Lionel Loueke

Jean-Baptiste Millot

From jazz and poetry to the plight of immigrants, Take Five looks at five new tunes that explore cultural currency in music.

Stella K. / WBGO

 

The first "destination" jazz festival took place in Newport, R.I., in 1954 — multiple days, one stage and gorgeous scenery. These days, Newport is going strong, as is Monterey in California, and the festival model has expanded to multiple stages and far beyond big-brimmed hats and lawn chairs.

Still, Snarky Puppy leader Michael League saw a void and an opportunity. After years of performing at festivals around the world, the 34-year-old bassist founded the GroundUP Music Festival in order to bring musicians and fans together in an intimate setting: the beach. Miami Beach, to be exact.

C. Taylor Crothers / Concord Jazz

Chick Corea, the endlessly inquisitive keyboardist and composer, has made a point of collaborating far and wide throughout his career. But there’s a special category of music that rests on his bond with Steve Gadd, a drummer known both for the alert intelligence of his ear and the heavy pull of his groove.

The Blue Note All-Stars released their official debut, Our Point of View, not quite a month ago, and one key takeaway from the album was the enduring shadow cast by Wayne Shorter.

Every musician in the group, from trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire to guitarist Lionel Loueke, is a student of Shorter’s legacy as a composer. The album features a brisk reworking of his “Witch Hunt,” from the 1966 album Speak No Evil, and Shorter even makes a cameo — along with a musical soul mate, Herbie Hancock — on a spooky version of “Masqualero.”

NPR

Almost every era of jazz has its resident Blue Note crew: artists who embody the beating heart of that label’s sound.

NPR

There’s an emblematic photograph of Herbie Hancock on the back cover of his album Sunlight, which he began recording 40 years ago this month. He’s depicted against a red backdrop with a Sennheiser vocoder headset on his cranium, which is bowed in deep focus.

He’s also totally boxed in by his keyboards. The LP insert sleeve includes a diagram to help identify them by name: Oberheim Polyphonic Synthesizer, Sequential Circuits Prophet Synthesizer, ARP 2600, ARP Odyssey, Micro-Moog, Mini-Moog, Poly-Moog. (This is not a complete tally.)

Bernard Benant

Tony Allen, “Wolf Eats Wolf”

Tony Allen, the great Nigerian drummer, made his Blue Note Records debut this spring with A Tribute to Art Blakey, a digital EP. Now Allen, the reigning architect of Afrobeat, has announced a full-length album on the label, The Source. It’s due out on Sept. 8, and you can listen now to a hypnotic lead single, “Wolf Eats Wolf.”

Justin Lane

It was a trip to West Africa that set the career trajectory for Daniel Freedman. A drummer-bandleader born and raised in New York City, Freedman has a deep affinity for all things Afrobeat. But even though he's studied with djembe musicians and Gnawa masters, those traditions don't explicitly inform the music he makes. His African influences, Freedman suggests, are much more ambiguous and subtle.