NPR Jazz

Dave Douglas On Piano Jazz

Sep 22, 2017

A composer, improviser and trumpeter, Dave Douglas develops music that transcends the boundaries of traditional jazz. In 2000, when he was Marian McPartland's guest, he was JazzTimes magazine's "Artist of the Year." On this 2000 episode of Piano Jazz, Douglas talks about his album Soul on Soul, a stunning tribute to Mary Lou Williams.

This essay is one in a series celebrating deserving artists or albums not included on NPR Music's list of 150 Greatest Albums By Women.

Veronica Nunn On Piano Jazz

Sep 15, 2017

Vocalist Veronica Nunn grew up in Little Rock, Ark., absorbing all kinds of music from jazz to funk to gospel. When she moved to New York in 1978, she split her time between Harlem's jazz clubs and the Theology Department at Lehman College.

On this 2008 episode of Piano Jazz, hosted by Marian McPartland, Nunn is accompanied by her husband, pianist Travis Shook. She demonstrates her soulful technique on "One Note Samba" as well as "I'm Old Fashioned."

MATTHEW PANDOLFE / Courtesy of the Artist

Sarah Elizabeth Charles is a teaching artist. That means she's an artist who happens to teach — at Carnegie Hall's Musical Connections program within the Sing Sing Correctional Facility, and at Rise2shine, an early childhood education nonprofit in Haiti. But it also means that her work as a teacher has become more and more inextricable from her work as a composer and artist. That connection, she says, is now the strongest it's ever been. 

Sarah Elizabeth Charles is a teaching artist. That means she's an artist who happens to teach — at Carnegie Hall's Musical Connections program within the Sing Sing Correctional Facility, and at Rise2shine, an early childhood education nonprofit in Haiti. But it also means that her work as a teacher has become more and more inextricable from her work as a composer and artist. That connection, she says, is now the strongest it's ever been.

Activist, hero, rebel, icon; those are just of the few of the adjectives often used in front of Dolores Huerta's name. They are well-deserved — for her part as a co-founder of a '60s labor movement, standing up for the rights of farm workers in this country, Dolores Huerta was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in May of 2012.

Starting at 9 a.m. Pacific time on Tuesday, Grammy Award-winning musician Esperanza Spalding will spend 77 hours creating her new album, “Exposure.” The entire session will be streamed on Facebook Live for all her fans to see.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young talks with Spalding (@EspeSpalding) about the experiment.

Seven people were shot and killed at a home in a Dallas suburb where they had reportedly gathered to watch a football game, authorities and neighbors say. A police officer who arrived on the scene exchanged gunfire with the suspected shooter, who was killed.

Two other people were wounded in the incident, police said. There was no immediate word on their conditions.

"Never forget" became a national rallying cry after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Yet America's schools — where collective memory is shaped — are now full of students who never knew because they weren't alive then. Many teachers now struggle with whether and how to teach the attacks and their aftermath.

According to one survey, only about 20 states include anything in depth about the events of that fateful day in their high school social studies curriculum.

And when they are taught, critics say, it's often through a narrow lens.

Ernie Andrews On Piano Jazz

Sep 8, 2017

Vocalist Ernie Andrews is a musician known for his tremendous vitality and ability to communicate, which stems from his gospel roots. Influenced by Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine and Johnny Mercer, Andrews' own special style is a mix of energy, drama and humor.

Lee Konitz On Piano Jazz

Sep 1, 2017

A former member of the Miles Davis "Famous Nonet," Lee Konitz is the foremost saxophonist in the cool style of jazz. He is also a composer, arranger and teacher. While his very first instrument was a clarinet, he favored tenor sax and then made his way to alto. What's more, he plays the piano! On this 1992 Piano Jazz, Konitz and host Marian McPartland combine forces for a version of "Like Someone In Love."

