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Sunday 3/6/2015 Show: Amina Claudine Myers

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Photo: Amina Claudine Myers at Vision Festival 20: July 7, 2015| Joyce Jones. All Rights Reserved.
 
The next show will air on Sunday, February 21, 2015 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast will feature an interview with pianist, organist, vocalist and composer Amina Claudine Myers.
 

 
Amina Claudine Myers was born in Blackwell, Arkansas. She was raised by her great aunt Mrs. Emma Thomas whom she called “mama” and her uncle Buford. This is where her music lessons began, with her uncle teaching her rhythms. She started classical piano study at The Sacred Hearts Catholic School in Morrilton, Ark. before moving to Dallas, Tex in 1949. There she continued studying piano. During her elementary school years she became pianist for a local church, co-led an all female gospel group, participated in plays at Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church and in musical activities in school.
 
Myers moved back to Blackwell in 1957 and finished 11th and 12th grades at L.W. Sullivan High School. She helped form a group with two names “The Gospel Four” and “The Royal Hearts”. This group traveled locally for gospel shows and sang rhythm and blues songs popular during that time. Myers received several college scholarship offers, and chose Philander Smith. She played in the jazz band under the direction of music department head Mr. Whaley during her freshman year.
 
This was her introduction to jazz and learning to play the blues by ear. Myers continued to study classical piano and became student director for the choir. After the choir’s pianist graduated, Myers became the pianist and learned to play the pipe organ. She then toured the midwest as a member of a choir, octet, and quartet all directed by Dr. Carl Harris.
 
In her sophomore year, Gloria Salter got Myers a job playing in The Safari Room, a jazz club on 9th Street, the major strip for night life. She played piano, sang easy jazz standards, and experimented with work from Dakota Statton, Nina Simone and Ella Fitzerald’s “Stompin’ At The Savoy”, which she learned note by note. Myers also took a job playing church organ and later played the organ in a rhythm and blues club for three summers when she stayed with her mother in Louisville, Kentucky.
 
While in college, Myers directed and played for church choirs in and around Louisville KY during summer vacations. After graduating with a B.A. degree in music education, she moved to Chicago to teach and taught music at The G.T. Donoghue Elementary School for six years. She became involved in the music scene and played with The Gerald Donovan (Ajaramu) Trio as organist for several years. Ajaramu introduced Myers to The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and she became a member. There she met Muhal Richard Abrams and other creative musicians and began composing for big band, various ensembles, and formed a “voice choir”.
 
After resigning from teaching, Myers toured as organist with The Gene (Jug) Ammons Quartet for two and a half years and The Sonny Stitt Trio off and on for approximately six months.
 
In 1976, Myers moved to New York City and became involved with the creative musicians who had migrated from Chicago and St. Louis, playing music in the New York lofts. She then taught at the State University of New York for a year and developed a gospel chorus there.
 
Myers began touring Europe with The Lester Bowie Quintet and The NY Organ Ensemble around 1978. This began her European (all of western Europe, Hungary, Turkey and Poland), Japanese, Canadian and U.S. performances of concerts, festivals and clubs as a soloist, with her trio, quartet, sextet and voice choir. This included workshops, seminars and residencies in universities and schools in the U.S. as well as Europe. Myers had the opportunity to perform in Cape Town, South Africa at The North Sea Jazz Festival with saxophonist/composer Archie Shepp and in Accra, Ghana with composer/ vibraphonist Cecilia Smith during their jazz festival.
 
Myers has recorded and toured with many great musicians such as Muhal Richard Abrams, James Blood Ulmer, Bill Laswell, Henry Threadgill, Archie Shepp, and Charlie Haden.
 
Myers premiered her Improvisational Suite For Chorus, Pipe Organ And Percussion (sixteen voices, pipe organ and two percussionists, showcasing operatic voices in an improvisational setting) in N.Y. Other large works include, When The Berries Fell (eight voices, two percussionists, piano and electric organ. An odyssey through the world of music) Focus (a mixed media event with piano, voice, electric bass and slides of Blackwell, Arkansas), Interiors (a chamber orchestra piece with eleven instruments including a string quartet) Balcor and Park People (compositions for big band). A View From The Inside (a one time completely improvised performance of an inside look of the creative mind with a New Orleans chef, a weaving designer, a choreographer, pianist/composer and composer/guitarist/trumpeter and AGA (compositions for violin, cello and piano.)
 
Continued ongoing collaborations include recordings and performances with Sola Lui a wonderful chinese composer, designer and vocalist. This combination of Chinese and African American cultures has performed in Europe and the U.S. Myers has also worked with the exciting choreographer Diane McIntyre to recreate a work by Helen Tamaris titled How Long Brethren (Negro Protest Songs written during the thirties). Myers directed the symphony orchestra and chorus at George Mason University in VA and Western Univ. in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
 
Myers’ works of blues, jazz, gospel and extended forms continues. She also teaches privately, giving lessons in theory, composition, piano, voice, organ, classical piano and assisting clients interested in stage/performances. Myers has performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Iridium Club, Birdland and other sites with her groups and with other artists and still continues to perform nationally and internationally.
 
Bio adapted from Myers’ website.
 
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.
 
Web Extras
 
Watch Myers in a live 2001 performance of “You Gotta Call Him” with Archie Shepp’s Quartet.
 

