WBGO Blog
  • Stefon Harris: A Generation's Preeminent Voice Of The Vibraphone

    May 21, 2020

    From Lionel Hampton to Milt Jackson, to Bobby Hutcherson and beyond, every jazz generation has had its swinging heroes on the vibraphone. Since around the turn of the century, we've had a leading light in Stefon Harris.

    Harris may in fact be the preeminent voice of his instrument, but he says that's not that important. "The vibraphone, in my opinion, is just a bunch of metal and wood. Instruments are just tools," he says. "What's important is the mission behind the individual who's utilizing the tool."

    For Harris, that mission is the proliferation of empathy. "I want my audience to feel the connection between human beings," he adds. "I want them to witness five brothers who are on the stage, who've known each other for a long time, who are willing to take chances in the moment to discover beauty. I want them to feel that sense of synergy, that sense of struggle and that sense of courage."

    Harris applies those experiences onstage with his band Blackout. Join us for a ferocious and intuitive set they delivered in February at Clement's Place, a small club at Rutgers University, in Newark, N.J.

    Musicians:

    Stefon Harris: vibraphone and marimba; Marc Cary: keys; Ben Williams: double bass; Jaleel Shaw: saxophone; Terreon Gully: drums.

    Set List:

    • "Bye Bye Blackbird" (Ray Henderson)
    • "Chasin' Kendall" (Stefon Harris)
    • "Dat Dere" (Bobby Timmons)
    • "Gentle Wind" (Marc Cary)
    • "Now" (Bobby Hutcherson)
    • "Thanks For The Beautiful Land On The Delta" (Duke Ellington)

    Credits:

    Writer and Producer: Sarah Geledi; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Host: Christian McBride; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Music Engineer: 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.

  • Dezron Douglas And Brandee Younger: Alone Together Duets

    May 19, 2020. Posted by Simon Rentner.

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    Dezron Douglas & Brandee Younger: Alone Together Duets | JAZZ NIGHT IN AMERICA (Image Credit: NPR)

    Before the lockdown, harpist Brandee Younger and double bassist Dezron Douglas were constantly on the road, usually spending time apart as they toured with artists such as Makaya McCraven and Enrico Rava. This quarantine has allowed these college sweethearts to shine radiantly together as a duo. Their weekly "Brunch In The Crib" Facebook live streams from their East Harlem, N.Y., apartment provide many tranquil moments to their fans.

    They both claim to have come up with their Brunch series idea, but Younger says she has the tweet to prove it. "It was totally my idea to do a harp and bass concert in the living room, but it was completely Dezron's idea to make it a brunch and to continue it," she admits.

    They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that's exactly what prompted the couple's co-composition in the time of COVID-19: "Toilet Paper Romance." "When we wrote the song, toilet paper was the theme of the month," Douglas explains. "People were hoarding and getting violent and evil over toilet paper. It just fit with the mood of society."

    SET LIST

    • "Toilet Paper Romance"

    Produced by Jazz Night in America and The Checkout from WBGO.

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

  • Regina Carter And Alvester Garnett: Alone Together Duets

    May 15, 2020. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Drummer Alvester Garnett joined MacArthur "genius" violinist Regina Carter's band in 1998. It was purely professional at first, but it soon grew into a romantic relationship; the couple married in 2004. "She's the boss two-times over," Garnett says half-jokingly.

    They're using this quarantine period to experiment together musically. "I actually feel that we are just beginning to scratch the surface of our creative partnership," Garnett says. For this Alone Together Duet, they co-wrote a tune dedicated to both of their mothers called "Mabel and Grace." The violinist recounts the story when both of their moms bonded one Christmas.

    "We spent it with my mom, Grace, in Detroit. She was undergoing chemo treatment," she says. "Alvester and I decided to cook Christmas dinner for the first time. My mom would come in and check to see what we were doing. I think she was afraid we might burn down the house. Unbeknownst to either of us, my mother was calling Alvester's mother around every 20-30 minutes, giving Mabel updates on our 'cooking situation.' We cooked the turkey inside a well buttered paper bag, something neither mother had heard of. The dinner, to everyone's surprise, was very delicious. After my mom passed, Mabel told us my mom said to her, 'They call themselves in there, cooking. I don't know what they are doing.' We laughed so hard."

    SET LIST

    • "Mabel and Grace"

    Produced by Jazz Night in America and The Checkout from WBGO.

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

  • Rachel Eckroth And Tim Lefebvre: Alone Together Duets

    May 12, 2020. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Electric bassist Tim Lefebvre and his wife, singer-songwriter and keyboardist Rachel Eckroth are two in-demand musicians who elude categorization. His impressive credits range from artists such as David Bowie, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Chris Potter and Jon Batiste. She's played with Chris Botti, Donny McCaslin, and Rufus Wainwright.

    Before the lockdown, the LA-based duo often found creative opportunities to work together, but now have become full-on collaborators, launching a joint Patreon page from their home, which they've baptized "Live From Blackbird."

    "Our house has become a moveable music/photo/video studio in that pretty much every room has a purpose," says Eckroth. "It's going great at this point, we are basically offering glimpses into our musical multi-personalities."

    For this Alone Together Duet, Lefebvre dusts off his double bass to perform one of Eckroth's songs, "Words Don't Mean."

    Produced by Jazz Night in America and The Checkout from WBGO.

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

  • Jazz And Art Take Center Stage To Form 'Portraits Of America'

    May 7, 2020. Posted by Alex Ariff.

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    The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis performs 'Portraits of America: A Jazz Story.' (Image Credit: Frank Stewart /WBGO )

    Jazz and the visual arts have always enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship. Last year the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis put that bond front and center with an ambitious original program called Portraits of America: A Jazz Story.

    The concert featured new compositions by members of the orchestra, directly inspired by works in the collection of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark. So in this special episode of Jazz Night in America, we'll not only hear the resulting music but also get inside the inspiration — learning how Grace Hartigan's abstract painting Rough, Ain't It motivated alto saxophonist Sherman Irby, and which qualities in the Romare Bearden collage Sacrifice spoke to tenor saxophonist Walter Blanding.

    At a moment when it's not possible to visit an art museum in person, Portraits of America invites us to experience color and shape in a new way. "I love the fact that you can take a painting, a piece of art that isn't changing, and then create something that's constantly changing to represent it," reflects multi-reedist Ted Nash. "It almost seems like it wouldn't work, but the music can actually make the painting move."

    Musicians: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

    Wynton Marsalis: Music Director, trumpet; Ryan Kisor: trumpet; Kenny Rampton: trumpet; Michael Rodriguez: trumpet; Vincent Gardner: trombone; Chris Crenshaw: trombone; Elliot Mason: trombone; Sherman Irby: alto saxophone, flute, piccolo; Ted Nash: alto saxophone, flute, piccolo; Victor Goines: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Camille Thurman: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Carl Maraghi: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Dan Nimmer: piano; Carlos Henriquez: bass; Jason Marsalis: drums.

    Set List:

    • "Summer Day" (Elliot Mason)
    • "Black Balloon" (Chris Crenshaw)
    • "Au Café (Synchromy)" (Ted Nash)
    • "A Hot Jam on Grand" (Sherman Irby)
    • "For Never and Forever" (Walter Blanding Jr.)
    • "One Understands" (Vincent Garnder)
    • "Salvation, Serenity, Reflection" (Marcus Printup)

    Credits:

    Writer and Producer: Alex Ariff; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Host: Christian McBride; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Music Engineer: James P. Nichols; Tech Director: David Tallacksen; Thanks to Linda Freemen from L&S Video; 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.