WBGO Blog
  • All In The Family: Father-Son Pairings In Jazz

    June 19, 2015

    image
    Saxophonist Joshua Redman (left) performs on stage during the "Jazz sous les pommiers" jazz festival on May 9, 2013 in Coutances, France. Dewey Redman (right) performs in St. Paul, Minn., in 2007. (Image Credit: Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images and Chris Felver/Getty Images)

    Jazz is all about great collaborations, and in honor of Father's Day this weekend, composer and bassist Christian McBride, host of NPR's Jazz Night In America and a regular All Things Considered guest, stopped by for a conversation about fathers and sons.

    "I'm not sure if jazz families are any more or less special, [or] dysfunctional, than any other family," McBride says with a laugh. "But with jazz families, you get more melody."

    Below is an edited transcript of McBride's conversation with NPR's Audie Cornish.

    Read more

  • The Central Brooklyn Jazz Festival With Akua Dixon

    June 15, 2015

    image
    Akua Dixon (center) leads her string ensemble in concert. (Image Credit: NPR)

    Every spring, a New York City community organization puts on a month's worth of jazz events centered around the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The Central Brooklyn Jazz Festival turns the spotlight on a historically African-American region, and often some lesser-heard talents. Though Akua Dixon has played in just about every situation open to a cellist, less frequently does she lead a band bearing her own name. Her music often features her compositions and arrangements for a string ensemble, and occasionally adds her own voice to the mix as well.

    Jazz Night In America visits the coffee shop and jazz club Sistas' Place — one of the key venues for the Central Brooklyn Jazz Festival — to take in a set led by Akua Dixon. In addition to the band featured on her latest album, Dixon is also joined by her two children: vocalist Andromeda Turre and drummer Orion Turre. Watch a full set here.

    Copyright 2015 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit .

  • Joe Temperley: 'No Greater Sound On Earth'

    May 22, 2015

    image
    Joe Temperley performs with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in 2013. (Image Credit: Frank Stewart/Jazz at Lincoln Center)

    Baritone saxophonist and clarinetist Joe Temperley has led an illustrious career spanning several decades, performing in some of the best big bands that ever were. Temperley, now 85, has performed with the orchestras of Humphrey Lyttelton, Woody Herman, Thad Jones & Mel Lewis, Clark Terry, Joe Henderson, and of course, Duke Ellington. For the past 25 years, Temperley has also been the heart and soul of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. As Wynton Marsalis has written, "There is no greater sound on earth, than Joe Temperley on a horn."

    Jazz Night in America gets to know the man, listening to his original music and his new arrangements of Ellington favorites. Watch highlights from the concert here.

    Copyright 2015 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit .

  • A Tribute To Kenny Wheeler

    May 19, 2015

    image
    Kenny Wheeler. (Image Credit: W. Patrick Hinely/Courtesy of the artist)

    The late Kenny Wheeler's stunning compositions and imaginative improvisations on trumpet and flugelhorn left deep impressions on generations of musicians. Two such devotees — trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and saxophonist Steve Treseler — revisited Wheeler's compositions after his death in 2014 at age 84. And in doing so, they realized they wanted to record their arrangements, paying tribute to the man who catalyzed their own careers. So Jensen, raised in Vancouver and now based in New York, traveled back across North America to meet Treseler, who resides in Seattle, to make the album and play a gig while they were there.

    Jazz Night In America explores the legacy of Kenny Wheeler through the music that Jensen and Treseler arranged and performed live at the Royal Room in Seattle. They're accompanied by Jensen's working rhythm section — pianist Geoffrey Keezer, bassist Martin Wind, drummer Jon Wikan — and local vocalist Katie Jacobson. Watch the concert here.

    Copyright 2015 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit .

  • 50 Years Ago, Ramsey Lewis Joined 'The In Crowd'

    May 16, 2015

    image
    Ramsey Lewis' hit single "The In Crowd" was recorded live in concert 50 years ago this month. (Image Credit: Courtesy of Ravinia Festival)

    Fifty years ago, the Ramsey Lewis Trio sat in a Washington, D.C. coffee shop, musing over what it could add to its set that evening. It was booked for a run at Bohemian Caverns — the group had issued a live album made at the nightclub, and it was gearing up to record a follow-up live album. Over walked a waitress, who inquired about the band's predicament.

    Fifty years later, Lewis still remembers her name: Nettie Gray.

    "She had a jukebox," Lewis says. "Jukeboxes in coffee shops — people don't know about that any more, but she went over to the jukebox and played: 'You guys might like this! Listen to this!'"

    Her recommendation was "The In Crowd," sung by Dobie Gray — a popular hit at the time. Lewis and the band worked out an arrangement quickly, then ended their set with it that evening, to wild applause.

    Fifty years later, that song remains Ramsey Lewis' biggest hit.

    "If somebody had come up with another song that fit the style of what we wanted, there would not have been an 'In Crowd,' " he says.

    Lewis, now 79 and still actively performing, spoke with NPR's Arun Rath about how the song came to be. Hear their conversation at the audio link above.

    Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.