 
Watch Myers play with bassist Henry Grimes in a preview of the 2015 Vision Fest.
 

 
Watch Myers lead a trio in a live 2014 performance.
 

 
Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman and Hunter colleges in the City University of New York system.

Sunday 1/24/16 Show: Billy Childs

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Photo: Billy Childs | Billy Childs.com, All Rights Reserved.
 
The next show will air on Sunday, January 24, 2015 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast will feature an interview with composer, arranger and pianist Billy Childs, who will be bringing his Grammy winning Laura Nyro project titled “Map to the Treasure: Reimaging Laura Nyro” to the Jazz Standard from January 26-28 for two sets per night.
 

 
Billy Childs has emerged as one of the foremost American composers of his era, perhaps the most distinctly American composer since Aaron Copland – for like Copland, he has successfully married the musical products of his heritage with the Western neoclassical traditions of the twentieth century in a powerful symbiosis of style, range, and dynamism.
 
A native of Los Angeles, Childs grew up immersed in jazz, classical, and popular music influences. A prodigious talent at the piano earned him public performances by age six, and at sixteen he was admitted to the USC Community School of the Performing Arts, going on to earn a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition under the tutelage of Robert Linn and Morton Lauridsen.
 
By the time of his graduation from USC, Childs was already an in-demand performer in the L.A. jazz scene. Soon thereafter he was discovered by trumpet legend Freddie Hubbard, with whom he embarked on a successful performing and recording tour. He recorded and performed with a number of other influential jazz musicians including J.J. Johnson, Joe Henderson, and Wynton Marsalis before landing a record deal with Windham Hill Records in 1988, when he released Take For Example, This…, the first of four critically acclaimed albums for the label. The albums Twilight Is Upon Us (1989), His April Touch (1991), and Portrait Of A Player (1992) followed, each expansive contributions of depth and virtuosity. Since then Childs has written and produced I’ve Known Rivers (1995) on Stretch/GRP, The Child Within (1996) on Shanachie, and two volumes of “jazz/chamber music” (an amalgam of jazz and classical music) – Lyric: Jazz-Chamber Music Vol. 1 (2006) and Autumn: In Moving Pictures, Vol. 2 (2010); the recordings earned him two GRAMMY awards and five nominations.
 
Simultaneously with his recording career, Childs has occupied a parallel niche as an in-demand composer. His orchestral and chamber commission credits include Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leonard Slatkin, The Los Angeles Master Chorale, The Kronos Quartet, The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, The American Brass Quintet, The Ying Quartet, and The Dorian Wind Quintet.
 
Thus far in his career, Childs has garnered thirteen GRAMMY nominations and four awards: two for Best Instrumental Composition (“Into the Light” from Lyric and The “Path Among The Trees” from Autumn: In Moving Pictures) and two for Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist (“New York Tendaberry” from Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro and “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” from To Love Again). In 2006, Childs was awarded a Chamber Music America Composer’s Grant, and in 2009 was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was also awarded the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award in 2013, and most recently, the music award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2015.
 
Most recently, Childs has recorded a collection of re-imagined Laura Nyro compositions for Sony Masterworks, released in September 2014. Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro was produced by Larry Klein and features guest artists: Renee Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma, Wayne Shorter, Alison Kraus, Dianne Reeves, Chris Botti, Esperanza Spalding, Lisa Fischer, Susan Tedeschi, Rickie Lee Jones, Shawn Colvin, Ledesi, Becca Stevens, Chris Potter, Brian Blade, Steve Wilson and Jerry Douglas.
 
As a pianist Childs has performed with Yo-Yo Ma, Sting, Renee Fleming, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Chick Corea, The Kronos Quartet, Wynton Marsalis, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Ron Carter, The Ying Quartet, The American Brass Quintet, and Chris Botti.
 
Bio adapted from the Billy Childs website.
 
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. You’ll have a chance to win tickets to Billy Childs’ Jazz Standard dates!
 
Web Extras
 
Watch Childs perform “The Confession” from Map to the Treasure live at the 2014 Monterey Jazz Festival.
 

 
Watch Childs perform with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s Quintet live in 1981.
 

 
Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman and Hunter colleges in the City University of New York system.

Sunday 5/17/2015 Show: Marc Cary

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Photo: Marc Cary.| Credit: Rebecca Meeks.

The next show will air on Sunday, May 17, 2015 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast will feature an interview with will feature an interview with pianist, keyboardist, producer and composer Marc Cary.

Marc Cary holds tight to his roots in Washington, D.C.’s go-go music scene, but they represent only one element among the myriad. Cary’s interests run from Indian classical to Malian music to hip-hop. He started his career working with Betty Carter, a legendary vocalist famous for drawing soul and sincerity out of her bands, and went on to work with Roy Hargrove, Dizzy Gillespie, Erykah Badu, Shirley Horn, Stefon Harris, Q-Tip and – most influential of all – Abbey Lincoln.

Marc Cary was born in New York City in 1967, but moved to D.C. as a young child. Growing up in a neglected city during the 1970s and ’80s, it was easy to run into trouble – but music remained a steadying force. At 14 he joined the High Integrity Band, a group that practiced the native D.C. art form of go-go, a dance music blending funk, hip-hop, Afro-Caribbean drumming and traditional call-and-response elements. With the help of a city-run public arts program, Let ’Em Play, he learned jazz piano from some of D.C.’s most esteemed musicians and performed professionally during summers.

