Vibes, Good Better Best
Let me introduce you to my ten-year-old. “Good Vibes,” my radio show, features the vibraphone, an instrument I became enchanted with the first time I heard it. And all these years later it still captivates me.
Someone very special is going to sign in here to explain the instrument and its history. (Check out Tony Miceli in my blog) Briefly, though, Lionel Hampton and Red Norvo introduced it to jazz in the 1930s. Hampton had been a drummer and Norvo (real name Kenneth Norville) had been experimenting with mallet instruments of all kinds, the xylophone and the marimba, for example. To really love the sound, though, all you have to do is listen to it, which you can do at www.wwfm.org (follow the JazzOn2 prompt). If you are local to central New Jersey and have an HD radio it’s WWFM, Jazz On 2, 89.1 HD2. In either case, tune in on the first Sunday of the month at 8pm eastern time. The show is rebroadcast the following Wednesday afternoon, 4pm eastern.
In those two hours I also include a half hour of “Where Jazz Goes,” playing tunes that were not born as jazz but ones you may recognize from rock, R&B, Motown, country, and even classical genres. Listen to how talented jazz artists have adapted non-jazz to the jazz style.
December 2019 Good Vibes
The December show has aired but it’s still in rotation for a rebroadcast on Wednesday, Dec 4 at 4:00p. You can still catch it at wwfm.org. It opens with a burner from MCcoy Tyner and Bobby Hutcherson, cools down with Cal Tjader’s “Black Orchid,” played by the Kevin Hart Latin Jazz Quintet, and picks up the pace again with Arturo Serra’s “The Sealer,” from Nebulosa. I’m playing a track from Dave Stryker’s new Eight Track Christmas every half hour. Teddy Charles, Steve Hobbs, Matthias Lupri and David Friedman pitch in, (pun intended), as do Joel Ross, and Dave Samuels. In that order. That’s just the first hour. The second, Where Jazz Goes, opens with a new group from Sweden that recorded Phil Collins’ “Another Day in Paradise.” Amidst the holiday merriment the Collins tune about homelessness is from the album is Four Wheel Drive. There’s so much more. Two ballads, “Blue Sojourn” by Behn Gillece, should touch your heart. The second is the show closer, “Everything Must Change,” played by Jay Hoggard and written by Benard Eghner. As always, IMHO, an eclectic variety of the very best of the vibraphone.
November 2019 Good Vibes
Putting a radio show together turns out not to be so simple.
There’s the tempo of each tune to consider, like the fast
paced “Yardbird Suite” (Gibbs) and “Alice’s Journey,”
(Gillece) and the slow pace of “Stargazer” (Fisher) and
“Dusk, ” (Rossy). Mid-tempo tunes like “My One and
Only,” (Redd) and “Frankie and Johnny” (Wolf) help weave everything together. There should be variety among the composers. Jazz icons like Ellington and Charlie Parker share a spotlight with the newer kids in the flock, (Mancini). Classic tunes want to blend with contemporary and the timing has to come down literally to the second. In a two-hour no-commercial program, it’s easiest to divide by four and put each quarter together. There are 26 minutes of music per quarter, usually five songs. Depending on their length, however, there could be six or four. Allow three and a half minutes for announcements, including station ID at certain intervals. That adds up to the required 59 minutes per hour. In a show like mine that features a specific instrument, I have to consider over a hundred vibraphone players and how often I play their music. Some are more prolific, others who record less have less to play so the distribution of airtime may seem lopsided. Something else to keep in mind are the combos themselves. Have I played a big band (Dany Doriz), a solo record, a quartet, duo, vocal (Tierney Sutton) and are they equally distributed, not solo against solo? Lastly, there is personal taste. What I choose to play must be melodic. It you can’t tap your feet, the music’s too offbeat.
November 3, 8-10p eastern
November 6, 4-8p eastern wwfm.org,, click on jazzon2
October 2019 Good Vibes
First, a welcome to Kevin Norton, a native New Yorker, who is new to Good Vibes. Much of his work seems experimental but a track on his new album, Yimba Rudo, caught my ear. It's "Winter Retreat" (we'll be there before we know it). It's moody, icy and atmospheric.
