Archive for January, 2009

2009 Black History Month Specials

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Friday evenings from 9pm-10pm in February.

February 6

Jazz Profiles – Al Hibbler: Unchained Melodist: Jazz Profiles from NPR
A rich, supple baritone, Hibbler brought many of Duke Ellington’s most popular ballads to life during an eight-year stint with the orchestra. He went on to a long and successful solo career, becoming the country’s first prominent blind performer.

February 13

Paris Noir: Part of the Night Lights Classic Jazz series
One-hour program of classic jazz focusing on African American jazz musicians in France after World War II.

In the years following World War II, a number of African-American jazz musicians took up residence in France, inspired by the relative lack of racism, the working opportunities, and the appreciation that French audiences showed for their art.

Jazz greats such as Dexter Gordon, Bud Powell, Kenny Clarke, and Don Byas spent long periods of time on the European continent and made many recordings there; we’ll hear from them as well as trumpeter Bill Coleman, tenor saxophonist Lucky Thompson, avant-garde group the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and more.

February 20

Jazz Profiles – Milt Hinton: The Ultimate Timekeeper: Jazz Profiles from NPR

February 27

Lady Writes the Blues: The Rose Marie McCoy Story
Born in 1922, Rose Marie McCoy grew up in a tin shack in rural Arkansas. By the 1960’s she had become one of the most prolific songwriters of her generation. McCoy’s songs have been recorded by Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, Dizzy Gillespie, Ike & Tina Turner, Big Maybelle, Ruth Brown, James Brown, Bette Midler, Sarah Vaughn, Johnny Mathis, and Aretha Franklin. McCoy’s success was even more remarkable in an era when blacks and women were largely excluded from the business side of the music industry. But despite publishing over 850 songs, McCoy remains largely unknown.

Featuring interviews with performers Maxine Brown, Aretha Franklin, Jimmy Scott, Rose Marie McCoy, along with previously unreleased songs and a rare recording of McCoy performing in her final concert at the age of 86.

David “Fathead” Newman, Jazz Saxophonist/Flutist, Dies at 75

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

fatheadnewman.jpgDavid “Fathead” Newman succumbed to pancreatic cancer.

It is with great sadness that I let you all know that David Newman succumbed to pancreatic cancer on January 20, 2009.

A kind and gentle man, and a heck of a sax player, he will be missed by many.

To view his website, click here.

NEA Jazz Masters Moments Highlight the Jazz Greats Honored Through the NEA Jazz Masters

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

nea-logo.jpgNEA Jazz Masters Moments highlight the jazz greats honored through the NEA Jazz Masters, a comprehensive program of jazz support that includes the NEA Jazz Masters Award, an NEA Jazz Masters tour with performances and educational activities, radio programming, a compilation CD, educational resources, and publications and reports. Nearly 100 radio segments feature eighteen NEA Jazz Masters, providing musical samples, historical information, and first-person anecdotes designed to give listeners added insight into the artists and their art.

LIVE President-Elect Obama’s Inauguration Speech

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

obama.jpgWNCU will broadcast the LIVE president-elect Obama’s inauguration speech on Tuesday, January 20, 2009.

A Heavenly Collaboration: Dizzy Gillespie and Dr. Jazz

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009


In 1993, my friend Dizzy Gillespie invited me to join him on one of the jazz cruises where musicians perform and hang out with jazz-struck passengers. I had interviewed him before, but this would be in a more extensive and varied setting. Suddenly Dizzy canceled the trip, entering New Jersey’s Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, where he had previously been a patient. There, dying of pancreatic cancer, Dizzy, who had health insurance, said to Francis Forte, his oncologist, and himself a jazz guitarist: “I can’t give you any money, but I can let you use my name. Promise you’ll help musicians less
fortunate than I am.” That was the Dizzy I knew, regarded by his sidemen as a teacher and mentor.

>From that conversation began the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund and the Dizzy Gillespie Cancer Institute at the hospital. By now more than a thousand jazz musicians unable to pay have received a full range of medical and surgical care by Dr. Forte and a network of more than 50 physicians in various specialties, financed by the hospital and donations.

