Music

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, the firebrand trumpeter from New Orleans, doesn't go in for small gestures. His current project is The Centennial Trilogy, a three-album series intended to confront a range of societal issues, especially as they relate to the African-American population. The style of this new work carries a no less ambitious agenda, blending aspects of post-bop, trap and electronics, according to the non-idiomatic designation that Adjuah likes to call "Stretch Music."

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Multi-instrumentalist, composer, spiritual leader and the wife of John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (1937-2007) long stood in her husband's shadow. Some certain number of more casual jazz fans, if they have known her name at all, only know it from sidewoman credits on some of his albums, and not for her own performances and recordings.

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Hugh Masekela was an up-and-coming trumpeter, all of 20, when he took an overnight train from Johannesburg to Cape Town to meet a pianist everyone was talking about in South Africa: Abdullah Ibrahim, then known as Dollar Brand. Ibrahim, 25 at the time, was the forward-thinking figure needed to complete South Africa’s greatest bebop band of all time, The Jazz Epistles. 

Manhattan School of Music is home to undergraduate and graduate degree programs in jazz, developed under the leadership of jazz artist and educator Justin DiCioccio.  For Jazz Appreciation Month, we have three of the school's jazz ensembles: MSM Jazz Orchestra, MSM Mingus Ensemble, and MSM Jazz Arts Vocal Big Band.

Drummer Alvester Garnett has worked with Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter and Cyrus Chestnut, among others: Hear him on Ella: Accentuate the Positive, a new Ella Fitzgerald tribute album by his wife, violinist Regina Carter. 

He recently sat down with Sheila Anderson to discuss his years in the Malden Diplomats Drum and Bugle Corp in Boston, and how he learned to tap dance and play piano before the drums.


Ella Fitzgerald, who would have turned 100 Tuesday, was one of the most beloved and versatile singers of the 20th century. In a career that spanned six decades, Fitzgerald recorded hundreds of songs, including definitive versions of many standards. Along the way, she influenced generations of singers.

But the first thing that strikes you about Fitzgerald is that voice.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

One hundred years ago Tuesday, in a working-poor neighborhood of Newport News, Va., a laundress and a shipyard worker had a baby girl. The father soon disappeared, and the mother and child moved north to New York. The mother died. The girl ran away and became one of the most important singers of the 20th century.

Ella Fitzgerald could sing anything: a silly novelty song, like her breakthrough hit, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket." A samba that scatted. A ballad, spooling out like satin.

Hear Four Ensembles From The Famed University of North Texas Jazz Program

Apr 25, 2017

The University of North Texas College of Music has a rich jazz history. In 1947, it became the the first university in the world to offer a degree program in jazz. Today, the UNT jazz program, housed within America's largest music school, has spawned the careers of numerous Grammy-winning artists, including Norah Jones and Snarky Puppy's Michael League.

William P. Gottlieb / Library of Congress

The immortal Ella Fitzgerald, First Lady of Song, was born a century ago — April 25, 1917 — and there has been no shortage of commemorative celebration. We caught the spirit and asked some of our on-air hosts at WBGO to curate this edition of Take Five. Their enthusiasm compelled us to expand the column to six tracks, spanning the golden era of her roughly five-decade recording career.

courtesy of the artist

It's hard to imagine an artist more steeped in the culture of New Orleans than Troy Andrews, better known as Trombone Shorty. Andrews grew up in the Tremé, a neighborhood that's become practically synonymous with brass-band music. At age 4, he marched in the street with his brother's band; by 13, he was playing in the New Birth Brass Band. He's also donated instruments and founded the Trombone Shorty Foundation to help pass along New Orleans' musical culture to a new generation.

Cameron Robert/NPR

Editor's note: This story contains some explicit language.

The connection between Killer Mike and George Clinton might not seem immediately obvious. One is a 42-year-old Atlanta rapper who, alongside El-P in Run the Jewels, sells out shows across the country without the boost of radio play. The other, now 75, founded the pioneering groups Parliament and Funkadelic in the '60s and presided over a funk empire whose onstage manifestations included dozens of musicians and a spaceship that descended from the rafters.