Kendrick Scott opened his first set on Tuesday night, at the Jazz Standard in New York City, with a pensive new composition titled "Home." It had a bittersweet melody, a waft of dark harmony, and a beat defined both by chop and flow. "I'm just going to send this out as a meditation for everybody in Houston, Texas right now," said Scott, a drummer, as he introduced the tune.

Vijay Iyer is an acclaimed jazz pianist, MacArthur winner and Harvard professor of music. His new album, recorded with a six-person band, is called Far From Over. With the band, he says, he wanted to write with "different dance rhythms and dance impulses" in mind; the record also reflects Iyer's belief that jazz is "a category that keeps shifting."

Patrice Rushen On Piano Jazz

Aug 25, 2017

A popular vocalist whose talent ranges from jazz to soul to R&B, Patrice Rushen is also a songwriter, arranger and master keyboardist.

At 46, Ben Jaffe is almost exactly the same age as Jazz Fest. Like a lot of New Orleans natives, he has memories of the annual event stretching back to childhood, though his experience is a little more rarefied than most. "That's where I got to sit on Fats Domino's lap and then hear him play," he says. It's where I heard Allen Toussaint play for the first time as a child.

Lenore Raphael On Piano Jazz

Aug 18, 2017

Award-winning pianist and vocalist Lenore Raphael has emerged as one of the most promising musicians in modern mainstream jazz. Influenced by such jazz greats as Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk, Raphael has developed her own swinging style.

In the French Quarter of New Orleans, there's a tiny venue with old wooden floors where on a good night you can cram in around a hundred people. The audience sits right up in front of the band and it's so intimate that the musicians don't need microphones. It's a truly magical place, where the spirit of New Orleans jazz is not only alive but evolving. It's called Preservation Hall. And it's home to our guests – the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Guest DJ Randy Newman

Aug 15, 2017

Note: This week we're featuring select episodes from our Guest DJ archives. Today we've got a conversation with Randy Newman. The singer, composer and pianist recently released his 11th solo album. It's called Dark Matter. Bob Boilen originally spoke with Newman back in 2008 when Newman released his previous record, Harps And Angels.

For those who haven't had the good fortune to attend a jazz festival this summer, Jazz Night has a ticket just for you — section A, row 1 for The Robert Glasper Experiment.

When NPR Music published its list of 150 Greatest Albums By Women two weeks ago, we who created it firmly intended that this be just the beginning of a conversation that puts women's musical artistry at the center. Immediately, others took up our call. Lists began proliferating, representing different taste affinities, time periods and genre focuses than what our list encompassed.

Daniela Schaechter On Piano Jazz

Aug 4, 2017

In 2005, Sicilian pianist Daniela Schaechter won the prestigious Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz competition. Ever devoted to the next generation of female jazz musicians, Marian McPartland wasted no time in having Schaechter on this 2006 show.

There's an emblematic photograph of Herbie Hancock on the back cover of his album Sunlight, which he began recording 40 years ago this month. He's depicted against a red backdrop with a Sennheiser vocoder headset on his cranium, which is bowed in deep focus.

Patti Bown On Piano Jazz

Jul 28, 2017

As the swinging pianist in the Quincy Jones Orchestra, Patti Bown (1931–2008) kept the music moving. In honor of her birthday on July 26, Piano Jazz remembers Bown with this encore from the early years of the program. Bown joins host Marian McPartland to talk about the role of women in jazz.

Almost exactly 30 years ago, guitarist John Scofield recorded an album he evocatively titled Loud Jazz. Not quite a decade later, he made one called Quiet. Both albums were statements of intent, widely embraced and justly acclaimed. And despite the obvious differences between the two, both were genuine expressions of Scofield's musical personality, which has always been more flexible than those extreme dynamic markings would seem to suggest.

Baltimore's Lafayette Gilchrist is a jazz pianist, but when his band the New Volcanoes backs him up, listeners also get something different: a go-go beat.

Willie Nelson And Jackie King On Piano Jazz

Jul 21, 2017

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