Music

There are few artists as plugged-in to music's future as Mark de Clive-Lowe. So it's also exciting when this forward-thinking jazz pianist gets the opportunity to investigate an ancient myth from his ancestral past.

Once upon a time, jazz joints were happening all around Newark. Sparky J's. The Front Room. The Key Club. The Cadillac Club. And groups with an organist shook the earth. Jack McDuff. Jimmy McGriff. Lou Donaldson with Lonnie Smith. Charles Earland, The Mighty Burner.

 

David Redfern / Getty Images

Jon Hendricks, a revered jazz singer who refined and popularized the art of vocalese, or putting lyrics to famous improvised solos, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 96.

His death was confirmed by his daughter Aria Hendricks.

William P. Gottlieb / Library of Congress

George Avakian, a producer, artist manager and writer who played a foundational role in jazz’s expression on record, died on Wednesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 98.

His death was confirmed by his daughter Anahid Avakian Gregg.

deedeebridgewater.com

It’s been a busy year for vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater.  WBGO’s Ang Santos caught up with the jazz icon in New York City, as she tours in support of a new album.

Ang Santos:  Joining us on the WBGO Journal is Dee Dee Bridgewater, at the Blue Note in New York City.  No stranger to our airwaves, Thanks for being with us.

Dee Dee Bridgewater:  You’re welcome

AS:  You’re touring for your new album, 'Memphis, Yes I’m Ready'. To my understanding the album was a project that spanned over several years?

Erich Auerbach / Getty Images

Every holiday has its jazz soundtrack, though some yield more copious results than others. When Thanksgiving rolls around, one track stands above all: “Stuffy Turkey,” a lesser-known entry in the glorious songbook of Thelonious Monk.

Over the last several years, one success story in the so-called vinyl boom has been an independent company called Vinyl Me, Please. Founded in 2013, it has expanded to reach more than 20,000 subscribers, each of whom receives a spotlight album of the month, reissued in a deluxe pressing with original artwork and other extras.

Erin Baiano

When Cassandra Wilson sings a story, it’s heartfelt and soulful, brimming with that Wilsonian introspection. She’s sung new insight into Miles Davis, the Great American Songbook, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Robert Johnson. Her originals come from a place deep inside.


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Marlene VerPlanck was a “girl singer” with the big bands of Charlie Spivak, Tex Benecke and the Dorsey Brothers, but she became a more familiar voice in everyone’s life when she became one of the most active jingles singers in the business. “MMM, good. MMM, good. That’s why Campbell’s soups…” That was the ubiquitous Marlene, singing about airplanes and selling musically everything else.

AFP

On Friday, ECM Records made its catalog available on major streaming services, in an expansion of its partnership with the Universal Music Group. This made an ocean of material more widely available, including classical and world music.

But the trove is of special importance to jazz fans — like WBGO's music director, Gary Walker, and its director of programming, Steve Williams, who supersized this edition of Take Five with 10 tracks from as many unmissable ECM albums.

Tom Marcello / Flickr

Ben Riley, a subtle and versatile jazz drummer best known for his affiliation with Thelonious Monk in the 1960s and Kenny Barron, one of Monk’s pianistic heirs, in all the years since, died on Saturday at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York. He was 84.

Anthony Barboza / Getty Images

One way or another, you've heard Grover Washington Jr.'s saxophone. Perhaps on "Mister Magic" or another of his instrumental hits, like "Winelight." Or on "Just the Two of Us," the smash hit featuring Bill Withers.

He is the self-proclaimed Planetary Prince, a progressive pianist who seeks inspiration from emotion and the galaxy. On this Checkout podcast, he shares his debut as a recording artist.


Steven Sussman

Houston Person possesses a huge tenor saxophone sound. When encountered live, he's guaranteed to leave you with some very PERSONal moments, more soul than you came with, more good feelings to take with you.

Isaiah McClain / WBGO

It has been my pleasure to host the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition every year since its inception in 2012. It’s always a thrill to see young vocalists inspired by The Divine One, and eager to further her legacy.

And the winner of the 2017 Sassy Award — announced on Sunday night at NJPAC as part of the TD James Moody Jazz Festival — is Quiana Lynell, who showed some range in her material, and engaged the audience with her stage presence.