For high school Cary attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and played in the Dizzy Gillespie Youth Orchestra, based at the storied D.C. jazz club Blues Alley. When Cary took a standout solo during a performance of “A Night in Tunisia,” it caught the ear of Gillespie himself, and from then on the trumpet legend let Cary sit in whenever his band came through D.C.

A fledgling Cary soon came under the wing of that group’s pianist, Walter Davis, Jr., who encouraged him to move to New York City. And after two years of studying at the University of the District of Columbia under the tutelage of renowned trombonist and educator Calvin Jones, Cary did relocate in 1988. Within months of arriving in the jazz capital, he was playing in bands led by Arthur Taylor, Mickey Bass and Betty Carter, all major figures from jazz’s mid-century heyday.

He went on to perform with the Abraham Burton Quartet, then rejoined Betty Carter, and finally ended up alongside Abbey Lincoln. “Going from Betty to Abbey was like going from the street to the theater,” Cary says. With Lincoln, “you had to have that same skill as you needed with Betty, but it was supposed to allow you to not have to do any of the kinds of things Betty always demanded.” From Lincoln he learned the power of simplicity, focus and soul-baring musical poetry.

In 1995, Cary released his debut, Cary On, a striking record that introduced his songwriting talents with grooving originals like “The Vibe” and “So Gracefully.” The album featured an all-star cast including Hargrove and saxophonist Ron Blake. He followed it with 1997’s Listen, then The Antidote in 1998 – both strong displays of Cary’s developing skills as a broad-minded pianist and bandleader. Trillium, released in 1999, found Cary working with longtime collaborators Nasheet Waits on drums and Tarus Mateen on bass (the rhythm section that would soon become the foundation of Jason Moran’s award-winning Bandwagon trio). On Trillium, the only official document of the Cary-Mateen-Waits trio, they pummel past the blues, playing with joy, conviction and heavy-stepping strength over originals and covers of tunes by Miles Davis and Duke Pearson.

By the mid-2000s, Cary had developed a new jazz trio with an intimate rapport. He called it the Focus Trio, and it featured David Ewell on bass and Sameer Gupta on drums and tablas. With this group Cary found a new way to juxtapose his improvisational calmness and equipoise with a pulsing urgency and a sense of searching.

He has kept that curiosity and quest for peace at the forefront of his work with the trio, which released exploratory live albums in 2008 and 2009. And the same spirit has permeated his other projects, from For the Love of Abbey to Cosmic Indigenous. The latest incarnation of the Indigenous People ensemble, Cosmic Indigenous blends Indian classical, go-go and Malian music to form an infectious, danceable, electronically throbbing whole. As a sideman, Cary continues to tour with Stefon Harris, Cindy Blackman, Will Calhoun and other preeminent jazz musicians.

Show 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.

WBAI Radio is in the middle of our Spring Fund Drive. Don’t worry: you’ll be getting the same great show as always! But please head on over to WBAI’s Pledge Page and support the station that allows us to do this work.

Web Extras:

Watch Cary’s Focus Trio perform “King Tut Strut” live.



Watch Marc in this live performance with legendary vocalist Abbey Lincoln.



Watch Marc perform “Afro Blue” live at NYC’s Blue Note with drummer Will Calhoun and bassist Charnett Moffett.

Sunday 4/19/2015 show: Vijay Iyer

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Photo: Vijay Iyer.| Credit: Bob Doran via Flickr. Creative Commons licensed by photographer.

The next show will air on Sunday, April 19, 2015 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast will feature an interview with pianist, composer, and educator Vijay Iyer.

Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer (pronounced “VID-jay EYE-yer”) was described by Pitchfork. as “one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today,” by the Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star,” and by Minnesota Public Radio as “an American treasure.” He was named DownBeat Magazine‘s 2014 Pianist of the Year, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, and a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist. In 2014 he began a permanent appointment as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts in the Department of Music at Harvard University.

The New York Times observes, “There’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist Vijay Iyer.” Iyer has released twenty albums covering remarkably diverse terrain, most recently for the ECM label. The latest include Break Stuff (2015), with a coveted five-star rating in DownBeat Magazine, featuring the Vijay Iyer Trio, hailed by PopMatters as “the best band in jazz”; Mutations (2014), featuring Iyer’s music for piano, string quartet and electronics, which “extends and deepens his range… showing a delicate, shimmering, translucent side of his playing” (Chicago Tribune); and Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi (2014), “his most challenging and impressive work, the scintillating score to a compelling film by Prashant Bhargava” (DownBeat), performed by International Contemporary Ensemble and released on DVD and BluRay.

Iyer’s trio (Iyer, piano; Marcus Gilmore, drums; Stephan Crump, bass) made its name with two tremendously acclaimed and influential albums, Accelerando (2012) and Historicity (2009). Accelerando was voted #1 Jazz Album of the Year for 2012 in three separate critics polls surveying hundreds of critics worldwide, hosted by DownBeat, Jazz Times, and Rhapsody, respectively, and also was chosen as jazz album of the year by NPR, the Los Angeles Times, PopMatters, and Amazon.com. Iyer received an unprecedented “quintuple crown” in the 2012 DownBeat International Critics Poll (winning Jazz Artist of the Year, Pianist of the Year, Jazz Album of the Year, Jazz Group of the Year, and Rising Star Composer categories), a “quadruple crown” in the JazzTimes extended critics poll (winning Artist of the Year, Acoustic/Mainstream Group of the Year, Pianist of the Year, and Album of the Year), the 2012 and 2013 Pianist of the Year Awards and the 2010 Musician of the Year Award from the Jazz Journalists Association, and the 2013 ECHO Award (the “German Grammy”) for best international pianist. Historicity was a 2010 Grammy Nominee for Best Instrumental Jazz Album, and was named #1 Jazz Album of 2009 in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Detroit Metro Times, National Public Radio, PopMatters.com, the Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll, and the Downbeat International Critics Poll, and the trio won the 2010 ECHO Award for best international ensemble.

