The next show will air on Sunday February 3, 2013 from 11:00pm – 1:00am Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This installment of Suga’ will feature one of the 2013 NEA Jazz Master recipients, alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson. This program originally aired in May 2009 and focused on recordings that were sampled by hip hop artists to lead up to the June Hip Hop Takeover.
You can hear a 30-second preview below.
Donaldson has long been an excellent bop altoist influenced by Charlie Parker, but with a more blues-based style of his own. His distinctive tone has been heard in a variety of small-group settings, and he has recorded dozens of worthy and spirited (if somewhat predictable) sets throughout the years.
Donaldson started playing clarinet when he was 15, soon switching to the alto. He attended college and performed in a Navy band while in the military. Donaldson first gained attention when he moved to New York and in 1952 started recording for Blue Note as a leader. At the age of 25, his style was fully formed, and although it would continue growing in depth through the years, Donaldson had already found his sound. In 1954, he participated in a notable gig with Art Blakey, Clifford Brown, Horace Silver, and Tommy Potter that was extensively documented by Blue Note and that directly predated the Jazz Messengers. However, Donaldson was never a member of the Messengers, and although he recorded as a sideman in the ’50s and occasionally afterwards with Thelonious Monk, Milt Jackson, and Jimmy Smith, among others, he has been a bandleader from the mid-’50s up until the present.
Donaldson’s early Blue Note recordings were pure bop. In 1958, he began often utilizing a conga player, and starting in 1961, his bands often had an organist rather than a pianist. His bluesy style was easily transferable to soul-jazz, and he sounded most original in that context. His association with Blue Note (1952-1963) was succeeded by some excellent (if now-scarce) sets for Cadet and Argo (1963-1966). The altoist returned to Blue Note in 1967 and soon became caught up in the increasingly commercial leanings of the label. For a time, he utilized an electronic Varitone sax, which completely watered down his sound. The success of “Alligator Boogaloo” in 1967 led to a series of less interesting funk recordings that were instantly dated and not worthy of his talent. These particular Blue Note recordings were often sampled by hip hop artists.
The next show will air on Sunday January 13, 2013 from 11:00pm – 1:00am Eastern Standard Time Monday on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. On Friday, December 28, 2012, Jayne Cortez left this world. As a tribute to her life and spirit, we will rebroadcast our exchange with this writer, poet, performance artist, and co-founder of Yari Yari, an international conference on literature by women of African descent. You can hear a 30-second preview of the show below.
Jayne Cortez was born in Arizona, grew up in California, and currently lives in New York City and Dakar, Senegal. She is the author of ten books of poems and performer of her poetry with music on nine recordings. Her voice is celebrated for its political, surrealistic, dynamic innovations in lyricism, and visceral sound. Cortez has presented her work and ideas at universities, museums, and festivals in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, the Caribbean and the United States. Her poems have been translated into many languages and widely published in anthologies, journals, and magazines. She is the recipient of several awards including: Arts International, the National Endowment for the Arts, the International African Festival Award, The Langston Hughes Award, and the American Book Award. Her most recent books are “The Beautiful Book” Bola Press 2007, “Jazz Fan Looks Back” published by Hanging Loose Press, and “Somewhere In Advance of Nowhere” published by Serpent’s Tail Ltd. Her latest CD recordings with the Firespitter Band are “Taking the Blues Back Home,” produced by Harmolodic and by Verve Records, “Borders of Disorderly Time” and “Find Your Own Voice” released by Bola Press. Cortez is director of the film “Yari Yari: Black Women Writers and the Future,” organizer of “Slave Routes the Long Memory” and “Yari Yari Pamberi: Black Women Writer Dissecting Globalization.” Both conferences were held at New York University. She is president of the Organization of Women Writers of Africa, Inc. and is on screen in the films: “Women In Jazz” and “Poetry In Motion.”
Hosted, Produced, and Engineered by Arts Producer Joyce Jones.
