WBGO Blog
  • ECM At Big Ears: A Boundless Label Meets A Broadminded Festival

    May 24, 2019

    image
    Carla Bley Trio (Image Credit: Eli Johnson/Courtesy of Big Ears Festival)

    At one point during the final stretch of this year's Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tenn., you could have pried yourself away from a distortion-jacked Sun of Goldfinger show to join a clutch of fans hurrying over to see The Art Ensemble of Chicago. In making that calculation (a typical one, for Big Ears), you'd have been weighing two wildly different experiences with one notable thing in common: Both groups have an affiliation with the sonically adventurous label ECM Records.

    ECM is observing its 50th anniversary this year and its largest celebration took place at Big Ears, where artists from its roster played some 20 concerts. Jazz Night in America's intrepid team caught about half of these — including a gorgeous solo bass recital by Larry Grenadier and a coolly mesmerizing dual-piano concert by Craig Taborn and Vijay Iyer.

    In this episode of our show, we bring you along to three of the very best performance we heard, each illuminating a different facet of ECM. We'll begin with composer, pianist and NEA Jazz Master Carla Bley, leading her chamber-like trio with bassist Steve Swallow and saxophonist Andy Sheppard. Next up is an agile post-bop quartet led by Israeli-born trumpeter Avishai Cohen. And we end by locking into the matrix of Nik Bärtsch's Ronin, whose leader is a Swiss pianist and composer specializing in what he calls "zen-funk."

    Each of these compelling artists has insights on the broadminded legacy of ECM, and the meticulous vision of its founder, Manfred Eicher. We'll hear from them — and from the brain behind Big Ears, producer Ashley Capps, who says there has always been an ECM presence in Knoxville, if you just knew where to look.

    Set List

    • "Utviklingssang" (Carla Bley)
    • "Sex with Birds" (Carla Bley)
    • "Life and Death" (Avishai Cohen)
    • "Will I Die Miss? Will I Die?" (Avishai Cohen)
    • "Module 46" (Nik Bärtsch)
    • "Module 36" (Nik Bärtsch)

    Musicians

    • Carla Bley Trio: Carla Bley, piano; Steve Swallow, bass; Andy Sheppard, saxophone
    • Avishai Cohen Quartet: Avishai Cohen, trumpet; Marcus Gilmore, drums; Barak Mori, bass; Fabian Almazan, piano
    • Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Nik Bärtsch, piano; Sha, bass/contrabass clarinet; Kaspar Rast, drums; Thomy Jordi, bass

    Credits

    Producers: Sarah Geledi and Nate Chinen; Production Assistant: Sarah Kerson; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey; Executive Producers: Amy Niles, Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundman; Recording Engineer: Rob Macomber

    Copyright 2019 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Cleveland's Joe Lovano Comes Home

    May 16, 2019. Posted by Alex Ariff.

    image
    Joe Lovano. (Image Credit: Craig Lovell/Courtesy of the artist)

    If you're even a casually observant jazz fan, you might think you know a thing or two about Joe Lovano. A tenor saxophonist with dozens of albums to his name, most of them made during a roughly 25-year tenure on Blue Note Records, Lovano is one of the most instantly identifiable musicians on the jazz landscape and on the New York scene. But he didn't come from nowhere.

    With that in mind, Jazz Night in America joins the amiable saxophonist on one of his customary visits to Cleveland, where he came up under the wing of his father, Tony, a tenorman known "Big T." We'll stop by his Uncle Sandy and Aunt Rose's house, where he spent countless childhood hours, and hear family lore from his brothers Anthony and Patrick, and sister Laura-Jo.

    And, of course, we'll hear some terrific music — Lovano on the bandstand at The Bop Stop, a Cleveland fixture, with close friends like vibraphonist Ronzo Smith and drummer Carmen Castaldi.

    "There were five generations of musicians in my life from Cleveland that I presented in those two nights," Lovano muses. "I didn't realize it 'til afterwards, either. You know, it was just people I wanted to play with."

    You'll want to be there, so to speak, when he does.

    Set List

    • "Sounds of Joy" (Lovano)
    • "On This Day" (Lovano)
    • "Body and Soul" (Johnny Green)
    • "T Was To Me" (Lovano/Ronzo Smith)
    • "Spiritual" (John Coltrane)
    • "Good Bait" (Tadd Dameron)

    Musicians

    Joe Lovano, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, taragato; Anthony Fuoco, piano; Bobby Ferrazza, guitar; Ronzo Smith, vibraphone; Eddie Baccus, organ, Aidan Plank, bass; Carmen Castaldi, drums; Greg Bandy, drums; Anthony Lovano, drums; Jamey Haddad, percussion; Patrick Lovano, spoken word.

