Blue Dimensions A11: In this hour of Blue Dimensions, we'll play several songs from a stunning new album by Habib Koité and Eric Bibb. The Malian guitarist and American bluesman make music that seeps into the soul on their album together called Brothers in Bamako, an album that almost seems designed to try to heal the hurts that the West African nation of Mali has been undergoing in civil war. We will also hear the two of them in other settings, from their own albums before this one, and Eric Bibb as a guest on Cuban guitarist Manuel Galbán's final album Blue Cha Cha. Plus: new jazz from Chicago, with sax player Ernest Dawkins, and two cornet players, Rob Mazurek and Josh Berman, bringing jazz's oldest instrument into new territory.
Blue Dimensions A11: In this hour of Blue Dimensions, a holiday show, including new music from sax player and band leader Will Scruggs and his Will Scruggs Jazz Fellowship. Their new album is called Song Of Simeon: A Christmas Journey, and we'll hear several tracks from it. We also have holiday music from pianists Jay McShann and Ramsey Lewis, and a special greeting and song recorded in 1950 from Little Esther and the Johnny Otis Orchestra with Mel Walker. We'll hear from Frosty The Bluesman, aka Michael Powers, who draws on many musical styles and we've got "Blue Christmas" without Elvis, or any singer actually - - and also, the sacred steel family band, The Campbell Brothers will be roasting some chestnuts on an open fire, in this hour of Blue Dimensions.
Blue Dimensions A11:
In this hour of Blue Dimensions, it's the music of the late Dave Brubeck, who died on December 5th a day before his 92nd birthday. Brubeck was an innovator who broke the rules - rules that all pieces must be in 3/4 or 4/4 time, rules that you had to play some standards on an album, not just original music, and rules that your band was to be all black or all white. Brubeck quietly but resolutely rejected these constraints and in the process recorded the first million-selling jazz album, his classic album Time Out, in 1959. We'll play an enduring Brubeck original from that album as well as visiting several other stellar Brubeck albums - - and we'll hear his music interpreted in an orchestral setting by his son Chris Brubeck with the London Symphony Orchestra, plus a song he made famous, re-cast by pianist and singer Aziza Mustafa Zadeh - - a Brubeck hour, in this hour of Blue Dimensions.
Blue Dimensions A10:
In this hour of Blue Dimensions, we remember Mickey Baker. Baker passed away November 27th in France, where he has been living since the 1960s. Baker is remembered for the Mickey & Sylvia hit "Love Is Strange," but he was no one-hit wonder, making many excellent recordings under his own name, and also offering signature guitar work to hits by artists such as Ruth Brown, Louis Jordan, and Big Maybelle, just to name a few. We'll play some of those records, and some of his more far-reaching works, such as a civil rights song, written by J. B. Lenoir, on which he not only sang and played guitar but also wrote the haunting string arrangements. Also - - new music from flute player Andrea Brachfeld, an album called Lady Of The Island, and the blues on steroids from Rahsaan Roland Kirk, recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1968.
Blue Dimensions A09:
A new box set They Played For Us from Arhoolie Records offers a celebration of the label's half-century with concert recordings - - we'll tap into the unparalleled energy of the Campbell Brothers, a sacred steel band featuring both pedal steel and lap steel guitars, and we'll hear Taj Mahal at the piano, as well as the Treme Brass Band from New Orleans, all in concert in February 2011 to mark the unique label's contribution to blues, jazz, and folk music. We'll also hear the 1939 field recording that gave Arhoolie Records its name, and check out Texas bluesman Mance Lipscomb from the very first Arhoolie album in 1960. Also new jazz from trumpeter Takuya Kuroda, an album called Six Aces, and we'll slip in some Coltrane too.
Blue Dimensions A08:
A tribute to Memphis Minnie. Lizzie Douglas, better-known as Memphis Minnie, was one of the greatest blues artists ever, and was an original inductee into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame when it was created in 1980. A new tribute album First Came Memphis Minnie includes some of her songs by Koko Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Ruthie Foster and others. We'll hear some of them, plus one from her grand-niece Bonnie McCoy, and a few from Memphis Minnie herself, as well as a new version of one of her best songs from blues singer Willie Buck. Also, jazz with African flavors, including South Africa's Abdullah Ibrahim, Philadelphia's Robert Kenyatta, and the great jazz guitarist from Benin, Lionel Loueke.
Blue Dimensions A07:
It's a Coryell celebration - - and every cut will have a Coryell connection. We'll hear music from guitarist Larry Coryell from several points in his career, including his debut on a Chico Hamilton album in 1966, and an scintillating blues piece from 1979 with two other guitar masters, John Scofield and Joe Beck, as well as a live recording of the Larry Coryell Power Trio in Chicago from 2003, and a duet with Brazilian musician Badi Assad. We'll also hear from Coryell's longtime friend Bob Wolfman, a new album called Transition that he produced, and also plays on. Also, we'll play a couple of songs from Larry Coryell's son Murali Coryell, a bluesman with a new release called Murali Coryell Live in this "Coryell connection" hour of Blue Dimensions.
