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Memorials, Pianists

Tuesday 11/12/2019 Show: Harold Mabern Memorial Broadcast

Photo: Harold Mabern and SUga’ host Joyce Jones 

Program note: We’re back on air after having the station’s fund drive and programming disrupted by an attempted shutdown by a faction of the Pacifica Network’s national board. WBAI now has an even more urgent need for donations and monthly subscribers to help it recover. We ask that you give anything you can right now and would appreciate that you name our show when doing so. The money goes to support the station’s operating expenses: we don’t get anything from this. Thanks in advance.

The next show will air on Tuesday November 12, 2019 from 10:00 PM – 12 Midnight Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This installment of “Suga’ In My Bowl,” we will be a memorial broadcast for pianist, composer, educator Harold Mabern, who’s also father of Michael Mabern, a former Producer of WBAI’s “Creative Unity Collective.”

Harold Mabern (born March 20, 1936), one of jazz’s most enduring and dazzlingly skilled pianists, was born in Memphis, a city that produced saxophonists George Coleman and Charles Lloyd, pianist Phineas Newborn Jr. and trumpeter Booker Little. He was an unsung hero of the 1960s hardbop scene, performing and recording with many of its finest artists, and only in recent years has he begun to garner appreciation for his long-running legacy in jazz and the understated power of his talent; as critic Gary Giddins has written, “With the wind at his back, he can sound like an ocean roar.”

During his over half-century on the scene as sideman and leader, he has played and recorded with such greats as Lee Morgan, Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley, Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis, just to name a few. “I was never concerned with being a leader, I just always wanted to be the best sideman I could be. Be in the background so you can shine through.”

In more recent years, he toured and recorded extensively with tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander: his former William Paterson University student. Mabern and Alexander appeared on over twenty CDs together. A longtime faculty member at William Paterson University since 1981, Mabern was also a frequent instructor at the Stanford Jazz Workshop.

Mabern was also a mainstay of the New York City jazz scene, leading a trio in monthly gigs at Smalls and equally frequent appearances at Smoke, often as part of Eric Alexander’s ensembles.

When this program originally aired, Mabern’s “Mr. Lucky: A Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.” released 2012 on HighNote Records. Harold Mabern is now an ancestor. He transitioned on September 19, 2019.

This program is engineered, produced, hosted and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our “On the Bandstand” segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

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