Monday, May 17, 2010

Best of 2006-2010 in Jazz from Your Friends at The Jazz Connexion

Jazz fans, I wanted to begin by thanking you for listening. Not just to this show, but to jazz in general.

This radio show began freshman year as a way to relax. I doubt I will find anything I like more than simply sitting down and writing a good playlist. Over the past four years, however, your attention to the Jazz Connexion, and to all the programming on KWLC, has inspired me to discover a new set of motives for putting together a show. Playing songs and artists that could be both enjoyable to the lay listener and intellectually challenging to even the staunchest jazz critic strikes prime middle ground between expert educator and musically elite snob. I hope I have presented myself as the former through this program.

Over the past four years, I would get occasional comments about songs you liked, or didn't like, or that you just thought were interesting. I cannot describe the immense joy that I got when someone would come up to me the day after my show and say, Hey Pete, I really like the sound of that Brian Blade guy, or, Yea man, that Esperanza chick is incredible. This simple compliment, not only that you lisened but that you appreciated the music, meant that your palate could now be cleanzed and ready for the world of jazz. From Brian Blade, you can get into Kurt Rosenwinkle. From Esperanza Spalding, you can get into Francisco Mela and Lionel Loueke. From there, there is no telling which direction our tastes will take us. I hope that some of the music I have played has inspired at least a little bit of drive to explore jazz further in your own lives. If nothing else, I hope that, as a listener of the program, could listen past the initial "Oh, thats in Starbucks" reaction to hear the raw emotion and artful expression that exists in America's original artform.

In programming tonight's show, I had the average listener in mind. The playlist tonight is entirely made up of songs that I have played in the past, that you have commented on. It is also a "Best of the Past Four Years" (the entire playlist is made up of records that have been released since 2006 when I started as a DJ), so as to properly bookend my time at KWLC. These are songs that you liked, in addition to the fact that they will forever be in my head as the soundtrack of my time at KWLC.

I cannot tell you how much your listenership has meant to me, and I hope that you have been able to grow in taste and perception as much as I have in the past four years. It's been a good run. Thanks.

1. Mulatu Astatke and His Ethiopian Quartet - New York-Addis-London: The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965-1975 - Shagu
2. Esperanza Spalding - Junjo - Mompouana
3. Joshua Redman - Back East - India feat. Dewey Redman*
4. Stanton Moore - III - Water From The Ancient Well
5. Herbie Hancock - River: The Joni Letters - River feat. Corinne Bailey Rae**
6. Happy Apple - Happy Apple Back On Top - Lefse Los Cubanos***
7. The Bad Plus - Prog - Tom Sawyer***
8. Jaleel Shaw - Optimism - If I'm Lucky****
9. Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band - Season of Changes - Stoner Hill
10. Revolutionary Snake Ensemble - Forked Tongue - White Wedding*****

*For my Father, Charlie
**For my Mother, Rita
***For my Friends
****For my boss, Jen
*****For Billy Idol, who may or may not be a regular listener

The Theme Music to the Jazz Connexion was pulled from my #1 Desert Island Album:
Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen with Ulf Wakenius and Jonas Johansen - The Unforgettable NHØP Trio Live - You and the Night and the Music

Honorable Mention goes to the Esbjorn Svensson Trio for their domination of the jazz world from humble Scandinavia and for their progressive, approachable style. Their leader and pianist Esbjorn Svensson died in a scuba accident in Stockholm in this Summer of 2008. Their last album Leucocyte had been completed and was released shortly after his death.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jazz Connexion 5/9/10

Back in high school, when I began listening to jazz music, my friends were all getting into hip hop. They were introducing me to A Tribe Called Quest, KRS One, and the whole Rhymesayers Crew. As I listened to more and more jazz in my free time, and more and more hip hop with my friends, I was unable to separate the two in my mind. Jazz was teeming with the beat heavy elements of hip hop, and it seemed like every decent hip hop song was based around cuts from classic jazz albums. I soon came to the conclusion that the two truly were inseparable, and that when you combined the two, the spoken word art that dominated hip hop was nothing more than another instrument added to the color of the jazz combo, at least in the hip hop that I enjoyed. This was never better exemplified than when I discovered Guru and MC Solaar's side project Jazzmatazz (see above). Tonight's program was focused around my continuing obession with this relationship betweent the two artforms and the continuing developments in this unique media. As hip hop continues to utilize jazz samples, jazz as an artform becomes more and more centered on the beat heavy hip hop style. Last week we heard from Robert Glasper, one of the first Blue Noter's to dive into this burgeoning genre. Here is the playlist for the program.