Joe Locke plays from an old album and Terry Gibbs from his newest and maybe, he says, last. (Happy Birthday, Terry!) Tony Miceli plays on bassist Nicholas Krolak’s first release, then Tony comes back for a solo from Invitation. Jerry Tachoir bemoans the "Elect 'Oral' Blues," (just the beginning, my friends) and Behn Gillece dedicates a tune to bossa nova pioneer Roberto Menescal, who also celebrates his birthday in October. It’s on Behn’s Parallel Universe. Stefon Harris plays vibes on Dave Stryker's "After the Dance," as well as a Stevie Wonder tune with the SF Jazz Collective. David Friedman shares a track from his newest, Flight, and the Jazz Passengers (with Bill Ware) reprise "Imitation of a Kiss," to commemorate October as Domestic Violence Awareness Day. The lyrics, sung by Deborah Harry, are stunningly real. If you know someone in this situation the national hotline to share is: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
I learned something about Maracatu, the northwestern Brazilian drumming groups for which Joe Chambers wrote “Samba de Maracatu” that appears on his Landscapes. One parade group might include up to 100 drummers (imagine it!), singers with a chorus, dancers, costumed characters representing the area’s African and European roots. Something to put on the bucket list.
And more. Enjoy the show!
October 6, 8-10p eastern, www.wwfm.org. Click on jazzon2.
October 9, 4-6p eastern
September 2019 Good Vibes
September’s Good Vibes boasts another vibes-packed
playlist. I may not be celebrating a wedding, but I've
included something old ("Black Orchid" by Cal Tjader),
something new (Lucky To Be Me from David
Friedman's newest "Flight"), something borrowed
(five tunes borrowed from rock hit lists), and something
blue ("Samba D'Blue" with Steve Nelson).
Roy Ayers is on hand to celebrate his September birthday, Terry Gibbs pays homage to Lionel Hampton, both Hamp and Red show up to celebrate vibraphone beginnings, and Tony plays his tender solo of "Tennessee Waltz." What more could you ask for?
Many more. Like Mike Freeman and Zonavibe, Ed Saindon and Kenny Werner with an extended version of “Invitation,” Eddie Costa, Milt Jackson, Bill Ware, Stefon Harris & Blackout, and Bobby Hutcherson. Welcome to vibes heaven!
September 1, 8-10p eastern, www.wwfm.org. Click on jazzon2.
September 4, 4-6p eastern
August 2019 Good Vibes
Cool off with some hot vibraphone jazz as Good Vibes, August Edition, racks 'em up for you. The line-up is stellar, as always, with legend Milt Jackson, established names (for good reason) like Steve Nelson, Stefon Harris, Joe Locke and Tony Miceli, and the new man in town, Joel Ross. Lots more!
There's always a good mix of standards, like those written by Mulgrew Miller, Lennie Tristano, Sidney Bechet, Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard and Dizzy Gillespie, and more contemporary tunes by songwriters/vibraphonists Bill Ware and Behn Gillece. Then there's the half hour following Where Jazz Goes. This month it's the disco-born "Street Life," Paul Simon, Lennon/McCartney, and the groups A-Ha and Steely Dan. So much good music and so many things to learn about it. Did you know that Joe Sample, pianist, composer and founding member of the Jazz Crusaders, wrote "Street Life," a top 40 hit in the US and a Top 20 Billboard in the UK? Will Jennings, who wrote lyrics to Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven," also write the lyrics to "Street Life."
July 2019 Good Vibes
In July, there are a few albums I recently acquired
that I’m continuing to explore; Anthony Smith’s
double set, Songs from a Lighter Planet; Dinah
Sings Some Blues with Red (Norvo); Dave Stryker’s Eight
Track III with Stefon Harris; and Tyler Blanton’s
Sense of Place. Also, The Sequel with Mulgrew
Miller and Steve Nelson. Gary Burton has a set
of his own from Like Minds, Reunion and Libertango. Jerry Tachoir celebrates George Shearing and Anita O’Day, with Larry Bunker, pays homage to Billie Holliday. New young lions include Joel Ross, Ethan Fisher and Smith Dobson. Joni Mitchell performs a Mingus tune. Then there’s our old friends Karl Berger, Joe Locke, Arthur Lipner and Tom Collier. So much to like! Airing July 7, 2019, Sunday, 6-8 p eastern, www.wwfm.org and again on July 10, 2019, Wednesday, 4-6p eastern, same place. Local (NJ) HD2 radio 89.1. BTW, Anthony and Retrosonik are on the featured page this month.
