Music

Alto saxophonist Bobby Watson has always had his light  shine through whatever inspiration might strike: what would post-bop feel like wedded to Motown? Why is Johnny Hodges so hip? His musical I Have A Dream project.  After all, he was a Jazz Messenger. One of Blakey's musical scribes. Seems natural that Made In America, Watson's new album, would embrace a broad view of historic African-American achievement.

The School of Jazz at The New School in New York City is known for nurturing young and gifted improvisers. Such is the case with The Blake Opper New School Jazz Quartet, which sports an unusual configuration: two saxophonists, a bassist, and a drummer. The musicians, all in their junior year at The New School, performed four original compositions by saxophonist Blake Opper.

Doug Doyle / WBGO

Jazz drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts is a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow in the field of music composition. Tain has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Betty Carter, Michael Brecker, Alice Coltrane, Ravi Coltrane and many others. 

During this Jazz Appreciation Month, SportsJam with Doug Doyle is dipping into the archives to provide you with an opportunity to find out more about your favorite musicians and their connection to the sports world.

Nathalie Botbol

Layth Sidiq, a musician born in Baghdad and raised in Jordan, has a story to tell. He's a "Son of Tigris," as he tells it, yet he was schooled in the United Kingdom and United States. Through his travels he has soaked up an abundance of sounds, from Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum to Johannes Sebastian Bach to American jazz, his newfound love. 


Josh Goleman / Courtesy of the artist

For the last 17 years, The Bad Plus has been a model of musical cohesion. Its members — bassist Reid Anderson, pianist Ethan Iverson and drummer David King — have been an indivisible front, welcoming the occasional guest but never a substitute, according to the strictest ideal of a working band. As the saying goes, it has always been larger than the sum of its parts.

 

John Rogers

Take Five this week turns out to be a celebration of working bands — from the Bandwagon, led for more than a dozen years by pianist Jason Moran, to Natural Information Society, which bassist Joshua Abrams established not quite a decade ago. We'll also hear brand-new tracks by the Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet, a new-breed organ trio called Hearing Things, and the agile group led by bassist Linda May Han Oh.

William Paterson University has 24 jazz ensembles. Bill Charlap, the renowned pianist who serves as the school's Director of Jazz Studies, brought one of them to perform in our studio for Jazz Appreciation Month.

Since its inception, hip-hop has been grappling with the timeless question Marvin Gaye posed on his seminal 1971 album: What's Going On?

Frank Sinatra Enterprises

Frank Sinatra was well into his Rat Pack era, the reigning American embodiment of masculine suavity and aplomb, when he teamed up with a maestro of Brazilian music to make one of the most exquisitely tender albums of his career. That album, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim, has lost none of its luster since it was first released 50 years ago. In fact, a newly remastered anniversary edition extracts additional depth from Claus Ogerman’s orchestrations, which frame Sinatra’s voice like a Rolex on a velvet cushion.

Lynne Harty

Singer and composer Theo Bleckmann shapes his voice into an array of subtle orchestral colors. In this visit to Singers Unlimited, he talks with Michael Bourne about his new album, Elegy, as well as his work for the stage and collaborations with a jazz mentor, Sheila Jordan.


Sexmob
courtesy of the artist

Sexmob first came together, just over 20 years ago, as the Downtown Scene version of a bar band: pugnacious and maniacal, insubordinate but astute. The group — Steven Bernstein on slide trumpet, Briggan Krauss on saxophones, Tony Scherr on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums — could always be found one night a week at the Knitting Factory's Tap Room, putting pop tunes through the wringer for a boisterous crowd.

Steve Colson
Doug Doyle for WBGO

A collection of stellar artists will gather this Friday night for the spirited premiere of Adegoke Steve Colson's jazz-flavored tribute, commissioned by NJPAC in honor of Newark's 350th anniversary. 

Colson's piece Here Is the Place, Our City is dedicated to two of his closest friends who have passed, beloved historian and Rutgers University-Newark educator Dr. Clement Price and world-renowned poet Amiri Baraka.

The concert at NJPAC's Victoria Theater is set for 8pm on April 7th.

Carol Friedman

Randy Weston, the powerfully expressive pianist, composer and NEA Jazz Master, turned 91 on Thursday, though he gives the impression of someone at least a decade younger. He’s celebrating his birthday on the bandstand, with a four-night Jazz Standard engagement that draws from an ambitious new double album, The African Nubian Suite.

“When you go to Africa, you become very humble,” Weston told Sheila Anderson in a recent Salon Session at WBGO. “You realize that you are from thousands and thousands of years of civilization, and how much we have to learn from these people.”

In his first live on-air interview, drummer Nate Smith stops by Afternoon Jazz to talk with Nicole Sweeney about being a part of the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program, the making of his new album — Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere, featuring bassist, longtime friend and 2017 NEA Jazz Master Dave Holland —the vibe behind the "Nate Bop," and more.