Blue Dimensions A06:
New music from piano sensation Hiromi Uehara. Hiromi's new album Move with her Trio Project, Anthony Jackson on bass and Simon Phillips on drums, is another exciting exploration of places where very few players could go. Although it isn't out yet here in the United States, we're not going to wait for that to happen. We'll play several tracks from it in the coming hour. Also drummer Ralph Peterson's latest album The Duality Perspective includes work with a sextet and a fo'tet - - his word for his quartet of three young players and himself. The sextet includes Tia Fuller on saxophones and Sean Jones on trumpet. We'll take on the duality by hearing from both groups - - and B. B. King - - not known for playing traditional country blues did record smart updates of some old country blues four decades ago. We'll hear them, from two different box sets, and the original versions, from Muddy Waters, Robert Petway, and Blind Lemon Jefferson all in this hour of Blue Dimensions.
Blue Dimensions A05: it's a "vibe vibe." Every piece played will feature a vibraphone. We'll spotlight two recent vibraphone albums, Hot House from Chick Corea and Gary Burton, and Ninety Miles Live At Cubadisco from Stefon Harris, David Sanchez, and Christian Scott. The vibraphone, invented in 1921 and updated six years later into the general form it still has today, is a relative newcomer among musical instruments, and there are far fewer noted vibraphone players than sax players, trumpeters, trombonists, etc. In addition to the recent recordings featuring vibraphonists Gary Burton and Stefon Harris, we'll play some older recordings, from greats of the past such as Lionel Hampton and Milt Jackson, plus other talented mallet-wielders such as Bobby Hutcherson and Joe Chambers. It's good vibrations from the vibraphone in this hour of Blue Dimensions.
Blue Dimensions A04: A look at one of the greatest blues players of all, Big Bill Broonzy, with his biographer Bob Riesman, and harmonica player Billy Boy Arnold who has recorded a Broonzy tribute album (for which Riesman wrote liner notes). Broonzy was a trailblazer for blues artists who wanted to move to Chicago; he helped them set up and find gigs, and got them acclimated to the culture of Chicago. He played at the groundbreaking From Spirituals To Swing concert in 1938 at Carnegie Hall in New York, and was a major early player in the folk revival too. We'll hear portions of a presentation Riesman and Arnold recently held in New York to announce the publication of the paperback edition of Riesman's biography of Broonzy, I Feel So Good The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy. Also: a new box set from B. B. King, Ladies & Gentlemen... Mr. B. B. King, which includes a classic Broonzy song and showcases the length and depth of King's career. Plus: Ninety Miles Live with Stefon Harris, David Sanchez, and Christian Scott recorded in Cuba at the festival Cubadisco in 2010 (before their studio version of Ninety Miles Live came out), and Thelonious Monk through the lens of Chick Corea and Gary Burton on their new album Hot House.
Blue Dimensions A03: New music from Ernest Ranglin. Ranglin, one of the players who created the pre-reggae style known as ska, has a new album out with a young multi-national group called Avila. The album includes originals from Ranglin and other band members, plus distinctive covers, including a new take on South Africa's unofficial anti-apartheid anthem. At 80, Ranglin remains a unique guitarist with a signature sense of melody and rhythm. Also: a sparkling new project from longtime collaborators Chick Corea and Gary Burton, called Hot House, and sax player J. D. Allen's new album, The Matador And The Bull, that somehow includes a piece with a Chinese title - - and not one that refers to his bullfighting theme. Plus: Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band Live In Hollywood, a spirited concert performance that finds him playing the blues as well as "Afro Blue."
Blue Dimensions A02: We have a new album from Brad Mehldau and his trio, their second album in 2012, featuring some wide variety, including a Sonny Rollins favorite, which we will also hear from Miles Davis, with Rollins in the band. We have new blues from extraordinary blues harmonica player Sugar Blue, a strong live double CD called Raw Sugar, and from John Lee Hooker, Jr. who plays the blues quite differently than his famous father did. His new album is called All Hooked Up. We also have a new piece from guitarist Lee Ritenour, and a song from the late great singer Irene Reid who died in 2008 from a new compilation of some of her best work; also, "Iko Iko" - a great new version, and the first recording of it from 1953 by Sugar Boy Crawford who died last month at age 77.
Blue Dimensions A01: We'll open the new album 33 1/3 from Shemekia Copeland. Shemekia Copeland is singing more forcefully than ever, and the songs she chooses are not standard fare either; they're pretty strong stuff, dealing with treacherous politics and physical abuse, among other topics. Copeland's father, the late bluesman Johnny Copeland, was her initial influence, and she sings one of his songs on this album. We'll play that one, and we'll hear from him too - - both a song and a bit of conversation from 1992. Family also figures prominently in some more of the music on this program. Sax player Tia Fuller, who started out in a family band cleverly called Fuller Sound, works with her sister, pianist Shamie Royston, on her new album Angelic Warrior; and trumpeter Woody Shaw's son, also named Woody, has produced a reissue album of his father's music called Woody Plays Woody - plus a new song about coffee (finally!) from The Uptown Vocal jazz Quartet.
Host Jonny Meister has been playing the blues on WXPN since March 1977. Meister grew up with old blues records in the house. His father played boogie woogie on the piano, which Jonny learned at about the age of 12. Later he played in rock bands and did a few solo gigs as a singer-songwriter. His interest in blues grew and he became especially interested in the history of the music, a history not always revealed by the rock musicians who drew heavily on the blues and their promoters.
Jonny spent a week with the family of the late, great blues musician J. B. Lenoir in 1979, and he was one of the consultants for the Wim Wenders film The Soul Of A Man which featured Lenoir, in the recent PBS film series The Blues. He won the "Keeping The Blues Alive" award for work in Public Radio for The Blues Show in 2000 and a "Best of Philly" award from Philadelphia Magazine in 1996 for "Best Local Radio Show".