Thursday, May 1, 2014

Live jazz from New Orleans

When Berthold Reimers announced that he was adding a gospel music program to WBAI's schedule, some of you were delighted. The program, we were told, was a Sunday morning church hop. How wonderful, live, soulful music from some of our area's many black churches.

Well, what did we get? A bad DJ show with pseudo gospel, pop, and biblical blather.

Now, Reimers is bringing jazz to WBAI, live from the cradle! The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.... on WBAI!

Will someone please hand me that large bowl of crow? 
When I posted that you should not expect to hear jazz, I based it upon the acts originally listed, but I am pleased to now telling you that what has been broadcast, so far, is indeed what one should expect to hear at a New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. 

I don't know why they posted the pop music menu, but we should all be happy that it was misinformation. It is not often that WBAI gets it right nowadays, but this one such time. At least 45 minutes into it, but there are technical problems over which I should—in all fairness—add, WBAI has no control. I'll keep listening and post more on this as it progresses

Having now listened to both days of this N.O. feed, I feel that it went very well and contained much good music. I don't wear one, but my virtual hat is off to whoever suggested that WBAI carry this.

Traditional New Orleans jazz has always formed a big part of my listening habit and the most memorable experience I had as a record producer was two weeks spent recording in New Orleans 53 years ago. Amazingly, 13 albums came out of that trip, all made in a 19th-century fraternity hall on North Robertson Street. Here is one of the results:


  1. Hey Chris...I enjoyed that YouTube posting very much -- wonderfully expressive playing. You did a fantastic job on that -- such a clean expansive sounding recording -- so analog! You've had a great career -- you should be very proud of being a part of this and your other work. Say, could you give some specifics on how you recorded this group -- the recording deck, mics, set-up, etc.? :)


    1. Thanks, rj.

      I didn't do the recording myself, I had with me from NYC Dave Jones, a terrific audio engineer who loved the N.O. music. He also recorded The Bill Evans Trio at the Village Vanguard, which is a celebrated release, using the same equipment. There were a couple of two-track Ampex decks, suspended on Dave's custom made metal frames with springs. As I recall, the microphones were Neuman or Telefunken, more likely the latter, and we used no more than two. I don't recall there being a mixing board. Had I not so completely trusted Dave's judgement, I probably would have paid more attention to details.

      I did the editing back in New York, not that much was required—mainly sequencing.

      I chose this old hall for three reasons: 1) The musicians had played there often, so it was a familiar environment; 2) The acoustics were good; 3) There was a possibility that I might include a couple of white musicians. Sounds incredible, but N.O. was still in many ways segregated in 1961. Taxicabs, studios, restaurants, and even the musicians' union (there was a black one and a white one—I don't know what Asians did!

      In September of '61, I made a follow-up recording trip to Chicago, but Riverside Records gave me the engineers from hell...and they were't very fond of the music!

    2. Thanks for that background info, Chris -- very interesting!


  2. This is some seriously fabulously wonderful shit :)

    ~ 'indigo'

  3. Chris--Wow! Now I really wish that I had heard the station when you were in charge. (I was a toddler then and let's just say I wasn't living in the most progressive of communities!)

    That said, I agree that the New Orleans program was very enjoyable. No thanks to Berthold, Michael G, Gary or Christine, of course.

    One more thing: I used to have a lot of respect for Amy Goodman as a reporter. I still prefer her to just about anyone in the mainstream media. But something bothers me about her now. Maybe it's that now I know a bit about how disingenuous she can be. That said, I'd still rather hear her than Michael G or Gary.