Radar

Radar is WBGO's exclusive album preview feature.  

Anna Webber

Cyrille Aimée is always having fun on stage. She smiles in countless photos from her concerts. And in her smile is the joy of a little girl who grew up near the birthplace of Django Reinhardt, and who snuck out at night to sing with the gypsies.

Frank Jerke

One day, reading a story to my son Nate, who was 2 at the time, I asked if he'd thought about what he wanted to be when he grew up. He gave me a studied look, paused, and replied: “I think a doctor.” I beamed, and the studied look remained as he continued, “or maybe a turtle.” Startled, and at the same time welling with laughter, I wondered: when exactly did we lose this ability to wander? To simply be? 

Shervin Lainez

Amy Cervini sings all across the musical spectrum. She has recorded tributes to Blossom Dearie and country songs. She's sung shows for children and shows that I've called "delightfully naughty." She also often sings alongside Melissa Stylianou and Hilary Gardner in the trio Duchess, tackling everything from jazz standards and pop to the astonishingly fast and hip vocal arrangements of the Boswell Sisters. Having been a saxophonist gives Amy much more improvisational chops as a vocalist.

Since arriving in New York from his native Philadelphia in 2006, Chris Beck has made a name for himself as one of today’s premier drummers, traveling the world and working with artists as diverse as Cyrus Chestnut, Oliver Lake, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Wynton Marsalis, Rufus Reid and Macy Gray. With his debut release, The Journey, Beck has given us a recording that honestly expresses his emotions and his respect for the straight-ahead jazz tradition.

The Genius of Eddie Jefferson is the new album from singer Allan Harris. It’s something of a musical sidestep for the crooner. After years of singing in a Nat-like creamy baritone, he’s at his jazziest as he celebrates the godfather of vocalese — the art of creating songs with lyrics to classic jazz records and solos.  

Mary Bruton

Marcia Ball is the Auntie Mame of the blues. Worldly. Wise. Loving. And unapologetic. "Life is a banquet," said Auntie Mame, "and most poor suckers are starving to death!"

Shine Bright, Ball's new album, celebrates the banquet of life. "Be the life of the party," she sings about a party that's all the livelier with the sizzle of calypso. 

John Abbott

With her new album, Beloved of the Sky, pianist Renee Rosnes is once again inspired by her natural environment.

That's a subject with multiple implications: the natural world, her home life, an array of sense memories. They're all transformed by Renee’s depth of pianism, and through amazing exchanges with saxophonist and flutist Chris Potter, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lenny White.

Guitarist Andreas Varady first impressed his bass-playing father by learning Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa" when he was 4. His mentor, producer Quincy Jones, became a fan when Andreas appeared at the Montreux Jazz Festival at 15.

Kahmeela Adams

What is it that gets any musical organization to the 25 year mark?

Luck, for sure, but that's eclipsed by the creation of great charts, articulate and soulful playing, and a sound unification that goes way beyond theory.

Jazz at Lincoln Center

As the world’s premiere jazz institution, Jazz at Lincoln Center has a combined mission: advancing awareness of the music, giving it new expression, and raising money to keep it all going.

The organization's annual gala, typically packed with guest stars, serves all these purposes. It's only unfortunate that most of us cannot be there. That is, until now.

courtesy of the artist

When saxophonist Ken Fowser looks over his shoulder, he hears and feels the rhythms of his Philadelphia birthplace: Jimmy Heath, John Coltrane, Benny Golson, Lee Morgan, McCoy Tyner, Philly Joe Jones. It's a collective spark that has pushed him forward over a dozen-plus years in New York and numerous recordings. Fowser, never one to back away from the scalding sessions at Smoke and Smalls, has been dressing up club stages across the country with his soulful sound.

Kerry Kahoe

Kate McGarry has been singing all of her life. She grew up in a family with 10 kids, and they all sang all the time. She eventually studied jazz at UMass-Amherst. Archie Shepp was one of her mentors, and the roiling heart one hears in Shepp's '60s albums can also be heard in McGarry's singing.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

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 the echoes of the artist 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. 

With roots firmly in jazz and blues, tinged with a pop sensibility,  guitarist Larry Carlton has appeared on hundreds of recordings. In addition to his own, he has added just the right touch to the recorded works of Steely Dan, Bobby Bland, The Crusaders and Quincy Jones, in addition to the multi-platinum jazz group Fourplay. On Lights On, Carlton's six strings meet up with Europe's SWR Big Band for a live date full of originals, some Miles, Steely Dan and more.

Sandrine Lee

The commonplace exercise of hailing a New York City cab became a career-threatening situation for guitarist Mike Stern last year. Tripping over some construction debris, he broke both arms, also sustaining significant nerve damage in a freak accident that halted his world-class career.

Chris Drukker

Dave Stryker's recent efforts have been jazz hits. His two Eight Track albums, and a salute to former employer Stanley Turrentine, have earned this guitarist new fans while giving him plenty of room to move. Strykin' Ahead is Dave's new date, and it puts him in the studio with organist Jared Gold, vibraphonist Steve Nelson and drummer McClenty Hunter, who proved to be such a hip combination on Eight Track II.

Saxophonist Eric Alexander wrote the tune "Iron Man"as a salute to Harold Mabern. It's one of 10 tracks on that Memphis-born pianist's new recording, To Love And Be Loved.

The album features Mabern with Alexander, trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, bassist Nat Reeves and percussionist Cyro Baptista. It also reunites the pianist with legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb; these two giants played together briefly in Miles Davis' band in 1963.

Jacob Blickenstaff

John Pizzarelli played an “Invitation” series at the Montreal Jazz Festival earlier this month, including a tribute to the songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim, joined by Jobim’s grandson Daniel.  John has been a regular at the jazzfest since 1990 and, John said, “the Bossa Nova concert a dozen years ago was my favorite.

Pianist Ahmad Jamal started his career as a child prodigy, moving on to quartets and then trios as his main voice for expression. The world would know about Ahmad with the 1958 LP Live At The Pershing, featuring the runaway jukebox hit "Poinciana." At 86, Ahmad Jamal is still expressing a vibrancy — this time with a love letter to an iconic city in Southern France, pulled together with longtime bassist James Cammack, drummer Herlin Riley and worldly percussionist Manolo Badrena.

Inside the front cover of saxophonist Walt Weiskopf’s new album, there’s a quote from writer Pearl S. Buck: “To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.” For Weiskopf, keeping young has meant exploring a wide vocabulary of styles – from big bands to Frank Sinatra to his long-running gig with Steely Dan. Fountain of Youth  finds him leading a tight quintet with vibist Behn Gillece, pianist Peter Zak, bassist Mike Karn and drummer Steve Fidyk.

With Live At The Bistro, trumpeter Sean Jones realizes a lifelong dream of capturing his musical experience live. The results range from a torch lighter to a post-bop mover, from a down-home blues to a sanctified shouter. Jones has creative assistance from what he calls “a combination of essential forces of spiritual energy and group synergy” — which is to say, pianist Orrin Evans, saxophonist Brian Hogans, bassist Luques Curtis and drummers Obed Calvaire and Mark Whitfield, Jr.

On Zenith, Michael Wolff approaches the solo piano encounter with masterly mischief, attitude and gratitude for those who came before, including John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Jerome Kern. He also looks to present-day artists like Sufjan Stevens, makes a homegrown nod to New Orleans, and toasts his wife, noted actress and director Polly Draper.

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