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Next Show: Sunday 9/14 Miles Davis and Gil Evans “Still Ahead”

Miles Davis and Gil EvansThe next show will air on Sunday September 14, 2012 from 11:00pm – 1:00am Monday on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. During this installment, we will feature “Miles Davis and Gil Evans: Still Ahead,” a New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) event that is part of what will become an annual “James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival.” Our guests will be bassist (and former Suga’ guest) Christian McBride, trumpter Terence Blanchard, conductor Vince Mendoza, and NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber. You can hear a short preview below:

Miles Davis and Gil Evans: Still Ahead” is an all-star recreation of the landmark original Gil Evans arrangements of the classic Miles Davis recordings of “Porgy and Bess,” “Sketches of Spain,” and Miles Ahead.” This concert will feature a unique cast of jazz greats, including Terence Blanchard, Christian McBride, drummer Peter Erskine, tuba master (and former Suga’ guest) Howard Johnson (who performed live with both Davis and Evans), trumpeter Sean Jones, drummer Jimmy Cobb (who played on the original recording of Porgy and Bess), and a jazz orchestra under the direction of Vince Mendoza.

The James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival is a weeklong celebration of jazz and the legacy of Newark’s own music master, James Moody from October 15-21, 2012.

Hosted, produced, and engineered by Arts Producer Joyce Jones

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Next show: Sunday 7/8 with Christian McBride on Jazz Fusion

The next show will air on Sunday June 8, 2012 from 11:00pm – 1:00am Monday on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org and feature a return visit from previous Suga’ guest Christian McBride. You can hear a 30-second preview below:

In this installment, we’ll have a discussion about the music that is called “Jazz Fusion” with bassist, composer and Grammy winner Christian McBride, who recently won a Grammy for one of his latest two recordings, “The Good Feeling.”

Beginning in 1989, this Philadelphia-born bassist moved to New York City to further his classical studies at the Juilliard School, only to be snatched up by alto saxophonist, Bobby Watson. Since then, McBride’s list of accomplishments have been nothing short of staggering. As a sideman in the jazz world alone, he’s worked with the best of the very best – Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins, J.J. Johnson, Ray Brown, Milt Jackson, McCoy Tyner, Roy Haynes, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny. In the R&B world, he’s not only played with, but also arranged for Isaac Hayes, Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole, Lalah Hathaway, and the one and only Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown. In the pop/rock world, he’s extensively collaborated with Sting, Carly Simon, Don Henley, and Bruce Hornsby. In the hip-hop/neo-soul world, he’s collaborated with the Roots, D’Angelo, and Queen Latifah. In many other specialty projects, he’s worked closely with opera legend Kathleen Battle, bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer, the Shanghai Quartet and the Sonus Quartet.

Away from the bass, Christian has become quite an astute and respected spokesperson for the music. In 1997, he spoke on former President Bill Clinton’s town hall meeting “Racism in the Performing Arts”. In 2000, he was named Artistic Director of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Sessions. In 2005, he was officially named the co-director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Also in 2005, he was named the second Creative Chair for Jazz of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association.

Hosted by Arts Producer Joyce Jones

Next show: Sunday, 6/17 with James Mtume on Miles Davis’s electric period

This installment will feature composer, producer and former percussionist with Miles Davis during his “electric period” James Mtume from 1971 to 1975. It will air on Sunday June 17, 2012 at 11:00pm – Monday at 1:00am on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. You can hear a 30-second promo below:

James Mtume was raised in a musical family where his father and uncles formed a band “The Heath Brothers”. Already in the sixties, James Mtume studied percussion and soon after this, he also acquired guitar playing skills. It didn’t take long before he played together with artists like Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and eventually became the percussionist for Miles Davis. In the Miles Davis band, Reggie Lucas played guitar, and it was with Reggie Lucas that James Mtume started a song writing partnership that became the R&B group Mtume.

