WBGO Performances and Interviews

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.

Courtesy of the artist

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.

WBGO Evening Jazz Host Awilda Rivera has been filling our airwaves with great music for the last 18 years. Today Rivera celebrates her birthday, and tomorrow we'll celebrate her final show as Evening Jazz Host with a star-studded live broadcast. Rivera is retiring from her post as host of weekday evening on WBGO, but will continue as host of the Latin Jazz Cruise.

Sheila Anderson and Rivera have shared a long-time camaraderie - apparent if you've heard the pair asking for your support during a WBGO pledge drive. On this edition of Salon Sessions, the two go back all the way to Rivera's first introduction to WBGO (as a volunteer in 1983!), and her history in broadcasting since.

Rob Davidson

“Erroll Garner had so much spirit when he played, so much joy, so much groove,” Michael Wolff recently told Michael Bourne. “That’s why I think he was such a successful pianist. No matter what he did — and he played really, for his day, very sophisticated outside harmonies — but everything he played swung.”

Wolff was at our Yamaha Salon Concert on what would have been Erroll Garner's 94th birthday. He played both in a solo stride vein and with a swinging trio, and both performances were filmed.

Rob Davidson

Erroll Garner, the irrepressibly ebullient pianist, left an influence that runs deep but often diffuse: it isn't often that you hear someone who sounds just like him, but there's an awful lot of him in the language. Consider an exchange at our recent Yamaha Salon Concert between Kenny Werner and Andy Milne — a pair of super-literate, restlessly imaginative pianists, a generation apart. Their performance conjured Garner in spirit, without resorting to imitative devices, and set a high bar for responsive duologue.

When Steve Slagle named his new album Alto Manhattan, he had two connotations in mind. The first, of course, refers to his instrument, alto saxophone. But he was also thinking of the neighborhood where he lives, known to its Latino residents as "Alto Manhattan," or "The Heights." 

The album features a special guest, saxophonist Joe Lovano, as well as the percussionist Román Díaz, the drummer Bill Stewart, the bassist Gerald Cannon and the pianist Lawrence Fields. Slagle came into our studio to talk about the album, and play some music with Fields. The full band (sans Lovano) performs tonight at the Jazz Standard.

Last Thursday, on what would have been Erroll Garner's 94th birthday, WBGO held a Yamaha Salon Concert in midtown Manhattan, with a handful of superb pianists paying their respects. Among them was Christian Sands, who offered a solo medley with crystalline touch and bounding stride rhythm.

Then, following a brief exchange with Michael Bourne, he played a buoyant "Night and Day" with the evening's house rhythm team, bassist Ben Allison and drummer Allan Mednard.

Early in her musical career, in the ‘90s, Diana Krall played a regular gig on Saturday evenings in Boston. When she drove down to New York City on Sunday mornings, she’d plan the trip so she could get close enough to hear the FM signal of WBGO in time to hear Singers Unlimited. She’s been hearing herself playing piano and singing ever since on WBGO.

Nowadays, she can listen to wbgo.org during her travels around the world or in her hometown, Nanaimo, British Columbia. “I listen to you all the time,” she said when she came in for a recent session with a killer band, featuring frequent quartet-mate Anthony Wilson on guitar, along with bassist Robert Hurst, drummer Karriem Riggins and violinist Stuart Duncan.

Selwyn Birchwood's new album, Pick Your Poison, is a soulful collection of genre-bending blues and roots. Birchwood, a guitarist and vocalist, recently dropped by the Blues Break for a live in-studio performance — and sat down with host Michael Bourne to talk more about this new album and his current tour.


John Abbott

With his new release, Zenith, pianist Michael Wolff has captured the diverse spirit of a solo recording done exceptionally well. The album includes an original New Orleans bounce, some Coltrane in ragtime, Sufjan Stevens and more. 

Michael stopped by Morning Jazz to chat about his past associations with Sonny Rollins, Cal Tjader, Cannonball Adderley and Nancy Wilson — and play some inspired piano  on our Steinway grand.

Leo Sidran, Gary Walker and Ben Sidran together for Morning Jazz
Steve Williams

Ben Sidran observes life through a prism. As a musician and an interviewer, he's always looking to encourage dialogue. This week he stopped by Morning Jazz to play and talk about Picture Him Happy, a swinging new album with provocative lyrics.


Kevin Eubanks has been a head-turning jazz guitarist since his debut album, Guitarist, almost 35 years ago. His new release, East West Time Line, is the latest in a series of self-assured statements since he walked away from his job as leader of the Tonight Show Band, in 2010. 

Coco Montoya's latest album, Hard Truth, covers a variety of emotions. From songs about gambling and drinking to warnings about how "The Devil Don't Sleep," it contains the kind of direct storytelling the blues is famous for.

Listen to Montoya with host Michael Bourne on the Blues Break, where he talks about this new album, upcoming performances, and the inspirations behind his music.

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.

Lynne Harty

Singer and composer Theo Bleckmann shapes his voice into an array of subtle orchestral colors. In this visit to Singers Unlimited, he talks with Michael Bourne about his new album, Elegy, as well as his work for the stage and collaborations with a jazz mentor, Sheila Jordan.


In his first live on-air interview, drummer Nate Smith stops by Afternoon Jazz to talk with Nicole Sweeney about being a part of the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program, the making of his new album — Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere, featuring bassist, longtime friend and 2017 NEA Jazz Master Dave Holland —the vibe behind the "Nate Bop," and more.


Hear Judy Niemack and pianist Dan Tepfer as they stop by Singers Unlimited to chat with Michael Bourne about their new album, Listening to You. They'll also share a few tunes live in our studio — including an impromptu take on a standard.  

Shakespeare, Robert Johnson, Freddie Mercury, and David Crosby are just a few of the names that pop up in this lively conversation with Becca Stevens, as she shares songs from her latest album, Regina, live in our studio on Singers Unlimited.


 

Rob Paparozzi is a virtuoso of the harmonica, and played a box full of harps — different sizes, different keys — when he came to WBGO for a talk on Michael Bourne’s Blues Break. He’ll be the featured soloist on May 11 when the New York Philharmonic performs Henry Mancini’s score to Breakfast at Tiffany’s, along with a screening of the film.

 

Paparozzi recently played in the City Center Encores revival of Roger Miller’s musical Big River: Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He’s also performing with a reunited Blues Brothers band. 

Celebrating the Cool and Humor of Dexter Gordon

Feb 21, 2017

"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." 

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.

Susan Brecker with Gary Walker
Steve Williams

It was 10 years ago this month we lost saxophonist Michael Brecker to a rare form of bone cancer. His widow, Susan Brecker, has organized an all-star benefit concert in his honor on Wednesday night, featuring artists including Wynton Marsalis and Diana Krall. She recently spoke about the concert and her husband's legacy, and you can listen to our conversation here.

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