Music

Chester Higgins

Randy Weston, a pianist and composer who devoted more than half a century to the exploration of jazz’s deep connection with Africa, died on Saturday at his home in Brooklyn. He was 92.

His death was announced by his wife and business partner, Fatoumata Weston.

Courtesy of the artist

The Westerlies, a young brass quartet at the intersection of new music and progressive jazz, has teamed up with the equally broadminded vocalist Theo Bleckmann for a pointed new project, Songs of Refuge and Resistance.

Simon Rentner

Before Adrian Younge was writing orchestral music with a hip-hop flair, he was a law professor by day and a DJ by night. During this period, he became obsessed with classic soul from 1968 to 1973 — music that he says resonated in ways this country had never seen before. Younge, a multi-instrumentalist from Los Angels, aspires toward a similar feeling on his new album, The Midnight Hour, with Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest.

Esperanza Spalding Is The 21st Century's Jazz Genius

Aug 28, 2018

In the world of jazz, most musicians choose one single thing and get as good as humanly possible at it, but not Camille Thurman. She's known as a double threat: The rare jazz musician who has mastered both a highly technical instrument — in her case, the saxophone — and sings. Thurman's vocals have been compared to Ella Fitzgerald. Her latest album, Waiting for the Sunrise, is out now.

JEMAL COUNTESS / Getty Images

Doug Doyle spoke with a number of musicians, producers and writers while organizing a WBGO News roundup of tributes to Aretha Franklin. Here are three interviews in longer form, beginning with singer Lizz Wright, who like Franklin came out of the gospel church.


NPR

"It used to be: 'Nashville — that's where you come to play country music.'"

Joe Spivey is voicing a prevailing view of his adopted hometown, one that has endured for the better part of a century. But Spivey — a fiddler in The Time Jumpers, the swingingest band in Music City — knows better. He definitely plays his share of country music, but he's also one of a burgeoning number of musicians who make up the robust and soulful Nashville jazz scene.

Doug MacLeod
courtesy of the artist

Doug MacLeod is a definitive troubadour. He travels. He sings. He tells the stories of the songs. And he's a terrific guitar player.

Albert King, Albert Collins, Joe Louis Walker, Son Seals, and Coco Montoya all have recorded MacLeod's songs, and his own newest album of songs and stories is Break The Chain.

He's playing at Queen's Brewery (Thursday 8/23) in Ridgewood, NY, and at The Town Crier (Friday 8/24) in Beacon, NY.

Chris Tobin / WBGO

In my office there hangs a postcard-sized photograph of Sonny Rollins — captured, I'm sure, in the midst of the umpteenth amazing chorus of some standard we all thought we knew. The pianist in the picture is Mark Soskin, probably best known for his 13-year tenure with the Saxophone Colossus.


RENE GOIFFON

Today's show unfolds in two parts. First Joe Lovano shares his appreciation of fellow tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, whom he first learned about his while growing up in Cleveland, OH. (Lovano expressed his appreciation many years later with an original blues, "Big Ben.") 

 


More Than Keeping Time: A Melodic Drumming Demo

Aug 17, 2018

What would you say if I told you that drums can sing? The best jazz drummers have always understood this as fact. Allison Miller has even made it a core part of her artistic mission — as drummer, a composer and a bandleader, notably with her ensemble Boom Tic Boom.

Caterina Di Perri

A handful of piano students were sweating in a classroom on the first morning of a two-week summer intensive in the Tuscan countryside. These were three women and four men, mostly in their early 20s, from Australia, Korea, Canada, Greece, Israel, and Belgium. Hotshots back home, they ranged from gung-ho eager to white-knuckle anxious about demonstrating their talents here at Siena Jazz Workshop, where everyone could play.

The history of jazz in the 20th century is well known, but the course of the genre in the 21st century is still being charted. According to Nate Chinen, music critic for NPR Music and WBGO, jazz in the new millennium has enjoyed a type of Renaissance thanks to some key players.

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Ted Nash made his first recording as a leader in 1978, and titled it “Conceptions.”

Whether playing saxophone, clarinet or flute, he has shown how magnificently broad his conceptions are: exploring a tango/klezmer/New Orleans brass feel with Odeon; giving sounds to great painters like Van Gogh, Matisse and Pollack with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra; reinventing the music of Henry Mancini, who employed both his father and uncle; or musically reimagining great speeches from John Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill.

Bruno Bollaert

Jazz Middelheim is probably the oldest jazz event in Belgium, originally founded in 1969. It can also make a claim as one of the most adventurous with its programming.  


Paul Moore / Blue Note Records

Saxophonist Dave McMurray says that every time he hears an instrumentalist from Detroit, it feels like they’re singing.

The Motown native knows this feeling. He grew up with it, eventually bringing his own versatility to gigs with B.B. King, Herbie Hancock, Johnny Hallyday, Gladys Knight, Nancy Wilson and Geri Allen. This was all in addition to being part of Was (Not Was), whose bassist and cofounder, Don Was, is now president of Blue Note Records.

Andrea Pizziconi / courtesy of the artist

Keyon Harrold’s beautiful trumpet tone has been heard on many of our era’ s defining popular music, from Jay-Z to Maxwell to Mac Miller.


Caroline Forbes / ECM

Tomasz Stanko, who died this week at 76, was more than an important Polish trumpeter and composer, though he was certainly both of those things.

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Pianist Harold López-Nussa opens a busy week in the Northeast tonight and Wednesday at Jazz Standard in New York City. His trio is out and about to promote their new album, Un Día Cualquiera (Just Another Day). 


Adam Kissick / NPR

From the beginning, America's oldest jazz fête strove for a breadth of style. George Wein, the festival's cofounder and patriarch, used to say he wanted to present the full sweep of the music, "from J to Z." That doesn't mean Jay-Z, though a tradition of crossover inclusion goes all the way back to Chuck Berry, 60 years ago.

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For more than a decade, Nate Wood has expressed his multifarious instrumentalism in prog-jazz outfits like Kneebody, the Wayne Krantz Trio, and the Donny McCaslin Band. But his solo project, fOUR, which has a residency over the next few weeks at Nublu, takes the concept to impossible extremes.

 


Wayne Shorter was 15 when he first wrote and illustrated his own comic book, in blue ballpoint pen. That was in 1949, and Shorter has traveled great distances since, becoming an influential saxophonist, a 10-time Grammy winner and one of the most highly regarded composers in modern jazz.

Chris Tobin / WBGO

Back in the day, when record labels put musicians together in a studio simply because they were on the same roster, the results were often mixed: intention didn’t live up to invention. That isn’t the case with New Faces, a Posi-Tone Records assemblage who, with crystal clarity, have shown on their new recording, Straight Forward,  that listening to one another can have a powerful effect on musical outcome.


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