• Shemekia Copeland Talks New Album on Blues Hour: Listen Now

    October 14, 2015. Posted by Josh Landes.

    Shemekia Copeland is one of the rising forces in modern blues. Daughter of Texas blues legend Johnny Copeland, she's established herself as an undeniable presence in the music scene. Copeland stopped by WBGO to speak with Blues Hour host Michael Bourne about her new record, Outskirts Of Love.


  • Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah: Tiny Desk Concert

    October 9, 2015

    Tiny Desk Concert with Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. (Image Credit: Julia Reihs/NPR)

    Artists don't usually tell long, rambling stories at the Tiny Desk, and if they do, those stories don't usually make the final cut. But this one felt different. It was about the time Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, a young black man, says he was stopped by New Orleans police late at night for no reason other than to harass and intimidate him. And how his pride almost made him do something ill-advised about it. And how he finally channeled that pent-up frustration into a piece of music whose long-form title is "Ku Klux Police Department."

    "K.K.P.D." was the emotional peak of the septet's performance, though it wasn't a new tune. That's notable, because Scott stopped by the Tiny Desk on the very day his new album came out. It was played by something of a new band, though: Flutist Elena Pinderhughes, saxophonist Braxton Cook and guitarist Dominic Minix are new, younger additions to the group. It had new textures, too: Drummer Corey Fonville (another new member) used a djembe as a bass drum, and also brought a MIDI pad so he could emulate the sound of a drum machine. The effect was something like an evocation of African roots, juxtaposed with a trap beat.

    The first two numbers were, in fact, from Scott's new album Stretch Music. That's his name for the particular type of jazz fusion he's up to: something more seamless than a simple collision of genre signifiers; something whose DNA is already hybridized and freely admits sonic elements which potentially "stretch" jazz's purported boundaries. (You may note that he showed up in a Joy Division sleeveless T-shirt and gold chain.) It's sleek and clearly modern, awash in guitar riffs, but also bold and emotionally naked. Scott is particularly good at getting you to feel the energy he sends pulsing through his horn, and he never shies away from going all-in on a solo. The least we could offer was to let him explain himself in doing so.

    Stretch Music is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon)

    Set List

    • "TWIN"
    • "West Of The West"
    • "K.K.P.D."


    Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, trumpet; Elena Pinderhughes, flute; Braxton Cook, alto saxophone; Lawrence Fields, piano; Dominic Minix, guitar; Kris Funn, bass; Corey Fonville, percussion


    Producers: Patrick Jarenwattananon, Morgan Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographer: Morgan Walker, Nick Michael, Cameron Robert; Production Assistant: Julia Reihs; photo by Julia Reihs

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    Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

  • Jason Moran Plays Thelonious Monk's Town Hall Concert

    October 8, 2015

    Jason Moran leads an expanded version of his band at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (Image Credit: NPR)

    "Thelonious Monk is the most important musician, period," Jason Moran says. He laughs out loud. "In all the world. Period!"

    Moran is in a dressing room deep within the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., where he's the artistic director for jazz. He's not really wearing that hat at the moment, though. He's talking as a musician himself — and very personally, at that.

    "OK, in my world, he is the most important musician," Moran says. He clarifies: Thelonious Monk was his chief inspiration as a 13-year-old in Houston; Monk was the musician who made him want to be a pianist. "I heard Thelonious Monk in that time when everything about me was transitioning, and it was the thing I could grab on to and focus on through my teenage years that pulled me through that time of wondering about everything that a teenager wonders about."

    He's still obsessed with the pianist and composer, as well he ought to be. Monk left such a strikingly distinct body of work and personal style that one could dig deep yet hardly scratch the surface.

    A few years ago, Jason Moran developed a tribute concert to Monk. Moran being who he is, it was more than a simple tribute. First, he started at a particular concert held at New York City's Town Hall in 1959 — notable because it featured Thelonious Monk backed by a large ensemble which had rehearsed intently for the date. Then he kept digging. He found audio tapes and photographs from the rehearsals. ("It's how to learn Monk from Monk," Moran says.) He looked into Monk's personal history. And he assembled a new band to do much more than re-create the music from that evening: He wanted players to perform his original arrangements of those tunes, along with a video projection by David Dempewolf.

    Jazz Night In America took in a recent performance of Jason Moran's In My Mind: Monk At Town Hall, 1959 at the Kennedy Center. Watch highlights from the concert in our video feature — and on the radio program, hear more music and learn more about Monk's original presentation.

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