Editors note: Here at Suga’ in My Bowl, we already miss Jayne a lot. We saw her often at various events and feel fortunate to have known her and heard her perform live. We’ve heard that plans are underway for public tributes and will post them on the site and via our Facebook and Twitter streams when we get concrete dates for these.
Watch Jayne perform live with drummer (and son) Denardo Coleman
The 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.
Live clip of Mabern playing with Eric Alexander
Eric Alexander talks about Harold Mabern as a teacher.
The next show will air on Sunday December 9, 2012 from 11:00pm – 1:00am Monday on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. On this installment of “Suga’ In My Bowl,” we will present keyboardist, composer, “arti-vist” and one-third of the group Medeski Martin and Wood, John Medeski. Join in and help us “Reboot WBAI“!
As the keyboardist in the trailblazing instrumental trio Medeski Martin & Wood, solo performer, leader of his own project the Itch, film composer, and producer, collaborator and sideman with countless other artists, Medeski has channeled this transformative force with uncanny power and imagination.
A skilled composer and whirling-dervish improviser, he consistently wrings sonic revelations from acoustic and electric piano, Hammond organ, Clavinet, Mellotron, assorted synthesizers and other instruments. He’s nearly as dynamic visually as aurally, windmilling his hands across the keys, leaning into a B-3 stab, reaching inside the piano to tap the strings with a screwdriver.
Whether the music he’s playing at any given moment can be classified as jazz, funk, modern classical, avant-noise, roots music, rock or “world,” however, is of little concern. “I never separated music into categories,” he insists. “Whoever I’m playing with, I just think, ‘What can I add that will be part of this? Does it need anything?’”
He was born in Kentucky but raised in Florida, starting piano lessons at the tender age of five. Though his fervor for music wasn’t instantaneous, he had his first “out-of-body experience” playing a Mozart sonata while still an adolescent. “It was a competition, and I guess I arrived late, because I had no time to get ready and just sat down and played,” he recalls. “It was like I wasn’t even playing – I was just transported. After that, I did whatever I could to get that feeling back.”
Medeski sold his piano before leaving home to attend the New England Conservatory (NEC) in Boston. He continued to play piano there, but the discovery of a dust-covered Hammond B-3 organ in a rehearsal hall would significantly alter his course. “I’d checked out the B-3 before and listened to Jimmy Smith and Larry Young,” he notes, “but this time, when we started jamming with it, I was blown away. It was a universe of sound. I was playing a lot of free jazz at the time and really got into the coloristic possibilities of the instrument.”
A group that effortlessly straddles the gap between avant-garde improvisation and accessible groove-based jazz, Medeski, Martin & Wood have simultaneously earned standings as relentlessly innovative musicians and as an enormously popular act. Emerging out of the New York downtown scene in the early ’90s, MMW soon set out on endless cross-country tours before returning home to Manhattan to further refine their sound through myriad influential experimentations. Each of the musicians — keyboardist John Medeski, drummer/percussionist Billy Martin, and bassist Chris Wood — had crossed paths throughout the ’80s, playing with the likes of John Lurie, John Zorn, and Martin mentor Bob Moses. In 1991, the trio officially convened for an engagement at New York’s Village Gate. Soon, the group was rehearsing in Martin’s loft, writing, and then recording 1992’s self-released Notes from the Underground. As the group began to tour, escaping the supportive though insular New York music community, Medeski — a former child prodigy — switched to a Hammond B-3 organ rather than a grand piano.
WBAI is also in the middle of a short fund drive to help the station recover from time off the air during Hurricane Sandy. While we’re airing a regular show this time, If you haven’t pledged recently, please consider making a donation while we’re on the air. Copies of The Journey radio documentary with Bobby Sanabria that chronicles the trip of music from Africa to the Caribbean and Latin America are still available, as are copies of The Blues Journey with Dr. Guthrie Ramsey.
Produced by Joyce Jones and Hank Williams. Hosted and Engineered by Joyce Jones.