1. Tribeca Sound - Pride
2. MC Solaar - Caroline
3. Ronny Jordan - My Favorite Things
4. The RH Factor - Poetry feat. Q-Tip
5. Astrud Gilberto - The Gentle Rain (RJD2 Remix)
6. Gang Starr - Manifest**
7. Guru - Street Soul - Lift Your Fist (w/ The Roots)**
8. Guru - Street Soul - Timeless (w/ Herbie Hancock)**
9. Ella Fitzgerald - I Get A Kick Out Of You (Cinematic Orchestra Cover)
10. St. Germain - Tourist - Land of...
**RIP Keith "Guru" Elam

A Tribe Called Quest - People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
Robert Glasper - Double Booked
The RH Factor - Hard Groove
St. Germain - Tourist
Madlib - Shades of Blue

WFLCCB Special

The Luther College Concert Band began in 1905 when Carlo A. Sperati, a Luther grad, became the music director of the college. The band had been founded in 1878, modeled after John Philip Sousa's group. The band soon gained worldwide notoriety following their international tours, which began in 1914. As the current LCCB prepares themselves for yet another international trip, this time to Japan, KWLC wanted to feature the variety of music that is provided by the group. As a three and a half year member of the group, as a tubist, I was honored to program the following playlist that features the eclectic mix of marches, ballads, and contemporary and even avant-garde pieces that the World Famous Luther College Concert Band prepares each semester. If you were not able to catch the broadcast and you are in the Decorah area, LCCB will be performing Friday May 21st in the CFL on the campus of Luther College.

1. Louis Joseph Ferdinand Herold (arr. Van der Beek) - Overture to Zampa
2. Traditional (arr. Randol Alan Bass) - Shenandoah
3. David Holsinger - Little Fantasy on an American Hymn
4. Karel Husa - Music for Prague 1968: Introduction and Fanfare
5. Malcolm Arnold - Four Scottish Dances: II. Vivace
6. John Philip Sousa - The Black Horse Troop
7. Daisuke Ehara - The Restless Soul
8. Daniel Kallman - Streets of Honor March
9.- 10. Roger Cichy - Silhouette: Bluesy - Reflection
11. Luigi Zaninelli - Roma Sacra
12 -20. Leonard Bernstein (trans. Clare Grundman) - Divertimento - Sennets and Tuckets - Waltz - Mazurka - Samba - Turkey Trot - Sphinxes - Blues - In Memoriam; March "The BSO Forever"
21. Masaru Tanaka - Methuselah II
22. J.S. Bach - Who Puts His Trust In God Most Just
23. John Philip Sousa - Stars and Stripes Forever

Sunday, May 2, 2010

E Pluribus KWLC

So far, this blog has served as a way to fulfill my narcissistic, self-aggrandizing desires to tell you, the reader, about what I'm doing. I masked this by pretending that this was a way for me to codify my college radio career, which I hope has been influential to anyone who has tuned into the program or any others on KWLC. I have worked as a DJ at KWLC for 4 years. I have been a Jazz Music Director and Station Manager for the past 3 years. I care immensely about the work that this station is doing and I care even more about the path it is going down in the future. I believe that college radio is the last truly independent media where people can determine and express what they believe is worth spreading around to the general public. We are the gatekeepers. Our tiny 1000 watt station, in particular, has a tradition of independence and progression and it is always a bit nerve wracking (also incredibly exciting) when the reigns are handed to the next generation of volunteer staffers. I have never been able to articulate these feelings as well as Joe Thor, a sophomore jazz DJ and our future promotions director, has in this past week's publication of "The AM."

From April 25, 2010 - E Pluribus KWLC

Here at Luther College, KWLC is a broad term referring to a family of music lovers and radio devotees. We are broadcast 56 hours a week, providing a range of programming from the likes of jazz, sports, rock, dance, politics, classical, hip-hop, blues, and world music. Each week, our DJs devote free time to listen to the newest albums from various record labels, and create an hour of quality programming that reflects their personality and passion for music. Our goal is simple: to expose as many people to great music and programming as we possibly can, and to provide a creative outlet for those individuals who care enough about music to devote their time and energy to our station.

KWLC was founded in 1926, and since then we have been continuously on the air. Having survived the Great Depression, the station has grown and changed in ways that the original founders could not have imagined. With the ability to stream our music online, KWLC can reach anywhere in the world where an Internet connection is available. Even a few astronauts floating above Earth might be able to tune in if they are so inclined. This year alone has seen our radio station branching out and exploring new ideas and concepts. KWLC now provides a weekly Radio Drama that is the brainchild of Amie Heller, and host of other motivated individuals on Saturdays. The jazz DJs have presented three different specials in this last semester alone; ABCs of Jazz, a Spotlight of Instruments, and most recently, Profiles in Jazz. “Partisan the Interruption,” is a political talk show organized and recorded right here on campus, combining humor and knowledge in a fantastic show which is both fun and interesting to listen to. KWLC’s hallmark is quality and creative programming: Regardless of when you tune in, you are sure to hear something that is the result of caring and passionate individuals.

The end of this school year marks another changing of the guards at KWLC. As sad as it is to see seniors leave for the dreaded real world, it provides an opportunity for all of you folks. KWLC broadcasts 56 hours a week, which means we need at least 56 devoted individuals to ensure our favorite noncommercial radio station keeps broadcasting its great music and programming, as it has for the last 80+ years. If you are devoted, love music, and most importantly, you want to share your passion for music with others at Luther, in Decorah, and around the world- HERE IS YOUR CHANCE! Keep your eyes open when you arrive at Luther next fall, when audition information will be posted around campus. KWLC is the result of people like you; help continue this great Luther tradition by adding your creativity and passion to this long-standing institution. Out of many, there is KWLC. E Pluribus KWLC.