Mtume recorded as a bandleader for Strata-East before turning to funk in the late ’70s. Mtume’s band included the sassy, sultry vocalist Tawatha Agee, keyboardist Phil Fields, and bassist Ray Johnson. Mtume, the band, had a number one R&B hit with “Juicy Fruit” for Epic Records in 1983 and a number 2 R&B single in 1984 with “You, Me and He”. Mtume recorded for Epic until the late ’80s. Their final Top Ten hit was “Breathless” in 1986. Mtume produced and/or wrote for such artists as Stephanie Mills, Roberta Flack/Donny Hathaway, Phyllis Hyman, Gary Bartz, Sadane, Lou Rawls, Rena Scott, Eddie Henderson in the late ’70s, Levert, Tyrone Brunson, Roy Ayers, Henderson and Tease. Roots and Influences: Miles Davis and Pharoah Sanders. Mtume’s hits for Robert Flack and Donny Hathaway include “The Closer I Get To You” and “Back Together Again”, both platinum sellers and widely viewed “classic songs” in the business.

Hosted by Joyce Jones.

Web extra: Watch this discussion between jazz critic Stanley Crouch and James Mtume on the music of Miles Davis’s electric period. If you have an older computer or slower internet connection, changing the video quality to a lower setting will give you smoother play with fewer interruptions. Youtube explains how to do that here.

Part 1: 14 minutes, 40 seconds

Part 2: 14 minutes, 9 seconds

Next Show: Sunday 6/3 on Betty Carter

This installment will focus on the music and career of Ms. Betty Carter. There will be discussions with Ms. Ora Harris, Ms. Carter’s manager and friend, and pianist Danny Mixon. It will air on Sunday June 6, 2012 at 11:00pm – Monday at 1:00am on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. You can listen to the 30-second promo here.

Betty Carter was born Lillie Mae Jones in Flint, MI, on May 16, 1930 (though some sources list 1929 instead). She grew up in Detroit, where her father worked as a church musical director, and she started studying piano at the Detroit Conservatory of Music as a child. In high school, she got hooked on bebop, and at 16 years old, she sat in with Charlie Parker during the saxophonist’s Detroit gig. She won a talent contest and became a regular on the local club circuit, singing and playing piano, and also performed with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, and Billy Eckstine when they passed through Detroit. When Lionel Hampton came to town in 1948, he hired her as a featured vocalist. Initially billed as Lorraine Carter, she was soon dubbed “Betty Bebop” by Hampton, whose more traditional repertoire didn’t always mesh with her imaginative flights of improvisation. In fact, according to legend, Hampton fired Carter seven times in two and a half years, rehiring her each time at the behest of his wife Gladys. Although the Betty Bebop nickname started out as a criticism, it stuck, and eventually Carter grew accustomed to it, enough to permanently alter her stage name.

Carter and Hampton parted ways for good in 1951, and she hit the jazz scene in New York City, singing with several different groups over the next few years. She made a few appearances at the Apollo, performing with bop legends like Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach, and cut her first album for Columbia in 1955 with pianist Ray Bryant (the aptly titled Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant). A 1956 session with Gigi Gryce went unissued until 1980, and in 1958 she cut two albums, I Can’t Help It and Out There, that failed to attract much notice. She spent 1958 and 1959 on the road with Miles Davis, who later recommended her as a duet partner to Ray Charles. Carter signed with ABC-Paramount and recorded The Modern Sound of Betty Carter in 1960, but it wasn’t until she teamed up with Charles in 1961 for the legendary duet album Ray Charles and Betty Carter that she finally caught the public’s ear. A hit with critics and record buyers alike, Ray Charles and Betty Carter spawned a classic single in their sexy duet version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” and even though the album spent years out of print, it only grew in stature as a result.

Oddly, in the wake of her breakthrough success, Carter effectively retired from music for much of the ’60s in order to concentrate on raising her two sons. She did return briefly to recording in 1963 with the Atco album ‘Round Midnight, which proved too challenging for critics expecting the smoothness of her work with Charles, and again in 1965 with the brief United Artists album Inside Betty Carter. Other than those efforts, Carter played only sporadic gigs around New York, and was mostly forgotten.

