WBGO Blog
  • Leroy Jones' New Orleans Strut

    May 20, 2016

    Trumpeter Leroy Jones was playing in New Orleans back when Bourbon Street was lined with jazz clubs. The city has changed since then — Bourbon Street is a prime example — and Jones has evolved with it. From second lines with the Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band and the Hurricane Brass Band, club gigs with modern combos and tours with Harry Connick Jr., he's been a part of many jazz scenes.

    Jazz Night In America takes in a set with Jones' sextet at the Dew Drop Social & Benevolent Jazz Hall in Mandeville, La., across the lake from New Orleans. We hear the story of the venue, a small wooden room which has hosted jazz performances for more than a century, and the stories of Jones, a well-loved presence in his hometown.

    Copyright 2016 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Catherine Russell: Sunny Side Of The Street

    May 12, 2016

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    Catherine Russell. (Image Credit: Marv Goldschmitt/Courtesy of the artist)

    Catherine Russell has been a backup singer with Steely Dan and David Bowie, but she's better known as an interpreter of blues and early jazz. At Jazz At Lincoln Center, Russell recently assembled a vocal trio (with Carolyn Leonhart and La Tanya Hall, her partners on tour with Steely Dan) to unearth a book of charts by arranger Sy Oliver. She's only performed this music once before, more than 30 years ago. But back then, Russell got to sing it with her own mother — the multi-instrumentalist Carline Ray — and with Lillian Clark, who was also Oliver's wife.

    Jazz Night In America takes you to the Jazz At Lincoln Center concert, featuring Russell's working band, and host Christian McBride speaks with Russell about the origins of these charts.

    Copyright 2016 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Celebrating Joe Temperley In Concert

    May 12, 2016. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    The great Joe Temperley died at the age of 86 Wednesday. One of the most respected jazz saxophonists in the world, Temperley grew up in Scotland before leaving for London in the 1950s and moving to North America in the 1960s. Temperley, who started playing the sax when he was 14, took the baritone chair in the Duke Ellington Orchestra. In recent years he had been a long-serving member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, under Wynton Marsalis. A year ago we featured Temperley in Concert - check it out below.

    For 25 years, the baritone saxophone chair of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra has been held by a one Joe Temperley. The Scottish musician, now 85, carries tons of credits to his C.V., especially with big bands: Thad Jones-Mel Lewis, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Clark Terry and — most notably — the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

    Jazz Night In America visits Jazz at Lincoln Center as the JLCO salutes its elder statesman, featuring Temperley on his favorite Ellington tunes and a new concerto that managing and artistic director Wynton Marsalis dedicated to his longtime colleague.

    Copyright 2016 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Vanguard Jazz Orchestra: 50 Years Of Mondays

    May 5, 2016

    In 1965, the trumpeter, composer and arranger Thad Jones and the drummer Mel Lewis found themselves with a book of big-band music originally intended for the Count Basie Orchestra — and nobody to perform it. So they made their own. They handpicked some of New York's top talent and called rehearsals on Monday nights, when the studio musicians could actually make it. And by the time they debuted on a Monday in February 1966 at the famed Village Vanguard, they were already a force to be reckoned with — soon to become the most influential big band of the last 50 years. The Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, now the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, still plays every Monday night.

    Jazz Night In America heads to the basement jazz shrine to see the band's 50th anniversary show in February 2016, full of cuts from the original Thad Jones songbook. Our radio program tells the story of how the band came to be.

    Personnel

    Mat Jodrell, trumpet; Jon Owens, trumpet; Terell Stafford, trumpet; Scott Wendholt, trumpet; Luis Bonilla, trombone; Jason Jackson, trombone; John Mosca, trombone; Douglas Purviance, bass trombone; Dick Oatts, alto sax/winds; Billy Drewes, alto sax/soprano sax/winds; Rich Perry, tenor sax/winds; Ralph Lalama, tenor sax/winds; Gary Smulyan, baritone sax; Michael Weiss, piano; David Wong, bass; John Riley, drums with Jerry Dodgion, alto sax.

    Copyright 2016 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Songs We Love: Bill Evans Trio, 'You're Gonna Hear From Me [Alternate Take]'

    April 30, 2016. Posted by David Tallacksen.

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    The Bill Evans Trio (Eddie Gomez, Jack DeJohnette and Bill Evans) in 1968. (Image Credit: Giuseppe Pino/Courtesy of Resonance Records)

    Today is International Jazz Day, which you can celebrate with five great jazz performances at the Tiny Desk and a list from Christian McBride — plus a newly unearthed studio recording by a short-lived version of the Bill Evans Trio.

    There are two basic structures that inform the majority of performances by the Bill Evans Trio. The first kind are simple vehicles for Evans to build and flesh out his ideas — pretty standard fare for any jazz ensemble. The second kind, the kind that Evans' fame as one of jazz's greatest improvisers and bandleaders is built on, are less like vehicles and more like conversations. This take on "You're Gonna Hear From Me," a hit for crooner Andy Williams in 1966, is an example of just how fervent the trio's conversations could be.

    The Bill Evans Trio went through countless lineup changes over Evans' 23 years as a bandleader. This particular configuration, featuring Evans' longtime collaborator Eddie Gomez and future fusion titan Jack DeJohnette, is probably the least known. Though Gomez joined Evans in the fall of 1966 and would stay with him for 11 years, DeJohnette's tenure lasted only a few short months. What they did in that time was previously only documented on the Bill Evans At The Montreux Jazz Festival LP. Recorded during that same period in 1968, Some Other Time: The Lost Session From The Black Forest is a new two-disc set that captures this trio's potency in its only studio appearance.

    At times the performance can feel quite spontaneous, as if the musicians came up with every single note on the spot. There's a great deal of truth in that, according to the trio's bassist, Eddie Gomez. "We didn't have too much set-up," Gomez tells NPR. "We were kind of just playing through them. I mean, we hadn't played a lot of these tunes ... we hadn't formulated a real pattern as to how to go about it — who would play first, etc. — so all of it was pretty much off the top of our heads. Which was good, and it made it kind of all the more fun, because we were improvising, totally improvising."

    It feels appropriate that the alternate take of "You're Gonna Hear From Me" closes out disc two, considering the first of the disc's 10 tracks is the "primary" take. What's captured between the opening of the primary take and the closing notes of the alternate is the range that this configuration had as it evolved as a unit in the studio. You hear the results of the players continuing to listen to each other. You hear them grow into each other's grooves and begin to communicate on a level that is closer to pure instinct than simple, shared language. Each man puts forth the same level of intensity and musicality with every note, every stroke, to the point where three distinct improvisations merge into a unified whole. It's the sound of true equals.

    Some Other Time: The Lost Session From The Black Forest is out now on Resonance.

    Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.