WBGO Blog
  • 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.

  • Chick Corea: Back In Boston

    November 1, 2018

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    (Image Credit: Niki Walker/NPR)

    Pianist Chick Corea has lived many lives as a musician, from post-bop wunderkind to free-jazz maverick to fusion explorer to chamber-jazz eminence. That imprecise tally leaves out a lot in an expansive career — but, more to the point, it creates the false impression that Corea compartmentalizes his musical output, when the truth suggests something far more holistic.

    Jazz Night in America caught up with Corea during a recent gig at Scullers in Boston — just across the river from Chelsea, Mass., where he was born and raised. He was on tour with a new trio he calls Vigilette, with Carlitos Del Puerto on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. The set list combined songbook standards like "On Green Dolphin Street" with originals like "Rhumba Flamenco," each number delivered with Corea's brand of articulate flair.

    A few days after the performance, Corea sat down with Christian McBride — our host, and his longtime musical collaborator — for a collegial and far-ranging conversation. They discuss the first time Corea saw Miles Davis, an experience that changed his life, and one he recalls with absolute detail. Corea also reflects on the role of an artist: "We have a mission to go out there and be an antidote to war, and all of the dark side of what happens on Planet Earth," he says. "We're the ones that go in and remind people about their creativity."

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

  • Into the Vault: Erroll Garner Uncovered

    October 11, 2018. Posted by Alex Ariff.

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    (Image Credit: Nico van der Stam/Octave Music)

    What makes a first-tier jazz legacy? A signature instrumental style, recognizable within a phrase or two. A body of exceptional recordings, in the studio and in concert. A legion of imitators, great and small. A sense of broad cultural relevance. Maybe even a hit song or two.

    Pianist-composer Erroll Garner met all of these requirements, and at least one more: He had a tireless champion, Martha Glaser, whose influence on his career went beyond her official role as manager and business partner. Her ministrations didn't end when Garner died in 1977, at 53; she just shifted modes, protecting his name and serving his interests as guardian of his estate, until her own passing in 2014.

    In this episode of Jazz Night in America, we'll get a close look at Garner's ebullient magic — the sparkling touch that kept countless other pianists in awe, the wild improvisational flights that somehow always resolved just so — while also considering his reputation. We'll hear from Garner and Glaser, as well as contemporary admirers like noted scholar Robin D.G. Kelley.

    And with unprecedented access, we'll join a small delegation from the Erroll Garner Jazz Project as they open up a trove of previously sealed boxes in a remote storage facility — uncovering Garner's own record collection, rare photographs and awards, and an array of personal effects. (Stetson dress shoes? Check.)

    One of the would-be Indiana Joneses in that storage unit is Christian Sands, the creative ambassador for the Jazz Project, and a pianist unabashed about Garner's influence. In the show, we'll hear Sands' trio interpreting standards associated with Garner. And of course, there's some music by the man of the hour himself — including an exclusive outtake from the 1964 recording recently released as an album, Nightconcert.

    "My hope," Sands remarks, "is for other people to understand that this is someone who is very important to not only just jazz history, but just history as a whole, American history." This special Jazz Night lines up a rich abundance of resources in service of that aim.

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