Music

Music may be one of the first modes of human expression. As Matthew Stevens also notes, about his latest album, Preverbal: “the need to express ourselves has existed far earlier than our need to make sense of it.”

C. Taylor Crothers / Concord Jazz

Chick Corea, the endlessly inquisitive keyboardist and composer, has made a point of collaborating far and wide throughout his career. But there’s a special category of music that rests on his bond with Steve Gadd, a drummer known both for the alert intelligence of his ear and the heavy pull of his groove.

Francis Wolff / Blue Note Records

One of the greatest jazz albums ever made was recorded 60 years ago today. It's A Night at the Village Vanguard, a live date by saxophonist Sonny Rollins, featuring a muscular backdrop of bass and drums. It's not a carefully plotted concept album, nor a manifesto, but a document with the slangy nonchalance of a conversation overheard on the street, extemporaneous and unburdened. It's a slice of musical vérité that captures a true master of the form on a good day, in a generous and jocular mood.

Frank Stewart / Jazz at Lincoln Center

Louis Hayes spent his youth creating the pulse of hard-bop, as a top-shelf drummer with artists like Cannonball Adderley and Horace Silver. He turned 80 this year, marking the occasion with his own Blue Note Records debut as a leader, Serenade for Horace.

Isaiah McClain / WBGO

Pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias is known around the world for combining her love of jazz with the music of her native Brazil. She recently visited our studio with her husband, bassist Marc Johnson, to talk about her engagement this weekend at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and reminisce about her journey in music.


jazz.org

Nuevo Jazz Latino created its first program of original composition’s in 2014 for Jazz at Lincoln Center.  Now a part of their 30th anniversary concert series, JALC bassist Carlos Henriquez says they’ve enlisted a group of musicians that push the envelope in Latin jazz.

“We have Pedrito Martinez, Yosvany Terry, Dafnis Prieto Elio Villafranca, and Mike Rodriguez join us.  We pick these guys because we feel that these cats understand jazz and the Afro-Cuban aspects of it, and how they are mixed together.”

akamu / akamu.net

The pianist, composer, and teacher Muhal Richard Abrams, a visionary artist with no patience for compromise or excuses, leaves the jazz community in mourning.


Jack Vartoogian / Getty Images

Muhal Richard Abrams, a pianist and composer of staunch independence and sweeping influence, inseparable from his role as a founding father of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians [AACM], died on Sunday at his home in New York City. He was 87.

Miguel Zenón was 12 when he first experienced the devastation of a major hurricane in his homeland, Puerto Rico. That was Hugo, which hit as a Category 3 in 1989, and drove nearly 30,000 residents from their homes.

Rhonda Hamilton with Makoto Ozone
Isaiah McClain/WBGO

Makoto Ozone’s wizardry on the piano has made him a star not only in his native Japan but around the world. 

He taught himself to play the organ when he was just a toddler and then as a preteen, switched to the piano after hearing Oscar Peterson in concert. Ozone has spent his life mastering jazz and classical music, and he’ll demonstrate his proficiency in both with a performance Tuesday night at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, followed by concerts Thursday through Saturday at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall with the New York Philharmonic.

First Edition Arts / Flickr

The sixth TD James Moody Jazz Festival runs Nov. 4 through 12 at NJPAC, with more than a dozen concerts across a range of styles.

used with permission

When I was a kid, Halloween meant dressing up with my friends and looking for the spots with the best candy, stopping for pranks along the way — which, if attempted now, would land me in some sort of correctional facility to contemplate that idle-mind/devil's-workshop thing. Now that I'm older, I'm stuck handing out rather than filling up when the ghosts and goblins come knocking. But if Halloween has a different sense of rhythm now, some of the best Halloween ear candy hasn't changed.

Nina Simone, “I Put a Spell on You”

William Thoren Photography

This freaky son of Newark, N.J. didn't always used to funk it up. Back when he was working in a barbershop, he was influenced by a lot of jazz, and aspiring to be a famous doo-wop singer. 

"Our customers were James Moody; I delivered milk to Sarah Vaughan," he says. "Wayne Shorter lived on Huntington Street. I lived on Bergen street, one block apart. Larry Young Jr., I remember when he sang doo-wop."

ERIKA GOLDRING / GETTY IMAGES FOR PILGRIMAGE MUSIC & CULTURAL FESTIVAL

 

The blues have traveled far and wide over the last century — exerting a vast cultural influence worldwide, yielding myriad offshoots, and generating fortunes for some of the biggest musical acts of our time. But it's also still the product of local conditions, and bound by hardscrabble local concerns.

Shervin Lainez

Hilary Gardner is becoming best known as a member of the trio Duchess, but she's been singing around the New York scene ever since she came from Alaska in 2003.  Her first album, The Great City, celebrated New York, now her beloved hometown. 

