• Sabertooth, Or The 23-Year Midnight Gig

    November 19, 2015. Posted by WBGO.

    In Chicago, one band holds down a midnight-to-5 a.m. gig on Saturday nights — or, technically, on Sunday mornings. It's a time slot which seems challenging enough to do once or twice. These guys have been doing it for 23 years.

    Sabertooth is a quirky band, currently an organ quartet led by saxophonists Pat Mallinger and Cameron Pfiffner. It swings hard (and a little off-kilter), mixing favorite standards and a repertoire of cleverly arranged tunes. Every week, Mallinger and Pfiffner play for curious newcomers, rowdy drunks, hardcore fans and musicians coming off their own gigs.

    "It's an after-hours jazz party," Mallinger says. "That's what it's labeled. ... It's not your average jazz gig."

    It all happens in a club called the Green Mill, which doesn't look to have changed much since its days as a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Inside, it seems a bit like a place removed from time — especially if you get to see the basement and the escape tunnels into which it leads.

    Here, Jazz Night In America follows Pat Mallinger and Cameron Pfiffner to the Green Mill, then stays up all night with Sabertooth.


    Pat Mallinger, saxophones; Cameron Pfiffner, saxophone and flute; Pete Benson, organ; Ted Sirota, drums.

    Copyright 2015 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/series/347139849/jazz-night-in-america.

  • Christian McBride On Ray Brown's Bass And James Brown's Appeal

    November 18, 2015

    Christian McBride performs at the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, R.I. earlier in 2015. (Image Credit: Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images)

    Every month on All Things Considered, Christian McBride sits down with host Audie Cornish to discuss, dissect and deconstruct just about everything in jazz.

    From the interplay between the drum and the bass to the holy temples of jazz venues, they've talked about the greatest, the oldest, the youngest. They've even talked about jazz as a family affair.

    But this conversation turns the focus around: It's about McBride himself.

    Born and raised in Philadelphia, McBride is one of the premier bassists in jazz, and the leader of several bands. He's worked with Sonny Rollins, Pat Metheny and Herbie Hancock — but also Sting, Queen Latifah, James Brown, Chaka Khan, the Sonos Quartet. He's a public radio host himself now; his voice narrates the radio program and video series Jazz Night In America.

    McBride recently brought his bass to the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C., where he spoke with Cornish in front of a live audience. An edited and condensed version airs on All Things Considered. Here's the full transcript of their conversation.

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  • Michael Mwenso And The Late Night All-Stars

    November 17, 2015

    Michael Mwenso (left) leads tap dancer Michela Marino Lerman and a cast of Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola regulars in concert. (Image Credit: Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center)

    After the headliners and their crowds have left for the evening, a community of up-and-coming artists assembles in a corner of Jazz at Lincoln Center. It's a scene driven in large part by Michael Mwenso, a irrepressible vocalist and natural ringleader who curates the Late Night Sessions at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. But it also came together in off-campus listening sessions, and by the shared experience of being young and eager (and quite talented) musicians in the big city. As it turns out, all the time spent together away from the club translates directly to how Mwenso and the "family" make music on stage.

    Jazz Night in America hangs out with this family as it prepares for and seizes an opportunity to present its own music. Hear a performance at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola featuring Michael Mwenso and fellow vocalists Brianna Thomas and Vuyo Sotashe.

    Copyright 2015 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/series/347139849/jazz-night-in-america.