Iyer’s 2013 collaboration with poet Mike Ladd, Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project, based on the dreams of veterans of color from America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was hailed as #1 Jazz Album of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and described in JazzTimes as “impassioned, haunting, [and] affecting.” Along with their previous projects In What Language? (2004) and Still Life with Commentator (2007), Holding It Down rounded out a trilogy of politically searing albums about post-9/11 American life. These projects were hailed as “unfailingly imaginative and significant” (JazzTimes) and praised for their “powerful narrative invention and ravishing trance-jazz… an eloquent tribute to the stubborn, regenerative powers of the human spirit” (Rolling Stone).

Iyer’s accomplishments extend well beyond his recordings. His recent composer commissions include “Playlist for an Extreme Occasion” (2012) written for Silk Road Ensemble (and released on their 2013 album A Playlist without Borders); “Dig The Say,” written for Brooklyn Rider and released on their 2014 album Almanac; “Mozart Effects” (2011) and “Time, Place, Action” (2014) for Brentano String Quartet; “Bruits” (2014) for Imani Winds and pianist Cory Smythe; “Rimpa Transcriptions” (2012) written for Bang on a Can All-Stars; “UnEasy” (2011) commissioned by NYC’s Summerstage in collaboration with choreographer Karole Armitage; “Three Fragments” (2011) for Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society. His orchestral work Interventions was commissioned and premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in 2007 under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies. It was praised by The New York Times as “all spiky and sonorous,” and by the Philadelphia City Paper for its “heft and dramatic vision and a daring sense of soundscape.” Other works include Mutations I-X (2005) commissioned and premiered by the string quartet ETHEL; “Three Episodes for Wind Quintet” (1999) written for Imani Winds; a “ravishing” (Variety) score for the original theater/dance work Betrothed (2007); the award-winning film score for Teza (2008) by legendary filmmaker Haile Gerima; a suite of acoustic jazz cues for the sports channel ESPN (2009); and the prize-winning audiovisual installation Release (2010) in collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison. Forthcoming commissions include pieces for Jennifer Koh, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and So Percussion. His concert works are published by Schott Music. An active electronic musician and producer, Iyer displays his digital audio artistry on his own recordings Still Life with Commentator, Holding it Down, Mutations, and Radhe Radhe, and in his remixes for British Asian electronica pioneer Talvin Singh, Islamic punk band The Kominas, and composer-performer Meredith Monk.

Iyer was voted the 2010 Musician of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association, and named one of 2011’s “50 Most Influential Global Indians” by GQ India. Other honors include the Greenfield Prize, the Alpert Award in the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, the India Abroad Publisher’s Special Award for Excellence, and numerous critics’ prizes.

Iyer’s many collaborators include creative music pioneers Steve Coleman, Wadada Leo Smith, Roscoe Mitchell, Butch Morris, George Lewis, Amina Claudine Myers, William Parker, Graham Haynes, Miya Masaoka, Pamela Z, John Zorn; next-generation artists Rudresh Mahanthappa, Rez Abbasi, Craig Taborn, Ambrose Akinmusire, Liberty Ellman, Steve Lehman, Matana Roberts, Tyshawn Sorey; Dead Prez, DJ Spooky, Himanshu Suri of Das Racist, High Priest of Antipop Consortium, DJ Val Jeanty, Karsh Kale, Suphala, Imani Uzuri, and Talvin Singh; filmmakers Haile Gerima, Prashant Bhargava, and Bill Morrison; choreographer Karole Armitage; and poets Mike Ladd, Amiri Baraka, Charles Simic, and Robert Pinsky.

A polymath whose career has spanned the sciences, the humanities and the arts, Iyer received an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in the cognitive science of music from the University of California, Berkeley. He has published in Journal of Consciousness Studies, Wire, Music Perception, JazzTimes, Journal of the Society for American Music, Critical Studies in Improvisation, in the anthologies Arcana IV, Sound Unbound, Uptown Conversation, The Best Writing on Mathematics: 2010, and in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies. Iyer has taught at Manhattan School of Music, New York University, and the New School, and he is the Director of The Banff Centre’s International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, an annual 3-week program in Alberta, Canada. Iyer recently finished a multi-year residency with San Francisco Performances, cultivating new audiences and working with schools and community organizations. He is a Steinway artist and uses Ableton Live software.

Show 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.

Listen to the show for a chance to win a pair of tickets for one of the Vijay Iyer Trio shows at the Jazz Standard during the week of April 22-26th.

Web Extras:

Watch the Vijay Iyer Trio play “Actions Speak” live at the 2012 Winter Jazz Fest!



Watch Vijay Iyer Trio play their fantastic cover of “Human Nature” live for National Public Radio!



