WBGO Blog
  • When Henry Met Steven

    January 22, 2015

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    Henry Butler (left) and Steven Bernstein. (Image Credit: Stephanie Berger/Courtesy of the artist)

    In 1984, when a young Steven Bernstein first encountered the blind virtuoso New Orleans pianist and singer Henry Butler, he was astonished. "This is it," he recalls thinking. "This is like the music that I always imagined. Everything you ever loved about music, all being in one place. But now it's all coming from one person." Nearly two decades later, Butler and Bernstein finally had the chance to collaborate when they were booked for a run together at New York's Jazz Standard. It was an intriguing pairing: Bernstein, with his trumpet and arranging chops, and a wealth of downtown New York experience; Butler, with his deep well of knowledge and talent. They plotted a program of early blues and Butler originals, were invited to record for a major jazz label and continue to play residencies at Jazz Standard.

    Jazz Night In America looks at how the collaboration took shape, and visits the club where it all began for a live performance in December 2014 by Butler, Bernstein and the Hot 9.

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

  • Prestige Records' 65th Anniversary Party

    January 15, 2015

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    Jamison Ross performs at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition in 2012. (Image Credit: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz)

    Like many a jazz label throughout history, Prestige Records was a small, independent company which happened to document greats: musicians like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk, among others. Last year marked its 65th anniversary.

    Among the festivities was a performance led by drummer Jamison Ross. A recent winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, the 26-year-old's roots in jazz and gospel give him thrilling chops and unfailing feel. At Jazz at Lincoln Center, Ross' trio took on highlights from the Prestige catalog — specifically, tracks recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, who engineered many of jazz's all-time-great sessions on Prestige or otherwise. Van Gelder was also in the house to celebrate his 90th birthday.

    Jazz Night In America airs that set by the Jamison Ross Trio, featuring fellow rising stars Melissa Aldana (tenor saxophone) and Mike Rodriguez (trumpet).

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

  • 'Everything Is Cyclical': Christian McBride Looks At 2015 In Jazz

    January 14, 2015

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    Christian McBride is the host of NPR's Jazz Night In America. (Image Credit: Anna Webber/Courtesy of the artist)

    Christian McBride likely doesn't need much of an introduction. He's a bassist who's worked with everyone from McCoy Tyner to Diana Krall to Paul McCartney. His latest gig is as the host of NPR's Jazz Night In America, "a portrait of jazz music today, as seen through many of its exceptional live performances and performers," as we wrote in October.

    McBride recently sat down with NPR's Audie Cornish to discuss what he's excited about in jazz this year. Two new albums came to mind, including Fresh Cut Orchestra's From The Vine ("I really like the way that they work with layers") and pianist Aaron Goldberg's The Now ("I think Aaron is absolutely brilliant"). McBride says he's particularly drawn to Goldberg's commitment to the swing.

    "Everything is cyclical," McBride says. "In the jazz world right now, it's not too popular to play swing rhythms. But if you're talking about something with a legacy as deep and as vast as jazz, one thing that's always been constant in that tradition is the swing rhythm."

    McBride says he's also looking forward to celebrating two major birthdays in jazz. Herbie Hancock turns 75, and McBride shares a cut from The Warner Bros. Years (1969-1972), a collection that highlights the Mwandishi band: "It was funky, it was swingin', it was avant-garde, it was land, it was water, it was everything."

    Roy Haynes, an icon to jazz drummers, turns 90 this year.

    "Without a doubt, Roy Haynes is a science project," McBride says. "He is still so spry at age 90 and still sounding great."

    You can hear the conversation by clicking on the audio link.

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