Unable to interest any record companies, Carter founded her own label, Bet-Car, and released her music on her own for nearly two decades. At the Village Vanguard, a live recording made in 1970, is generally acknowledged as ranking among her best. Carter spent most of the decade touring extensively to help make ends meet, maintaining a trio that evolved into a training ground for young jazz musicians; she preferred to seek and develop new talent as a way of keeping her own music fresh and vital. Over the years, her groups included musicians like pianists Jacky Terrasson, Cyrus Chestnut, Benny Green, John Hicks, Stephen Scott, and Mulgrew Miller; bassists Dave Holland, Buster Williams, Curtis Lundy, and Ira Coleman; and drummers Jack DeJohnette, Lewis Nash, Kenny Washington, Winard Harper, and Greg Hutchinson.

Carter delivered standout performances at the Newport Jazz Festival in both 1977 and 1978, setting her on the road to a comeback. In 1979, she recorded The Audience With Betty Carter, regarded by many as her finest album and even as a landmark of vocal jazz. 1982 brought a live album with orchestra backing, Whatever Happened to Love?, and five years later, she recorded a live duets album with Carmen McRae at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall. She continued to tour as well, and when Polygram’s reactivated Verve label started signing underappreciated veterans (Abbey Lincoln, Shirley Horn, Nina Simone, etc.), they gave Carter her first major-label record deal since the ’60s. Verve reissued much of her Bet-Car output, giving those records far better distribution than they’d ever enjoyed, and Carter entered the studio to record a brand-new album, Look What I Got, which was released to excellent reviews in 1988. It also won Carter her first Grammy, signaling that critics and audiences alike had finally caught up to her advanced, challenging style.

Over the next few years, Carter continued to turn out acclaimed albums for Verve, winning numerous reader’s polls with recordings like 1990’s Droppin’ Things, 1992’s It’s Not About the Melody, 1994’s live Feed the Fire, and 1996’s I’m Yours, You’re Mine. Additionally, she expanded her interest in developing new jazz talent through her Jazz Ahead program, which began in 1993 and offered young musicians the chance to workshop with her at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She also gave presentations on jazz to students of all ages, and remained an outspoken critic of the watered-down quality of much contemporary jazz. She performed at the Lincoln Center in 1993, and the following year for President Clinton at the White House; three years later, he presented her with a National Medal of Arts. Carter lost a battle with pancreatic cancer on September 26, 1998, passing away at her home in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn.

Hosted by Joyce Jones

Next show: Sunday 3/18 with Carol Maillard of Sweet Honey in the Rock

Carol Maillard from the vocal group Sweet Honey in the Rock
This installment will feature singer, actress and one of the founding members for the vocal ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock: Carol Maillard. It will air on Sunday March 18 2012 at 11:00pm – Monday at 1:00am on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org.

Carol Maillard was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although she originally attended Catholic University of America on scholarship as a Violin Performance major, she soon began writing music and performing with the Drama Department and eventually changed her major to Theater.

This passion for the stage brought her to the D.C. Black Repertory Company and the beginnings of the vocal ensemble that was to become Sweet Honey In The Rock founded by Bernice Johnson Reagon in 1973 (with Mie, Carol Maillard and Louise Robinson). Carol is an accomplished actress and has performed in film, television and on stage. Her theater credits encompass a wide range of styles from musical comedy and revues to drama and experimental. She has performed on and off Broadway (“Eubie,” “Don’t Get God Started,” “Comin’ Uptown,” “Home,” “It’s So Nice To Be Civilized,” “Beehive,” “Forever My Darling”); with the Negro Ensemble Company (“Home,” “Zooman and the Sign,” “Colored Peoples Time,” “The Great Mac Daddy”); and the New York Shakespeare Festival (“Spunk,” “Caucasian Chalk Circle,” “Under Fire,” “A Photograph…”); also at the Actors Studio (“Hunter”). She can be seen in the feature films “Beloved” and “Thirty Years to Life.” On television, Carol has appeared in “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide” and “Halleluiah!” ( PBS) ; “Law and Order: SVU” and “Law and Order.”

