Early Mornin’ Jazzin: Daybreak Express

Hi folks, how’re things? I discussed briefly how much time on air I have this week in my last message to you. Monday night from 1-5am I played some avant garde sounds: Carl Stone, John Cage and Chainsaw Jazz. It was a good time. I started the night with a little Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd Jazz Samba to transition from the show prior to mine, Latin Jazz Hour. A lovely friend of mine spent the first few hours hanging with me, and we joyously danced (?) to Carl Stone (can you dance to Carl Stone?). After they left I got super super scared by John Cage and a litany of voices. I then got super tired. Chainsaw Jazz was a good energetic end to the night.

This morning has proved itself more enjoyable. I went to bed early and arose at 4:30am with an abundance of energy. I started listeners off with The Enchantment, an album featuring Chick Corea and Bela Fleck. It’s a truly fantastic record with interesting elements of bluegrass thanks to Fleck’s banjo and always held down by Corea’s virtuosic and uniquely energetic piano playing. My favorite track on that one is “Brazil.” (attached below).

Next, the sweet sweet soulful sounds of Ray Charles graced the airwaves. I played his album The Genius Hits the Road a wonderful little collection of classics. There’s really nothing like some Ray Charles for your heart, mind, and soul. We were still in the 5am hour, but I was dancing to “Basin Street Blues,” “New York’s My Home,” and “Deep in the Heart of Texas.” Thank you Ray.

To get some contrast after the crackly deep tones of Ray’s voice, I put on Snarky Puppy’s album We Like It Here, a soon to be classic. They may just be the best modern jazz band from Brooklyn now, but some day Phil Schaap will be playing them. Seriously. Listening to the drums on “Lingus” now, I am literally laughing thinking about how good they are. My confidence in my choice was boosted when right after announcing the Snarky Puppy record a listener called in just to tell me what fantastic programming I’m doing this fine morning. Nice. And then another listener called deeper into the album to complement my programming as well! All these nice folks in the world. Jazz is social justice, and it has been for many many years. I hope it will bring America together in the future like it did in the past. And not through the unfair exploitation of “black gold” as Jesse Williams so eloquently put it at the BET Awards last year. His speech is extremely worth listening to; he quotes Billie Holiday.

I’m writing this while listening to the truly climactic end to We Like It Here, “Lingus.” It’s some crazy crazy shit. We’ll listen to some Joe Pass solo guitar next to cool down. All any of us really want is someone to play guitar for us like Joe Pass does (or to play guitar like Joe Pass). A whole lot of love goes into each pluck of his guitar strings. I actually don’t think I can name any guitarist who has a warmer color than Joe Pass does. His guitar sounds like a rosy luminous red but at the same time is extremely soulful and can be so damn bluuuuues-y.

Don’t forget to tune in Saturday night / Sunday morning 1-6am EST to hear me spin some more jazz on Jazz Till Dawn: 89.9FM NY and wkcr.org.

 

Chick Corea and Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Sunday night I saw Chick Corea play with Gonzalo Rubalcaba at Blue Note jazz club in Greenwich Village. Chick is doing a residency at Blue Note for his 75th birthday party from October 19 thru December 11 which is incredible. Blue Note has even been advertising his residency as “The Greatest Jazz Birthday Party Ever.” I was skeptical of this branding, but it really was the greatest jazz birthday party ever, complete with Chick’s friends and wife, Gayle Moran, in the audience. The audience was also very into it–vocal and loud at the right times.

I don’t think there are two more fun pianists than Chick Corea and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Chick is just WILD. He’s a favorite of my mother who knows far more about jazz than me, but this does mean that I’ve been exposed to some cool stuff thanks to her. She and my dad have seen Chick a few times before together, and my mom has seen him play with a host of incredible musicians (including Herbie Hancock, Bela Fleck and Bobbie McFerrin to name a few). They were both still extremely impressed by his performance with Rubalcaba on Sunday. The two piano gods played a few loosely planned pieces but primarily improvised and jammed together. However, what was perhaps unplanned fell together into beautifully organized and composed pieces. Chick and Rubalcaba communicated with each other impeccably and filled each other’s silences flawlessly. It was pretty magical hearing the two grand pianos together, played by such incredible pianists. It often sounded like one four armed virtuoso was playing not two separate musical minds. It was also a beautiful sight, the two huge, shining black pianos on stage in the shape of a ying yang.

Some highlights of the night were Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind and Fire coming onstage to sing with Chick, “A Spanish Song” (not to be confused with “Spain”), and Gayle Moran coming onstage to sing 500 Miles High (he played 500 Miles High!!!). The crowd also broke into “Happy Birthday” for Chick which was very lovely.

It was a wonderful night! Listen to some Chick Corea and revel in his crazy, unique, out-of-control playing.