Jazz On The
Web: 'The Connection' offers a banquet of jazz talk.
I spent four of the happiest
years of my life in Boston, the premiere city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts here in
the United States. They were college days for me, and I lurked in the entryways of
nightclubs, co-founded a blues band that subsidized my tuition, fell in love a dozen
times, got married, read mountains of great Shakespeare and Thoreau, wrote reams of term
papers and hooked into the peculiar rhythms of that unique and fascinating city.
Because Boston is Boston and something of an incubator in the history my country (and,
therefore, its music), it stands to reason that I return to it, not only for a memory of
some of the signal events of my life, but also for ruminative material when I wax pensive.
I lived in Cambridge, home of Harvard University, my alma mater. Across the Charles River
in the city proper, is Kenmore Square, home of Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox; a
casual girlfriend from Amsterdam, N.Y.; a bustling club once known as K-K-K-Katie's; and
And Boston University is the home of WBUR-FM, 90.9 on your radio dial, if you're within
reception distance of New England. The station also is the residence of "The
Connection," a discussion show that has for me a unique Bostonian flavor -- as
eclectic as it is enlightening.
On the Internet, "The Connection" is most quickly found at www.theconnection.org
and it offers an array of interesting topics. I ran across it late one evening while doing
some web research for a story I was writing and stumbled upon its fecund archives, which
contain a sizable number of topics relevant to jazz fans.
WBUR is a National Public Radio station and its home page, also full of other delights,
can be found at www.wbur.org .
But it was the jazz that interested me on the night in question, and the fact that the
discussions had emanated from my former turf made it all the more attractive to my
First up was "Miles Davis' Kind of Blue,'" a discussion that featured the author
Ashley Kahn, author of "'Kind of Blue': The Making of the Miles Davis
Masterpiece," about which I've written here before. [See "Miles Along The
Bookshelf" (week of May 28, 2001) in the SkyJazz Commentary Archives.]
Peppered with selections from that sine qua non of jazz albums, the program enchanted me,
so I dug deeper into the archives and discovered a lode of precious metal.
Here is a partial listing of some of the topics for the jazzer in all of us :
"Musicology"; "Making Lyrics Sing"; "Wynton Marsalis";
"The Blind Boys of Alabama"; "A Journey Through Jazz Piano";
"Whitney Balliett's Jazz"; "Ken Burns' 'Jazz'"; "Toots
Thielemans"; "Charles Mingus"; "Saxophonist James Carter";
"Soul Brothers: Jimmy McGriff and Hank Crawford"; "Wynton Marsalis On Louis
Armstrong"; "Ruby Braff On Louis Armstrong"; "Chucho Valdes"; and
"Cabaret with Bobby Short."
For weeks after, I'd spend an evening twice a week or so with discussions of Joe Williams,
Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole or Miles Evans, son of Gil, namesake of his daddy's best
friend and collaborator.
In brief, the archives of "The Connection" are a delight for jazz fans who
desire discussion of artists, music, theory and -- wow, just think of it -- a pretty
broad, though scattershot, primer for young people who are searching for what I like to
call "music with meat on it."
For me, "The Connection" has become a regular, though widely spaced, visit on
the web. My time is limited and the topics range far afield of music at times, though,
like all of my readers, I do have interests beyond the greatest of the arts.
And the fact that the interviewers know the topics under discussion, live on the banks of
the Charles and hear the rousing chorus of "Ten Thousand Men Of Harvard"
floating across the river each autumn after the Harvard-Yale game, gives it bit of extra
flavor for me, like adding saffron to a fine chili.
By the same token, there is the residual memory of the flavors of scrod, Boston baked
beans and Boston cream pie about it all, chased with a fine steaming cup of Irish coffee.
It's a fine way to spend an autumn evening. I'll meet you there.