Miles Davis

Bruno Bernard

George Shearing became identified, even in the headlines of some of his 2011 obituaries, as the composer of “Lullaby of Birdland.”

Like many a trademark hit, this could be a mixed blessing. In his autobiography, Lullaby in Rhythm, Shearing struck a perfect chord of ambivalence: “I've played it so many times that it is possible to get quite tired of doing so — although I never tire of being able to pay the rent from it!”

Jean-Pierre Leloir

John Coltrane’s momentous affiliation with Miles Davis was drawing to a close in March of 1960, when he agreed (with some reluctance) to embark on a three-week European tour.

The music made on that tour has circulated in various forms over the years, some of them informal and illicit. A few years ago the British label Acrobat released a boxed set called All of You: The Last Tour 1960. Columbia/Legacy is about to issue a collection of similar heft, titled The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6.

Dr. Lewis Porter
Bill May for WBGO News

WBGO's Nate Chinen chats with jazz historian, musician, author and University of Rutgers-Newark Professor Dr. Lewis Porter about the various versions of Round Midnight and the history behind the tune.

Dr. Porter's Deep Dive posts can be found at www.wbgo.org. 

Click above to hear the entire interview with Dr. Porter and Nate Chinen.

Over the last several years, one success story in the so-called vinyl boom has been an independent company called Vinyl Me, Please. Founded in 2013, it has expanded to reach more than 20,000 subscribers, each of whom receives a spotlight album of the month, reissued in a deluxe pressing with original artwork and other extras.

Chart Room Media

Tommy LiPuma, who died on Monday at 80, was a record producer with a golden touch, and a track record virtually unmatched in his field. LiPuma was honored alongside his fellow NEA Jazz Master, saxophonist Jimmy Heath, at WBGO’s 2011 Champions of Jazz Benefit. That evening included performances by Natalie Cole, pianist Danilo Pérez and singer Lizz Wright, who hailed LiPuma on Facebook earlier today as “one of the first friends I made in this wild business.”

Other tributes have begun to pour in from some of the artists LiPuma produced, and from listeners that his albums reached. But there’s a special sort of insight that can be found only among those who worked alongside him day after day, behind the scenes in the record business. Below, find a sampling of those voices.

For tens of millions in the Northeast, the name of the hour is “Stella” — as in Winter Storm Stella, the Weather Channel-branded nor'easter now bringing heavy snowfall to a number of cities along the I-95 corridor. I’m among those presently hunkering down (and later, shoveling out), but my first involuntary response was to start humming a familiar melody.

Take Five: Jimmy Cobb

Jan 20, 2017
Jimmy Cobb in the kitchen of the Village Vanguard, 2013
John Rogers / WBGO/NPR

Jimmy Cobb, who turned 88 on Jan. 20, will probably always be hailed first in the popular conversation as the drummer on the Miles Davis album Kind of Blue. That’s how a cultural touchstone works, and Cobb, a 2009 NEA Jazz Master, hasn’t shied away from the distinction. But of course there’s an entire career full of other highlights to celebrate, moments that underscore Cobb’s strong glide with the beat and agile attunement to a band. Here are five tracks to savor. 

Jazz Night in America: Three Miles Ahead

Aug 26, 2016
Don Cheadle stars as Miles Davis in the film Miles Ahead.
Sony Pictures Classics

It's been said that Miles Davis is to jazz is like Hemingway is to the American novel, like Picasso is to art. He was more than just a trumpet player — he was an icon of style and artistry.

Originally published April 1, 2016.

WBGO's Alexandra Hill chats with Miles' son Erin Davis as well as his nephew Vince Wilburn Jr. about the near decade long process of making the film, starring Don Cheadle, and what it was like to bring the jazz icon to life on screen.