WBGO Blog
  • Chorale For Horns And iPad App, In The Pouring Rain

    August 14, 2014. Posted by WBGO.

    Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band. L-R: Blade, Myron Walden, Melvin Butler, Chris Thomas, Jon Cowherd. (Image Credit: NPR Music)

    We had hoped to get the great drummer Brian Blade to give us a little private exhibition after his set at the Newport Jazz Festival this year. The weather, however, was proving much less generous than he and his band were. Early that morning, a steady all-day rain settled in over coastal Rhode Island, making it difficult to transport dry instruments anywhere. On top of that, a last-minute change to travel plans meant that Blade needed to get out of town quickly — to an airport over four hours away.

    But he and the Fellowship Band — the group of guys Blade has been making music with for the better part of two decades or more — were game to figure out something for us. So we herded them into the shelter of a quiet tunnel in Fort Adams State Park. Myron Walden and Melvin Butler put their horns together, and pianist Jon Cowherd realized he could use the synthesizer app on his iPad. The three of them played for us one of Cowherd's many serene melodies — this one called "Landmarks," the title track of their new album.

    One of the great things about Blade's work with the Fellowship Band is that it's not all about the drummer and his proven technical wizardry. It's also about beautiful harmonies, slow-developing pieces, earnest entreaty to make you feel something other than distanced admiration. And though Blade himself doesn't play, this brief moment of zen under heavy skies — this pretty li'l chorale for horns and iPad app — it also gets at why this band is special.

    Set List

    • "Landmarks"

    Credits

    Producers: Mito Habe-Evans, Patrick Jarenwattananon; Event Manager: Saidah Blount; Videographers: Mito Habe-Evans, Colin Marshall, Nick Michael; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Editor: Colin Marshall; Special Thanks: Newport Jazz Festival, Mark and Rachel Dibner of the Argus Fund, The Wyncote Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Josh Jackson of WBGO; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann

    Copyright 2014 Newark Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.wbgo.org.

  • Berklee Global Jazz Ambassadors With David Sanchez: Newport Jazz 2014

    August 7, 2014. Posted by WBGO.

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    David Sanchez and the Berklee Global Jazz Ambassadors perform at the 2014 Newport Jazz Festival. (Image Credit: Adam Kissick for NPR)

    Boston's Berklee College of Music was already one of the premier conservatories for jazz when it launched a new program designed to push a select group of students beyond the classroom. The Berklee Global Jazz Institute assembles a small international ensemble to create works on the bandstand and explore connections to culture, nature and other art forms.

    That band acts as a de facto emissary for Berklee and jazz across the U.S. and around the world. Appropriately, for its Newport-opening set, the group's current lineup was paired with the accomplished Puerto Rican tenor saxophonist David Sanchez, who led the ensemble in a performance of his own compositions.

    Set List

    • "Morning Mist"
    • "Mirage"
    • "Endless Wait"
    • "A Thousand Yesterdays"

    Personnel

    David Sanchez, tenor saxophone; Mao Sone, trumpet; Leandro Pellegrino, guitar; Takafumi Suenaga, piano; Jared Henderson, bass; Jharis Yokley, drums

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

  • Gregory Porter: Newport Jazz 2014

    August 6, 2014. Posted by WBGO.

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    (Image Credit: Adam Kissick for NPR)

    The commanding singer Gregory Porter likes a good aqueous metaphor. He named his first album Water and led off with the title track. Then he called his latest album Liquid Spirit, which he released following last year's ecstatic Newport show. (He sang that title track, too, with its bouncy hand-clap exhortations.)

    Porter returned to Newport this year on the festival's main stage, delivering a triumphant set that spanned his whole repertoire. And, appropriately enough, he cut through day-long rain showers during his performance on Saturday, August 2.

    Set List

    • "Water"
    • "On My Way To Harlem"
    • "No Love Dying"
    • "Liquid Spirit"
    • "Wolfcry"
    • "Work Song"
    • "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons"/"You Send Me"
    • "1960 What?"

    Personnel

    Gregory Porter, voice; Tivon Pennicott, tenor saxophone; Chip Crawford, piano; Aaron James, bass; Emanuel Harrold, drums

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

  • Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Newport Jazz 2014

    August 5, 2014. Posted by WBGO.

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    Darcy James Argue conducts the Secret Society in a new big-band piece at the 2014 Newport Jazz Festival. (Image Credit: Adam Kissick for NPR)

    At the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival, Duke Ellington and his Orchestra gave a performance so raucous and powerful that historians mark it as a turning point of the great bandleader's five-decade career. At its center was a piece called "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue," with a barn-burning solo interlude from saxophonist Paul Gonsalves.

    The composer and big-band leader Darcy James Argue is something of a Duke scholar, and by now a Newport Jazz Festival veteran. So he chose this date to present a 35-minute piece inspired by "Diminuendo" for the first time in the U.S. "Tensile Curves" joins a number of other previously unrecorded works that Secret Society presented at the main stage on Friday, Aug. 1.

    Set List

    • "Ferromagnetic"
    • "All In (For Laurie Frink)"
    • "Codebreaker (For Alan Turing)"
    • "Tensile Curves"
    • "Last Waltz For Levon"

    Personnel

    Darcy James Argue, composer/arranger; Erica von Kleist, alto saxophone/winds; Rob Wilkerson, alto saxophone/winds; Sam Sadigursky, tenor saxophone/winds; John Ellis, tenor saxophone/winds; Carl Maraghi, baritone saxophone/winds; Seneca Black, trumpet; Tom Goehring, trumpet; Matt Holman, trumpet; Nadje Noordhuis, trumpet; Ingrid Jensen, trumpet; Marshall Gilkes, trombone; Ryan Keberle, trombone; Jacob Garchik, trombone; Jennifer Wharton, bass trombone; Miles Okazaki, guitar; Adam Birnbaum, piano; Matt Clohesy, bass; Jon Wikan, drums

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

  • 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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