WBGO Blog
  • Prestige Records' 65th Anniversary Party

    January 15, 2015

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    Jamison Ross performs at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition in 2012. (Image Credit: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz)

    Like many a jazz label throughout history, Prestige Records was a small, independent company which happened to document greats: musicians like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk, among others. Last year marked its 65th anniversary.

    Among the festivities was a performance led by drummer Jamison Ross. A recent winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, the 26-year-old's roots in jazz and gospel give him thrilling chops and unfailing feel. At Jazz at Lincoln Center, Ross' trio took on highlights from the Prestige catalog — specifically, tracks recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, who engineered many of jazz's all-time-great sessions on Prestige or otherwise. Van Gelder was also in the house to celebrate his 90th birthday.

    Jazz Night In America airs that set by the Jamison Ross Trio, featuring fellow rising stars Melissa Aldana (tenor saxophone) and Mike Rodriguez (trumpet).

    Copyright 2015 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit .

  • 'Everything Is Cyclical': Christian McBride Looks At 2015 In Jazz

    January 14, 2015

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    Christian McBride is the host of NPR's Jazz Night In America. (Image Credit: Anna Webber/Courtesy of the artist)

    Christian McBride likely doesn't need much of an introduction. He's a bassist who's worked with everyone from McCoy Tyner to Diana Krall to Paul McCartney. His latest gig is as the host of NPR's Jazz Night In America, "a portrait of jazz music today, as seen through many of its exceptional live performances and performers," as we wrote in October.

    McBride recently sat down with NPR's Audie Cornish to discuss what he's excited about in jazz this year. Two new albums came to mind, including Fresh Cut Orchestra's From The Vine ("I really like the way that they work with layers") and pianist Aaron Goldberg's The Now ("I think Aaron is absolutely brilliant"). McBride says he's particularly drawn to Goldberg's commitment to the swing.

    "Everything is cyclical," McBride says. "In the jazz world right now, it's not too popular to play swing rhythms. But if you're talking about something with a legacy as deep and as vast as jazz, one thing that's always been constant in that tradition is the swing rhythm."

    McBride says he's also looking forward to celebrating two major birthdays in jazz. Herbie Hancock turns 75, and McBride shares a cut from The Warner Bros. Years (1969-1972), a collection that highlights the Mwandishi band: "It was funky, it was swingin', it was avant-garde, it was land, it was water, it was everything."

    Roy Haynes, an icon to jazz drummers, turns 90 this year.

    "Without a doubt, Roy Haynes is a science project," McBride says. "He is still so spry at age 90 and still sounding great."

    You can hear the conversation by clicking on the audio link.

    Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

  • 5 Locally Grown Projects At Winter Jazzfest 2015

    January 8, 2015. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

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    Eddie Henderson performs three times at the 2015 Winter Jazzfest. (Image Credit: Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist)

    New York's Winter Jazzfest seems to grow like kudzu: fast and far. This year's installment, the 11th annual, features 500 musicians in styles ranging from gypsy swing to electronic.

    The festival's signature event is a two-day marathon, this Friday and Saturday, of overlapping performances at 10 clubs around Greenwich Village. Friday's highlights include celebrations of the music of David Murray and John Lurie. Saturday's concerts include showcases inspired by hot jazz from the 1920s and hip-hop. A single ticket offers admission to any and all of these concerts, more than 100 in all. All of Winter Jazzfest's groups are streaming around the clock on WBGO's HD2 channel.

    WJF now features artists from around the world, but its main attraction is still the chance to hear new projects by New York music makers. For this profile, I've chosen five surprising turns by stalwarts of the city's improvised-music scene.

    Copyright 2015 Newark Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.wbgo.org.

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  • Live From Detroit

    December 31, 2014. Posted by WBGO.

