While there was much more conversation than usual on 89.1 from the 8th through the 11th of April during the spring on-air pledge drive, we did play some good music. We are pleased to report that the most played new recording for the week ending April 14th was the excellent regional Latin jazz CD Elemental by Aguankó. We hold the leader of Aguankó, conga-player Alberto Nacif in the highest regard. As the original host of Cuban Fantasy, Alberto established WEMU’s Latin jazz credibility, now sustained by Marc Taras every Saturday evening from 7 to 9PM.
WEMU listener favorite Harry Connick, Jr. was staff favorite from March 11th through the 17th.
Each week we track how many times we play a new CD. Between March 11th and the 17th, pianist and singer Harry Connick, Jr. claimed the top spot of our Sweet 16. We first premiered the disc on Mardi Gras 2013 (February 12th). The disc’s presence at the top of the list a month later is a testament to the authenticity of Harry Connick, Jr’s joyful New Orleans funk grooves.
One of the pleasures of working with the talented team of WEMU music hosts is discovering what the weekly consensus of the “most-played” recording will be. Each Sweet 16 list topper reveals another aspect of the WEMU variety. During the week of March 4th through the 10th, the most played recording was Ciudad De Los Reyes by Gabriel Alegría and his Afro-Peruvian Sextet.
WEMU wrapped up February and kicked off March with sixteen excellent choices for “our most played” category. “The Messenger” by guitarist Kevin Eubanks for Detroit’s Mack Avenue Records was at the top of the list where it deserves to be. Kevin came from a great jazz family in Philadelphia. From this essential foundation, Kevin Eubanks became one of Los Angeles’ in demand recording artists and the leader of The Tonight Show Band. After cooking in the cauldron of these experiences, Kevin Eubanks emerged with a strong individualistic sound on jazz guitar, borrowing liberally from the blues
José James is simply beyond category. No Beginning No End is a culmination of his career and life weaving threads of jazz, balladry, R&B, classic and neo-soul plus hip-hop into a sensual stream of consciousness.
What a way to celebrate the launch of a new label and a new concept in jazz! Pianist/composer/arranger Scott Gwinnell’s tribute to heart of Detroit –The Cass Corridor – was the most-played CD on WEMU from January 21st through the 27th. “The Cass Corridor Story” is also the first release on the new imprint from Mack Avenue Records, Detroit Music Factory. WEMU has been a strong supporter of Scott Gwinnell for years, so we knew to expect great things from him, but this heart-felt original music exceeded our expectations!
With their snaky rhythms, spooky harmonies and catchy licks, Brooklyn’s Menahan Street Band once again takes the top spot on WEMU’s “Sweet 16” for “The Crossing”. All of the time spent backing up R&B and soul sensation Charles Bradley has sparked a giant leap of creativity and risk-taking in this leading soul/jazz/funk band.
It is no surprise that "Elemental" the new CD by conguero/composer Alberto Nacif and his magnificent ensemble "Aguanko" topped WEMU's "Sweet Sixteen" from January 7th through the 13th. We will always support great regional talent along with international music figures, but Alberto Nacif means more to WEMU than just great regional talent: he is family. Today's "Cuban Fantasy" program on Saturdays at 7PM grew out of an interview that Alberto did with evening jazz host Michael G.
The first few weeks of a new year are rough on hosts of free-form music programs. The big year-end push is over, the holiday recordings are retired and fresh music is yet to arrive in the mail or come via download. Thankfully at WEMU, we were able to snag some strong new music in late November and early December of 2012 to keep us jamming in to 2013. One of of our most delightful discoveries was "The Crossing" by The Menahan Street Band". I wrote a long article on their associations and genesis last week, so for more information check out the previous post.
"The Crossing", the newest offering for The Menahan Street Band, is a two year journey in music. The outfit of multi-instrumentalists is the house band for Dunhan Records, a subsidiary of Daptone Records - the label that launched the careers of Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings as well as The Budos Band. The Menahan Street Band's star rose when their 2008 recording, "Make The Road By Walking" was sampled by hip-hop leaders Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Kid Cudi and more. In 2011 they backed funky soul sensation Charles Bradley on his highly acclaimed "No Time For Dreaming". 2012 Brought us "The Crossin
Between December 10th and the 16th, WEMU hosts played over 160 different new releases, so for one disc to rest atop that widely varied selection is indeed a rare honor. We are pleased to reveal that the leader of that week's "Sweet 16" was drummer Winard Harper and his magnificent group, The Jeli Posse.
When I opened the package containing "Everybody Ought To Treat A Stranger Right" by pianist, singer and guitarist Julian Fauth, I knew that WEMU hosts would be happy to find this in the library. His 2005 CD, "Songs Of Vice And Sorrow" was a host and listener favorite even though Julian was then a relatively young and unknown performer. When I put the 2012 sound of Julian Fauth into the player, I was fully convinced. This disc is tailor-made for WEMU.
A week after their Magic Bag Theater show, WEMU hosts continued to feature the timely and topical CD "Not Getting Behind Is The New Getting Ahead" by 7-string guitarist Charlie Hunter and drummer Scott Amendola. Both musicians are based in San Francisco and have been improvising partners for over 20 years. Neither has permitted their long association to allow them to slip in to cliches, reliable patterns or tawdry tricks. Rather, the two are stretching the definition of the jazz - jam band sound to include their duets and creative compositions. In WEMU's quest to identify the best new