May 3, 2015Steve Coleman's new album is called Synovial Joints. (Image Credit: Jeff Fusco/ John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)
Is there a modern-day equivalent to Duke Ellington? Or Ornette Coleman?
Who are the people today who think differently about jazz — who have created new forms, and expanded the musical vocabulary?
For 30 years, saxophonist Steve Coleman has been pushing the music forward, traveling the world to collect new sounds, rhythms and ideas. Along the way he's mentored many of the most exciting younger artists in jazz — musicians like Ambrose Akinmusire, Jason Moran and Vijay Iyer.
Steve Coleman's new album features a compelling four-part suite for large ensemble. Each movement is named after parts of the body. The suite, and the album, are called Synovial Joints — after the flexible, often complex joints found in places like shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, fingers and wrists.
"I found the most inspiration over my life in nature," Coleman says. "It just kind of hit me in an inspirational way because I saw a lot of musical motion in the way melodies connect and in the way rhythms connect. What I was imagining when I was doing improvisation was what kind of motion the different joints allow, in terms of they connect."
In an interview with NPR's Arun Rath, heard at the above audio link, Coleman talks about the three different groups of musicians that came together for this project, his "camouflage orchestration" and a recent conversation with Sonny Rollins.
"We were talking about being in this kind of meditative state, almost like yoga or something like this, where we play from," Coleman says. "You want to get to the point where you actually don't feel like you're thinking or doing anything — that energy is just working through you. That's the ideal point you want to get to — we don't always get there. What I did with this record was that I played, 20-25 improvisations, and I picked the ones that did the best job of getting to that place. And you can hear it afterward — you know when you've hit it."Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
© 2015 WBGO
April 30, 2015
This year Venezuela celebrates the 40th anniversary of its national youth music education program, known as El Sistema. Part of the celebration is to send one of its newest bands, a national jazz ensemble, on its second tour of the U.S. — where jazz was born. In 2007, drummer Andrés Briceño helped to seed Simón Bolívar Big Band Jazz, and has directed its growth beyond the canonical American repertoire to incorporate the work of Venezuelan and other Latin American composers.
Jazz Night In America visits Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola within Jazz at Lincoln Center to meet the accomplished student musicians of the big band, and the conductor who is central to jazz in Venezuela.
© 2015 WBGO
April 28, 2015
Jazz and blues are often treated as one and the same — but how did one end up taking over and surpassing the other, ushering in the jazz age?
That's a subject of an upcoming HBO biopic, called Bessie, about singer and songwriter Bessie Smith and her mentor Ma Rainey. Jazz bassist and composer Christian McBride, host of NPR's Jazz Night In America and a regular guest on All Things Considered, spoke with host Audie Cornish about Bessie Smith's legacy.
An edited transcript of their conversation follows.
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