Archive for September, 2009

Free Download: The Billy Hart Quartet, Live In Concert

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

When you’ve been around as long as Billy Hart has been — over four decades in New York — you hear a lot of interesting music. But what’s astonishing about Hart is that plays the drums as if he’s absorbed all that history into his muscle memory. Interactive and colorful, his quartet is filled with four strong musical personalities, and they were on display for the world this Wednesday in our latest Live At The Village Vanguard broadcast. We have a fine recording of that set, featuring a number of proud tributes to John Coltrane on his birthdate, available for download now. Also, don’t miss the Roy Eldrige Piano Jazz, new piano-less trios, Jamie Cullum at Monterey and a profile of true original Sam Rivers. Happy listening.

Click here.

—Patrick Jarenwattananon, NPR Music

Mingus Big Band and Sun Ra Arkestra

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

On Saturday, the September 26, WNCU will broadcast the Mingus Big Band and the Sun Ra Arkestra live.

In partnership with Duke Performances, the Mingus Big Band and the Sun Ra Arkestra, WNCU has permission to broadcast and stream the entire concert.

We will dim the lights at 7pm. Your host for the evening will be WNCU’s program director and morning jazz DJ, BH Hudson.

And we thank you, your membership dollars have helped make this broadcast possible.

Centennial Lunch and Learn Series

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

BowenMichelleNorth Carolina Central University kicks off the first session of its Lunch and Learn Series at the James E. Shepard Memorial Library, room 140, Tuesday, September 15, 2009, at 12 noon. According to Theodosia T. Shields, the director of library services, the university is hosting Durham resident and best-selling author Michele Bowen. “Bowen will read from her humorous book, Up at the College, and will sign copies at the end of the session,” says Shields.

Attendees are encouraged to bring lunch. The library staff will provide dessert.

Shields says, “Up at the College is about love, loss, seemingly insurmountable difficulties and spiritual renewal.” Bowen is known for her books about the African-American church and its practices. Reportedly, some believe characters in the book are drawn from her experiences at NCCU, others see it as a story about Duke University. Bowen will only say she is a “satirist and a devout Christian.” She is the author of Church Folk, Second Sunday, and Holy Ghost Corner, and a member of St. Joseph’s African Methodist Episcopal Church in Durham.UpAtTheCollege

For more information, please contact Dorcas Mason at (919) 530-6475.

North Carolina Central University is the first publicly supported liberal arts college for African-Americans and this year, U.S. News & World Report ranked NCCU among the top ten HBCUs in the country. As NCCU celebrates its Centennial Year, a diverse student body of more than 8,500 students is enrolled in programs such as law, business, library science, nursing, education, and biotechnology.

WNCU Partners with Lenora Zenzalai Helm

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Lenora Zenzalai Helm, award winning jazz vocal musician, composer, lyricist and educator will perform a concert celebrating her new CD, Chronicles of a Butterfly at Hayti Heritage Center, Durham, NC on Friday, September 18, 2009 at 7 pm.

With this event, Helm is kicking off a 12 concert tour series, “The Butterfly Concerts”. The goal for each event is to raise funds for families and/or communities who have endured recent tragedies or traumas. The concept for The Butterfly Concerts and the CD release is that of transformation from personal or community tragedies to triumphs, despite profound challenges. Each concert event will have a portion of the proceeds donated to families in crisis. The September 18th concert will help raise monies for The Elm Family of Durham, NC, recently suffering a tragic fire in their home. The couple, (with the wife stationed in Iraq), has two young children, ages 8 and 4.

This musical event will take place on Friday, September 18, 2009 at the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation, Hayti Heritage Center. The events for the evening include a 7 pm guest reception with light food and wine followed by a live concert at 8 pm where Ms. Helm will be joined by many of her fellow faculty from the music department of NCCU, Ed Paolantonio, piano; Baron Tymas, guitar and Durham native, A.J. Brown, acoustic bass. Guest performers include Ira Wiggins, saxophone and flute, members of the NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble and other surprise guests. The evening will conclude with Helm autographing her CDs while guests enjoy delectable desserts and coffee beverages from the Durham-based business, The French Quarter Bakery. Public radio station, WNCU 90.7 FM, is one of the promotional partners onboard to support Helm’s Chronicles of a Butterfly: A Story of Transformation Durham concert event and CD release. They will be the first national radio station to premiere Helm’s new release in promotional ads and on-air. Listeners outside of the local Raleigh/Durham area can log onto to hear Chronicles starting September 4, 2009.