Watch Iyer play with TRIO3 in a live set at the 2015 Winter Jazz Fest!

Sunday 1/11/2015 Show: Geri Allen

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Photo: Geri Allen.

The next show will air on Sunday, January 11, 2014 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast features an interview with pianist Geri Allen conducted by special guest host Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin. This is a rebroadcast of a 2009 show. You can hear a short preview below.

Who is Geri Allen? Just an award winning pianist and composer who is also an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan. “Suga’ In My Bowl” will explore the life and incredible talent of Geri Allen with guest host Farah Jasmine Griffin.

Professor Allen is currently Director of the Jazz Studies Department at the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned a master’s degree in ethnomusicology.

Geri Allen, pianist/composer, bandleader, educator and Guggenheim Fellow, is the first recipient of the Soul Train, Lady of Soul Award for Jazz. In 2011 Geri Allen, was nominated for an NAACP Award for her Timeline, Tap Quartet Project. Allen is the first woman, and youngest person to receive the Danish Jazz Par Prize. She is a cutting edge performing artist, and continues to concertize internationally.

She is a product of the Detroit Public School System, Howard University and the University of Pittsburgh. Allen moved to NYC in 1982 after completing an advanced degree in ethnomusicology from the University of Pittsburgh, and for the past thirty years has recorded, performed and collaborated with some of the most important artists of our time including Ornette Coleman, Ravi Coltrane, George Shirley, Dewey Redman, Jimmy Cobb, Sandra Turner-Barnes, Charles Lloyd, Marcus Belgrave, Betty Carter, Jason Moran, Lizz Wright, Marian McPartland, Roy Brooks, Vijay Iyer, Charlie Haden and Paul Motion, Laurie Anderson, Terri Lynn Carrington and Esperanza Spalding, Hal Wilner, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Dianne Reeves, Joe Lovano, Dr. Billy Taylor, Carrie Mae Weems, Angelique Kidjo, Mary Wilson and the Supremes, S. Epatha Merkerson, Farah Jasmin Griffin, Howard University’s Afro-Blue and many others.

Allen is a recent recipient of the Howard University Pinnacle Award presented by Professor Connaitre Miller and Afro Blue. Ms. Allen has been a faculty member at Howard University, the New England Conservatory, and the University of Michigan where she taught for ten years.

In 2014, Allen was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Music Degree by Berklee College of Music in Boston. The Honorable Congressman John Conyers Jr. presented the 2014 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Jazz Legacy Award to Ms. Allen.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra commissioned Geri Allen in 2013, to compose new works for the 50th Anniversary celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. She composed a piece “Stones & Streams” a work for orchestra, chorus, piano and narrator.

She is the musical director of the Mary Lou Williams Collective, recording and performing the music of the great Mary Lou Williams, including her sacred work, Mass For Peace. Allen collaborated with S. Epatha Merkerson and Farah Jasmin Griffin on two music theatre projects, “Great Apollo Women”, which premiered at the legendary Apollo Theatre, and “A Conversation with Mary Lou”, which premiered at the Harlem Stage, as an educational component for the Harlem Stage collaboration. The featured artist was Carmen Lundy, and Allen’s long time trio members Kenny Davis and Kassa Overall). The University of Pittsburgh hosted the first ever Mary Lou Williams Cyber Symposium where ViJay Iyer, Jason Moran, and Allen performed a three piano improvisation from Harvard, Columbia and the University of Pittsburgh, in real time using Internet 2 technology.

Geri Allen is the product of a family of educators. Her father Mount V. Allen Jr is a retired Detroit Public School Principal, and her mother Barbara Jean was a defense contract administrator for the U.S. Government. “Our parents insisted my brother and I go to college. We took their advice. I pursued a career as a jazz performer, and completed my undergrad degree at Howard, and my master’s at Pitt. Mount pursued a career as a jazz advocate and presented, completing his masters at Lehigh University. He is currently Director of Operations, at the San Francisco Jazz Center.”

Geri Allen, a mother of three, acknowledges her family for making it possible for her to sustain longevity in a sometimes challenging and always changing field of the music industry.

Allen has enjoyed a very successful over thirty-year performing career as a NYC jazz musician. She has now returned to Pittsburgh to continue her legacy as a cutting edge pianist/composer, recording and performing artist. Allen is just as passionate about her work with her undergrad and graduate students at the University of Pittsburgh, and she firmly believes that “meaningful access to music is one of the keys to success in any field, and music informs our sensitivity to others”. She is a fierce advocate for all children of all ages to have direct hands on access to music, and the creative and empowering process jazz inspires.

Unfortunately, you might have missed the next opportunity to see Ms. Allen at NYC Winter Jazzfest 2015 on January 9 with other former Suga’ guests David Murray and Terri Lyne Carrington. However, you could catch the remainder of the performance of other former Suga’ guests at the JazzFest. Also check our Suga’ blog for the JazzFest cheat sheet and review coverage.

994962_10152032063861170_2091675310_nFarah Jasmine Griffin is the William B. Ransford Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and African American Studies at Columbia University, and also served as the Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies. The author of Clawing at the Limits of Cool, If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery, and Beloved Sisters and Loving Friends, for which she was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Dr. Griffin previously appeared on the show to talk about Clawing at the Limits of Cool on John Coltrane and Miles Davis’s musical collaboration and as guest co-host for our show with pianist Geri Allen (audio in our archive).

