WBGO Blog
  • Revive Big Band: Where Jazz Meets Hip-Hop

    March 5, 2015

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    Igmar Thomas and the Revive Big Band. (Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist)

    For trumpeter and composer Igmar Thomas, much in contemporary music is clearly evolved from improvised American music of eras past — jazz, in short. That insight led him to create the Revive Big Band, a large ensemble with a view to connecting the through-lines between hip-hop and its predecessors. With the Big Band, he might reconstruct how a jazz tune lent the sample for a modern classic, or unveil original works, or orchestrate special collaborations with soloists like tap dancer Savion Glover, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, or rapper Talib Kweli.

    It's made possible by connections he forged starting at Berklee College of Music — people like the emcee Raydar Ellis, who often appears with the band, or the concert producer Meghan Stabile, whose Revive Music agency helps the band get on stage. In December 2014, the Revive Big Band went back to Berklee and Boston for a series of performances where it all started. Jazz Night In America presents the story behind the band and its homecoming show, in conjunction with WBGO's The Checkout: Live.

    Copyright 2015 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit .

  • Farewell to NEA Jazz Master Orrin Keepnews

    March 2, 2015. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    WBGO says farewell to NEA Jazz Master Orrin Keepnews, who passed away at 91 on March 1.

    The producer's Riverside Records, which he co-founded in 1953, was home to memorable sessions by pianist Thelonious Monk, saxophonist Sonny Rollins and many others.

    Keepnews and former Columbia classmate Bill Grauer worked together at Record Changer magazine, then launched Riverside on a shoestring in 1953. At first, they focused on reissues of traditional jazz and blues, but quickly gained interest in modern jazz, signing pianists Randy Weston in 1954 and Thelonious Monk in 1955.

    While Keepnews famously insisted a record producer was really a catalyst, rather than a creator, his thoughtful approach quickly earned respect from many of the era's most innovative music makers.

    In appreciation, Pianist Bill Evans composed "Re: A Person I Knew" - an anagram of Keepnews' name - and recorded it for Riverside in 1962:

    In 2011, Keepnews was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. The nation's highest honor for jazz musician, he is one of only a handful of non-musicians - along with fellow writers Nat Hentoff and Dan Morgenstern - to receive the honor for their advocacy.

    More about Keepnews' storied career, including links to interviews, can be found at his NEA Jazz Masters profile page and in his New York Times obituary by Nate Chinen.

    Thank you, Orrin!

  • Delfeayo Marsalis on AMNH Premiere: Listen Now

    February 27, 2015. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Trombonist and NEA Jazz Master Delfeayo Marsalis talks with Glenn Crespo about "From The African Village To The Urban Village," a work he debuts Sat., Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. at New York's American Museum of Natural History, and his new album, "The Last Southern Gentleman."

    The concert, with youth performers from Harlem and New Orleans, is part of the museum's "Here We Stand: Honor Black History" series. Enjoy!

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