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    Rodney Whitaker. (Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist)

    For decades, Detroit has launched countless jazz careers: Thad Jones and Donald Byrd, Paul Chambers and Ron Carter, Kenny Burrell and Tommy Flanagan, Yusef Lateef and Alice Coltrane, Betty Carter and Geri Allen. To the present day, the city's musical legacy remains strong, as witnessed every Labor Day at the Detroit Jazz Festival.

    Violinist Regina Carter and bassist Rodney Whitaker take special delight performing in their hometown. Jazz Night in America features their sets at the Detroit Jazz Festival, and explores the Motor City's jazz scene through their eyes and ears.

    Copyright 2015 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit .

  • The 2014 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll

    December 19, 2014. Posted by WBGO.

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    Steve Lehman edged out Wadada Leo Smith for the top spot in the 2014 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll. (Image Credit: Willie Davis/Courtesy of the artist)

    NPR Music is pleased to present a poll in which 140 jazz critics picked their favorite recordings of 2014.

    For nine consecutive years, this poll has been a labor of love by eminent critic Francis Davis. It's grown tremendously since he initially submitted the consensus of 30 writers to The Village Voice in 2006. Over the last month, print journalists, bloggers and broadcasters nominated more than 700 different albums. We're thrilled to welcome his exhaustive project back to our site.

    Below are full results of the 2014 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, highlighted by a playlist of the Top 10 overall picks. You'll find a list of the entire Top 50 in the voting for Jazz Album of the Year, with the top finishers in Latin Jazz, Vocal, Debut and Reissue/Historical categories as well. (You can find all the raw data, including individual ballots, at a website operated by Tom Hull, who annually collates all the information from the poll.)

    Davis shares his thoughts on each of 2014's Top 10 Jazz Albums below. You'll also want to read his breakdown of the poll results, including his personal picks for the year's 10 best. We invite you to browse and have a listen. —Patrick Jarenwattananon, NPR Music

    The Rest Of The Top 50

    11. Miguel Zenón, Identities Are Changeable (Miel Music) 95 points (on 15 ballots)

    12. The Bad Plus, The Rite of Spring (Sony Masterworks) 88.5 (15)

    13. Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden, Last Dance (ECM) 83 (14)

    14 (tie). David Virelles, Mbókò (ECM) 80 (13)

    14 (tie). Tyshawn Sorey, Alloy (Pi) 80 (13)

    16. Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Over Time: The Music of Bob Brookmeyer (Planet Arts) 73.5 (9)

    17. Chick Corea Trio, Trilogy (Stretch/Concord) 72 (10)

    18. Fred Hersch Trio, Floating (Palmetto) 67 (12)

    19. Jeff Ballard Trio, Time's Travels (OKeh) 66 (12)

    20. Vijay Iyer, Mutations (ECM) 64 (12)

    21. Mary Halvorson/Michael Formanek/Tomas Fujiwara, Thumbscrew (Cuneiform) 63.5 (14)

    22. Trio 3 & Vijay Iyer, Wiring (Intakt) 60.5 (10)

    23. Matt Wilson Quartet + John Medeski, Gathering Call (Palmetto) 60 (12)

    24. Aki Takase & Alexander von Schlippenbach, So Long, Eric! Homage to Eric Dolphy (Intakt) 59.5 (9)

    25. Billy Hart Quartet, One Is the Other (ECM) 59 (11)

    26. Tom Harrell, Trip (HighNote) 56 (9)

    27. Eric Revis, In Memory Of Things Yet Seen (Clean Feed) 53.5 (11)

    28. Jason Roebke Octet, High/Red/Center (Delmark) 53 (9)

    29. The Nels Cline Singers, Macroscope (Mack Avenue) 52 (10)

    30. Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra, Habitat (Justin Time) 52 (8)**

    31. Marty Ehrlich Large Ensemble, A Trumpet in the Morning (New World) 47 (7)***

    32. Frank Kimbrough, Quartet (Palmetto) 45.5 (8)

    33. Hafez Modirzadeh, In Convergence Liberation (Pi) 44 (7)

    34. Nels Cline & Julian Lage, Room (Mack Avenue) 43.5 (7)

    35. Jason Adasiewicz's Sun Rooms, From the Region (Delmark) 43 (9)

    36 (tie). Joshua Redman, Trios Live (Nonesuch) 43 (6)