Tim Conley, who goes by MAST, was reluctant to chronicle a painful story from his personal life and translate it into an expansive suite of music, Love and War. But as this multi-instrumentalist tells us in this podcast, sometimes the best art comes from suffering, and out of the darkness can come light, redemption and growth. 


Montreal is home to the largest jazz festival in the world, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. So it’s no surprise that the city is also the home to one of the most prestigious music schools in Canada, The Schulich School of Music of McGill University. Pianist Jean-Michel Pilc is Associate Professor and Jazz Area Chair at McGill.

Shannon Finnegan

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Dee Dee Bridgewater found a moment in her acceptance speech at the 2017 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert, on Monday night at the Kennedy Center, to sound a note of thanks for the NEA itself. “They have provided the possibility for artists to dream,” she said, “and to share their art and their creativity with people all around these United States, and all around the world.”

“That’s something,” she added. “It’s something to protect.” The stress on her last word was unmistakable, and it sparked a round of applause.

Benedict Smith / Courtesy of the artist

The NEA Jazz Masters program, now in its 35th year, has been an engine of prestige in our culture: It's still the nation's highest honor reserved for living jazz musicians. In advance of this year's ceremony and concert, which will be live-streamed from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., we're devoting this edition of Take Five to the incoming class of NEA Jazz Masters, who represent a healthy range of styles.

Celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month with WBGO !

Pianist and head of Jazz Studies at Purchase College’s Conservatory of Music, Peter Malinverni handpicked the university's Ahmad Jamal Tribute Septet for a performance in our studio. The ensemble features freshmen and grad students interpreting music recorded by pianist Ahmad Jamal.

Many jazz purists may not see the genre of hip-hop music as a viable artform, but one female lyricist may change all that. Grammy nominated platinum selling rapstress Rah Digga says if it wasn’t for her roots in hip hop she may have never discovered jazz.

Guitarist Kevin Eubanks' creative power can guide his guitar into the center of any attention: home-cooked Philly funk, a jam at Bradley's, a beautiful duet recording and tour with Stanley Jordan, a power fusion encounter with Dave Holland. And of course a 15-year bandleader on The Tonight Show

His new album, East West Time Line, demonstrates how music can feel when it's not only intelligent and engaging but also steeped in what Lester Bowie called "serious fun."

Dayna Stephens' saxophone playing is vigorous, edge-walking and full of soulful imaginative expressions — a place where a listener gets to journey and Stephens finds answers. Gratitude is a beautiful follow up to his 2014 album, Peace. Returning are pianist Brad Mehldau, guitarist Julian Lage, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Eric Harland. There's one Stephens composition, "The Timbre of Gratitude," along with interpretations of Billy Strayhorn (where Stephens shares a beautiful baritone), Pat Metheny and others.

Robert Lewis

Matt Mitchell has a rare depth of insight on the music of saxophonist Tim Berne — not only as the pianist in Snakeoil, one of the most accomplished bands of Berne’s career, but also as an aficionado, and maybe even an obsessive. All of which is glowingly apparent on førage, a deep-focus, often astonishing album that features Mitchell’s solo piano readings of Berne’s compositions.

Hear Judy Niemack and pianist Dan Tepfer as they stop by Singers Unlimited to chat with Michael Bourne about their new album, Listening to You. They'll also share a few tunes live in our studio — including an impromptu take on a standard.  

French singer Camille Bertault's life changed almost overnight after she posted a video of her singing John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." After the video was shared by thousands, she became an internet darling for her whimsical sing-a-longs with artists across the musical spectrum: Hermeto Pascoal, Cory Henry, even Glenn Gould's Goldberg Variations (performed as she prepares dinner). In this podcast, she tells us about her viral moment, her debut album, and her major-label deal with Sony.


Arthur Blythe, whose bracing, gusty sound on alto saxophone was an essential feature of the New York loft scene in the 1970s, and a proud fixture of the post-bop vanguard in subsequent decades, died on Monday in Lancaster, California. He was 76.

Deneka Peniston

Hard bop isn’t a limiting factor for David Weiss. As a trumpeter, bandleader and composer, he has moved broadly within the style, notably with the Cookers, the all-star unit he founded almost a decade ago. But Weiss has also branched well beyond hard-bop — most recently on Wake Up Call, the fourth album by Point of Departure. 

Jacob Blickenstaff

What’s in a name? You could pose that question to Jazzmeia Horn, whose grandmother envisioned a destiny for her, or the Jazz Passengers, whose founders had designs both tongue-in-cheek and sincere. Or ask Supersilent, which is often anything but silent. Or Sexmob, which... actually, never mind. Here are five great tracks from all of the above, plus Roxy Coss, whose name you should know by now.

You've probably heard John Hébert's bass behind a jazz heavyweight or two — late legends like pianists Andrew Hill and Paul Bley, as well as present-day figures like guitarist Mary Halvorson and pianist Fred Hersch. In this brief podcast, Hébert shares the story behind "70's and 80's Remix," an original tune from from his album Rambling Confessions.


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