The primary access to this unprecedented life-expanding jazz program is through the Jazz Foundation of New York, also known internationally for helping jazz musicians — from preventing their being evicted to providing food and other necessities. Since most jazz players don’t have medical or pension plans, some at last have a substantial safety net, all the more extensive thanks to Dizzy.

At Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, the costs of the medical care so far have been more than $5 million. Says Douglas A. Duchak, its president and CEO: “In death, Dizzy’s legacy has touched — and sometimes saved — the lives of jazz musicians around the world.”

Dr. Forte, a guitarist who donates whatever he earns from his jazz gigs at Griffin’s in Cresskill (north of Englewood) to the center, told me recently that eager as he was to fulfill his promise to Dizzy, “I had to first find out if this icon had any skeletons in his closet that could create problems for the hospital. I called a lot of musicians, including trumpet players, and there was nothing, nothing at all, but admiration.”

Thereupon, to summon the spirit of a vintage New Orleans jazz anthem, the saints started marching in. Wendy Oxenhorn, executive director of the Jazz Foundation, says: “They’ve never turned down a musician in need that we have sent them.” She tells of how the Hot & Brass Band of New Orleans, after playing a New York benefit for Hurricane Katrina survivors, came to Englewood Hospital with various ailments, particularly a musician with an untreated gash on his leg from carrying his child through the floodwater. “The doctors at Englewood,” says Wendy, “checked all of them for free, and gave them lunch.”

There are particular physical problems that affect musicians’ livelihoods. “We’ve had people who couldn’t carry their drums — they had degenerative hip disease,” Dr. Forte told the North Jersey Record on Oct. 26. “A fellow with terrible teeth couldn’t play his trumpet, and there are guitarists who can’t play because their wrists hurt.”

I’ve told Frank Forte that he and the other physicians on jazz call at the hospital exemplify a classic Jelly Roll Morton recording, “Doctor Jazz.”

On Oct. 25, in the auditorium of Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, the 15th anniversary of the Dizzy Gillespie Institute and Memorial Fund was celebrated with this Dr. Jazz as honoree. There were 15 musicians performing — some of whom told of the regeneration they’ve received as Dr. Forte’s promise to Dizzy Gillespie is being kept. Pianist Danny Mixon, who has been treated for prostate cancer, said: “I just got cleared from Dr. Forte a few weeks ago. He told me, ‘Just keep playing the music, man.'”

The tribute and concert also marked the grand opening of the new Infusion Therapy Center, serving all of the hospital’s patients in need of the intravenous administration of medication, nutrients or fluids.

Coming, Dr. Forte tells me, are more “screening programs for prostate, colon and breast cancer; diabetes; hypertension; sickle cell anemia, etc. — so people don’t get terribly sick before we see them. I just turned 70, and I am going to continue this as long as I can, hopefully raising some money so we’ll be able to continue doing this in these tough times of cutbacks.”

As a result of the October tribute to him, nearly $25,000 has been donated to the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund in the doctor’s honor. The benefits are not solely to the musicians.

“Heaven knows,” says Dr. Jazz, “the music is a force that brings renewal not only to the sick but also to the staff who treat them. The music spurs on the caregivers and family members, too. We know this for sure at Englewood Hospital.”

These comments are in the liner notes for “Jazz Therapy” — a new series of recordings involving Englewood Hospital, the Jazz Foundation and Motema Records (; and, with proceeds benefiting the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund.

The concept was proposed to Motema Records founder Jana Harzen, who specializes, she notes, in recording artists who create “music with healing qualities, regardless of genre.” Her label, Motema, is named after a central African word meaning both “heart” and “love.”

The first volume in the Jazz Therapy series, “Smile,” is a lyrically meditative dialogue between guitarists Roni Ben-Hur and Gene Bortoncini. The album is dedicated to the late master bassist Earl May, after whom Englewood Hospital has named the area in the main lobby where jazz musicians perform each weekday from noon to 2 p.m. When “Smile” premiered at Jazz at Lincoln Center in Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola on Nov. 3, Dr. Jazz, the oncologist, sat in for one number.