Helm’s fifth CD release, Chronicles of a Butterfly, will be received by each guest attending the event. This new CD release marks her return to recording after a six-year hiatus, her previous recordings reaching national top jazz chart positions, and receiving extensive national radio airplay and international critical acclaim. Chronicles of a Butterfly is a live recording, captured at Hayti in 2007, and is produced by Branford Marsalis. The recording features pianist, Mulgrew Miller, bassists Neal Caine and John Price and guitarist Doug Wamble. Helm has dedicated this recording to her mentor, the late pianist/composer Andrew Hill, who tapped Helm to write lyrics for his composition Hermano Frere, one of several compositions from a suite about the 9/11 tragedies. She sang Hermano Frere on tour with Hill upon his winning the prestigious Jazzpar Award in Europe. “‘Hermano Frere’ is a song about our responsibilities to each other, says Helm, “and Andrew’s many  onversations about the wisdom of metamorphosis and transformation in the seasons of our lives was the impetus for the title Chronicles of a Butterfly .”
What: Lenora Zenzalai Helm, vocal jazz musician
Chronicles of a Butterfly: A Story of Transformation CD Release & Fundraising Concert
When: Friday, September 18th, 2009
Time: 7 pm guest reception; 8 pm concert; 9 pm dessert after-party and CD signing
Where: St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation, Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Fayetteville Street, Durham, NC 27701
Cost: $20 (includes admission to guest reception, concert, autographed CD, dessert after-party)
Tickets: Hayti Box Office, 919 683-1709 ext 21 or online at
Info: LENORA ZENZALAI HELM, THE ZENZALAI GROUP, ph: 917 826 7979 email: [email protected]
Helm’s achievements in music have spanned 25 years garnering her inclusion as a subject of biographical record, since 2005, for Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Women and Who’s Who in the World. Lenora Zenzalai Helm is an award winning jazz vocal musician, composer, lyricist and educator with two decades of international acclaim. A former U.S. Jazz Ambassador for Southeastern Africa, she is a MacDowell Composer Fellow and the first Black female composer to win the Chamber Music America/ Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s New Works: Creation and Presentation jazz composers award. Ms. Helm has toured with her group internationally, performed on prestigious jazz festivals and in jazz concert halls, and recorded with the biggest names in jazz. Her discography includes recordings of her own, and as a featured guest with Donald Brown, Ron Carter, Stanley Cowell, Antonio Hart, Andrew Hill, Dave Liebman and Branford Marsalis. This Chicago, IL native worked as a teaching artist for 20 years in New York City (previous to making Durham, NC her home) for Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn Philharmonic and Young Audiences of New York. Helm is on the music faculty at North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC teaching jazz vocal performance in NCCU’s prestigious Jazz Studies program, and co-directing their NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Visit her online at

WNCU Sponsors 36th Annual CenterFest

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

centerfestWNCU is a proud sponsor of the 36th Annual CenterFest presented by the Durham Arts Council coming up in September.

Durham Arts Council proudly presents
The 36th Annual CenterFest – The Art Lover’s Festival!
Saturday, September 19th – 10 am – 6 pm
Sunday, September 20th – 12 noon – 6 pm

Location: Foster Street at Hunt Street adjacent to Durham Central Park in Downtown Durham.

Each fall for 36 years, hundreds of juried fine artists, craftsmen and performers from across the country gather together in downtown Durham to dazzle, inspire, delight and entertain you. Find your perfect match at North Carolina’s longest-running outdoor arts festival, where it’s easy to find the art you love.

CenterFest 2009 features 117 visual artists from 9 states, plus continuous entertainment by over 200 performing artists on three stages.
Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $4.00 at the gate ($12 suggested donation for families of 4 or more). Proceeds go towards the DAC Annual Arts Fund, which supports arts programs, artists, and arts organizations in the community.

Etta Jones

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

ejones2Etta Jones was born on November 5, 1928, in Aiken, S.C. and died on October 16, 2001, in Mount Vernon, N.Y. Jazz vocalist Etta Jones recorded more than two dozen albums and earned three Grammy Award nominations during her six-decade-long career. Her popularity peaked in 1960 with the release of her single Don’t Go to Strangers, which climbed to number five on the R&B charts. In the late 1960s, Jones formed a duo with tenor saxophonist Houston Person, with whom she toured for the next 35 years. “All I want to do is work, make a decent salary, and have friends,” Jones told National Public Radio in a quotation cited in the Dallas Morning News. Although she never attained a level of stardom comparable to such jazz and blues greats as Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, and Dinah Washington, Jones had a devoted following of listeners and made her own unique mark on jazz history.  As a three-year old she dreamed of becoming a singer and would pose in front of a mirror to mimic songs from the radio. Billie Holiday, who she saw in concert, and Thelma Carpenter, were two of her earliest influences. When Jones was 15 years old, she attended Amateur Night at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem. Like jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn, her career began at the Apollo, though at first glance her debut did not seem promising.