Her new album, The Late Set, is all intimate duets with pianist Ehud Asherie. 

Makoto Ozone On Piano Jazz

Oct 27, 2017
Waring Abbott/Getty Images

In 1984, when pianist Makoto Ozone was Marian McPartland's guest for the first time, he had become known as a rising jazz star. In his early 20s, he was already a master technician with many keyboard influences, including Oscar Peterson, but he first heard jazz from his father at home in Kobe, Japan.

Chuck Stewart / Courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

The previous installment of Deep Dive with Lewis Porter concerned the sources that John Coltrane used to create one of his most famous works, “Impressions.” Here is a two-part coda: a final reflection on the bridge of that piece, and another on Coltrane’s composition “Big Nick.”

Elton Anderson / Concord Music Group

Two years ago, when Jamison Ross released his Concord Jazz debut, Jamison, you could have reasonably called it a curveball. To the extent that Ross was known in jazz circles, he was known as a drummer — and not just any drummer. I first got to know him by watching him take top honors at the 2012 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, prevailing in a heavy field.

Courtesy of the Jazz Foundation of America

Fred Staton, a saxophonist touted as "the world's oldest jazz musician," has died at the age of 102. His death was confirmed by his grandson, Richard Staton.

A member of the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band and the older brother of singer Dakota Staton, he was active as a performer even after his centennial, when WBGO profiled him in our program guide. We've reprinted that story below.

The Blue Note All-Stars released their official debut, Our Point of View, not quite a month ago, and one key takeaway from the album was the enduring shadow cast by Wayne Shorter.

Every musician in the group, from trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire to guitarist Lionel Loueke, is a student of Shorter’s legacy as a composer. The album features a brisk reworking of his “Witch Hunt,” from the 1966 album Speak No Evil, and Shorter even makes a cameo — along with a musical soul mate, Herbie Hancock — on a spooky version of “Masqualero.”

Chuck Stewart / Courtesy of Tompkins Square

If ever a jazz musician combined the far extremes of clarity and obscurity, it was pianist and composer Sonny Clark. Over less than a decade’s worth of recording, his precise, boppish touch and subtle sense of phrase rang out on dozens of albums, mostly on Blue Note Records: his own small-group efforts, like Cool Struttin’ and Dial ‘S’ For Sonny, as well as exceptional outings by the likes of Dexter Gordon, Lee Morgan and Johnny Griffin. Whatever the setting, Clark’s pianism elevates the level of play. He’s intuitive, nimble and soulful. Clarity is his calling card.

Keystone / Getty Images

Dizzy Gillespie, “Long Long Summer”

I listened to hours and hours of Dizzy Gillespie over the weekend — not an unprecedented act, though it carried a little more purpose than usual. That’s because Gillespie, the immortal trumpeter, composer-bandleader and bebop progenitor, had his centenary on Saturday.

Barbara Rigon / Ojai Music Festival

In this century, few artists in or around jazz have been closer to the whirling center of the action than Vijay Iyer. A pianist, composer, bandleader and educator — with accolades to show for each of those — Iyer is also an inspired consolidator, someone who brings divergent strands of theory and practice into dialogue. He does it all the time, but he really brought the idea into focus this past June, over four busy days in Southern California's ruggedly beautiful Ojai Valley.

Gulnara Khamatova

Over the last several days, as the phrase #MeToo took hold as a viral movement, I’ve been thinking about how its message pertains to the world of jazz.

Courtesy of the artist

Take Five: new music by guitarist Pat Martino, pianist Marta Sánchez, trumpeters Dave Douglas and Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara.

Sachyn Mital

Last year, The Checkout and Jazz Night In America attempted to make a little jazz history. We asked the legendary pianist Abdullah Ibrahim to reimagine, rearrange, and reinterpret music from his early 20s. Back then, he was a member of a short-lived but influential group called The Jazz Epistles, whose other members included trumpeter Hugh Masekela, trombonist Jonas Gwangwa,  and saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi.


David Tallacksen / WBGO

Saxophonist Chico Freeman started his jazz life as a kid on the front porch of his Chicago home, peering in the open window as his father Von, and his guitarist uncle George held jam sessions that started by day and lit up the night.

Chico would go on to tour with McCoy Tyner, Sam Rivers, Dizzy Gillespie and Bobby Hutcherson — and work with blues giants Buddy Guy and Memphis Slim. It’s all there, which is the reason so many listeners readily go where Chico steers the ship; it’s guaranteed to be an engaging musical journey.

Courtesy of the artist

I first met Grady Tate in the fall of 1968 at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

John Rogers / Courtesy of the artist

This morning, the latest crop of MacArthur Fellows was announced — the so-called "genius" awards. Sometimes, a MacArthur fellowship is given as a capstone to honor a long, glorious career. But one of this year's winners, Tyshawn Sorey, is just 37 years old.

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