As I think of all this healing medicine generated by the spirit of Dizzy Gillespie, he comes to mind as I described him in “Listen to the Stores/ Nat Hentoff on Jazz and Country Music” (Harper Collins): “Seeing Dizzy, however casually, was like coming into sunlight. By the warmth of his greeting, his natural considerateness and the keenness of his intelligence — which made his wit so sharp — he was a delight to be with. And he was a delight to himself when he was alone.”

I was mindful of Gene Lees in “Waiting for Dizzy” (Oxford University Press). About to meet Gillespie in a small park in Minneapolis, he saw that “lost in some musical thought, Dizzy was softly dancing, all alone there, in the sunlight.”

There are musicians now who can dance because of Dizzy and Dr. Jazz.

Mr. Hentoff writes about jazz for the Wall Street Journal.

2009 AAJC/HBCU Student All-star Big Band

Monday, January 12th, 2009

The African American Jazz Caucus, Inc., in partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library, will launch Black History month by presenting the 2009 AAJC/HBCU Student All-star Big Band in concert, Sunday, February 1, 2009 at 3:00 pm, in the Schomburg Langston Hughes Auditorium, 135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard, Harlem, New York. The big band is composed of the finest young talent from outstanding jazz programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The establishment of the AAJC/HBCU Student All-star Big Band was conceived in 2001 by Dr. Larry Ridley, Executive Director of the African American Jazz Caucus, Inc. They have been performing since 2002 under the direction of the AAJC/HBCU Jazz Directors Committee to standing room only audiences in Long Beach, California; New York City; Toronto, Canada and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. They were also the featured band in 2006 and 2008 at the University of Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival, the oldest collegiate jazz festival in the world. The Chairman of the Committee is Dr. Russell Thomas, Jackson State University.

The Historically Black Colleges and Universities represented by the 2009 big band members are: Clark Atlanta University; Fayetteville State University; Florida A & M University; Huston – Tillotson University; Jackson State University; North Carolina Central University; Texas Southern University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. The big band will be conducted by Professor James Patterson, Clark Atlanta University; Professor James Holden, Virginia State University and Professor Robert Trowers, North Carolina Central University.

Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Founder & Chairman of the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign, will present the prestigious “National Juneteenth Leadership Award” to Ms. Patricia R. Deans, Founder & Director of the Brownsville Heritage House in Brooklyn, NY. Ms. Deans played a key role in the successful passage of the historic legislation in 2004 recognizing “Juneteenth Freedom Day” as an official New York State Holiday Observance.

Please come celebrate Black History Month in Harlem with us!

For more information, please visit or call (212) 979-0304.

Tickets: members, $16; non members, $20.

For ticket charge call the Schomburg Shop at (212) 491-2206.

WNCU Offers Special Programs for MLK Day

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

Tune in to WNCU 90.7 FM on Monday, January 19, to hear the specials aired in tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

image001.jpgTune in at 12 Noon
Meeting Hate with Love
Stories of King and Ghandi

Produced by David Freudberg

Meeting Hate with Love Stories of King and Gandhi is an exploration on two of the leading figures of non-violence, Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. Although their stories are well documented, this program provides a unique look with interviews from individuals that knew both men and audio clips from their eras. The program focuses on both men’s non-violent philosophies and is a powerful testament to King and Gandhi’s philosophy.

Tune in at 5pm
The Promised Land
Different Take on the Legacy of MLK

Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Mix
Produced by Peter Bochan

A tribute to Martin Luther King Jr, featuring many of his most famous speeches mixed with music from Stevie Wonder, The Freedom Singers, Jimmy Cliff, James Taylor, Nina Simone, Bill Lee/Branford Marsalis, Moodswings,U2 and more


Tune in at 8:30 pm
A Shortcut to the Mountain Top

During a one-hour special, The Promised Land: Different Takes on the Legacy of Martin Luther King, activist, environmentalist, humanitarian Majora Carter gauges the reach of King’s influence. How far have we come? What has been the impact on our kids? On our communities?

