Jazz Night in America

Robert Birnbach / 2017 San Jose Jazz Summer Fest

Jazz singing has always been a tree with firm roots, but a wild entanglement of branches. Its sound and shape are mutable, prone to outside influence and local inflection.

Dennis Manuel/Courtesy of the artist

For those who haven't had the good fortune to attend a jazz festival this summer, Jazz Night has a ticket just for you — section A, row 1 for The Robert Glasper Experiment.

NPR

Almost exactly 30 years ago, guitarist John Scofield recorded an album he evocatively titled Loud Jazz. Not quite a decade later, he made one called Quiet.

Both albums were statements of intent, widely embraced and justly acclaimed. And despite the obvious differences between the two, both were genuine expressions of Scofield's musical personality, which has always been more flexible than those extreme dynamic markings would seem to suggest. 

Jazz Night in America Queue

Jun 20, 2017

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Jazz Night in America II

Jun 20, 2017

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Testing Jazz Night in America

Jun 20, 2017

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It has been a long and eventful road since tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington released The Epic, his aptly named triple album, in 2015. The rare jazz album to become a pop-culture touchstone, it introduced the world to his close-knit Los Angeles crew, the West Coast Get Down, as well as to his burly, beseeching sound.

Jimmy Katz / The Kurland Agency

Gary Burton opened his first set at Birdland on Tuesday night with “Bud Powell” — a tune by his longtime collaborator Chick Corea, set at a boppish saunter. Standing behind his vibraphone, four mallets ablur, Burton seemed in his element, perfectly at ease. There was no indication that this was a historic engagement: he was kicking off his final week-long run in a New York club, as part of a Farewell Tour.

Jazz Night in America / WBGO and NPR

 

"It can be maddening to deal with a political environment where it seems like the truth has no purchase anymore," says Darcy James Argue, the hyper-literate composer who leads the Secret Society, a postmodern big band. Argue has spent a lot of time recently thinking about that maddening environment — not just as a matter of civic engagement during a chaotic election season, but also because it forms the crux of Real Enemies, his most recent work.

 

John Boutté
Jazz Night in America

Jazz vocalist John Boutté feels he can no longer afford to live in his hometown of New Orleans. He's not alone. Rising housing costs are pushing many musicians and service workers — the backbone of New Orleans' tourism economy — further and further outside the city limits. This suburbanization of the working class poses more than an inconvenience: It's fraying the culture of New Orleans and splintering the very neighborhoods that have nurtured the city's music for decades.

This year's Winter Jazzfest, which took place last week in New York City, presented an explicit theme of "Celebrating Social Justice." Conceptually and musically, Winter Jazzfest pushes the genre forward; after taking in as many of the 130-plus acts across many stages in Manhattan and Brooklyn as they could, our team reported back with some of the festival's highlights.


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