conversations, which was released in May, features two drummers, Gene Jackson and Matt Wilson. For their album-release gig, Wednesday night at the Zinc Bar, Braden and Teepe will enlist drummer Jeremy Warren.

Pianist and composer Helen Sung was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and received rigorous classical training before pivoting to jazz. She has made up for lost time since, working with mentors like bassist Ron Carter, and releasing several well-received albums of her own. 

Sung appears with vocalist Nicole Zuraitis at Mezzrow on Sunday, with the Mingus Big Band at the Jazz Standard on Monday, and at the Caramoor Jazz Festival on July 15. She recently joined host Sheila Anderson in a conversation on Salon Sessions.

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Pianist and composer Onaje Allan Gumbs began playing at age seven, inspired in part by Henry Mancini. A former sideman to aritsts including trumpeters Nat Adderley and Woody Shaw, Gumbs released his own debut album, Onaje, 40 years ago. 

During a recent conversation with Sheila Anderson on Salon Sessions, he reflected on his broad career, his so-called "return" — and the first Bob Cranshaw Community Achievement Award, which he recently received from the Jazz Foundation of America.

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