    Credits

    Producer: Alex Ariff with Sarah Geledi; Production Assistant: Sarah Kerson; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey; Executive Producers: Amy Niles, Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundman; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Recording Engineer: Regis Sedlock; Mixed by David Talleckson

    Copyright 2019 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Women To Watch: 3 Young Jazz Artists You Need To Know

    May 2, 2019

    image
    Melanie Charles, Lakecia Benjamin and María Grand (Image Credit: Weird Hours / Elizabeth Leitzell / Dimitri Louis/Courtesy of the artists)

    One question we often hear at Jazz Night in America is, 'Who are the young musicians to look out for?' There are many contenders, of course, and we try to do our part in featuring their efforts. To that end, this episode of Jazz Night spotlights three bright women coming into their own as artists: Vocalist and flutist Melanie Charles, and saxophonists Lakecia Benjamin and María Grand. Each woman has a unique story to tell, as we'll hear in this show, which also features a healthy dose of their music, recorded on the bandstand at Dizzy's Club in New York.

    SET LIST

    • "Spiral" (John Coltrane)
    • "Liberia" (John Coltrane)
    • "West" (María Grand)
    • "Damballah Wedo" (Traditional - Arrangement: Eddy Bourjolly)
    • "Symphony" (Melanie Charles)
    • "Billie's Blues" (Billie Holiday)

    MUSICIANS

    Lakecia Benjamin Quartet: Lakecia Benjamin, alto saxophone; Yeisson Villamar, piano; Lonnie Plaxico, bass; Darrell Green, drums.

    María Grand Quartet: María Grand, tenor saxophone and vocals; Faye Victor, vocals; Savannah Harris, drums; Kanoa Mendonhall, drums.

    Melanie Charles and Make Jazz Trill Again: Melanie Charles, flute and vocals; Jonathan Michel, bass; Luke Carlos O'Reilly, piano; Charles Haynes, drums; Godwin Louis, soprano saxophone; Rogerst Charles, alto saxophone.

    CREDITS

    Producer: Sarah Kerson; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey; Executive Producers: Amy Niles, Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundman; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Recording Engineer: Rob Macomber.

    Copyright 2019 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Watch It Live: The 2019 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert

    April 15, 2019

    image
    The 2019 NEA Jazz Masters (Image Credit: NEA)

    The livestream has concluded.

    Every year since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts has presented its Jazz Masters award — a pinnacle of achievement in the form. The honor is presented to musicians and advocates who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz, and the 2019 class is no exception, as we'll see during tonight's live stream of this year's tribute concert, taking place at the John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

    The 2019 NEA Jazz Masters are: Stanley Crouch, jazz historian, author, critic, and co-founder of Jazz at Lincoln Center; Bob Dorough, vocalist, composer, arranger and pianist; Abdullah Ibrahim, a pianist and composer; and Maria Schneider, composer, arranger and bandleader. Tonight's host is Jason Moran, the Kennedy Center's Artistic Director for Jazz.

    Starting at 8:00 p.m. EDT in the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall, musicians Jay Anderson, Steve Berger, Terence Blanchard, Terri Lyne Carrington, Kurt Elling, Sullivan Fortner, Bill Goodwin, Cleave Guyton, Noah Jackson, 2012 NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan, Grace Kelly, Frank Kimbrough, Christian McBride, Charles McPherson, Jason Moran, David Murray, Pat O'Leary, Scott Robinson, and JD Walter will perform and pay tribute to the careers of the 2019 NEA Jazz Masters.

    Click here to view live close-captioning of the event.

    Copyright 2019 WBGO and The Kennedy Center. To see more, visit WBGO and The Kennedy Center.

  • Watch Electro-Jazz Drummer Mark Guiliana Perform His New Album Live

    April 12, 2019

    image
    (Image Credit: Justin Bettman/International Music Network)

    For the last decade, drummer Mark Guiliana has had a powerful outlet in Beat Music, an underground electronic project that has made periodic appearances outside his New Jersey basement lab.

    Tonight, Beat Music performs at Rough Trade in Brooklyn, and you can watch live right here, and at The Checkout's Facebook page, starting at 9 p.m. EST.

    The show, which ushers in Beat Music! Beat Music! Beat Music! on Motéma Music, will feature Guiliana on drums and electronics, Chris Morrissey on electric bass, and BIGYUKI and Nick Semrad on keyboards and synthesizers.

    Copyright 2019 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.