    36 (tie). Yosvany Terry, New Throned King (5Passion) 43 (6)

    38. Avishai Cohen's Triveni, Dark Nights (Anzic) 42.5 (11)

    39. James Brandon Lewis, Divine Travels (OKeh) 42 (10)

    40. The Cookers, Time and Time Again (Motéma) 40.5 (9)

    41. Darius Jones, The Oversoul Manual (AUM Fidelity) 40.5 (5)

    42. Henry Butler, Steven Bernstein, Viper's Drag (Impulse!) 40 (8)

    43. Pat Metheny Unity Group, Kin (←→) (Nonesuch) 40 (7)

    44. Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio, Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio (Concord Jazz) 39.5 (9)

    45. Farmers By Nature, Love and Ghosts (AUM Fidelity) 39 (11)

    46. Arturo O'Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. The Offense of the Drum (Motéma) 38.5 (6)

    47. Sean Jones im•pro•vise (never before seen) (Mack Avenue) 37 (6)

    48. Dave Douglas & Uri Caine, Present Joys (Greenleaf) 35 (7)

    49. Ideal Bread, Beating the Teens: Songs of Steve Lacy (Cuneiform) 34.5 (7)

    50. Mary Halvorson, Reverse Blue (Relative Pitch) 34 (5)

    *Includes 21.5 points (on three ballots) from 2013.

    **Includes 23 (4) from 2013.

    ***Includes 12 (3) from 2013

    Reissue/Rara Avis

    1. John Coltrane, Offering: Live at Temple University (Resonance) 149 points, on 62 ballots

    2. Jimmy Giuffre 3 & 4, New York Concerts (Elemental Music) 73 (34)

    3. Charles Lloyd, Manhattan Stories (Resonance) 69 (35)

    4. Miles Davis, Miles At The Fillmore (Columbia/Legacy) 51 (29)

    5. Louis Armstrong, The Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings (Mosaic) 33 (13)

    6. Charlie Haden/Jim Hall, Charlie Haden - Jim Hall (Impulse!) 32 (17)

    7. Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden/Paul Motian, Hamburg '72 (ECM) 26 (14)

    8. Frank Lowe, Out Loud (Triple Point) 15 (8)

    9. Bud Powell, Birdland 1953 (ESP-Disk') 13 (7)

    10. Horace Tapscott Quintet, The Giant Is Awakened (International Phonogram) 13 (6)

    Vocal

    1. Andy Bey, Pages from an Imaginary Life (HighNote) 13 votes

    2 (tie). Dianne Reeves, Beautiful Life (Concord) 5

    2 (tie). Catherine Russell, Bring It Back (Jazz Village) 5

    Debut

    1. Jeff Ballard Trio, Time's Tales (OKeh) 16

    2. Otis Brown III, The Thought of You (Blue Note) 8

    3. Rudy Royston, 303 (Greenleaf) 7

    Latin

    1. Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, The Offense of the Drum (Motéma) 19

    2. Miguel Zenón, Identities Are Changeable (Miel Music) 16

    3. Yosvany Terry, New Throned King (5Passion) 11

    4. Danilo Pérez, Panama 500 (Mack Avenue) 8

    5. David Virelles, Mbókò (ECM) 6

    6. Alfredo Rodriguez, The Invasion Parade (Mack Avenue) 5

    Methodology

    Voters were asked to submit choices for their top 10 new releases in descending order. Points were weighted by preference: 10 for 1st place, 9 for 2nd place, etc. Albums on unranked lists were awarded 5.5 points each. Voters also submitted their top three reissues/historical recordings and their lone choices for the year's best vocal, debut and Latin jazz albums. A complete list of ballots is available here.

    Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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