Jazz United Podcast


“The tune is just an excuse to bring out the you. That’s why I became a jazz musician.”

Jimmy Katz

So many of us are more than ready to put 2020 into the rearview.

Matt Sayles / AP

With each year’s new slate of Grammy nominations, there comes a wave of armchair analysis.

Which artists have the momentum this year? Who got unjustly overlooked? How many more awards can overdog Chick Corea win before they retire his jersey and call it a day?

Deneka Peniston

Until this year, the term “force majeure” was a necessary safeguard in a business contract, but a truly rare occurrence.

Fifty years ago, Herbie Hancock formed a sextet on the vanguard of electroacoustic music.

We remember it now as Mwandishi, after the title of its debut album — the first of three studio releases in as many years, during a run that has largely been overshadowed in the scope of Hancock’s career. Wedged between the curvilinear post-bop of the 1960s and the strutting jazz-funk of Head Hunters, Mwandishi embodied a distinct alignment of time and space, a moment unlikely to be replicated.

Henry Leutwyler

The musical community absorbed some devastating news this week, when Keith Jarrett revealed that he may never return to public performance.

Rolf Ambor / CTSIMAGES

By the early 1960s, Ella Fitzgerald was an established international artist, beginning to reap the fruits of a 25-year career.

It’s never a bad time to talk about Thelonious Monk. His indomitable music and incorruptible example serve as a renewable resource, because there’s always something fresh to uncover, another brilliant corner to explore.

David Redfern / Redferns/Getty

Right about now, in any other year, many of us would be gearing up for a trip to Newport, R.I.

This year, of course, is different. The Newport Jazz Festival is one of countless pleasures put on hold, with a hopeful marker in place for next year. Which got us thinking not only about what we’re missing, but also about what the festival means — as a summer ritual, as a rite of passage, as a historical nexus, as a brand name.

John Abbott

Charles Tolliver has lived his share of jazz history. As a fiery young sideman with Jackie McLean and Max Roach in the 1960s, he joined a lineage of exalted post-bop trumpeters, more than holding his own. But Tolliver also set a model of self-determination in the ‘70s, with a DIY record label called Strata-East.


Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been sorely missing live music. But in at least one sense, we haven’t lost the experience of real-time musical exchange.

This past February — before the phrase “social distancing” had entered our lexicon — the two of us, Greg Bryant and Nate Chinen, got together to hear some music.

Greg had recently moved up from Nashville to become the host of Jazz After Hours on WBGO. Nate, WBGO’s editorial director, suggested catching a set someplace before the overnight shift, which is how we found ourselves at the Jazz Standard for the Ravi Coltrane Quartet.