Show 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.

Web Extras:

Watch Allen perform live.

Sunday 9/21/14 Show: Joe Sample Memorial

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Photo: Joe Sample | Flickr user Tom.Beetz via Wikicommons

The next show will air on Sunday, September 21, 2014 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday 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” will feature a rebroadcast of a 2013 show with pianist Joe Sample, known to many from his work with The Jazz Crusaders (later The Crusaders), who died on September 12, 2014. You can hear a short preview below.

One of the many jazzmen who started out playing hard bop but went electric during the fusion era, Joe Sample was, in the late ’50s, a founding member of the Jazz Crusaders along with trombonist Wayne Henderson, tenor saxman Wilton Felder, and drummer Stix Hooper. The Crusaders’ debt to Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers wasn’t hard to miss — except that the L.A.-based unit had no trumpeter, and became known for its unique tenor/trombone front line. Sample, a hard-swinging player who could handle chordal and modal/scalar improvisation equally well, stuck to the acoustic piano during The Crusaders’ early years — but would place greater emphasis on electric keyboards when the band turned to jazz-funk in the early ’70s and dropped “Jazz” from its name. Though he’d recorded as a trio pianist on 1969’s Fancy Dance, 1978’s Rainbow Seeker was often described as his first album as a leader. In contrast to the gritty music The Crusaders became known for, Sample’s own albums on MCA and, later, Warner Bros. and PRA have generally favored a very lyrical and introspective jazz-pop approach.

Unsurprisingly, there are several Sample obituaries. For starters, we recommend the ones by Peter Keepnews in the New York Times, Steve Chawkins in the Los Angeles Times (who notes The Crusaders’ and Sample’s appeal with the activist community), and Andrew Dansby in The Houston Chronicle (who notes his return to Creole music at the end of his life).

Show 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.

Web Extras:

Watch Sample and Randy Crawford perform their classic “Street Life” live in Japan in 2008.



Watch Sample perform “Chain Reaction” live with the Crusaders in Germany, 1987.

Sunday 12/8 Show: Bob James

Bob_James_crop-cropReminder: Suga’ in My Bowl now airs weekly on WBAI, except for the last Sunday of the month! Please update your calendars, pass the word on to friends, and share on social media if you like the show.

The next show will air on Sunday December 8, 2013 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This installment of the program will feature an interview with pianist, composer, arranger and producer Bob James. This interview originally aired in June 2006 as part of WBAI’s Hip Hop Takeover. We discussed James’ career and his relationship to the hip hop art form.



The career of Bob James is long, varied and continues to evolve at every turn. From his first days in Marshall, Missouri, the music of Bob James has captivated audiences throughout the world.

Discovered by Quincy Jones at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival in 1963, James recorded his first solo album, Bold Conceptions, that year for Mercury Records. 58 albums and innumerable awards would follow through five decades. He honed his skills working with Creed Taylor, working on albums for artists like Hank Crawford, Grover Washington, Jr, among others. While with CTI, James found great popular success overseeing significant hits for Paul Simon, Neil Diamond, Maynard Ferguson, and Kenny Loggins.

In 1974, James finally recorded his own album, One, which launched a lifelong career of recording and performing live. After three more albums, James began his own label, Tappan Zee Records. This allowed James to spend more time in the studio, focusing on his own creative works. It was during this time that he recorded his own gold seller, Touchdown, which included his composition, “Angela”, the instrumental theme from the television sitcom Taxi, and possibly James’ best known work. James composed all the original music used in the series for its entire run. One On One, the first in three collaborations with Earl Klugh, was awarded a Grammy in 1980 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, and has sold over a million copies. During this time, James set the standard for the smooth jazz sound in the late 1970s.

James is recognized as one of the progenitors of smooth jazz, however, his music has also had a profound effect on the history of hip hop music, having been sampled often. Two of James’ songs – “Nautilus” from 1974′s One and “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” from 1975′s Two – are among the most sampled in hip hop history. According to whosampled.com, “Nautilus” and “Take Me to Mardi Gras” have been sampled in thirty-two and forty-three hip-hop recordings, respectively. The title track from his 1981 album Sign of the Times was sampled in De La Soul‘s “Keepin’ the Faith”, and Warren G‘s “Regulate”. His “Angela” was sampled in the track “Cab Fare” by Souls of Mischief. The track “El Verano” from the 1977 album “BJ4″ is used as a sample in the song “Blown Away” by the Cocoa Brovaz and also in the Masta Ace Track “NY Confidential”. N.W.A‘s “Alwayz into Somethin’” uses a sample of “Storm King” from the album Three. “Can’t Wait” by Redman features a sample of “Caribbean Nights” from the album Touchdown. English Drum & Bass pioneer Adam F extensively sampled “Westchester Lady” on his 1995 breakthrough release Circles. Röyksopp sampled his version of “You’re as Right as Rain” for their instrumental track “Eple.” In addition, James is mentioned in a verse by André 3000 on “Black Ice” from Goodie Mob’s second album Still Standing.

