Music

Kahmeela Adams

What is it that gets any musical organization to the 25 year mark?

Luck, for sure, but that's eclipsed by the creation of great charts, articulate and soulful playing, and a sound unification that goes way beyond theory.

WBGO

Growing up in Chicago, pianist Greg Spero knew by the fifth grade that he wanted to make music his life. Encouraged by his piano-playing father, he would eventually team up with Miles Davis keyboardist Robert Irving III; work with the Buddy Rich Big Band; morph the music of Miles with Radiohead; and tour the world with electro-pop artist Halsey.


Yannick Perrin

If jazz is all about fluidity — in terms of cultural exchange, and convergences of style — that's a situation well suited to the Cuban artist Omar Sosa. His most recent Zen-like album even bears an aquaeous title, Transparent Water


Jean-Pierre Leloir

John Coltrane’s momentous affiliation with Miles Davis was drawing to a close in March of 1960, when he agreed (with some reluctance) to embark on a three-week European tour.

The music made on that tour has circulated in various forms over the years, some of them informal and illicit. A few years ago the British label Acrobat released a boxed set called All of You: The Last Tour 1960. Columbia/Legacy is about to issue a collection of similar heft, titled The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6.

Sing Sing Correctional Facility is not the sort of place you'd expect to find a flourishing music community, but a workshop run by Carnegie Hall offers inmates the ability to learn in harmony. Twice a month, artists from New York City travel to Sing Sing and spend a day giving 30 inmates enrolled in the Musical Connections program formal training.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

No jazz musician has ever been heard more on public radio than the late Marian McPartland, the host of NPR's Piano Jazz for more than 40 years.

But for all her ubiquity, how well did we really know her?

Jazz at Lincoln Center

As the world’s premiere jazz institution, Jazz at Lincoln Center has a combined mission: advancing awareness of the music, giving it new expression, and raising money to keep it all going.

The organization's annual gala, typically packed with guest stars, serves all these purposes. It's only unfortunate that most of us cannot be there. That is, until now.

FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Gene Krupa has to be one of the most misunderstood musicians in jazz history.

In his time, he was a drummer whose energetic charisma propelled him into a rare level of celebrity. A marquee star from the 1930s on, he appeared not only onstage but also in Hollywood films. In 1959 he was even the subject of a major biopic, The Gene Krupa Story, starring Sal Mineo. As an emotional psychodrama with drumming at the center, it’s an obvious precursor to Whiplash, the 2014 Damien Chazelle film.

Courtesy of the artist

Hailey Niswanger has appeared in the Downbeat Critics Poll for five consecutive years as a rising star on alto and soprano saxophone. But this Brooklyn-based artist, now 28, says she still has plenty of room to grow.


Gangi N

Since graduating from the Berklee College of Music, the Israeli tenor saxophonist Daniel Rotem has been busy racking up life experiences — from performing at the White House to touring on behalf of the State Department to apprenticing with legends as part of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance.

WBGO

Helen Sung is a classically trained pianist who discovered jazz and found her passion for writing music when working with master bassist Ron Carter at the Monk Institute. Every day there, she would embark on writing a new piece of music.

Alfredo Rodriguez
Chris Tobin

While he has many fascinating stories to tell, pianist and composer Alfredo Rodríguez is all about the music.  

During his recent visit to our performance studio at WBGO, Rodríguez touched on stories of his life in Cuba and his migration to the United States. There's also his life-changing 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival encounter with Quincy Jones, which has led to “Q” producing two of his recordings for Mack Avenue, including his latest, The Little Dream.

Adama Jollah

One of the artists who left a mark at this year's Winter Jazzfest was newcomer Nubya Garcia. Get to know the firebrand saxophonist from the United Kingdom in another edition of My Music, on The Checkout.


Anna Webber

For as long as we’ve known Kurt Elling, he has been among our most inquisitive jazz vocalists.

John Rogers / WBGO

In this week's playlist, hybridism reigns.

Bernie Williams
Chris Tobin

I’ve known Bernie Williams since his early playing days with the New York Yankees.  He was just another young man trying to make his way in the demanding world of Major League Baseball.  What was different about Bernie the ballplayer was the acoustic guitar that he kept in his locker.  Media might hear him play it on the odd occasion they arrived at the ballpark really early on a game night.

Courtesy of the artist

Allison Miller has held down the pulse for respected artists across multiple genres, including the indie-folk dynamo Ani DeFranco and the soul-jazz legend Dr. Lonnie Smith. Her latest album, Otis Was A Polar Bear, nods to a few other factors informing her bright, inviting sound — from scuba diving to modern art to recent motherhood.

 


Desmond White

The conversation around women in jazz has rarely felt timelier or more pressing than it does at this moment.

Nathan West / Blue Note Records

Nels Cline has a new album on the near horizon.

Blue Note Records has just announced the April 13 release of Currents, Constellations, the debut release by the Nels Cline 4 — an energetic unit made up of Cline, his fellow guitarist Julian Lage, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Tom Rainey.

Five finalists have been selected for the 2019 American Pianists Awards. The five pianists, all in their mid-to-late 20s — Kenny Banks, Jr., Emmet Cohen, Keelan Dimick, Dave Meder and Billy Test — will take part in a year-long competitive process in Indianapolis, home of the American Pianists Association. One will win the coveted Cole Porter Fellowship at the finals there next April.

Anna Webber

On another edition of My Music, Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodríguez tells his extraordinary story of crossing the border from Mexico to the United States to find Quincy Jones.


Isaiah McClain

Jazz has a handful of reigning families — the Clayton, Marsalis, and Eubanks clans among them — but until recently you'd be forgiven for overlooking the McFerrins. The emergence of Madison McFerrin, an inspired singer-songwriter from Brooklyn, underscores the talent in this new musical dynasty.


Jesse Kit

Lizz Wright is well acquainted with the storytelling power of a journey. Her music, rooted in the gospel truths and rustic byways of this country, could be seen as a sustained meditation on movement: not just the flow of bodies in rapturous rhythm, but also the trajectories that mark a life story.

Danielle Nicole is one of the brightest rising stars of the blues. She sings with soulful chops. She writes songs ath are smart and emotional about love and life. She plays bass in her trio with guitarist Brandon Miller and her brother, drummer Chris Schnebelen. “Hot Spell,” one of the songs on her newest album, Cry No More, is a first recording of a song by legendary songwriter Bill Withers.  She sang (and told the story of) that song and played several of her own songs when she came to The Blues Break on WBGO.

 

“I think it’s a mistake to ever look for hope outside of one’s self.”

Arthur Miller put that line in the mouth of a character from After the Fall, which premiered on Broadway in 1964. It’s an argument worth reconsidering as we welcome a new album bearing the same title from Keith Jarrett, a pianist with rare perspective on both the merits of self-reliance and the grasping pursuit of hope.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Mathieu Bitton

The Robert Glasper Experiment has established such a track record in the studio that it can be easy to take for granted the band’s core identity as a live act. It was with a series of overheated gigs in New York, at joints like the 55 Bar, that the Experiment — led by the resourceful, indefatigable keyboardist Robert Glasper — originally found its voice and purpose. And its albums are mostly recorded in real time, live in the studio.

Sub Press / sub-press.com

When it comes to the origin of the word “jazz,” it seems that each person simply believes what she or he wants to.

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