• Dan Tepfer And Friends: Live At 92Y Tribeca

    June 22, 2011. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Dan Tepfer. (Image Credit: John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com)

    The jazz pianist Dan Tepfer isn't yet 30, but he's quickly built a reputation for quality — versatility, too. Two years ago, he put out an album of improvised duets with iconic saxophonist Lee Konitz, who's about 55 years his elder. Last year, Tepfer issued Five Pedals Deep, an elegant and modern trio album. (It's his third trio record, actually.) Soon, he'll also release his readings of and improvisations on J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations, originally written for solo harpsichord.

    In the debut of The Checkout: Live at 92Y Tribeca concert series, Tepfer showed off these three sides of his musical personality. He played selections from his Goldberg Variations solo. He also called upon his friend and peer, tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger, for a series of duos largely of the compositions of Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz. (Konitz was originally scheduled to perform as the guest of honor, but had to bow out for health reasons.) And he played a sparkling set with his trio, with Joe Martin on bass and Ted Poor on drums.

    In association with Josh Jackson of WBGO's The Checkout, who curates and produces this series, NPR Music featured a live HD video webcast of this concert on Wednesday, June 22.

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  • 'Treme,' Ep. 19: Can't Get Out Alive

    June 20, 2011. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Ron Carter (left, as himself) looks on as Albert Lambreaux (Clarke Peters) attempts to show him a thing or two on bass, in Treme. (Image Credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO)

    Lately, our rundowns of musical performances in Treme have ignored some of the non-musical narratives for the sake of brevity. This week is a little lighter on music, and a bit heavier on plot twists — especially at the end of this episode. So we'll address a few of the other storylines this week too. (Spoiler alert for what follows, naturally.)

    In real life, singer-songwriter Steve Earle, who plays the street troubadour/sage counsel Harley, recently released a new album and his debut novel, both titled I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive. Both are named after the posthumous Hank Williams song, and both muse heavily on mortality. As recently as late January, Earle — who also had a role on HBO's The Wire — wasn't anticipating he'd have to apply that titular maxim to his role in the series. When Billboard magazine asked him about touring, he said, "depends on whether I'm in the third season of 'Treme' or whether they kill me or something. But I feel like I've got a lot less chance of getting killed on 'Treme' than I did on 'The Wire.'" The odds did not fall his way.

    Even after a relatively quiet Mardi Gras, violent crime remained a problem in New Orleans in 2007. New Orleans native Josh Jackson joins me again for more insights on this, and other elements of this week's episode.

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  • 'Treme,' Ep. 18: After Mardi Gras

    June 13, 2011. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Harley (Steve Earle, left) and Annie (Lucia Micarelli) busk in the French Quarter in Treme. (Image Credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO)

    It took a while to notice, but this season of Treme has set up another parallel between the chef Janette and the ranks of musicians. When her chef at Le Bernardin — played by Eric Ripert, the actual chef at the actual restaurant — senses her unhappiness, he points it out. She once had her own kitchen, where she learned to "express yourself," but now, she's working at her "craftsmanship" on another's vision.

    This year, we're seeing Antoine, Delmond, Davis and Annie all initiating original projects which they front. At least Antoine and Annie have heretofore been career sidemen — now they're learning how to be comfortable in the spotlight, too. In this episode, Annie takes a big step forward to that end.

    Joining me again to discuss this and other musical questions is WBGO's Josh Jackson.

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