WBGO Blog
  • 'Jazz Night In America' Remembers Artists We Lost In 2018

    December 20, 2018

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    Grammy-winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove passed away at age 49. (Image Credit: Courtesy of The Roy Hargrove Estate)

    This time each year, amidst the warmth of year-end highlights and holiday wishes, we pause to remember those we have lost. But while it's an occasion for sadness, it's also an opportunity to celebrate their legacies in full. That's the spirit with which Jazz Night in America offers this In Memoriam episode, featuring testimonials by some of those who knew the artists best.

    The mercurial genius of pianist Cecil Taylor is vividly captured by a longtime friend, poet Steve Dalachinsky. Singer-songwriter Bob Dorough receives a toast from Nellie McKay, while the tireless Village Vanguard owner Lorraine Gordon is remembered by pianist Fred Hersch. The iconic South African trumpeter and freedom fighter Hugh Masekela is memorialized in a reflection by vocalist Somi. The New Orleans piano maestro and singer Henry Butler receives his encomium from a close collaborator, trumpeter Steven Bernstein. And the bridge-building trumpeter Roy Hargrove receives his tribute from a longtime friend and collaborator: our host, Christian McBride. (Nancy Wilson, the elegant singer and former host of NPR's Jazz Profiles, died just as this episode was coming together.)

    Which brings us to an important fact about this show: It's full of music to go along with the memories. The subjects of these tributes, after all, would hardly have it any other way.

    Copyright 2018 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Big Band Holiday Cheer With The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra

    December 17, 2018

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    The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, with Catherine Russell as a guest vocalist, perform at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. (Image Credit: Sarah Escarraz/Jazz at Lincoln Center)

    The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis is back with lively arrangements of holiday classics like "Jingle Bells" and "White Christmas." Catherine Russell joins the orchestra as a guest vocalist.

    PERFORMERS

    Wynton Marsalis (music director, trumpet), Greg Gisbert (trumpet), Kenny Rampton (trumpet), Marcus Printup (trumpet), Vincent Gardner (trombone), Chris Crenshaw (trombone), Sam Chess (trombone), Sherman Irby (alto saxophone), Ted Nash (alto saxophone), Victor Goines (tenor saxophone), Walter Blanding (tenor saxophone), Paul Nedzela (baritone saxophone), James Chirillo (guitar), Dan Nimmer (piano), Carlos Henriquez (bass), Marion Felder (drums), Catherine Russell (vocals).

    SET LIST

    • "White Christmas" (Irving Berlin) arranged by Victor Goines
    • "What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Finds Everybody Swingin'?)" (Louis Prima) arranged by Chris Crenshaw
    • "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane) arranged by Victor Goines
    • "Brazilian Sleigh Bells" (Percy Faith) arranged by Carlos Henriquez
    • "Here Comes Santa Claus" (Gene Autry) arranged by Walter Blanding
    • "Cool Yule" (Steve Allen) arranged by Sherman Irby
    • "Jingle Bells" (James Lord Pierpont) arranged by Ernie Wilkins
    Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
  • Jazz, Love and Letting Loose: Brooklyn's Surprising Senior Jazz Scene

    December 10, 2018

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    (Image Credit: Colin Marshall/NPR)

    As a producer on Jazz Night in America, part of my job is to highlight the intersections of jazz and everyday life. It's easy to get caught up in the large, romantic art projects and album releases, but what about the stories that are happening in our own backyards? When I started asking that question, I was introduced to Jazz 966.

    Odds are, when you think about going out, whether it's clubbing or to hear live music, you don't envision an elderly crowd. Most traditional clubs aren't set up to cater to the aging population and as a result, senior music lovers can be left out in the cold. There's where Jazz 966 comes in. Founded in 1990 by the Fort Greene Council in Brooklyn, N.Y., Jazz 966 is a senior center by day, but, on Friday nights, it transforms into a swinging jazz club. 966 is an affordable, inclusive, and lively refuge for seniors to hear live music — and, arguably, more importantly, to dance. The club's lineup runs the gamut, ranging from neighborhood locals to renowned jazz giants like trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

    At Jazz Night, we accompanied two of the club's regulars, Ted Harvin, 81, and Delrosa Marshall, 74, through a typical evening. The duo has been frequenting the club for almost a decade now, and it's become a pivotal place for them to socialize, especially as Ted's mobility has decreased. Despite the additional challenges they face, including reckoning with aging, the joy that music and dance bring them prevails. "I think my outlook on life hasn't changed since I was 20," Ted says, "I know that she says, 'Well, why are we here?' We're here to enjoy life, and that's the only thing we can do: Just enjoy it."

    Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

  • At 80, Saxophonist Charles Lloyd Finds Enlightenment in the Groove

    December 6, 2018. Posted by Alex Ariff.

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    This episode of Jazz Night in America features tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd. (Image Credit: Dorothy Darr/Courtesy of the artist)

    "I've been drunk with music all my life," Charles Lloyd muses, "and it's been my spiritual path. And the times that I was knocked off my mooring, I just found a way to get back up."

    Lloyd, a coolly venerable tenor saxophonist, flutist and composer, has famously been here and gone and back again. Fifty years ago, around the time he was named Jazzman of the Year by DownBeat magazine, he abruptly dropped off the scene, in search of equilibrium. He found it along the rugged California coast, where he established a new life, full of healing and contemplation, before rekindling his relationship with the spotlight.

    He celebrated his 80th birthday this year — and released an acclaimed album, Vanished Gardens, featuring singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams with his band The Marvels. In this episode of Jazz Night in America, we'll get a taste of that collaboration, along with choice moments from Lloyd's recent appearances at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

    And we'll join Jazz Night producer and writer Alex Ariff as he pays a visit to Lloyd's home and sanctum in the mountains near Santa Barbara, Calif. We'll hear portions of their conversation, as they sit on a bench near the ocean, touching on ancestral legacies and present realities. "I'm an elder now," Lloyd says almost tentatively, as if still making peace with the idea.

    Copyright 2018 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Women In Jazz? For Artemis, It's Bigger Than A Cause

    November 22, 2018

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    Jazz supergroup Artemis performs at the Newport Jazz Festival. (Image Credit: Jonathan Chimene/WGBO)

    Renee Rosnes has seen her share of jazz supergroups. Thirty years ago, she held down the piano chair with Out of the Blue, a youthful all-star crew formed by Blue Note Records. She was a charter member of the SFJAZZ Collective. So she had a wealth of experience to draw from when she recently formed a supergroup of her own.

    Reaching across generations and nationalities, Rosnes enlisted some of the most accomplished artists on the scene: Trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, clarinetist Anat Cohen, tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, drummer Allison Miller, bassist Noriko Ueda and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. This impressive cohort went on its first tour under the banner of International Women's Day, after which it acquired a new name: Artemis, after the Greek goddess of the hunt.

    Jazz Night in America caught up with Artemis at the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival, where the band's commanding set included both originals (like Rosnes' "Galapagos") and jazz standards (like Thelonious Monk's "Brilliant Corners"). And we sat in on a conversation between Cohen, Jensen and journalist Natalie Weiner, which touched on both the magical qualities of the group and some of the challenges its members have faced as female musicians in what's still a male-dominated field.

    "I don't think we're there yet, where somebody would look at a group like Artemis and just think of it as a band without actually having to mention, 'Oh, it's an all-woman band,' or 'It's an all-female band,'" Rosnes says. But listen to the music in this show and you'll understand how a project like this is making a difference — and plenty of noise, in the best possible way.

    Copyright 2018 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.