Tours of duty

By JON GARELICK  |  May 18, 2009

But then there will be an extraordinary performance by Jason Moran's Bandwagon trio, sustained and held through interview sequences and then allowed to stand alone and resolve. Or Harrison, banging a parade rhythm on a plastic bucket and chanting a Mardi Gras Indian verse as he rebuilds the interior of his house in New Orleans. Or the daKah Hip-Hop Orchestra from LA (playing as a chamber ensemble at the Middle East this weekend as part of an Icons tour) combining rap and jazz. Or the kind of surprising, quiet, candid moments with someone like Payton. Wynton's here, and so are Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, but this is a film where the old-timers are Medeski, Martin and Wood, and the Bad Plus represent the mainstream. With all its flaws, Icons Among Us is everything Jazz wasn't — and that's plenty.

These are sad times for jazz radio in Boston. WGBH has announced that following the departure of long-time Jazz Gallery host Ron Gill at the end of this month, it will replace its long-running weekend jazz program with the syndicated weekday feature Jazz with Bob Parlocha. Meanwhile, closer to home, WFNX's Sunday-morning Jazz Brunch, a fixture at the station (which is owned by the Phoenix Media/Communications Group) for 26 years, has been cancelled.

It's not surprising that in a down economy, a commercial all-rock station would cancel its lone jazz show. Host Jeff Turton, who has contributed his weekly "Top 5" to this column, was typically philosophical in an e-mail exchange. "I am disappointed that the show is no longer happening but I'm also blessed to have had 26 years at FNX, so I certainly appreciate having had the opportunity. It's rare in the radio business to have that kind of longevity. I also know I had a great audience. The FNX audience is as good as it gets in radio. I would like to think that over the years I changed people's perceptions as to what jazz radio had to sound like, and I would hope I made it accessible to a much larger and diverse audience. Not sure where I'll be next, but I guess I'll sleep in for a few weeks and see what happens."

"BASIC TRAINING" | Highland Kitchen, 150 Highland Ave, Somerville | May 24 at 11 pm | 617.625.1131 | ICONS AMONG US | Documentary Channel | Episode I-IV, May 27 and June 3 at 8 pm | | DAKAH HIP-HOP CHAMBER ORCHESTRA | Middle East downstairs, 480 Mass Ave, Cambridge | May 24 | $15 | 617.864.EAST or

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  Topics: Jazz , Ken Burns, University of Massachusetts Boston, Donald Harrison,  More more >
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