Music

Peter Gannushkin

Kris Davis and Craig Taborn, "Love in Outer Space"

With his new album, Reaching Out, trombonist Michael Dease clearly demonstrates why he’s met the high level of musicality demanded by discerning bandleaders like Christian McBride and Jimmy Heath.

With this album Dease salutes the genius of legendary pianists Cedar Walton and Kenny Drew, as well as his former trombone teachers Conrad Herwig and Steve Turre. 

Roberto Polillo / CTS Images

Wes Montgomery was one of the world's most accomplished jazz musicians, beginning in his late teens. He went on to perform worldwide, with a catalog of recordings that had significant influence on just about every guitarist who followed.

“All the music in this album was written during a very blue period in my life,” the bassist Charles Mingus observed in the liner notes to Tijuana Moods.

Recorded a little over 60 years ago, on July 18 and August 6, 1957, it’s an album that remains unique not only in the Mingus discography but also in jazz as a whole.

wBGO

Before she honored the life and music of her “friend and sister” Geri Allen with a Winter Jazzfest concert at the New School, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington gave us a live preview last Friday on WBGO’s Afternoon Jazz.

Carrington — leading a group with vocalist Lizz Wright, pianist Helen Sung and bassist Kenny Davis — filled our performance space with the spirit and music of Allen, who passed away last June, two weeks after her 60th birthday.  

By 1938, clarinetist Benny Goodman was already known as "The King of Swing" — the leader of the most popular dance band in America at a time when swing jazz was America's most popular music. But nobody knew how it would be received in Carnegie Hall, America's temple to classical music.

John Rogers / WBGO

“Art hurts. Art urges voyages — and it is easier to stay at home.” Gwendolyn Brooks wrote those words just over 50 years ago, for her poem “Chicago Picasso.” They resurfaced late on Friday night at the New School Tishman Auditorium, as part of the 2018 Winter Jazzfest Marathon.

Ebru Yildiz for NPR

I have a friend who loves gypsy guitar music so much she said she’s going to build a campfire in the backyard, light it, and wait.

Some folks feel pretty connected to their Django Reinhardt. The Django practitioners are just as passionate (maybe without the campfire), with a burn that brings legions to hot clubs, and festivals where the Sinti style lives.

C. Taylor Crothers / Concord Jazz

Chick Corea and Steve Gadd have a musical connection over 50 years deep. So when the iconic keyboardist and legendary drummer found time last year to reunite in the studio I immediately thought of Corea's albums The Leprechaun and My Spanish Heart, and the concert I hosted in Cleveland in 1981 featuring music from the Three Quartets, with Chick, Steve, Eddie Gomez and Michael Brecker. Some nights you’re so glad you showed up.

A bar fight breaks out during a pivotal scene in Django, the musically crisp yet mournful new wartime drama by Étienne Comar. As the fracas unfolds, the band keeps playing, with a blithe bemusement that seems to say: This happens all the time. But these are far from normal times.

Chris Tobin

The polyglot queen of "New Flamenco" doesn't have to work to captivate a room. Buika's voice, a deep entanglement of late-morning sunlight and curling smoke, takes care of all that — as she effortlessly reminded us during a recent visit with her band, in advance of a Winter Jazzfest concert on Friday at the Town Hall. 


WBGO

Michael Mwenso has led high-profile residencies and amassed an ardent following, becoming a staple of the New York City jazz scene. But he has no recordings to speak of — something The Checkout is here to remedy with “Songs of Empowerment and Uplift,” a suite captured live in concert.


John Rogers / NPR

The Winter Jazzfest, which descends on New York City every year at this time, is more than a show of superabundance. While it's true that the festival's defining trait is a dizzying sprawl and variety of acts — and this year's edition, the 14th, is no exception — there are other reasons for its claim as the most important jazz event of the year.

Courtesy of the artist

Curtis Salgado knows how to sing the blues. He’s lived a helluva lot of blues. “I’ve been cut from stem to stern,” he sings on his 2016 album The Beautiful Lowdown. He’s singing about defying death (and multiple surgeries) — but being cut open does not always fix a broken heart. That’s when singing the blues heals best.  

“I Will Not Surrender,” he sings to open Rough Cut, his new album with guitarist Alan Hager. Been there. Done that. And he’s not done.

BENEDICT SMITH / Courtesy of the artist

When the Hammond B-3 organ guru Dr. Lonnie Smith returned to Blue Note Records in 2016, there was an obvious evolution from those hip Blue Note albums of the late 1960s. With his latest, All In My Mind, Dr. Lonnie comes right at us with what he calls “my brotherhood”: a trio featuring guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Johnathan Blake.

Five Songs To Dig Out To

Jan 4, 2018

As the bomb cyclone moves past greater NYC (sorry friends in Boston, you're in for some more white stuff!), we now have to think about getting out of the house. And that means putting that shovel to work and making a path. With that in mind, here are some of our favorite tunes to dig out to.

Shervin Lainez

Mark Guiliana’s trademark isn’t limited to one style, but rather accentuated across a broad spectrum of modern sounds, from Brad Mehldau to David Bowie. His most recent album, Jersey (Motéma), is an acoustic jazz effort that honors his roots in the Garden State. ​He recently brought his drums to our studio in Newark to demonstrate his evolution in rhythm, from one beat to the next.


Peter Adamik

Take Five kicks off 2018 in high style, with music that stretches forward.

Courtesy of Motema

We ring in the new year by remembering “Our Favorite Things – 2017,” a review of notable jazz and blues releases as chosen by WBGO announcers:                             

Kiel Scott

This year supplied no shortage of notable and often inspiring music — sounds that flirt in and outside jazz. Here are a few you should listen to.


FARRAD ALI

 

Wayne Shorter didn't release any new music in 2017. But that's not to say the eminent saxophonist, composer and NEA Jazz Master had anything less than a banner year.

 

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

The WBGO Joy of Jazz South African Adventure was one of my highlights of 2017. As soon as we arrived in Johannesburg on Sept. 28, our group of over 50 travelers was treated to a whirlwind tour of the city and the surrounding areas.

Henry Hayes / Courtesy of Berklee College of Music

New Year’s Eve is always an epic night for music in New York City, if you don’t mind spending a little extra (or maybe more than a little) and wading through a crowd.

NPR's Noel King and David Greene look back on a year of great music releases with writers who cover the various genres.

Lee Ann Womack, The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone

"Lee Ann Womack is sort of a modern traditionalist; she was a mainstream hitmaker in the late 90's, and she's in a different phase of her career now. With this particular album, she kind of is trying to get to what she feels like is the emotional core of country music: it's melancholy." - Jewly Hight

Ilene Cutler / Courtesy of Verna Gillis

Roswell Rudd, a trombonist whose jubilant blare and yawping wit made him a singular fixture in the jazz avant-garde — as a bandleader, a member of The New York Art Quartet and a frontline partner for titans like saxophonist Albert Ayler — died on Friday morning at his home in Kerhonkson, N.Y.

Cem Kurosman

What defined the conversation around jazz this year? There’s no simple answer to that question, but trying is always a worthwhile struggle ­— especially in the company of my fellow jazz critics, who devote most of their waking hours to the subject.

John Rogers for NPR / johnrogersnyc.com

Every year around this time, the jazz community takes the measure of its highlights and bright moments — along with a tally of its losses.

 

And while it's true that important jazz artists leave us every year, 2017 was tougher than most. We bade farewell to avant-garde pioneers like Muhal Richard Abrams and Sunny Murray, genre-blending synthesists like John Abercrombie and Larry Coryell, and behind-the-scenes giants like Nat Hentoff and George Avakian.

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