March 5, 2015
For trumpeter and composer Igmar Thomas, much in contemporary music is clearly evolved from improvised American music of eras past — jazz, in short. That insight led him to create the Revive Big Band, a large ensemble with a view to connecting the through-lines between hip-hop and its predecessors. With the Big Band, he might reconstruct how a jazz tune lent the sample for a modern classic, or unveil original works, or orchestrate special collaborations with soloists like tap dancer Savion Glover, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, or rapper Talib Kweli.
It's made possible by connections he forged starting at Berklee College of Music — people like the emcee Raydar Ellis, who often appears with the band, or the concert producer Meghan Stabile, whose Revive Music agency helps the band get on stage. In December 2014, the Revive Big Band went back to Berklee and Boston for a series of performances where it all started. Jazz Night In America presents the story behind the band and its homecoming show, in conjunction with WBGO's The Checkout: Live.
© 2015 WBGO
February 26, 2015
Regular visitors to Jazz at Lincoln Center know Marcus Roberts the pianist — as a former member of Wynton Marsalis' bands and the Jazz at Lincoln Orchestra, he still returns often with his own groups. But since leaving Marsalis, he's also become a mentor to many younger musicians, both on the bandstand and in the classroom. His new 11-piece ensemble the Modern Jazz Generation combines his trio with many of his younger protégés, looping the feedback full circle.
Jazz Night In America visits Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola inside Jazz at Lincoln Center to hear original music by Roberts, plus his arrangements of Jelly Roll Morton, Chick Corea and Horace Silver. Along the way, he and his bandmates tell us how the band formed in his Florida State University office, and explore what it means to teach jazz through mentorship.
© 2015 WBGO
February 26, 2015
The jazz clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen comes from Israel, studied and lives in the Northeastern U.S., and maintains a deep affinity for Brazilian music. Specifically, she's a specialist in the Afro-Western, improvisatory, instrumental music known as choro — an analogue of early jazz in the U.S. — where her clarinet is a lead instrument. She now helms a group called Choro Aventuroso, a quartet whose other members hail from Brazil, which takes the style as a launching pad for further adventures.
In fall of 2014, Cohen and Choro Aventuroso had the opportunity to showcase at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Jazz Night In America presents their set from The Appel Room, overlooking New York City's Central Park.
Anat Cohen, clarinet; Vitor Gonçalves, accordion/piano; Cesar Garabini, 7-string guitar; Sergio Krakowski, pandeiro.
© 2015 WBGO
February 22, 2015Clark Terry wasn't just a trumpeter with flawless technique; he was also, according to one peer, a "natural-born educator" who devoted much of his later career to passing on his immense musical knowledge. (Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist)
Jazz trumpeter Clark Terry has died. The musician's ebullient personality reached a nationwide audience as a member of NBC's Tonight Show band, and the sound of his expressive trumpet inspired younger musicians for nearly eight decades. The 94-year-old musician died Saturday.
Clark Terry said he heard the sound of jazz everywhere as a kid in St. Louis in the 1930s: on the radio, in parades and wafting in from river boats floating along the Mississippi River.
He came up with his own sound in a junkyard with a homemade trumpet. In 1995, he described it on the NPR program Billy Taylor's Jazz at the Kennedy Center.
"I made it from an old discarded garden hose — I had it bound up like a trumpet, with an old piece of kerosene funnel, made it look like a bell," he said, laughing. "Then I put a piece of old lead pipe on the end, that was my mouthpiece. I couldn't make any music with it but I sure made a lot of noise with it!"
He said when his neighbors couldn't stand the racket any longer, they pitched in and bought him a real trumpet.
Eventually, Clark Terry learned to play jazz on the bandstand. In 1948, after a stint in the U.S. Navy, Terry hit the big time with the Count Basie Orchestra. Terry said the music education that started under the watchful eyes of older musicians back in St. Louis continued with Basie.
"His most important thing he gave to all of us was the utilization of space and time," Terry said. "He became famous not so much for the notes he played as for the notes he didn't."
After three years with Basie, Terry found himself playing with the bandleader who inspired him to make that childhood junkyard trumpet: Duke Ellington.
Terry spent the late 1940s and most of the '50s crisscrossing the country with Basie and Ellington. But when they went through the South there was another passenger traveling with them: Jim Crow.
Trumpeter Jimmy Owens is a generation younger than his friend and mentor Clark Terry, but he says he's heard Terry's stories.
"When we see someone like Clark Terry and is so happy, so elated at what he is performing, not knowing what he went through, it's just amazing," Owens says.
Clark Terry broke through a color line in the music business in the early 1960s. When the National Urban League lobbied the NBC network to hire black musicians for its orchestra, the white players in the Tonight Show band recommended Clark Terry.
His occasional spotlight in front of a nationwide audience included his character Mumbles, a recording studio gag that was his sendup of some of the blues vocalists he played with back in St. Louis.
Behind the humor was a jazz musician admired by his peers for his flawless technique, his crystal clear tone and musical ideas that reached all the way back to the jazz he heard as a kid.
He devoted the last part of his career to sharing his immense knowledge through jazz education in colleges and universities. Trumpeter Jimmy Owens says jazz has lost a direct link to its earliest history — and a "natural-born educator."
"He knew how to answer that question to not only give the answer to that question but give you further information about a situation," Owens says.
With Clark Terry's passing, the living history he shared through his playing and his teaching is now just history.Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
© 2015 WBGO
February 19, 2015
When trumpeter and composer/arranger Steven Bernstein first met the virtuoso pianist Henry Butler, he says he was floored. "This is it," he recalls thinking. "This is like the music that I always imagined. Everything you ever loved about music, all being in one place, but now it's all coming from one person." Decades later, when they two finally began to work together, Bernstein started to study Butler's playing — and realized there were more than a few licks that set Butler apart.
Now that Butler and Bernstein co-lead a band called the Hot 9, they break down just how they built an ensemble around one man's signature style.
© 2015 WBGO