WBGO Blog
  • 5 Musicians Pick Their Favorite Herbie Hancock Recordings

    August 9, 2016. Posted by Simon Rentner.

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    Herbie Hancock. (Image Credit: Douglas Kirkland/Courtesy of the artist)

    When you talk to jazz aficionados, you often hear about a ground zero, a Eureka moment of musical awakening that opens up the bounty of the music. For some of us (myself included), that moment was hearing Herbie Hancock for the first time.

    Perhaps that's because Hancock, more than most artists, is never afraid to explore the musical zeitgeist — from hard bop to jazz-rock, funk, hip-hop and beyond. He's recorded music over many decades (since 1962, to be exact) and has a deep repertoire to draw on, as he mentioned in a recent conversation. But that doesn't deter him from constantly searching for something new. "Possibilities" is one of his mantras, and the name of his recent memoir.

    At age 76, Hancock is ready to pen the next chapter, this time inked with some of the innovators of today: Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Jacob Collier, Terrace Martin and Robert Glasper, among others. Some of those artists will join Hancock in an outdoor concert in Brooklyn this Thursday, Aug. 11. NPR Music, Jazz Night In America, and The Checkout from WBGO will be there to capture it for later broadcast.

    As we gear up for the concert, I asked some of Hancock's newest musical allies, closest old friends and admirers from afar to share their favorite Herbie Hancock music from over the years.

    Copyright 2016 Newark Public Radio. To see more, visit Newark Public Radio.

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  • The Eminence Of J.J. Johnson, And His Partnership With Kai Winding

    August 5, 2016

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    Cover art to The Great Kai and J.J., 1960. (Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist)

    The trombone virtuoso J.J. Johnson was among the first to adapt the challenge laid down by bebop saxophonists and trumpeters to his more ungainly instrument. Among the recordings he left as evidence was a series of albums partnering with fellow trombonist Kai Winding. In a concert at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra trombonist Vincent Gardner recently took on that "Jay and Kai" repertoire, joined by sectionmate Elliot Mason, other members of the JLCO and special guests.

    Jazz Night in America hears the music of J.J. Johnson, as heard through Vincent Gardner, and pulls back the curtain on the trombone pioneer with biographer Joshua Berrett and widow Carolyn Johnson.

    Copyright 2016 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Herbie Hancock On His Next Album, Flying Lotus And Jupiter's Satellite

    August 4, 2016. Posted by Simon Rentner.

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    Herbie Hancock premieres a new band lineup in concert Aug. 11 in Brooklyn. (Image Credit: Douglas Kirkland/Courtesy of the artist)

    The pianist, composer and music ambassador Herbie Hancock is working on new music with a new band, and he's about to present the first taste of it in live performance.

    Next Thursday, Aug. 11, Hancock brings a new lineup to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., for an outdoor concert. (He's to be joined by Terrace Martin on saxophone and keyboards, Lionel Loueke on guitar, James Genus on bass and Trevor Lawrence Jr. on drums.) Hancock says he expects to play some ideas that he's been working on for a new record, which he's hoping to release next year. NPR Music and WBGO will record and film the show for a later broadcast on Jazz Night In America.

    In advance of that concert, Simon Rentner, who hosts a program called The Checkout on WBGO, sat down to interview Hancock. Their conversation touched upon the connection between Flying Lotus and Miles Davis, some special guests on the forthcoming album and what he's doing with NASA. Here's an excerpted transcript of their conversation, which you can hear in full via WBGO. Rentner started by playing an excerpt of an interview with Flying Lotus.

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  • Randy Weston At 90

    July 1, 2016

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    Randy Weston. (Image Credit: NPR)

    The eminent pianist Randy Weston turned 90 this year, and he enjoyed an early celebration at the 2016 Panama Jazz Festival, where he was the guest of honor. Weston, whose father was born in Panama, has long celebrated his African roots in his life and music. His career spans the better part of 70 years.

    Jazz Night in America listens to the Randy Weston quintet at the 2016 Panama Jazz Festival. Host Christian McBride also traveled to Weston's home to talk about the set in Panama, meeting Thelonious Monk and growing up in Brooklyn.

    Copyright 2016 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • The Ray Charles Songbook

    July 1, 2016

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    Ray Charles and Marian McPartland. (Image Credit: Courtesy of Vanguard)

    At age 21, trumpeter Kenny Rampton (now of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra) launched his touring career with a nine-month stint in Ray Charles' band. Earlier this year, Rampton honored his former bandleader by presenting the most authentic Ray Charles experience possible. The band was full of Ray Charles alumni (including backing vocalists The Raelettes), the set lists were faithful recreations of actual Ray Charles sets, and the charts were transcribed from the original tour music.

    Jazz Night In America checks out Rampton and the band as they present The Ray Charles Songbook, live in concert from Jazz at Lincoln Center.

    Copyright 2016 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.