June 2019 Good Vibes
Sunday 2nd, 8p eastern, Weds 5th, 4pm eastern
I finally was able to get a copy of a an album I've kept my eye on for years. At first it was not available on CD. Then when it finally was, it was too expensive (almost $200 new). So I broke down and bought a used copy, something I've never done before. It was a reasonable price (under $20) and it turned out to be perfectly fine. The CD I'm writing about is Dinah Shore Sings Some Blues With Red. You'll hear the first track in June's show. I'll also play Lionel Hampton's and Curley Hamner's "Hey, Ba-Ba-Re-Bop. Marv Goldberg, at his website uncamarv.com, gives a dissertation length analysis of this song and the often conflated "Open the Door, Richard," written a year later. Check it out if you want to take that deep dive with him.
May 2019 Good Vibes
Sunday 5th, 8p eastern, Weds 8th, 4p eastern
Happy Birthday, Good Vibes! We're beginning our 10th year! And they (or someone) said it couldn't be done. A program featuring the vibraphone would become boring, and there would there not be enough content to continue for very long. As it happens, neither one is true. The program continues to showcase fresh and exciting young players - Joel Ross in this month's edition - and new compositions (tomorrow's standards) like Tyler Blanton's "Oaty" blended with the classics we all know and love. Ted Piltzecker takes things up a notch when he combines his music with one of Langston Hughes' best known poems, "What Happens To A Dream Deferred?" with vocals by Taylor Burgess. Check it out!
April 2019 Good Vibes
Sunday 7th, 8p eastern, Weds10th, 4p eastern
April is Jazz Appreciation Month, appropriately abbreviated JAM – and was started in 2001 by John Edward Hasse, PhD, curator of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History – that’s where the legendary Ella’s archives are stored – and initially funded by the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation. There are lots of ways to celebrate and I talk about some of them on April's Good Vibes.
We're honoring the month by listening to some new albums, Behn Gillece (Parallel Universe), Tony Miceli (Invitation), Ted Piltzecker (Brindica), Joe Locke (Subtle Disguise) and Mike Freeman (Venetian Blinds). And some old ones as well, by Hendrik Meurkens, Bill Ware, Steve Nelson and Chuck Redd. One of those oldies is the Klenner/Lewis standard "Just Friends" played by Lem Winchester. I became aware of a Little Rascals episode ("Mush and Milk") where five-year-old Tommy, played by Tommy Bonds, was asked to sing the sophisticated tune for his class. It's a classic in its own right. Check it out on YouTube.
March 2019 Good Vibes
Sunday 3rd, 8p eastern, Wednesday 6th, 4p eastern
Sometimes for no apparent reason a show comes out as fast-paced, or slow. Maybe it's just my mood when I edit the show. March, like the month itself, happens to have a breezy feel, the tone set by Arthur Lipner who opens with "Street Vibes." With a few exceptions, (funky "Penny for A Pound" by Nick Mancini, and Dave Pike's "Middle Earth Herd"), feel free to chill out with lodestars Cal Tjader and Milt Jackson, contemporary geniuses Joe Locke, Steve Shapiro, Steve Nelson and Tony Miceli, and up-and-comers Ethan Fisher and Joe Doubleday. Where Jazz Goes features a Hank Williams tune, Sting, the McCartneys and more.
February 2019 Good Vibes
Sunday 3rd, 8p eastern, Wednesday 6th, 4p eastern
Includes recordings by four jazz legends, Gary Burton, Astor Piazzolla, Terry Gibbs and Bobby Hutcherson and generous servings of contemporary giants like Joe Locke, Bill Ware and Arthur Lipner. Helping me follow Where Jazz Goes - Bill Frisell, Stefon Harris, Don Braden and Kevin Mahogany. Tune in, turn on, chill out.