Jones made her first recording, arranged by pianist Leonard Feather, in 1944. In subsequent years she performed and recorded with such jazz personalities as Pete Johnson, J. C. Heard, Kenny Burrell, Charles Brown, Milt Johnson, and Cedar Walton. In 1949, she started singing with Earl “Fatha” Hines, performing with his band for the next three years. Jones also attempted to launch a solo career, though she was not successful at first. She recorded sides with such labels as Black & White and RCA Victor, but these singles flopped. At the time, R&B was enjoying increased popularity, but Jones avoided this genre, preferring to sing jazz. This decision limited her audience and her exposure as an artist, and for a number of years she remained an obscure singer.

ejones3Throughout the 1950s, Jones faced hard times and had to take day jobs occasionally to make ends meet, working as an elevator operator, an album stuffer, and a seamstress. She continued to perform sporadically, as opportunities arose. In 1956, Jones recorded her first full-length album, The Jones Girl… Etta … Sings, Sings, Sings, with King Records. But the album debuted with little fanfare and went largely unnoticed.

In 1968, Jones formed a musical partnership that would change her career. She met Houston Person, a highly regarded tenor saxophonist, when she performed on the same bill as him at a Washington, D.C., nightclub. Jones and Person immediately hit it off, and they decided to tour together as a duo with equal billing, a partnership that would last for more than three decades. “They say … a lot of times singers and musicians don’t get along too well,” Jones told Billy Taylor of Billy Taylor’s Jazz at the Kennedy Center on National Public Radio in 1998, “but we got along famously.”  Person became not only Jones’ collaborator but also–after 1975–her manager and record producer. Their connection was so close that some jazz aficionados have mistakenly assumed they were married, though they were not. Yet their rapport as musicians was unique, and they developed a conversational style with vocals and saxophone riffs. “[Person] knows exactly what I’m going to do,” the New York Times recalls Jones saying. “He knows if I’m in trouble; he’ll give me a note. He leaves me room.”

From the mid-1970s until her death in 2001, Jones and Person recorded 18 albums for the Muse label, which later became High Note Records. While these albums appealed to a relatively narrow audience of jazz aficionados, they occasionally contained minor hits attracting a wider group of listeners. In 1981, Jones received a Grammy Award nomination for her album Save Your Love for Me. A third Grammy nomination came in 1999 for her tribute to her former boss, My Buddy–Etta Jones Sings the Songs of Buddy Johnson.

After a battle with cancer, Jones died and was survived by her husband, John Medlock, two sisters, and a granddaughter (a daughter predeceased her). The day she died, High Note released her final recording, Etta Jones Sings Lady Day.

Roy Hargrove

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

rhargrove2Roy Hargrove was born on October 16, 1969 in Waco, Texas.  He soon became familiar with the recordings of Maynard Ferguson, Clifford Brown and Freddie Hubbard, and in the spring of 1987, Hargrove met the man who would electrify his dreams of a professional career who is trumpet superstar Wynton Marsalis.

When Marsalis made an unannounced visit to the Dallas Arts Magnet, Hargrove’s school, he was so impressed by his musical talents that he immediately arranged special studies for him. He also recommended the assistance of manager-producer Larry Clothier, and as a result, Hargrove had the opportunity to travel to New York, and later to Europe and Japan. He soon became a member of the New York Jazz community, and under the supervision of Clothier, started recording as a sideman with Bobby Watson, Ricky Ford, Carl Allen, and Don Sickler’s Superblue band.

After graduating from high school in June 1988, Hargrove spent the summer in Europe, where he had the opportunity to play in several major festivals, sharing the stage with musical luminaries asrhargrove3 Clifford Jordan, Jerome Richardson and Tete Montoliu. In the fall he entered college at the Berklee School of Music on various scholarships, including one from Down Beat magazine, which had selected him as best jazz soloist of the year. In 1990, Hargrove moved to New York, where he enrolled in the New School’s Jazz and Contemporary Music program.

The first recording of The Roy Hargrove Quintet, featuring altoist Antonio Hart, Diamond on the Rough, appeared in 1990, and was followed by Public Eye in 1991. The summer of that year, Hargrove was featured at many European festivals, fronting an all star package, The Jazz Futures. The quintet’s third recording, The Vibe, which appeared in the spring of 1992, was highly rated by critics all over the world, and the band toured again to Europe, Japan and the US. In 1993, tenor saxophonist Ron Blake replaced Antonio Hart, and with Blake, Gary Bartz and trombonist André Hayward, Hargrove recorded his fourth -and last- album for RCA-Novus, Of Kindred Souls.

rhargrove4In 1993, before he was 25, Hargrove was already a major star in the world of contemporary jazz, and was signed by Verve – Polygram, a label strongly committed to the promotion of young talent. For Verve, he recorded The Tenors of Our Iime, an ambitious project featuring Johnny Griffin, Stanley Turrentine, Joe Henderson and Joshua Redman.

During the late 1990’s Roy had also been leading The Roy Hargrove Big Band, a large group of young musicians he started out rehearsing a few years ago to work out his talents as a composer and arranger.