-Joe Thor (Jazz)

Jazz Connexion 5/2/10

We started tonight's program with a froed, scarf-clad pianist named Jacky Terrasson (left). Born in Berlin, raised in Paris, currently based in NY, Terrasson has made his Concord Record label debut with his new album Push, which follows 10 Blue Note releases. The winner of the 1993 Thelonius Monk Piano Competition features bassist Ben Williams and drummer Jamire Williams on his new album. You may recognize Jamire's name from the four records that phenom fashionista and trumpeter Chrisitan Scott has released in the past few years. Also on this album is Scott's regular guitarist Matt Stevens as well as regular Lionel Loueke collaborator and saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart. In particular, Stevens is featured on the bouncing track "Say Yeah," which sounds like it belongs more on Paul Simon's Graceland than on a progressive piano trio album. Terrasson hasn't lost any of his luster after 15+ years in the business. This 11-track album features 7 originals, 2 Monk covers, a Cole Porter tune and a melange of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and the standard "Body and Soul." The variety in both song selection and tone throughout the album blasts Terrasson's Push into a realm that is much more than just another piano trio album.

Also featured on the Jazz Connexion this weekend was Italian Fusion bassist Roberto Badoglio, jazz/ hip-hop pianist Robert Glasper, New Orleans young guns Trombone Shorty and Christian Scott, and Free-Jazz pioneers John Tchaicai on alto (from Coltrane's Ascension), Roswell Rudd (1st free jazz trombonist), Finn von Eyben on bass and Louis Moholo on drummer (both from The Blue Notes and Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath). Their record Old Stuff is from 1965, where they recorded under the name The New York Art Quartet.

Thanks for tuning in. Join me next week for another hour of great music.

1. Jacky Terrasson - Push - Gaux Girl
2. Annie Sellick - Street of Dreams - Tristeza
3. Roberto Badoglio - Re-Evaluation-Time - The Song of The Wine, The Wind, and The Roses
4. Robert Glasper - Double Booked - Butterfly
5. Trombone Shorty - Backatown - On Your Way Down
6. Christian Scott - Yesterday You Said Tomorrow - Angola, LA and The 13th Amendment
7. Edward Ratliff - Those Moments Before - Good Question
8. New York Art Quartet - Old Stuff - Pa Tirsdag
9. Stefon Harris and Blackout - Urbanus - Gone (Variations on Gershwin's Gone Gone Gone from Porgy and Bess)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Jazz Connexion 4/25

Here's the playlist from this evening's program:

1. Stanton Moore - Groove Alchemy - Keep on Gwine
2. The Nels Cline Singers - Initiate - Floored
3. Preservation Hall Jazz Band - Benefit Album - La vie en rose feat. Angelique Kidjo and Terence Blanchard
4. Darcy James Argue's Secret Society - Infernal Machines - Transit feat. Ingrid Jensen
5. Speak - Speak - Amalgam In The Middle
6. Wellstone Conspiracy - Motives - Turbulator
7. Anat Cohen - Clarinetworks: Live at the Village Vanguard - St. James Infirmary
8. Bobby Previte and Bump - Counterclockwise - And The Wind Cries... Mademoiselle Katherine

As always, thank you for tuning into the Jazz Connexion. The next two weeks will be relatively normal in their programming, building up to the final show on May 16th which will feature my top picks in jazz from the past 4 years (the span of time that I've been on the air on KWLC). See you next week.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jazz Connexion 4/18/2010 - Esperanza Spalding

Tonight's episode of the Jazz Connexion featured a profile on the prodigious, 25 year-old Esperanza Spalding. Her claim to fame is playing her bass and singing simultaneously. Since her debut at 15 with Portland group Noise for Pretend, she has created a spectacular, and still blossoming, solo career that shows why she is seen as her generation's most electrifying jazz star. This has resulted in pairings with legends Mike Stern, Francisco Mela, Lionel Loueke, Joe Lovano, and many others, right alongside fellow up-and-comers Christian Scott and Aaron Parks. Bass in hand, Esperanza infuses Afro-Caribbean grooves with Prince songs and manages to marry the driving sounds of Loud Rock with the lightest most delicate bass lines. Hers is a name to watch for, and certainly someone to be listening to whether you're an experienced connoisseur or you're trying to take your first steps into the world of jazz.

The following is tonight's playlist. All songs feature Esperanza Spalding on the vocals and/or bass.

1. Noise for Pretend - Happy You Near - Pants With His Halfway Down
2. Esperanza Spalding - Junjo - The Peacocks (this track was my first exposure to her sound as a freshman jazz DJ at KWLC)
3. Esperanza Spalding - Junjo - Loro
4. Lionel Loueke - Mwaliko - Twins
5. Lionel Loueke - Mwaliko - Flying
6. Mike Stern - Big Neighborhood - Bird Blue
7. Christian Scott - Anthem - Litany Against Fear
8. Esperanza Spalding - Esperanza - Mela
9. Esperanza Spalding - Esperanza - Espera