As a member of Sweet Honey in the Rock, her powerful rendition of Motherless Child arranged for Sweet Honey, is featured in the motion picture, “The Visit” and the Dorothy Height documentary, “We Are Not Vanishing.” Carol was Conceptual Producer for the documentary film on PBS’ American Masters 2005 – “Sweet Honey in the Rock: Raise Your Voice!” Produced and directed by Stanley Nelson (Firelightmedia Films), the film chronicled Sweet Honey’s 30th Anniversary year (2003).

As a vocalist, she has had the privilege to record with Horace Silver, Betty Buckley, and the SYDA Foundations inspirational recording “Sounds of Light.”

(Biography from the Sweet Honey in the Rock website)

Next show: Sunday 1/1/12 with Creed Taylor

Happy New Year and Habari Gani Imani! First, a quick update on what the Suga’ team has been up to. If you haven’t been over to our audio archives page yet, jump over and check it out! We’ve uploaded most of the shows that aired in 2011 and are working backwards from there to make older shows available: most of 2010 should be up over the New Year’s weekend. There will also be a few web-only extras: snippets of sound that didn’t quite make the cut for the original show for whatever reason.

The next show will air on New Year’s Day: Sunday 1/1/2012 at 11:00pm – Monday at 1:00am on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. Listen to the 45-second promo below (may not work in all browsers, especially mobile ones):

Tune in to hear an interview with Creed Taylor, who revolutionized the respectability and popularity of jazz with CTI Records. In fact, some of the most significant jazz of the last half of the 20th century has been fashioned under Taylor’s guidance and supervision.

This show is a remixed version of one that originally aired as part of WBAI’s fifth Hip Hop Takeover in June 2007 and primarily focused on songs from the CTI Records catalog that have been sampled by hip hop artists.

Taylor has been especially influential in the packaging of music. His records are as much art to see as they are to hear. With heavy, glossy, gatefold covers featuring stark design and striking photography, his records have the sound and feel of something bearing unusual class and great quality.

After earning a degree in psychology in the early 1950s, Taylor played trumpet in clubs around Virginia Beach. He relocated to New York and secured a venerable post as head of artists and repertoire at Bethlehem Records. He produced a wide variety of jazz for Bethlehem before he took a higher profile position with ABC Paramount during the late fifties. At ABC, he produced some jazz and a great many more vocal recordings that enjoyed popular success.

When ABC Records sought to form a jazz subsidiary in 1960, Taylor was recruited to oversee it all. He called the company “Impulse!,” conceived its distinctive black and orange label and spine design, brought in photographer Pete Turner for elegant, vivid cover art and initiated heavy cardboard, gatefold sleeves (to convey substance). Taylor, however, stayed with Impulse for only a few months. But during this short time, he recorded historically significant music by John Coltrane, Gil Evans, Oliver Nelson and Ray Charles.

Taylor jumped ship to accept a lucrative offer to run Verve Records, the jazz label Norman Granz sold to MGM in 1961. Here was a company that had solid name recognition in the jazz community as well as a rich parent company to fund many of Taylor’s lavish goals. Verve’s big budgets and Creed Taylor’s proven ability to turn jazz into hits (starting in 1962 with Stan Getz’s “The Girl From Ipanema”) afforded limitless opportunities to employ the cream of the crop in studio musicians for these records.

In November 1967, Taylor arranged with A&M’s Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss to begin his own organization, CTI Records. The team he took with him were among the finest in the business: engineer Rudy Van Gelder, designer Sam Antupit and, again, photographer Pete Turner. He also developed a small in-house staff of musicians comprised of jazz’s greatest names.

In 1970, Creed Taylor launched CTI as an independent entity. The shift was seen in the switch from the cover’s white backgrounds to black. George Benson made the transition too, staying throughout CTI’s greatest years in the 1970s. Some of the music’s greatest players, including (past Suga’ in My Bowl guest) Freddie Hubbard and Stanley Turrentine, were recruited to CTI and ultimately created some of their most remarkable recordings while under Creed Taylor’s aegis.

(CT’s bio adapted from Doug Payne’s excellent blog entry.)

Hosted by Arts Producer Joyce Jones.

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