Sylvia Moy was one of the first female producers at Detroit's legendary Motown Records, co-writing hits for artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and The Isley Brothers. Moy died on Saturday at age 78 in Dearborn, Michigan from complications of pneumonia.

Peter Gannushkin/Courtesy of the artist

When it comes to Colin Stetson's music, joy is found in the improbable and seemingly impossible places. It's often been said that Stetson's signature sound — hallucinogenic rhythmic swells using just a saxophone, a pair of lungs and some well-placed microphones — is almost supernatural. It's made even more incredible by the fact that Stetson prefers single takes, with no looping or overdubbing. As he told Stereogum: "The addition of unnaturals is what I avoid."

Record Store Day, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is a consumer ploy in the guise of a cultural event. Or, depending on your vantage, maybe it's the other way around. Whatever the case, record stores across the country and around the world are happily (or gamely) bracing for impact: Record Store Day 2017 falls this Saturday, April 22, with a wave of exclusive releases, in-store appearances and other retail enticements.

Robert Ashcroft / Courtesy of the Artist

Growing up in the Ironbound District of Newark, New Jersey, Wayne Shorter savored almost nothing more than the suggestion of a daring escape. “When we got our bicycles, we would go down to the marshes, where Newark Airport is now, and ride the bikes a little bit into the soft earth, and in those tall weeds,” he said. “We’d go as far as we can — like, dare each other: 'How far can you go?'”

Janis Siegel of the Manhattan Transfer is one of the most versatile singers in jazz and song. She can sing (always delightfully) vocalese, standards, gospel, doo-wop, a kaleidoscope of “pop” songs, bossa novas, and then some. Requinte Trio is a new group she’s been working with recently, featuring pianist John DiMartino and guitarist and vocalist Nanny Asiss.

Why do hip-hop producers gravitate toward jazz samples? For a mood, for sonic timbre, for a unique rhythmic component. Swing is a precursor to the boom-bap. "If you're a hip-hop producer that wants a lot of melodic stuff happening," pianist Robert Glasper says, "you're probably going to go to jazz first."

Keith Major

When pianist Gerald Clayton titled his fine new album Tributary Tales, he had a few different connotations in mind. A tributary is a stream that feeds a river or lake; it's also a gift paid in tribute, or a political state that serves a superior power. Clayton was thinking about his relationship to the jazz lineage, and the ways in which various experiences and influences flow into a larger whole.

New York University’s Jazz Studies program is located in the heart of Greenwich Village, hallowed ground for generations of jazz artists and fans alike. To celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month, assistant professor and saxophonist Dave Pietro introduces us to the NYU Wayne Shorter Ensemble, which explores the compositions of NYU alumnus and Newark native Wayne Shorter.

Allan Holdsworth, a spellbinding guitarist who influenced generations of jazz and rock musicians with his innovative sound, has died unexpectedly at age 70.

His daughter Louise Holdsworth announced his death on Sunday, prompting an outpouring of grief as well as high praise for an artist who not only changed the guitar, but also created a musical language entirely his own.

Ernest Gregory / courtesy Chick Corea Productions

This week, Take Five is all about duos: from all-star summit meetings, like the one pictured above, to collaborative new partnerships like the Upstate Project, jointly led by singer-songwriter Rebecca Martin and pianist-composer Guillermo Klein. The unifying thread is deep colloquy bound by mutual respect — along with the sheer quality of the music.

The Royal Academy of Music is Britain's oldest degree-granting music school. Since its establishment in 1822, the conservatory has produced a lengthy roster of versatile and creative luminaries; Sir John Dankworth, Joe Jackson, Sir Elton John and Annie Lennox are RAM alumni.

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.

 

 

When Christian Sands was 12 years old, Dr. Billy Taylor was already telling folks about this young pianist who had a presence in the music like he'd already been here once. Christian McBride felt it too, and made Sands a core member of his Grammy-winning trio.

The key for Sands is in the title of his new album, Reach. And it's in his playing, which grabs your attention with his every intention.

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.

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