You’ll meet a minister who suggests that King’s legacy holds no meaning for today’s children, and a composer whose newly commissioned work “The Homecoming: In Memoriam Martin Luther King” had its premier in September 2008, sung by the San Francisco-based chorus Chanticleer. Paul Mooney, whose pen is behind many of the top African-American comedians, will help sort out how humor fits into discussions of King.

Current voices in civil rights will weigh in on the subject. Author and activist Dr. Vincent Harding recalls his association with Dr. King. Dolores Huerta talks about continuing the efforts begun by César Chávez and what it was like to work and live in his shadow. And you’re introduced to Judy Bonds, a rural white woman fighting mountaintop mining and land desecration in her community. There was a time when she’d never heard of King, yet her battle echoes his in surprising and unexpected ways.

And what’s in a name? What if yours is Martin Luther King? Majora finds out by calling people from the Atlanta phone book.

The Promised Land: Different Takes on the Legacy of Martin Luther King is a special from Launch Minneapolis, winner of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Talent Quest — and a not-to-be-missed hour with Majora Carter. The program is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

In 2007, Launch was chosen by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to participate in CPB’s Public Radio Talent Quest, a yearlong initiative to develop new public radio stars.

Host Majora Carter is founder of Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx), a community organization established to advance the environmental and economic rebirth of her hometown. Her honors include the NYU Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award and the Lewis Rudin Award for Public Service. In 2005, she was awarded the MacArthur “genius” grant. Carter, a sought-after speaker, was named one of Essence magazine’s “25 most influential African-Americans” and one of Newsweek’s “25 to Watch.”

Producer Marge Ostroushko has lent her talents to A Prairie Home Companion, Speaking of Faith, and Mississippi: River of Song, for which she won a Peabody Award. During her 10-year stint at PRI, she oversaw new program development on shows including The Miles Davis Radio Project, Rabbit Ears Radio, Radio Kronos, The Writer’s Almanac, Ben & Jerry’s Newport Folk Festival, and Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth.

WHAT: The Promised Land: Different Takes on the Legacy of Martin Luther King.

HOST: Environmentalist, humanitarian Majora Carter.

GUESTS: Author and activist Dr. Vincent Harding, United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, West Virginia environmentalist Judy Bonds, composer David Conte, and more.

Marlena Shaw

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

mshaw2.jpgMarlena Shaw was born Marlina Burgess, September 22, 1944, in New Rochelle, New York. Marlena Shaw is among the most versatile and charismatic jazz vocalists on the scene today. Her performances are marked by an artful blend of pop standards and straight-ahead jazz tunes. Her extroverted stage presence gives her an edge over other vocalists, and clearly, singing live before an audience is where she feels most comfortable.After her uncle Jimmy Burgess introduced her to the recordings of Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis, she caught the jazz bug and purchased records by Al Hibbler, a vocalist who had a big influence on her singing style. At age ten she performed at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, and despite the enthusiastic reception she received in front of one of the world’s toughest audiences, her mother refused to let her go on the road with her uncle, a trumpet player. Shaw attended the State Teachers’ College in Potsdam, NY, but later dropped out.

In 1963 she worked around New England with a trio led by Howard McGhee. By the mid-’60s she was performing regularly for audiences in the Catskills, Playboy clubs, and other New York area clubs. In 1966, she recorded “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” for Cadet Records, and the single sold very well for an unknown singer. The single’s success, a rare vocal version of the tune, prompted executives at Cadet to encourage her to record a whole album for the label in 1967.mshaw3.jpg The diversity of styles, including blues, jazz, and pop standards, is reflected in the album’s title, Out of Different Bags. Through her accountant, she was brought to the attention of band leader Count Basie, and she ended up singing with the Basie band for four years.

In 1972, after leaving the Basie Orchestra, Shaw was the first female vocalist signed to Blue Note Records, and she toured for a while with the late Sammy Davis Jr. Shaw recorded five albums and several singles for Blue Note, and critics likened her singing style to Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan. At her club shows, Shaw dazzled audiences with her intoxicating blend of straight-ahead jazz, soul, pop, and classic R&B, but her recordings will also satisfy fans of traditional jazz who have no prejudices about blues and R&B. ~ Richard Skelly, All Music Guide