Music

Courtesy of the artist

New York Voices sang at a WBGO event even before their first album. That was 30 years ago. I have lost count of how often they've come to talk and perform on Singers Unlimited through the years. 


Southside Johnny — singer and harmonicat, "the Godfather of the Jersey Sound," a sidekick of Bruce Springsteen, an inspiration for Jon Bon Jovi — is performing with the Asbury Jukes this Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Enlow Recital Hall of Kean Stage

He came by to have fun talking with Michael Bourne, and to play some blues live in the WBGO performance studio. 

Here's a video of Johnny and pianist Jeff Kazee playing an impromptu tune, "New Jersey Tomato Blues." 

Hamiet Bluiett was as much a soul singer as any broad-shouldered balladeer who recorded hit singles for the rhythm-and-blues labels of the 1950s and ‘60s.

The only difference was that he used a baritone saxophone to do the pleading, growling and shouting, in the experimental vein of progressive jazz.

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Earlier this week, an array of news outlets in New York City reported a macabre discovery: The body of a 53-year-old man was found floating in a Queens marina, fully clothed, with chains wrapped around his legs. The body was noticed by a passerby along the shoreline of the World's Fair Marina in Flushing Harbor, near Citi Field, around 9:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Bruno Bollaert

Kamasi Washington’s Heaven and Earth Tour reached New York City on Tuesday, with a stop at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center opening for Florence and the Machine. Over the summer we spoke with the Herculean saxophonist about some of his most important early music influences — from Art Blakey to Busta Rhymes to Stravinksy — during an onstage conversation at Jazz Middelheim in Antwerp, Belgium.


Juan Tizol Collection, courtesy of Steven Lasker

Duke Ellington was among the preeminent American composers of the 20th century, and the most exhaustively studied of all jazz artists. There are more books and articles about him than any other jazz musician, and collectors have pored over his vast discography — not just a prolific half-century studio output but also hundreds of hours of radio broadcasts, audience tapes, and film and television appearances.

Jill Furmanovsky

You probably know Nile Rodgers for his trailblazing work in disco, and as producer behind some of the 20th century’s most enduring pop songs. Did you also know that Rodgers started out as a jazz musician? At this summer’s North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, author Ashley Kahn sat down with the formidable bassist, composer, arranger and producer to discuss his jazz roots.


Deneka Peniston

Take Five this week is packed with must-hear albums, just released or just ahead.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

Philippe Levy-Stab

Sarah McKenzie kicked off the new season of The Checkout — Live at Berklee.

 

A young singer, pianist, and composer originally from Melbourne, Austrailia, and now based in London, McKenzie returns to her alma mater in Boston to perform songs from her latest Impulse! album, Paris in the Rain.

 

She was joined by her quartet, featuring guitarist Perry Smith, bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Donald Edwards.

 

Valerie Gay Bessette

This past summer the Montreal Jazz Festival featured drummer Mark Guiliana in its Invitation series, presenting three different projects over three nights at the Church of the Gesù. 

Jean-Baptiste Millot

From jazz and poetry to the plight of immigrants, Take Five looks at five new tunes that explore cultural currency in music.

Courtesy of the artist

Radam Schwartz is passionate about “organ rooms” — jazz clubs with a Hammond B-3 or some other type of organ. Schwartz, an organ scholar and a jazz historian, says that on many levels, such clubs are largely forgotten.


Carol Friedman

When we last heard from Chucho Valdés, the magisterial Cuban pianist and composer, he was engaged in patrilineal homage.

On Familia: Tribute to Bebo and Chico, released last year, he joined forces with Arturo O'Farrill to celebrate the legacies of their fathers, who were in the first rank of Cuban jazz royalty.

Jimmy Katz

The myriad folk musics of Puerto Rico have been a highly productive fixation for Miguel Zenón, the acclaimed alto saxophonist, composer and bandleader.

Típico, an emblematic effort by his ace quartet, was released last year. With Yo soy la Tradición, which arrives this Friday on Miel Music, Zenón explores a softer-featured but no less intense collaboration with a contemporary chamber string ensemble, Spektral Quartet.

Courtesy of the artist

Billy Martin of Medeski, Martin & Wood, arguably the most accomplished jam band on the planet, expands his universe in adventurous music-making.

 

 

 

A heavy groove drummer who has never been shy in incorporating exotic sounds — from bamboo rain sticks to Tibetan bowls — Martin is now ready to make his mark in contemporary classical music. MMW recently teamed up with the renegade classical chamber ensemble Alarm Will Sound for Omnisphere, a concert album released last week.

Big Jay McNeely, a rhythm-and-blues legend known as “King of the Honkin’ Sax,” died on Sunday, according to multiple sources. He was 91. Bob Porter, the author of Soul Jazz, remembers him here.

Don Schlitten / Courtesy of Resonance Records

When George Klabin started Resonance Records, he had no idea he was planting the seed for a bumper crop of historic jazz recordings.

“We started with living musicians,” says Klabin,  a veteran producer and engineer, “and it didn’t make the impact that it makes even now.”

Craig Lovell / Corbis via Getty Images

Feeling Good with WBGO — that's the theme of our fall fund drive, which kicks off this Friday. We'll be focusing on the music that makes our listeners feel good, and celebrating the ways that it brings us together. As a build-up to the drive, here's a special edition of Take Five featuring feel-good tracks curated by our announcers, ranging from throwback classics to hot-off-the-press new releases. 

Nick Michael / NPR

As we continue to remember pianist and composer Randy Weston, who died on Sept. 1, we’re reminded of his devotion to the motherland, Africa. But how many people know about his ties to Central America — and in particular, his deep connection to Panama?


Nels Cline has earned his place as a guitar hero for our times, with a track record stretching back four decades and a marquee gig with Wilco. But if you mainly associate him with squalls of feedback, you're missing a big part of the picture. "The Avant Romantic" is how Rolling Stone pegged him about a decade ago, in its list of Top 20 New Guitar Gods.

Courtesy of the artist

The Cuban mambo group Orquestra Akokán visited our studio at WBGO yesterday. In this Checkout podcast, you'll hear their full performance, and my conversation with two co-leaders from the band.


LIVIA SA

The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival is a perennial summer favorite in New York City, bringing crowds to both Tompkins Square Park in the East Village and Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. 

This was the festival's 26th year, and we captured two sets in Harlem, by singer Catherine Russell and trumpeter Keyon Harrold. You can hear them both here, exclusively on WBGO.

Francis Wolff / Blue Note Records

Labor Day weekend is a time to honor our workers, and the spirit of industry they embody. Of course it also carries other connotations: backyard barbecues, furniture sales and family road trips, for starters.

When thinking about a Labor Day edition of Take Five, I decided to bypass the standard fare — like Cannonball Adderley's “Work Song,” which refers to a different set of circumstances than the one that this holiday commemorates. I looked instead to important jazz artists who were born this week in history, within several days of the holiday.

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