WRVR Jazz New York – passing the torch


Maybe you can’t go home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find happiness in unexpected places. While not a secret, WBGO broadcasting out of Newark, NJ has expanded and enhanced its web presence over the past several years. WBGO’s programming is diverse and unique, and its connection to the greater New Jersey/New York community hearkens back to the mission of the original WRVR when it broadcast from Riverside Church.

Perhaps the most welcome surprise has been the on-air personalities at the station; they come from varied backgrounds, are knowledgeable about Jazz, R&B and Blues, and are genuinely enthusiastic about the music, its history, and promoting young artists who are keeping the sound alive. During a recent pledge drive, I heard a familiar voice, Bill Daughtry, announcing many of my old favorites that would have been on a typical WRVR playlist. Daughtry, who now lives in New Jersey, in his former assignments was heard on ESPN and WFAN sports radio in New York. He also hails from my hometown, the Four Square Miles, and these days can be heard on BGO’s Friday Afternoon Jazz With the Blues Hour, and Saturday Late Night Jazz programs.

Check out some of the bios, give the station a listen, and discover your own favorites.
WBGO radio hosts

Besides carrying the torch for America’s native art form, WBGO spreads the jazz influence with a calendar of musical events, including programs for children to cultivate appreciation of this musical gift in future generations. Scanning the articles and links on the ‘BGO website, I’m encouraged by the breadth of young artists that are featured.

The spirit of WRVR lives on at WBGO and the future of Jazz looks bright.


Redhead Record Review – Vol. 10

Our featured redhead is chef Pati Jinich of Pati’s Mexican Table on PBS.


Pati Jinich

Pati’s mission is to present the variety of Mexican and Mex-Americana culinary experiences to help dispel our misconceptions about Mexican food and culture. She also puts her unique regional Mexican spin on traditional American and Italian-American fare.

Pati’s Recipes

Speaking of varieties of American experience, the Italian-American influence on popular music has spanned and fused many styles and genres. When I think of the performers popular during my parents’ generation, I have childhood memories of Frank Sinatra, Jerry Vale, Connie Francis, Dean Martin, Sergio Franchi, Al Martino and Vikki Carr. All, including Sinatra, sang songs that most of my generation considered old fashioned and traditional. However, if you aspired to be a performer with style, humor and attitude, you looked to Louis Prima.

Prima, born December 7, 1910 in New Orleans, was influenced by the pioneering jazz influences of the time. He blended these early sounds and rhythms with elements of Italian songs and phrases to create a unique swinging style that was more bounce and boogie-woogie than Volare. I remember a song–I think I still have my mother’s old 78–entitled, Pleeza Don’t Squeeza the Banana, and another Louis Prima classic with the following lyrics, “Josefina, please no lean-a on the bell. When you moosh, please no poosh on the bell.” You won’t find either of these songs represented in this collection, but there is still plenty of toe-tapping and fun to be had with Prima, his talented sax sideman, Sam Butera and long-time partner and straight “man”, vocalist Keely Smith.

As a live performer, Prima was a force of nature. I regret that I never got to see him perform live, but there are plenty of great videos preserved on YouTube, and he is immortalized in Disney’s Jungle Book. Baloo channels Louis in his performance of I Wanna Be Like You. This short documentary chronicles the incredible detail that went into reproducing Prima’s funky dance moves and rhythms. * You may need to view in the YouTube site.

Louis and his band always seemed to be having fun, and this video features Sam Butera performing Coolin’. If it reminds you of your Uncle Tony hamming it up after Christmas Eve dinner, it’s probably not a coincidence.

Here’s the full playlist from the Capitol Collector’s Series. I’m sure you’ll recognize some of these jazz classics and tunes that have been covered by other artists. All recordings were re-mastered for this release.

Just A Gigolo
performed by Louis Prima

Oh, Marie
performed by Louis Prima

Buona Sera
performed by Louis Prima

Jump, Jive, An’ Wail
performed by Louis Prima

Basin Street Blues/When It’s Sleepy Time Down South
performed by Louis Prima

The Lip
performed by Louis Prima & Keely Smith

Whistle Stop
performed by Louis Prima

Five Months, Two Weeks, Two Days
performed by Louis Prima And The Witnesses

Banana Split For My Baby
performed by Louis Prima & Keely Smith & Sam Butera and The Witnesses

There’ll Be No Next Time
performed by Louis Prima & Sam Butera

When You’re Smiling/The Sheik Of Araby [feat. Keely Smith & Sam Butera and The Witnesses]
performed by Louis Prima

Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home
performed by Louis Prima & Keely Smith

I’ve Got The World On A String
performed by Louis Prima & Keely Smith & Sam Butera and The Witnesses

Pennies From Heaven
performed by Louis Prima

Angelina/Zooma Zooma (Medley/Live At The Casbar Theater, Las Vegas/1958/1991)
performed by Louis Prima

Beep! Beep!
performed by Louis Prima

Embraceable You/I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good (Medley/Live At The Casbar Theater, Las Vegas/1958/1990)
performed by Louis Prima & Keely Smith

Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing)
performed by Louis Prima & Sam Butera & The Witnesses

That Old Black Magic (Live At The Casbar Theatre, Las Vegas/1958/1991)
performed by Louis Prima & Keely Smith & Sam Butera and The Witnesses

The Music Goes ‘Round And Around
performed by Louis Prima

Hey, Boy! Hey, Girl!
performed by Louis Prima & Keely Smith

(Up A) Lazy River
performed by Louis Prima

I’ve Got You Under My Skin
performed by Louis Prima & Keely Smith

You’re Just In Love
performed by Louis Prima & Sam Butera & The Witnesses

Twist All Night
performed by Louis Prima & Sam Butera & The Witnesses

St. Louis Blues [feat. Sam Butera and The Witnesses]
performed by Louis Prima


Notes of a Native Son

In keeping my promise to myself, I recently re-read James Baldwin’s collection of essays, Notes of a Native Son. The introduction, by Edward P. Jones, provided new insight into what had been an instinctive reaction on my part, that being related to Baldwin’s detached, philosophical approach to the white power structure and its relationship with Black America. The title of the recent PBS documentary, I Am Not Your Negro, suggests an explanation of the author’s designed separation from the center of the conversation.

Jones observes, “The militant me asked, for example, why would Baldwin write at times as if he were not black but some observer, a guilty one, true, but still an observer. ‘Our dehumanization of the Negro then,’ “he says to me in Many Thousands Gone,” ‘is indivisible from dehumanization of ourselves: the loss of our own identity is the price we pay for our annulment of his.’

Driven by the emotional and personal subject matter explored by Baldwin in his essays, it would be forgivable, and even expected, for him to assume a defensive and accusatory tone toward his oppressors. Instead, he places the white distortion in stark relief against the realities of American society, at the same time rejecting its central fabrication, the Negro. The “Negro”, and the “Negro problem” are a creation of the white man, and, as such, exist in his own mind. They are not recognized by Baldwin, except as a reference point to further support his argument.

Listen to how differently the above passage would sound had Baldwin not separated himself from the central myth:

Your dehumanization of me and my people then, is indivisible from dehumanization of yourself: the loss of your own identity is the price you pay for your annulment of mine.

In contrast, much of Notes of a Native Son rings with a very personal tone. James as individual is quite willing to share his first person recollections and impressions of his childhood, segregation, relationship with his father, his father’s funeral, his approach to Christianity, and his frightening experience in a French jail cell. ” It was quite clear to me that the Frenchmen in whose hands I found myself were no better or worse than their American counterparts.”

Baldwin also provides his critique of popular culture in his review of Carmen Jones, the film adaptation of Carmen, criticizing the use of an all black cast as a contrivance where the characters lack depth and connection to their shared black experience. He further notes that the actors were selected for their lighter complexions.

Baldwin is most openly critical in his review of two other popular works of literature, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe and Native Son by Baldwin’s literary influence Richard Wright. While the stereotypical and dated characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin are easy targets, Baldwin’s stance on Wright’s main character, Bigger Thomas is eye-opening, to the point where several readers found his reaction extreme, mean-spirited, or in the case of Eldridge Cleever, even disingenuous. As a fan of both writers, I can understand Baldwin’s point of view, that the character of Bigger was overly violent, unsympathetic, and played to the black male stereotype of the times, without totally agreeing with it. However, even Baldwin had his limits:

“And there is, I should think, no Negro living in America who has not felt, briefly or for long periods, with anguish sharp or dull, in varying degrees and to varying effect, simple, naked and unanswerable hatred; who has not wanted to smash any white face he may encounter in a day, to violate, out of motives of the cruelest vengeance, their women, to break the bodies of all white people and bring them low, as low as that dust into which he himself has been and is being trampled; no Negro, finally, who has not had to make his own precarious adjustment to the “nigger” who surrounds him and to the “nigger” in himself.”

I am disappointed that James Baldwin’s influence and recognition as one of America’s greatest writers has faded, especially in the polarized environment that is 21st Century America. We need more contemplative and objective responses to balance the loose cannon, mindless Twitter blasts we are subjected to on a daily basis. Then again, respect and restraint have never been the hallmark of those in power.

james baldwin

Hip-Hop Politics

If you’re havin’ tweet problems I feel bad for you son,

I got 99 problems, and they start with Trump.

Biggie = Trump’s ego

Smalls = Donald’s hands


ODB – Placard on Kavanaugh’s desk, “Only Drink Beer,” and warning posted on his office wall, “Obnoxious Drinking Beer.”

and, while we’re on the subject…

Old Dirty Bastard(s) – Most of the good old white boys in Congress

aka, The Fat Boys – Getting and keeping fat on our tax money for guaranteed pensions and other entitlements

and, lest we forget, the Human Tweet Box


Q-Tip – Required, along with a hammer, whenever Trump speaks.


Tupac – What we had with Barack as President and Michelle as First Lady.


Note to Trump: Know the Ledge



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