WBGO Blog
  • In 'Latin American Songbook,' Edward Simon Rethinks The American Jazz Standard

    September 20, 2016. Posted by David Tallacksen.

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    In his new album, Latin American Songbook, jazz pianist Edward Simon offers a new take on some of his favorite Latin standards. (Image Credit: Scott Chernis/Courtesy of the artist)

    Many jazz pianists play tunes from the Great American Songbook, that beloved canon of standards from the early 20th century. But pianist Edward Simon has chosen to focus on another great collection of American standards for his newest album, Latin American Songbook.

    Growing up in Venezuela, near the northern edge of South America, was an advantage for Simon. His early listening encompassed music from the north — Cuba and Puerto Rico — and also extended southward to the music of Chile, Brazil and Argentina.

    When Simon set out to record Latin American Songbook, he realized that the collection couldn't possibly represent every country in the region — that was too vast a scope. Instead, he settled on Latin American songs that he simply loves to play.

    Besides growing up in the geographic center of Latin America, Simon came up in a musical household. The song "Volver" is a famous tango that his father sang as a bolero — so it's something of a family tradition for Simon to bring his own character to the song. His use of mixed meter gives "Volver" the mood of memory — the unreliability only adds to its loveliness.

    Simon wisely chooses standards that lend themselves to fresh harmonies and inventive arrangements. Even more essentially, without a singer on hand, he knows when to bring an extravagant lyricism to his piano lines, as in "Alfonsina Y El Mar."

    The combination of Latin standards and a jazz sensibility is always rich, but this recording really works because an expert musician applies himself so sincerely to songs that were formative for him. Simon puts his head and heart into Latin American Songbook, and the album gives Latin standards a rightful and joyful place at the center of instrumental jazz.

    Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

  • Robert Glasper Talks 'ArtScience,' The Latest From His Adventurous Jazz Crew

    September 10, 2016. Posted by David Tallacksen.

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    Robert Glasper's latest album with his group, The Robert Glasper Experiement, is called ArtScience. (Image Credit: Mathieu Bitton/Courtesy of the artist)

    Robert Glasper is always making music. Solo or with his quartet, the Robert Glasper Experiment, he's released 9 albums and collaborated with everyone from Herbie Hancock to Kendrick Lamar, investigating the sounds and rhythms of jazz and hip-hop in equal measure,

    The Robert Glasper Experiment includes Casey Benjamin on sax, Derrick Hodge on bass, and Mark Colenburg on drums — with occasional cameos on record from Glasper's young song Riley. Their new album is ArtScience, out next week, and Glasper joined NPR's Scott Simon to talk about it. Hear their conversation at the audio link.

    Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

  • Three Miles Ahead

    August 26, 2016

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    Don Cheadle stars as Miles Davis in the film Miles Ahead. (Image Credit: Sony Pictures Classics)

    It's been said Miles Davis is to jazz is like Hemingway is to the American novel, like Picasso is to art. But he was more than just a trumpeter — he was an icon of style and artistry.

    Jazz Night in America explores three interpretations of Miles Davis — on the silver screen, the page and on the bandstand. We speak with actor Don Cheadle, who directed, produced, wrote and starred in Miles Ahead; writer Quincy Troupe, who helped Davis write his autobiography; and trumpeter Keyon Harrold, who led a special tribute concert at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola.

    Listen to a Spotify playlist of host Christian McBride and Don Cheadle's favorite Miles Davis recordings.

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

  • Cecile McLorin Salvant And Sullivan Fortner

    August 26, 2016

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    Cecile McLorin Salvant and Sullivan Fortner. (Image Credit: Mark Fitton/Philippe Levy-Stab/Courtesy of the artists)

    Ever since the earliest days of jazz music, the pairing of piano and voice has frequently attained a deeply personal level of communication. It's evident in the distinct chemistry between two rising stars of their instruments: pianist Sullivan Fortner and singer Cécile McLorin Salvant.

    Jazz Night In America gets to know the charming duo on stage at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola and beside a piano in a Harlem brownstone.

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

  • 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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