WBGO Blog
  • Newport Jazz 2014 In Photos

    August 5, 2014. Posted by WBGO.

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    Cécile McLorin Salvant performed two sets at Newport, including one for a main-stage crowd on the festival's sunny opening day. (Image Credit: Adam Kissick for NPR)

    The Newport Jazz Festival turned 60 this year, and expanded to three days to celebrate. Throughout last weekend, more than 45 bands performed at Fort Adams State Park in coastal Rhode Island, playing through abundant sunshine, pouring rain and anything in between.

    Our photographer Adam Kissick spent long days in the saddle, logging approximately 22 miles on foot while carrying 40 pounds of often-damp gear. In the end, he captured nearly every act at the festival this year — all his photos are available at the NPR Jazz Flickr account. Here's a selection representing how Newport commemorated its 60th anniversary.

    Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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  • Jon Batiste And Stay Human: Newport Jazz 2014

    August 4, 2014. Posted by WBGO.

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    Jon Batiste embraces the crowd at the 2014 Newport Jazz Festival. (Image Credit: Adam Kissick for NPR)

    Jon Batiste has a way with exits, as musicians from New Orleans tend to. Days before his day-ending set at the 2014 Newport Jazz Festival, the pianist and singer walked out of The Colbert Report's theater with a studio audience and a dancing Stephen Colbert in tow. And following a high-energy Newport set — where his expanded Stay Human band played turbocharged versions of standards, rags and his own party anthems — he switched from piano to melodica and led the band into the main stage audience.

    Batiste's newest album is called Social Music, and it's easy to see how he could catalyze a gathering. As he paraded into the crowd, he switched into a number you might hear at a New Orleans jazz funeral parade, one that signaled his intent with a wink: "Just A Closer Walk With Thee."

    Set List

    • "My Favorite Things"
    • "On The Sunny Side Of The Street"
    • "People In The World"
    • "Shreveport Stomp"
    • "It's Alright (Why You Gotta)"
    • "The Star-Spangled Banner"
    • "St. James Infirmary"
    • "The Entertainer"
    • "Just A Closer Walk With Thee"

    Personnel

    Jon Batiste, piano/melodica/voice; Eddie Barbash, alto saxophone; Ibanda Ruhumbika, tuba; Barry Stevenson, banjo/bass; Joe Saylor, drums; Jamison Ross, keyboard/percussion/voice. With Grace Kelly, alto saxophone.

    Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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  • In Time For The World Cup, 'Explorative' New Music From Brazil

    June 13, 2014. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

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    Flame Collective. (Image Credit: Cezar Altai/Courtesy of the artist)

    Brazilian song has a way of capturing the imagination, and Rio de Janeiro is its crucible. From maxixe and choro in the 19th century to samba and bossa nova in the 20th, Rio's history of melding rhythms with deep lyricism has been extraordinary.

    For Brazilians, these songs have even greater significance. In a country where formal education is still not open to all, popular song offers a sentimental education.

    "Most Brazilians learn how to speak, how to write and even how to feel by listening to Brazilian songwriters," says Thiago Thiago de Mello.

    De Mello is part of a rising generation of Rio songwriters who take Brazil's music seriously. The son of Amadeu Thiago de Mello, an Amazonian poet, he combines Brazil's rich literary traditions and African-inspired rhythms, such as samba, forró and pagode, with jazz, rock and electronica.

    He and his peers call their original take on Brazilian music "explorative." Like the bossa nova of Tom Jobim and João Gilberto, and the tropicália of Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, the name may not fully translate into English. But it evokes Brazil's utopian heritage and ambitions — aspirations which feel appropriate as Brazil takes its place among the world's economic powers, and hosts the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.

    "My Brazil is a world of the powerful imaginations that precede me — of a countless amount of dreamers," singer-songwriter Pedro Sá Moraes says. "It's a peculiar state in which imagination is so strong, it can be binding — but it can also liberate."

    Sá Moraes, de Mello and other members of Coletivo Chama, a Rio arts organization, recently visited WBGO's studios to share some of their compositions. We will feature these live performances on The Checkout on July 15. Here, we share five recent studio recordings by Sá Moraes, de Mello and their colleagues — recordings which showcase their abilities as arrangers as well as composers and performers.

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