January 8, 2014. Posted by Tim Wilkins.Lionel Loueke (left) and Miguel Zenon (right) join Jeff Ballard in the drummer's rhythm-oriented trio. (Image Credit: Andrea Boccalini/Courtesy of the artist)
This year's Winter Jazzfest seems to be a kind of turning point — for the festival, and maybe for jazz in New York City. What started 10 years ago as a one-night showcase under one roof has expanded to five days at 10 venues, featuring more than 90 groups in a vast array of styles.
The underground edge is still there, but this year's acts include multiple Grammy winners, beyond-jazz acts such as singer Keren Ann, and three midweek marquee concerts. One teams star pianists Robert Glasper and Jason Moran to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Blue Note Records.
Still, much of the festival's excitement still resides in its signature two-night marathon, where acts perform in quick succession in neighboring Greenwich Village nightclubs. For the price of a single ticket, concertgoers can choose — or try to choose — between groups, which range from Balkan and New Orleans brass to Latin and straight-ahead jazz. The 18-piece orchestral pop ensemble Mother Falcon, with cello and glockenspiel, will also appear.
At WBGO HD2 we'll stream a mix of all 92 groups at this year's Winter Jazzfest around the clock to prepare for these new sounds. (For more insights, check out the conversation between WBGO's Josh Jackson and NPR Music's Patrick Jarenwattananon on our weekly new-music magazine, The Checkout.) Here are five of the acts performing in this year's WJF marathon, and a rundown of what they plan to perform.Read more
© 2014 WBGO
December 10, 2013. Posted by WBGO.
A Brian Blade Fellowship concert feels a bit like a family reunion. Its core — drummer Blade, pianist Jon Cowherd and bassist Chris Thomas — has played together for more than 20 years, and its horn players have stayed loyal to the operation, too. Its repertoire feels rooted in a deep emotional well where sacred abuts secular and jazz meets its Southern folk cousins. Sparks always seem to fly when it gathers for an infrequent recording or string of tour dates. (It helps that it's led by one of the world's great drummers; Blade is prone to violent, furious punctuation and gentle time management alike.)
With a new album, Landmarks, in the works, the band reunites for a week in New York. WBGO and NPR Music will broadcast and video webcast the Brian Blade Fellowship live at the Village Vanguard on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
- "Landmarks" (Cowherd)
- Mercy Suite: Part 1 (Cowherd)
- Mercy Suite: Part 2 [Grace] (Cowherd)
- Mercy Suite: Part 3 [Mercy Wind] (Cowherd)
- "Shenandoah" (Traditional)
- "Farewell Bluebird" (Blade)
- Brian Blade, drums
- Melvin Butler, alto saxophone
- Myron Walden, tenor saxophone
- Steve Cardenas, guitar
- Jon Cowherd, piano
- Chris Thomas, bass
© 2013 WBGO
November 13, 2013. Posted by WBGO.Left to right: Larry Goldings, Bill Stewart and Peter Bernstein. (Image Credit: John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com)
When their busy schedules align, guitarist Peter Bernstein, keyboard player Larry Goldings and drummer Bill Stewart play together as a trio. Their format isn't earth-shatteringly new — largely standards, a few original pieces, classic sonorities in which Hammond B3 organ meets electric guitar — but after nearly 25 years as a band, their rapport is. Theirs isn't an organ trio of greasy funk, but their cleaner language is plenty tasteful, overlaying smart choices atop plenty of swing.
They convene again for a week at New York's Village Vanguard. WBGO and NPR Music present a live video webcast and radio broadcast of the Goldings, Bernstein and Stewart band in concert.
- "Simple As That" (Bernstein)
- "Nobody Else But Me" (Kern)
- "The Acrobat" (Goldings)
- "The Danger Zone" (Mayfield)
- "Dragonfly" (Bernstein)
- "Just In Time" (Styne)
- "Milestones" (Davis)
- Peter Bernstein, guitar
- Larry Goldings, organ
- Bill Stewart, drums
© 2013 WBGO
October 2, 2013. Posted by WBGO.
After releasing his latest album, last year's Spirit Fiction, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane put his decade-old quartet on hiatus, and has now assembled a new group. Had John Coltrane lived to see his son grow up, he might have told Ravi about how his own "classic quartet" broke up; he'd begun to incorporate new voices (including Ravi's mother Alice Coltrane) by the time his new band recorded live at the Village Vanguard in 1966. But that exchange never happened, and Ravi Coltrane discovered his inheritance on his own. Perhaps that's one reason why he developed a sleek and modern approach, loosely suggesting his father's adventurous spirit but not his signature sound.
Ravi Coltrane will soon bring his new band into the Village Vanguard for a week. WBGO and NPR Music presented a live video webcast and radio broadcast of the Ravi Coltrane Quartet in concert.
- "Who Wants Ice Cream?" (R. Alessi)
- "Word Order" (R. Coltrane)
- "Segment" (C. Parker)
- "Quilly's Blade" (R. Coltrane)
- "For Turiya" (C. Haden)
- "Mr. Day" (J. Coltrane)
- Ravi Coltrane, saxophones
- David Virelles, piano
- Dezron Douglas, bass
- Johnathan Blake, drums
© 2013 WBGO
September 20, 2013. Posted by Tim Wilkins.In a conversation aired on WBGO, Jessye Norman credits the study of jazz with her understanding of song interpretation. (Image Credit: Carol Friedman/Courtesy of the artist)
Jessye Norman's commanding soprano voice makes her the quintessential operatic diva for many listeners. But she frequently draws inspirations from jazz: She ranks singers like Billie Holiday, Mabel Mercer and Sarah Vaughan high on her list of influences.
"I love singing jazz," Norman says. "I don't like the idea that classical music should be over here and jazz should be someplace else. It's all wonderful, and we should be open to enjoying it all."
Early in her career, Norman says, hearing singers like Holiday taught her that interpretation is as important as a written score. In her view, this applies to opera as much as it does to improvised music.
"One has to draw upon one's own musical thoughts, and one's own musical acumen, and not to be afraid to let that come into one's work," she says. "Perhaps that comes with more experience, but perhaps it also comes with daring, and believing that you should."
Norman sat down recently with WBGO's Rhonda Hamilton to play some of her favorite jazz records, and to discuss her musical inspirations.
"We singers have a different level of responsibility from other musicians," Norman says. "We have words that we must convey; we have meanings that we must convey through these lyrics."
Jessye Norman also hosts a special performance in New York on Sept. 24 of the musical Lady Day, which stars singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, to benefit WBGO. The musical opens at Broadway's Little Shubert Theater on Oct. 3.Read more
© 2013 WBGO