August 5, 2016
The trombone virtuoso J.J. Johnson was among the first to adapt the challenge laid down by bebop saxophonists and trumpeters to his more ungainly instrument. Among the recordings he left as evidence was a series of albums partnering with fellow trombonist Kai Winding. In a concert at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra trombonist Vincent Gardner recently took on that "Jay and Kai" repertoire, joined by sectionmate Elliot Mason, other members of the JLCO and special guests.
Jazz Night in America hears the music of J.J. Johnson, as heard through Vincent Gardner, and pulls back the curtain on the trombone pioneer with biographer Joshua Berrett and widow Carolyn Johnson.
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August 4, 2016. Posted by Simon Rentner.Herbie Hancock premieres a new band lineup in concert Aug. 11 in Brooklyn. (Image Credit: Douglas Kirkland/Courtesy of the artist)
The pianist, composer and music ambassador Herbie Hancock is working on new music with a new band, and he's about to present the first taste of it in live performance.
Next Thursday, Aug. 11, Hancock brings a new lineup to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., for an outdoor concert. (He's to be joined by Terrace Martin on saxophone and keyboards, Lionel Loueke on guitar, James Genus on bass and Trevor Lawrence Jr. on drums.) Hancock says he expects to play some ideas that he's been working on for a new record, which he's hoping to release next year. NPR Music and WBGO will record and film the show for a later broadcast on Jazz Night In America.
In advance of that concert, Simon Rentner, who hosts a program called The Checkout on WBGO, sat down to interview Hancock. Their conversation touched upon the connection between Flying Lotus and Miles Davis, some special guests on the forthcoming album and what he's doing with NASA. Here's an excerpted transcript of their conversation, which you can hear in full via WBGO. Rentner started by playing an excerpt of an interview with Flying Lotus.
© 2016 WBGO
July 1, 2016
The eminent pianist Randy Weston turned 90 this year, and he enjoyed an early celebration at the 2016 Panama Jazz Festival, where he was the guest of honor. Weston, whose father was born in Panama, has long celebrated his African roots in his life and music. His career spans the better part of 70 years.
Jazz Night in America listens to the Randy Weston quintet at the 2016 Panama Jazz Festival. Host Christian McBride also traveled to Weston's home to talk about the set in Panama, meeting Thelonious Monk and growing up in Brooklyn.
© 2016 WBGO
July 1, 2016
At age 21, trumpeter Kenny Rampton (now of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra) launched his touring career with a nine-month stint in Ray Charles' band. Earlier this year, Rampton honored his former bandleader by presenting the most authentic Ray Charles experience possible. The band was full of Ray Charles alumni (including backing vocalists The Raelettes), the set lists were faithful recreations of actual Ray Charles sets, and the charts were transcribed from the original tour music.
Jazz Night In America checks out Rampton and the band as they present The Ray Charles Songbook, live in concert from Jazz at Lincoln Center.
© 2016 WBGO
June 24, 2016. Posted by David Tallacksen.Bernie Worrell performs at the Black Rock Coalition Presents: All The Woo In The World â An All-Star Celebration benefit concert on April 4 in New York City. The concert was raising money for Worrell's medical costs. (Image Credit: Al Pereira/WireImage)
Keyboardist and composer Bernie Worrell, who helped shape the sound of the band Parliament-Funkadelic and influenced countless artists across a wide range of genres, died Friday at 72.
Worrell announced earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer.
His musical life began early — according to his official biography, he started studying piano at age 3, wrote his first concerto at age 8 and performed with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., at 10.
The classically trained keyboardist (he studied at Juilliard and the New England Conservatory of Music) made his name — and an indelible mark on music — in the world of P-Funk.
Worrell, aka "The Wizard of Woo," was an early member of Parliament-Funkadelic, George Clinton's sprawling, theatrical and wildly influential funk collective.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame notes that Parliament and Funkadelic "prefigured everything from rap and hip-hop to techno and alternative," with latter-day disciples including Prince and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Worrell was one of the key collaborators shaping the sounds of the collective.
He was particularly famous for his innovative embrace of the sounds of synthesizers.
In the 1980s, Worrell helped reshape the sound of the Talking Heads and became a regular member of their expanded lineup.
Even if you don't know Worrell, you've probably heard his work. As a studio musician he contributed to scores of albums, and P-Funk songs are frequently sampled on hip-hop tracks.
In 1991, when his second solo album came out, Worrell spoke to reporter Andy Lyman for Morning Edition. Worrell said his mastery of musical fundamentals was central to his genre-mashing work.
"The art of creating is not just pushing a button," he said. "We're going to lose
the art of creating — composing — because they won't even know how to make a chord. The chords are already just on a button. What is the root? What's the third? What's the fifth of the chord?
"I feel that a lot of artists and parents who are interested in music should get music back into the mainstream in school systems," he said. "That's being lost also."
You can hear that whole piece, which also explores the social awareness of Parliament/Funkadelic as well as Worrell's lasting influence on the Talking Heads, here:
In January, Worrell announced that he had been diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer. An online fundraiser and star-studded benefit concert helped cover his medical expenses — and gave many in the music community a chance to honor his life while he was still there to hear it.
George Clinton and Bootsy Collins of P-Funk, David Byrne and Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads, Fred Schneider of the B-52s, Buckethead, Living Colour and Questlove, among others, performed at the "All The WOO In The World" benefit concert in April. And Worrell played too, of course.
The crowd shouted "We love you, Bernie!" as he struggled for words, holding a proclamation from the mayor of Newark, N.J., in his honor. "I don't know what to --" Worrell said.
"Thank you," he finally said. "I love you, too."Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
© 2016 WBGO