WBGO Blog
  • Electric Miles: Behind The 'Brew'

    August 15, 2019

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    Miles and Betty Davis in color in Miles' New York westside brownstone, 1969 (Image Credit: Baron Wolman)

    Electric Miles. Few word pairings in the jazz lexicon are apt to inspire so much contention and challenge and ferment. What the phrase refers to, of course, is a period in the career of trumpeter Miles Davis, spanning the last third of his life. And while there are other important antecedents, the big bang of this period is an album recorded 50 years ago by the name of Bitches Brew.

    This episode of Jazz Night in America takes us behind the furious mystique of that album, illuminating the musical and cultural forces Miles was metabolizing at the time. We'll hear from an array of authorities on the subject — notably his second wife, funk heroine and fashion icon Betty Davis, who inspired his outrageous transformation in the Age of Aquarius. ("Whatever I would wear, he would wear," says Betty with a laugh, in this rare, can't-miss interview.)

    Among the other essential voices in the show is electric bassist Marcus Miller, who served as musical director and record producer for a later edition of Davis' band. We'll hear highlights from an Electric Miles concert that Miller put together for Jazz at Lincoln Center — featuring not one but two blazing trumpeters, Russell Gunn and Marquis Hill, along with stone killers like guitarist Vernon Reid.

    "When you create music," Miller asserts, "your primary responsibility is to reflect the times that you live in." That's one of many explanations for the current that flows through Electric Miles — and the charge that it can still deliver.

    Set List

    • "Directions" (Joe Zawinul)
    • "Bitches Brew" (Miles Davis)
    • "Spanish Key" (Miles Davis)
    • "Black Satin" interlude (Miles Davis)
    • "Tutu" (Marcus Miller)

    Musicians

    Marcus Miller – Music Director, Bandleader, Bass Guitar, Bass Clarinet ; Brett Williams – Keyboards; Alex Han – Saxophone; Marquis Hill – Trumpet; Russell Gunn – Trumpet; Vernon Reid – Guitar; Alex Bailey – Drums; Mino Cinelu – Percussion.

    Credits

    Host: Christian McBride; Producers: Sarah Geledi with Trevor Smith; Editor: Alex Ariff; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Recording Engineer: Rob Macomber; Executive Producers: Amy Niles, Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundman; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey; Production Assistant: Sarah Kerson; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed

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

  • Watch U.K. Jazz Group Sons Of Kemet Deliver An Explosive Midnight Set

    July 30, 2019

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    Sons of Kemet perform at Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tenn. (Image Credit: Annabel Edwards/NPR)

    "Jazz built for arenas."

    A friend and former rock critic shared this admiring assessment of Sons of Kemet, after seeing the band for the first time at this year's Big Ears Festival. There's obviously truth in it: Over the last eight years, Sons of Kemet has not only fueled the fires of a raging London jazz scene; it has also scaled up the pyrotechnics, in strictly musical terms.

    With Shabaka Hutchings on tenor saxophone, Theon Cross on tuba, and Eddie Hick and Tom Skinner on drums, it's a hardy combustion engine that also feels like a breathing organism. Arenas, sure, but this is also jazz built for street parties. And certain proudly eclectic fests.

    At Big Ears in Knoxville, Tenn., Sons of Kemet brought its exultant blend of carnival rhythm, club abandon and jazz improv to a midnight show that packed The Mill & Mine, a cavernous room that once housed the Industrial Belting and Supply Company. The set drew from a knockout recent album, Your Queen Is a Reptile, but with a spirit of freedom in the moment — whatever setting you think suits it best, it's music made for a perpetual now.

    PERFORMERS
    Shabaka Hutchings: saxophone; Theon Cross: tuba; Tom Skinner: drums; Eddie Hick: drums

    CREDITS
    Producers: Sarah Geledi, Colin Marshall, Katie Simon; Head of Recording: Matt Honkonen; Lead Recording Engineer: Jonathan Maness; Assistant Recording Engineer: Ryan Bear; Concert Audio Mix: David Tallacksen, Josh Rogosin; Concert Video Director: Colin Marshall; Videographers: Tsering Bista, Annabel Edwards, Nickolai Hammar, Kimani Oletu; Editor: Maia Stern; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Senior Producers: Colin Marshall, Katie Simon; Supervising Editors: Keith Jenkins, Lauren Onkey; Executive Producers: Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundman, Amy Niles; Funded in Part By: The Argus Fund, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Fund, The National Endowment for the Arts, Wyncote Foundation

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

  • 'The Black Messiah' And The Legacy Of Cannonball Adderley

    July 26, 2019. Posted by Alex Ariff.

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    Cannonball Adderley sits with his saxophone. (Image Credit: JP Jazz Archive/Redferns/Getty Images )

    Cannonball Adderley was a mere 46 when he died, of a brain hemorrhage, in 1975. An alto saxophonist of robust intellect and irrefutable soul, he left a monumental legacy during his two decades in the spotlight — as a member of the Miles Davis Sextet, an exemplar of 1960s soul jazz and the leading avatar of a brand of post-bop modernism with popular appeal.

