Music

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Carol Channing's trademark platinum blond hair framed a face that always seemed to be smiling, her wide-eyed innocent style belied a very savvy mind, and her voice was unmistakable. She died Tuesday morning, her publicist told Broadway World. She was 97 years old.

Born in Seattle in 1921, Channing's parents were Christian Scientists. She recalls that she got her first glimpse of backstage delivering copies of The Christian Science Monitor to theaters.

Michael Woodall

Joey DeFrancesco has spent the last 30 years as a reigning Hammond B-3 organ hero, building on the rich tradition we know as soul jazz. What that means in practical terms is variable: DeFrancesco has led trios and larger combos; worked with his heroes, including Jimmy Smith; and even collaborated with Van Morrison.

Renato Nunes

Anniversaries can be a time for reflection, and taking stock of where we’ve been. So in celebration of WBGO's 40th anniversary, this episode of The Checkout dips into the archives, recalling the era when it was hosted and produced by its founder, Josh Jackson.

OKeh Records / Sony Music Masterworks

When we last heard from saxophonist Branford Marsalis, he was touring behind Upward Spiral, a 2016 collaboration with Kurt Elling. That album featured Elling’s vocals out front, with Marsalis and his quartet playing a strong backing role.

The band — a longtime unit with Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Justin Faulkner on drums — is poised to reclaim the center spotlight with a new studio album, The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul. Due out March 1 on OKeh Records, it will the first Branford Marsalis Quartet release in nearly seven years, since the rather less loftily titled Four MFs Playin’ Tunes.

John Rogers for NPR / johnrogersnyc.com

Kurt Rosenwinkel, the illustrious guitarist and composer, will appear at S.O.B.'s on Friday as part of the lineup for WBGO @ 40

Half-price tickets are available to anyone who purchases online using the code WBGO40. Those with festival passes for the Winter Jazzfest Marathon are also welcome to attend. As we count down to the show, we thought it would be appropriate to revisit a standout Rosenwinkel set from the WBGO archives.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

This week’s Take Five is a supersize preview, featuring picks for Friday and Saturday nights. 

The 2018 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll

Jan 5, 2019
Jonathan Chimene

BIGYUKI performs at the Winter Jazzfest Half-Marathon on Saturday at Nublu.

Art Kane / Art Kane Archives

No one needs to be reminded that 1959 was an exceptionally good year for jazz. 

Courtesy of the artist

Alina Engibaryan is a contemplative singer, keyboardist and composer whose musical roots go back to her childhood in Russia.

 

Her grandfather, Nikolay Goncharov, was a master jazz drummer in an era when jazz was perceived as “the devil’s music.”

Peter Leng Xiong

New Year, New Music: The Winter Jazzfest kicks off this Friday, and Take Five has your Week One field guide.

Deneka Peniston

When Jason Lindner became embedded in New York’s jazz scene in the mid 1990s, he led an underground big band. These days, he's paving the way for a new breed of jazz synth artists, with the same renegade spirit.

On this episode of The Checkout, Lindner — the former keyboardist for David Bowie, trumpeter Avishai Cohen and so many others — speaks about his artistic growth, as expressed on The Buffering Cocoon, his third release with the band he calls Now Vs. Now. 

WBGO

Rob Crocker, Sheila Anderson and Nicole Sweeney discuss highlights of the past year. 


As 2018 comes to a close, Gary Walker, Rhonda Hamilton and Bill Daughtry share their favorite jazz albums of the year. 


Courtesy of the artist

As we savor the season, WBGO looks back to a session from 2013, when the Ted Rosenthal Trio came in to share music from a new holiday album.


Courtesy of the artist

Pianist Cyrus Chestnut recently brought some holiday cheer to Afternoon Jazz.

Chestnut’s new album, Kaleidoscope, is a departure from what he is known for: jazz tinged with blues, soul and gospel. Although those elements are there, he goes back to his classical roots. The album, released on HighNote Records, features his trio with bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer Chris Beck.

WBGO

WBGO's blues hosts, Michael Bourne and Bob Porter, ring in the new year with their favorite blues tunes of 2018.


Jessica Cowles

A few years ago, the Trinidadian jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles released A Creole Christmas, a brilliant musical meld of Christian hymns, Venezuelan parangs, and island calypsos. He brought that festive sound into our studio in 2016, leading a sharp and versatile band.


Courtesy of The Roy Hargrove Estate

This time each year, amidst the warmth of year-end highlights and holiday wishes, we pause to remember those we have lost.

But while it's an occasion for sadness, it's also an opportunity to celebrate their legacies in full. That's the spirit with which Jazz Night in America offers this In Memoriam episode, featuring testimonials by some of those who knew the artists best.

To the extent that there's a runaway Jazz Album of 2018 — factoring in critical reception, commercial success and cultural relevance — it comes to us from a saxophonist who died more than 50 years ago. I'm referring to John Coltrane, who probably wasn't thinking in terms of an album when he brought his quartet into the studio for a routine workout on March 6, 1963.

Isaiah McClain / WBGO

There is a tune on pianist Ray Angry’s debut album, One, titled “Circles Inside You.” Angry’s concentric creativity includes work with Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, The Roots, Joss Stone and Esperanza Spalding — an interesting mix which alone invites a listen. 


Sarah Escarraz / Jazz at Lincoln Center

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis is back with lively arrangements of holiday classics like "Jingle Bells" and "White Christmas." Catherine Russell joins the orchestra as a guest vocalist.

PERFORMERS

Nancy Wilson died Thursday after a long illness at her home in Pioneertown, Calif., her manager Devra Hall Levy told NPR. She was 81.

Born in Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1937, Wilson has recounted in interviews that she started singing around age 3 or 4.

"I have always just sung. I have never questioned what it is. I thank God for it and I just do it," she told Marian McPartland, host of NPR's Piano Jazz in 1994.

Isaiah McClain / WBGO

It’s been a decade since pianist Aaron Parks released his debut album, Invisible Cinema, which blurs the line between jazz and rock. After a prolonged absence from that sonic trajectory, he has issued an update with Little Big. He and his band came into our studio this week to perform live on The Checkout.


As a singer, arranger, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, it should come as no surprise that Jacob Collier comes from a profoundly musical family. His maternal grandparents were both professional violinists, his mother is an accomplished violinist and longtime instructor at the Royal Academy of Music in London and so, naturally, Collier taught himself to play every instrument he could find.

Joe Vericker/Liaison / Getty Images

This week, WBGO announcers take over Take Five with 12 — wait, make that a baker’s dozen — favorite holiday tracks. 

Joseph Bogges

Tessa Souter is a literally international singer. According to the analysis from a DNA-checking service, she’s made up of genes from an English mother, a Trinidadian father, and a variety of other peoples, including from eight countries around Africa. 

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