• Newport Jazz 2011: Dancing In The Rain

    August 8, 2011. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    (Image Credit: Erik Jacobs for NPR)

    At the Newport Jazz Festival this weekend, I was joined by WBGO web producers Tim Wilkins and Alex Rodriguez, who were helping with our broadcast and recording. You can see what Alex and Tim were up to at wbgo.org/newport. And remember, you can hear NPR Music recordings of Newport sets at npr.org/newportjazz.

    Somehow in all that, we all found time to hear some music. This morning, we got up early — even before coffee — to recap what we heard via Instant Messenger.

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  • Strike Up The Bandoneon! Jazz For Squeezebox

    July 22, 2011. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    In the 1950s, Astor Piazzolla became a pariah back home for his unconventional, complex tangos. (Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist)

    If Argentine composer and performer Astor Piazzolla didn't exist, the subgenre of "Nuevo Tango" — a mix of tango, classical and jazz — wouldn't, either, nor would this taster of accordion jazz. Piazzolla created a massive canon, influencing generations of bandoneon players after him, and he rejuvenated Argentina's greatest musical tradition and export.

    However, it was Piazzolla's formative years in New York's Greenwich Village — soaking in the swing of the 1930s — that often informs his style, a jazzier sound he leaned to during his later years. Piazzolla personally touched the lives and music of four of the five artists featured below.

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  • Ben Williams + Pedro Giraudo: Live From 92Y Tribeca

    July 19, 2011. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Ben Williams (left) and Pedro Giraudo lead their bands at 92Y Tribeca. (Image Credit: John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com)

    It's the bassist's role in jazz to know the time and place; to anchor a band rhythmically and guide it through a song. The young bassists Pedro Giraudo and Ben Williams are quite adept at all that, but when they lead their own bands, they have an even broader sense of time and place.

    The new album from the Pedro Giraudo Jazz Orchestra, 13 or 14 pieces strong, is called Córdoba. It takes its name from Giraudo's hometown in Argentina, and borrows architecture from Argentine tango and folk rhythms in service of color-rich modern jazz ends. Ben Williams has a new record, too, his first. State of Art is a jazz record which alludes heavily to the street sounds of his native Washington, D.C., where go-go still abuts R&B, hip-hop and organic soul. And, like Giraudo, Williams' band also brings together some of New York's hottest under-40 (and often under-30) talent.

    For the latest edition of The Checkout: Live From 92Y Tribeca, WBGO and NPR Music presented the Pedro Giraudo Jazz Orchestra and Ben Williams and Sound Effect, live in concert. Look for a full audio recording soon.

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