    This episode of Jazz Night in America takes a fond look at that legacy, illuminating it from multiple angles. Guided by our host, self-avowed Cannonball fanatic Christian McBride, we'll hear from some of Adderley's former bandmates, like drummer Roy McCurdy and tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts. We'll spend quality time with Patrick Bartley Jr., a young alto saxophonist who has taken Cannonball Adderley's music and message to heart. And we'll pull the curtain back on The Black Messiah, a 1971 album that has come to be seen as a classic.

    "The Mighty Cannonball Adderley" band

    Patrick Bartley: alto saxophone; Julian Lee: tenor saxophone; Bruce Harris: trumpet; Chris Pattishall: piano; Alexander Claffy: bass; Evan Sherman, drums

    "The Chocolate Nuisance" from The Black Messiah

    Julian "Cannonball" Adderley: alto saxophone; Nat Adderley: cornet; George Duke: electric piano; Mike Deasy: guitar; Walter Booker: bass; Roy McCurdy: drums; Airto Moreira, Buck Clarke: percussion

    Credits

    Host: Christian McBride; Producer: Alex Ariff; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Recording Engineer: Rob Macomber; Executive Producers: Amy Niles, Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundman; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey; Production Assistant: Sarah Kerson; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed

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

  • The Artistic Duality Of Drummer Mark Guiliana

    July 11, 2019. Posted by Simon Rentner.

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    Mark Guiliana (Image Credit: Justin Bettman/Courtesy of the artist)

    Drummer/composer Mark Guiliana traverses many musical landscapes from modern jazz (Brad Mehldau), Tunisian oud music (Dhafer Youssef), Hasidic reggae (Matisyahu), or legendary rock (David Bowie.) However, these days, his primary mode for expression is displayed in two distinctly different sounding bands: the acoustic The Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet and his electric Beat Music project. But don't make the mistake of thinking about these vehicles as separate, or only binary, divided between plugged-in and plugged-out lines, but rather in unison, from the creative mind of an artist who deftly synthesizes the vast array of contemporary sounds around us. And, as far as the spirit of the music, Guiliana says, "You know, every time I sit down it's jazz whether it is or not."

    Join us on this exciting Jazz Night in America journey, where we'll bring you these two bands in their peak form, with two unique concerts, from two hemispheres of the globe: The Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet recorded at the world famous Bimhuis in Amsterdam followed by Beat Music's album release party at Rough Trade in Brooklyn.

    Set List:

    • "Jersey" (Mark Guiliana)
    • "Our Lady" (Chris Morrissey)
    • "One Month" (Guiliana)
    • "Bones" (Guiliana)
    • "Bud" (Guiliana)

    Musicians:

    Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet: Mark Guiliana: drums/composition; Jason Rigby: saxophone; Fabian Almazan: piano; Chris Morrissey: bass.

    Beat Music: Mark Guiliana: drums & electronics; Nick Semrad: synthesizers; BIGYUKI: synthesizers; Chris Morrissey: bass

    Credits:

    Host: Christian McBride; Producer: Simon Rentner; Editor: Alex Ariff; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Recording Engineer: David Tallacksen (Beat Music), Micha de Kanter (Jazz Quartet); Executive Producers: Amy Niles, Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundman; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey; Production Assistant: Sarah Kerson; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Funded in Part By: The Argus Fund, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Fund, The National Endowment for the Arts, Wyncote Foundation

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

  • Watch The Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour Celebrate 60 Years

    June 24, 2019

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    Watch the Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour perform live from Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. (Image Credit: Jazz at Lincoln Center)

    How do you distill the spirit of the Monterey Jazz Festival into a single band? Considering the ethos of the annual event, the band was designed to be a celebration of diverse international talent, forward-thinking sensibilities and just plain killin' performances. For artistic director Tim Jackson, that was the task at hand in 2018, marking the festival's 60th anniversary.

    The end result is The Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour. It's a band of six individually acclaimed performers from the next generation of stars: Cécile McLorin Salvant, vocals; Bria Skonberg, trumpet, vocals; Melissa Aldana, tenor saxophone; Christian Sands, piano and musical director; Yasushi Nakamura, bass, and Jamison Ross, drums, vocals. The band toured through North America in March and April of 2019 and Jazz Night in America captured the band's stop at Jazz at Lincoln Center, which features original tunes from different members of the band with new accents from project collaborators.

    PERFORMERS

    Cécile McLorin Salvant: voice; Melissa Aldana: tenor saxophone; Bria Skonberg: trumpet and voice; Christian Sands: piano and musical director; Yasushi Nakamura: bass; Jamison Ross: drums and voice

    CREDITS

    Producers: Justin Bias, Colin Marshall; Concert Recording Engineer: Rob Macomber; Concert Video Director: Joe Lucarro; Videographers: Hiram Becker, Andrew Trost, Brandon Smith; Editor: Jeremiah Rhodes; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Senior Producers: Colin Marshall, Katie Simon; Supervising Editors: Keith Jenkins, Lauren Onkey; Executive Producers: Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundman, Amy Niles; Funded in Part By: The Argus Fund, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Fund, The National Endowment for the Arts, Wyncote Foundation

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