While recording his Grand Piano Canyon album in 1990, James reunited with longtime friend drummer Harvey Mason, Jr. It would also be the first time James would work with guitarist Lee Ritenour, and bassist Nathan East. This would be the start of something beautiful, as these early sessions ignited a spark which would engulf the Jazz world as Fourplay. Fourplay’s first album was recorded and released in 1991. The Group would collaborate on a total of three albums, until 1998 when Ritenour left the group, and Larry Carlton took over. This version of Fourplay continued the group’s huge success for seven more albums. After 12 years, Carlton decided to delve further into his solo career, and the band brought in guitarist Chuck Loeb in 2010.

In 1985 James moved to Warner Bros Records, and kicked things off with Double Vision, a collaboration with David Sanborn, and produced by Tommy LiPuma. Double Vision was another Grammy winner, selling over a million albums.

Bob James & David Sanborn introduced Quartette Humaine in May 2013. It’s the first collaboration between James & Sanborn since their 1986 Platinum-Selling, GRAMMY® Award-Winning Album, Double Vision, and features bassist James Genus & drummer Steve Gadd on the all acoustic project.

Quartette Humaine pays tribute to the late iconic pianist-composer David Brubeck, putting a prime spotlight on his work that featured alto saxophonist Paul Desmond.

Produced, engineered, edited, and hosted by Joyce Jones.

Bob James will appear with Fourplay at New York City’s Blue Note jazz club from December 10-15, 2013.

Web Extras:

Watch the intro and closing credits of the 1970s TV show Taxi, which features James’s “Angela”:



Watch Fourplay perform “Blues Force” live in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2009.

Sunday 9/8 Show: Michele Rosewoman

Chris +M Publicity shot #3The next show will air on Sunday September 8, 2013 from 11 PM to 1 AM Eastern Standard Time on WBAI Radio, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This installment of “Suga’ In My Bowl” will feature an exclusive interview with pianist and composer Michele Rosewoman, who will talk about (among other things) her new CD release New Yor-Uba. You can hear a short preview of the show below.

Vega_Marta_Moreno-thumb-336x428-4283Keeping with the theme of Michele Rosewoman’s work, we’ll begin the show with a short interview with Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, head of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, who is working on a documentary titled Let the Spirit Move You on African based spiritual traditions that continue in Puerto Rico and are grounded in ancestral worship. (You can watch the trailer for it in our web extras at the bottom of the page.)

Michele Rosewoman was born in Oakland, CA where she studied jazz traditions with the great pianist/ organist Ed Kelly while also playing percussion and studying Cuban/Haitian folkloric idioms. By the time she moved to New York in 1978, Rosewoman had performed at major venues in the San Francisco Bay Area with her own ensembles and with Julian Priester, Julius Hemphill, Baikida Carroll and Oliver Lake. In New York, Rosewoman continued to present her music while collaborating with artists including Rufus Reid, Reggie Workman, James Spaulding, and Billy Hart as well as with Cuban master drummer/ vocalist, Orlando ‘Puntilla’ Rios.

In 1983, Rosewoman received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to form the pioneering 14-piece ensemble New Yor-Uba, A Musical Celebration of Cuba in America, featuring Orlando Puntilla’ Rios. The ensemble debuted at The Public Theater that December and toured Europe in 1984. New Yor-Uba has since toured throughout the United States and Europe; ensemble members have included many great jazz and latin musicians such as Andy Gonzales, the recently departed Steve Berrios (ibaye tonu), Pedro Martinez, John Stubblefield, Gary Bartz, Joe Ford, Bob Stewart, Oliver Lake, and Gary Thomas. In celebration of this year marking 30 years and an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign, Rosewoman will officially release a 2-CD set titled Michele Rosewoman’s New Yor-Uba, A Musical Celebration of Cuba in America on Tuesday, September 10, on Advance Dance Disques (Rosewoman’s label).

Rosewoman has recorded eight albums as a leader, most with her critically acclaimed ensemble Quintessence. Since its debut in 1986 at the Cooper Union Great Hall in New York, Quintessence has been the main vehicle for Rosewoman’s evolution as pianist, composer and bandleader. Quintessences members have included some of the most inventive voices in jazz, including Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Gary Thomas, David Sanchez, Steve Wilson, Miguel Zenon and Mark Shim; trombonists Robin Eubanks and Vincent Gardner, bassists Kenny Davis, Brad Jones and Lonnie Plaxico; drummers Terri Lyne Carrington and Gene Jackson, and guitarists Liberty Ellman and Dave Fiuczynski.

Rosewoman’s most recent release before the New Yor-Uba project was a recording with Quintessence, The In Side Out, was released in 2006 on Advance Dance Disques. The album had earned tremendous critical acclaim, with Jazziz declaring “Once again, Rosewoman showed that she’s an original thinker making uncompromising and forward-looking jazz – which just happens to be accessible and viscerally exciting.” In addition to five recordings with Quintessence, Ms. Rosewoman has two trio recordings. Occasion to Rise (Evidence/1993) voted one of the year’s best recordings by six critics’ polls and the critically acclaimed Spirit (Blue Note/1996), recorded live at the Montreal Jazz Festival.

Rosewoman has received numerous grants, including a 1984 ASCAP/Meet the Composer Commission for Emerging Composers resulting in a new work written for and performed by the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra and a quintet of improvisers. Rosewoman and Quintessence received a 2003 and a 2008 Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation New Works Creation and Presentation Commission, and in 2006 they received one of the first Chamber Music America Encore Grants.

Michele Rosewoman has appeared at jazz festivals, concert halls and clubs throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. As an educator, Rosewoman conducts classes, workshops and clinics at colleges and universities throughout the US while teaching piano and composition privately. Ms. Rosewoman has also held past and current teaching positions at NYU and the New School for Social Research.

