WBGO Blog
  • Jazz Vocalist René Marie Is Determined To Craft Songs With Moral Conscience

    March 26, 2020. Posted by Alex Ariff.

    image
    Vocalist and songwriter René Marie. (Image Credit: Lawrence Sumulong)

    "It just takes time, time to get it right." René Marie wrote that line for a tender song about an extramarital affair, but it could easily apply to the arc of her jazz career, which began when she was in her 40s.

    Marie has built her career on the foundation of truth-telling songs like that one, "Go Home." She's the rare jazz vocalist who has put songwriting at the very heart of her enterprise, addressing the human condition through an unvarnished personal lens.

    In this episode of Jazz Night in America, we'll get to know the person behind that personality: how Marie came up in Virginia, telling stories and making up songs; how she left the Jehovah's Witnesses and her first marriage in search of freedom; how she found her true voice as an artist of political and moral conscience.

    "I don't see the sense in singing empty songs, or songs void of some type of oomph," she says.

    We'll hear Marie in concert with her working band at Dizzy's Club in New York, and you'll see what she means.

    Set List:

    • "I Like You"
    • "Go Home"
    • "Colorado River Song"
    • "Surrey With The Fringe On Top"

    All songs written by René Marie, except "Surrey With The Fringe On Top," written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.

    Musicians:

    René Marie: vocals; John Chin: piano; Dan Wilson: guitar; Elias Bailey: bass; Quentin Baxter: drums.

    Credits:

    Writer and Producer: Alex Ariff; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Host: Christian McBride; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Music Engineer: Rob Macomber; Tech Director: David Tallacksen; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey.

    Copyright 2020 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Camille Thurman Finds Her Voice On A Journey To Jazz At Lincoln Center

    March 19, 2020

    image
    (Image Credit: Frank Stewart)

    As both a saxophonist and vocalist, Camille Thurman is a rare jazz double threat. She says "the horn is a voice, and the voice is a horn," and this consideration of the interconnectivity of her instruments informs her work as a performer, composer and educator.

    On this segment of Jazz Night In America, we hear music from Thurman's band at Dizzy's Club, and parts of a performance with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in which she is the first woman to play a full season in 30 years.

    We also explore the jazz history of her neighborhood in Queens, where Thurman grew up minutes from the former homes of jazz royalty like Count Basie, Fats Waller and Ella Fitzgerald.

    Musicians:

    Camille Thurman: vocals and tenor saxophone; Darrell Green: drums; Keith Brown: piano; Devin Starks: bass.

    The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra: Wynton Marsalis: Artistic Director and trumpet; Chris Crenshaw: trombone; Vincent Gardner: trombone; Victor Goines: saxophone; Carlos Henriquez: bass; Sherman Irby: saxophone; Elliot Mason: trombone; Ted Nash: saxophone; Paul Nedzela: baritone saxophone; Dan Nimmer: piano; Marcus Printup: trumpet; Kenny Rampton: trumpet; Camille Thurman: tenor saxophone.

    Credits:

    Producer: Sarah Kerson; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Host: Christian McBride; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Music Engineers: Rob Macomber and James P. Nichols; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand.

    Copyright 2020 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Bassist Linda May Han Oh Is A Musician Rooted In Curiosity

    March 13, 2020. Posted by Alex Ariff.

    image
    (Image Credit: Becky Harlan/NPR)

    "I think a part of growth in general is being comfortable in your own skin," Linda May Han Oh says, "and being comfortable with really who you are."

    What that means in her case is manifold: A jazz bassist of undeniable authority, with the working affiliations to show for it; a Malaysia-born, Australia-raised resident of Harlem, N.Y.; a composer-orchestrator of burgeoning stature; an artist working to change perceptions of "women in jazz," both through positive action and just by being her bad self.

    Jazz Night in America spends this episode delving into Oh's unique background and broadminded musical intentions. We'll hear music performed by her hybrid chamber-jazz ensemble Aventurine, recorded live at NPR's Studio One in Washington, D.C. — a companion to the captivating concert film we shared last fall.

    Musicians:

    Linda May Han Oh: acoustic and electric bass; Greg Ward: soprano and alto saxophones; Matt Mitchell: piano; Ches Smith: drums; Fung Chern Hwei: violin; Curtis Stewart: violin; Benni von Gutzeit: viola; Jeremy Harman: cello.

    Set List:

    • "Song Yue Rao (Moon in the Pines)"
    • "Yoda"
    • "Ebony"
    • "Lucid Lullaby"
    • "The Sirens Are Wailing"
    • "Au Privave" (Charlie Parker; arr. Linda May Han Oh)

    All songs written by Linda May Han Oh unless otherwise noted.

    Credits:

    Writer and Producer: Alex Ariff; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Host: Christian McBride; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Music Engineer: Andy Huether, assisted by James Willetts.; Tech Director: David Tallacksen; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey.

    Copyright 2020 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Baltimore Rebirth: A New Bloom Of Jazz In Charm City

    February 27, 2020

    image
    (Image Credit: Richard Smith Photography)

    "Growing up where I grew up — it's everything." If there's a touch of defiant pride in Kris Funn's voice as he says these words, maybe that's only natural: Funn, a highly regarded bassist, is talking about Baltimore.

    In the 1920s and '30s, Baltimore was a mecca for African American popular music. It was still a jazz hotbed well into the '60s, but then Baltimore fell into a long series of struggles and setbacks. Funn, who came up in Charm City during the Reagan era, recalls the whir of police helicopters overhead — a sense memory he incorporated into one of his tunes, "Ghettobird."

    The city has recently seen a resurgence, and jazz is one notable part of that story. That's what we'll focus on this episode of Jazz Night in America, featuring music from the Baltimore Jazz Collective — founded by trumpeter Sean Jones, who now leads the jazz program at The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University. We'll hear the band at Keystone Korner Baltimore, which opened last spring and became the city's first major jazz club in ages.

    We'll also hear tales from the Baltimore jazz scene past and present: from Keystone Korner proprietor and NEA Jazz Master Todd Barkan; from Jones and Funn; and from Todd Marcus, a bass clarinetist and community activist who also plays in the Collective and has made the revitalization of West Baltimore his all-consuming mission, one step at a time.

    Musicians:

    Sean Jones: trumpet; Todd Marcus: bass clarinet; Kris Funn: bass; Mark Meadows: piano; Brinae Ali: tap dancer; Quincy Phillips: drums.

    Set List:

    • "Once Upon A Purple Night" (Mark Meadows)
    • "Glisten" (Todd Marcus)
    • "The Baltimore Collective" (Alex Brown)
    • "Thursday Night Prayer Meeting" (Kris Funn)

    Credits:

    Writer and Producer: Sarah Geledi; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Host: Christian McBride; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Music Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Tech Director: David Tallacksen; Executive Producers: Anya Grundman and Gabrielle Armand; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey.

    Copyright 2020 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Toast Of The Nation 2020: The Jazz Collective Edition

    December 26, 2019

    image
    The SFJAZZ Collective, performing live from the Robert N. Miner Auditorium in San Francisco. (Image Credit: Don Dixon/SFJAZZ)

    Read more