Alex Jonas

Is she a crooner from from the bygone era of Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf? Or is she an artist from the cyborg future? ALA.NI tells us she's neither, firmly living in the present.


Sarah Escarraz

Marquis Hill, “Coming Out Of The Universe”

Melissa Walker and Christian McBride
Isaiah McClain/WBGO

It’s astonishing that bassist Christian McBride is only 45. He’s been playing with everyone for decades. Roy Hargrove and the Jazz Futures early on. Diana Krall. Sonny Rollins. And plenty of other jazz masters, including his mentor Ray Brown.

Silver Stars
Doug Doyle for WBGO

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Newark’s longest-running vocal group known as the Silver Stars. The soul and R & B group's story is one of tribulation, redemption, perseverance, triumph and insatiable quest to make great music.

The Silver Stars will be opening for the Hall of Fame group The Whispers on November 18th at Newark Symphony Hall on Broad Street in Newark at 8:45pm.

In this year of big jazz centennials — 100 candles for Ella, Monk and Dizzy, and for the Original Dixieland Jazz Band’s first recordings — it’s easy to overlook an event that once loomed large over jazz history: the closing of New Orleans’ open-prostitution district Storyville, under pressure from the wartime U.S. Navy, which couldn’t keep its sailors away from the place.  

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New York Voices veteran Lauren Kinhan returned to her alma mater, the Berklee College of Music, for a special performance captured November 8, 2017. 

Unfathomable. Unimaginable. These are among the words used to describe the recent mass shooting in a rural Texas church, which left more than two dozen parishioners dead, eight of them children. For many of us, the inhuman horror of this act literally defies comprehension. The dimensions of the tragedy are all too familiar for Jimmy Greene.

Nancy Carter / Colson personal collection

The pioneering composer, pianist and educator Muhal Richard Abrams died on Oct. 29, at 87. Among the many artists who considered him a mentor are pianist Adegoke Steve Colson and vocalist Iqua Colson, who are spouses as well as musical partners, and coauthored this tribute. 

The Rudy Calvo Collection Cache Agency

Ella Fitzgerald was a big star on the cusp of something bigger when she began an engagement at Zardi’s Jazzland, in the heart of Hollywood, during the first several weeks of 1956.

Eddie Aidoo

The sixth annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition takes place this Sunday, Nov. 12, at NJPAC, as part of the TD James Moody Jazz Festival.

Courtesy of Blue Note Records

As record labels experiment with formats and strategies in an online-streaming age, one major player in jazz is investing in what you might call a super-premium product tier. Blue Note Records has announced Blue Note Review, an objet d’art available only by subscription, twice a year, in a limited edition of 1,500 copies.

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Performing a tribute to a great artist is always a tricky business. You don’t want to imitate, but you do want to show how much you’ve been inspired by the artist you’re celebrating. You're thanking the artist for all their echoes in your own voice. And that’s what so lovingly resounds in the voice of Lauren Kinhan on A Sleepin’ Bee, her tribute to Nancy Wilson.

On the most recent Singers Unlimited, Lauren talked with me that album and sang in the studio with pianist Andy Ezrin. She’ll perform with Ezrin, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Matt Wilson on Wednesday evening at her alma mater, the Berklee College of Music, and the music will stream live on The Checkout with Simon Rentner at wbgo.org.

Isaiah McClain / WBGO

A pair of great pianists, Helen Sung and Isaiah Thompson, recently stopped by Morning Jazz to play and chat about what moves them to move us.

Sung was in the first class of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, studying with Ron Carter, Jimmy Heath and Clark Terry — with all of whom she would one day play professionally. She has just returned from China, performing Monk’s music to packed houses in Beijing and Shanghai. After Monday’s performance with the Mingus Big Band at Jazz Standard, she and the band will travel with Mingus’ music to Tokyo for a week.

Thomas J. Krebs

Ron Miles, “I Am A Man”

There is always some big sky in the music of cornetist Ron Miles. That’s true as ever on his stunning new album, I Am A Man, due out on the Yellowbird label this Friday. You’ll also encounter a firm resolve, and a calm undercurrent of protest, in this album, which Miles named with the civil rights slogan in mind. He was thinking in part about “Condition Report,” a related piece by the contemporary artist Glenn Ligon, whose annotative scrawl is reprinted as a poem in the CD booklet.

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