This show is produced, engineered, edited, and hosted by Joyce Jones.

Web Extras: Watch Michele Rosewoman and New Yor-Uba perform “The Egun and the Harvest” at a 2009 tribute to Orlando “Puntilla” Rios recorded live at the Schomburg.

Watch a trailer for Dr. Marta Moreno Vega’s in progress documentary Let the Spirit Move You on African ancestral religious traditions in Puerto Rico.

Sunday 3/24 show: Diane Schuur

The next show will air on Sunday March 24, 2013 from 11 PM to 1 AM Eastern Standard Time on WBAI Radio, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This installment of the program will feature vocalist and pianist Diane Schuur. Listen to a short preview below:

481165_10151495232041170_424525180_nBorn in Tacoma, Washington, in December 1953, Schuur was blind from birth. She grew up in nearby Auburn, Washington, where her father was a police captain. Nicknamed Deedles at a young age, Schuur discovered the world of jazz via her father, a piano player, and her mother, who kept a formidable collection of Duke Ellington and Dinah Washington records in the house.

She was still a toddler when she learned to sing the Dinah Washington signature song, “What a Difference a Day Makes.” Armed with the rare gift of perfect pitch, Schuur taught herself piano by ear and developed a rich, resonant vocal style early on, as evidenced in a recording of her first public performance at a Holiday Inn in Tacoma when she was ten years old. She received formal piano training at the Washington State School for the Blind, which she attended until age 11. By her early teens, she had amassed her own collection of Washington’s records and looked to the legendary vocalist as her primary inspiration.

Schuur made her first record in 1971, a country single entitled “Dear Mommy and Daddy,” produced by Jimmy Wakely. After high school, she focused on jazz and gigged around the northwest. In 1975, an informal audition with trumpeter Doc Severinson (then the leader of the Tonight Show band) led to a gig with Tonight Show drummer Ed Shaughnessy’s group at the Monterey Jazz Festival. She sang a gospel suite with Shaughnessy’s band in front of a festival audience that included jazz tenor saxophonist Stan Getz, who in turn invited her to participate in a talent showcase at the White House. A subsequent return performance at the White House led to a record deal with GRP, which released Schuur’s debut album, Deedles, in 1984.

Over the next 13 years, Schuur recorded 11 albums on GRP, including two Grammy winners: Timeless (1986) and Diane Schuur and the Count Basie Orchestra (1987).

After one album on Atlantic records in 1999 – Music is My Life, produced by Ahmet Ertegun – Schuur joined the Concord label with the 2000 release of Friends For Schuur. The move to Concord marked the beginning of a series of highly successful collaborative projects: Swingin’ For Schuur (2001), a set of finely crafted duets with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson; Midnight (2003), Schuur’s unique interpretations of thirteen songs (mostly new material) written or co-written by Barry Manilow; and Schuur Fire (2005), a decidedly Latin-flavored album featuring the Caribbean Jazz Project.

Schuur’s February 2008 Concord release, Some Other Time, is a recording of songs by jazz artists whom she first discovered via her parents during her childhood and adolescent years. The set also includes a surprisingly mature-sounding rendition of “September in the Rain,” recorded at the Holiday Inn in Tacoma in 1964 when Schuur was only ten years old.

Diane Schuur’s latest studio release, The Gathering, is unique in both material and style, and features special guests Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Mark Knopfler, Larry Carlton and Kirk Whalum. The Gathering is a collection of 10 classic country songs, mostly written during the golden era of the 1960s, and is the first time Schuur has featured this genre of music to this extent.

Schuur’s most recent release is Diane Schuur Live, and it is a unique and special album as it’s a project close to Diane’s heart. This album is dedicated to Diane Schuur’s husband, Les Crockett. The recording takes place where she and her husband shared a magical night reflecting on memories of the very place they first met 16 years earlier.

Engineered, Produced, and Hosted by Joyce Jones.

WBAI’s financial situation remains dire due to back rent owed on their transmitter at NYC’s Empire State Building. Please give what you can to the WBAI Transmitter Fund and/or come out next Wednesday, March 27, for the WBAI Dance Party at S.O.B.’s.

Web extra: Watch Diane Schuur and Ray Charles perform live.

Sunday 12/23 show: Pianist Harold Mabern

H_Mabern_122312showThe next show will air on Sunday December 23, 2012 from 11:00pm – 1:00am Monday on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. In this installment of “Suga’ In My Bowl,” we will present pianist, composer, educator Harold Mabern. Mabern is also the father of Michael Mabern, a longtime producer of the “Creative Unity Collective” show on WBAI. You can hear a 30-second preview of the show below.

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. Mabern takes his sideman work very seriously: “I was never concerned with being a leader,” he says. “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 has toured and recorded extensively with his former William Paterson University student, the tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander. To date, Mabern and Alexander have appeared on over twenty CDs together. A faculty member at William Paterson University since 1981, Mabern is also a frequent instructor at the Stanford Jazz Workshop.

His latest release is “Mr. Lucky: A Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.” released this year on HighNote Records.

Produced, Hosted, and Engineered by Joyce Jones.

Web extras:

Live clip of Mabern playing with Eric Alexander

Eric Alexander talks about Harold Mabern as a teacher.

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