WBGO Blog
  • The Evolution Of Jon Batiste, Music Consultant Of Pixar's 'Soul'

    December 31, 2020. Posted by Alex Ariff.

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    Jon Batiste performs an intimate set in New York City. (Image Credit: Becky Harlan/WBGO )

    Jon Batiste has earned a good deal of praise for his behind-the-scenes contribution to the new Pixar movie, SOUL. Last fall, he spent his 33rd birthday playing an intimate, private concert with his band in the round while Jazz Night in America captured the show. He kept it classy, donning a suede jacket and playing selections from his two latest Verve releases, Chronology of A Dream and Anatomy of Angels.

    You probably know Jon Batiste as bandleader and musical director on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. But his credentials are deep as the roots of the Batiste family tree. He's the co-artistic director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, and has been a collaborator with everyone from pop singer Tori Kelly to the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. He's graduate of both the New Orleans Center of the Creative Arts and the Juilliard School, and an alumni of both Wynton Marsalis' and Roy Hargrove's bands.

    For the past decade, he's developed his version of "jazz 2.0," which includes what he calls "social music." Its lineage stems from Batiste's native New Orleans but also runs through his adopted hometown of New York City, thanks to elders like Lionel Hampton and Dr. Billy Taylor, who brought jazz from the concert halls to the streets. But Batiste is also a part of yet another lineage: jazz musicians in late-night television. On our radio show — with help from Batiste's Late Show predecessor Paul Shaffer, its current Executive Producer, Chris Licht, and NPR television critic Eric Deggans — we'll trace some of that history, learning how Jon Batiste developed his role.

    Video Set List:

    • "If You're Happy And You Know It" (Joe Raposo, arr. Jon Batiste)
    • "PRINCE"
    • "HIGHER"
    • "Round Midnight" (Thelonious Monk, Bernard D. Hanighen, Charles Cootie Williams)
    • "PWWR"
    • "BLACCK"
    • "SOULFUL" (Roy Hargrove)
    • "ORDR"

    Musicians:

    Jonathan Batiste: piano, vocals, bandleader; Giveton Gelin: trumpet; Jon Lampley: trumpet, tuba; Eddie Barbash: alto saxophone; Tivon Pennicott: tenor saxophone; Endea Owens: bass; Joe Saylor: drums; Negah Santos: percussion.

    Credits:

    Producers: Alex Ariff, Colin Marshall, Katie Simon; Concert Recording Engineer: David Tallacksen; House Audio Engineers: Greg Hanson, Meghan England; Concert Video Director: Colin Marshall; Director of Photography: Nickolai Hammar; Videographers: Tsering Bista, Jack Corbett, Annabel Edwards, Nickolai Hammar, Niki Walker; Editor: Annabel Edwards; Lighting Designer: Igor Yachmenov; Lighting Board Operation: Zack Lobel; Lighting Deck Electrician: Tricia Swietek; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Senior Producers: Colin Marshall, Katie Simon; Supervising Editor: Keith Jenkins; Executive Producers: Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundman; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey.

    Copyright 2021 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Ethereal Souls: Jazz Night In America Remembers Those We Lost In 2020

    December 17, 2020

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    Grammy-winning trumpetist Keyon Harrold performs "Ethereal Souls" at Fontaine Capel in Socrates Sculpture Garden of Queens, N.Y.. (Image Credit: Nikki Birch/NPR)

    One unique aspect of jazz is that it never stops honoring the musicians who've shaped its sound. In 2020, more than 40 of those voices were silenced, and Jazz Night In America felt the need to acknowledge their loss with an original artistic gesture.

    We chose an artist deeply attuned to the music's legacy — Grammy-winning trumpeter Keyon Harrold — and a symbolic meeting place — the brownstone stoop. More precisely, our small video team met Harrold on a frigid December evening at Socrates Sculpture Garden in Queens, where Fontaine Capel's Proposals for a Monument evokes the communal yet often contemplative space that a stoop can be (and the specter of an iconic image, colloquially known as A Great Day in Harlem).

    Playing trumpet in the cold is no small feat; the tuning of the metal instrument shifts as the temperature falls. Harrold had to adjust to these changes in real time as he performed his poignant ballad "Ethereal Souls." But he was undaunted, buoyed by the constant encouragement of his son, Keyon Jr. — another reminder of the lineage embodied in this music, and an unseen force behind this hauntingly beautiful performance.

    Click here to listen to our Jazz Night In America radio episode, as we celebrate 10 musicians whose lives and contributions altered the shape of jazz: Jimmy Heath; Lee Konitz; Cándido Camero; Tony Allen; Annie Ross; Freddy Cole; Gary Peacock; Henry Grimes; Wallace Roney; and McCoy Tyner.

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

  • In Memoriam: Jazz Night Radio Remembers 10 Musicians Who Altered The Shape Of Jazz

    December 17, 2020

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    Jazz Night In America's 2020 In Memoriam program includes Jimmy Heath, Lee Konitz, CÃ ndido Camero, Tony Allen, Annie Ross, Freddy Cole, Gary Peacock, Henry Grimes, Wallace Roney and McCoy Tyner. (Image Credit: Bernard Benant, Jonathan Chimene/WBGO, David Kaufman, Tom Pich)

    If you've been a jazz fan for any length of time, you know farewells are an essential part of the deal. But this was a harder year than most, as the ravages of a pandemic compounded and quickened the scope of our losses, especially during a heartbreaking stretch last spring.

    All told, more than 40 notable figures from the realm of jazz and improvised music died in 2020. What they took with them was an incalculable reserve of wisdom and experience. What they left behind is a monumental body of work, spanning all conceivable corners of sound and style. The state of the art would be different today without their examples.

    In this special episode of Jazz Night in America, we map a segment of that terrain — hailing 10 musicians whose lives and contributions altered the shape of jazz, in one fashion or another. Going by seniority, they are percussionist Cándido Camero; saxophonists Jimmy Heath and Lee Konitz; singers Annie Ross and Freddy Cole; bassists Gary Peacock and Henry Grimes; pianist McCoy Tyner; drummer Tony Allen; and trumpeter Wallace Roney.

    We did our best to tell their stories, and share their music, in the time allotted — leaving out many other deserving souls, from Andy González to Ellis Marsalis to Jimmy Cobb. That's no judgment on their excellence or the depth of their experience. And Jazz Night took care to acknowledge a wider circle of artists and advocates in a video short that we've published alongside this hourlong radio program. The music plays on, and the memories endure.

    Set List:

    • Jimmy Heath, "Picture Of Heath"
    • Lee Konitz, "All Of Me"
    • Gary Peacock (with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette), "My Foolish Heart"
    • Henry Grimes (Profound Sound Trio), "Futurity"
    • Annie Ross (Hendricks, Lambert & Ross), "Twisted"
    • Freddy Cole, "The Joke Is On Me"
    • Càndido Camero, "Candido's Camera"
    • Tony Allen (with Hugh Masekela), "We've Landed"
    • Wallace Roney, "Bookendz"
    • McCoy Tyner, "Reaching Fourth," "Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit"

    Credits:

    Writers and Producers: Nate Chinen and Sarah Geledi; Contributing Producer: Alex Ariff; Host: Christian McBride; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Technical Director: David Tallacksen; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey.

    Special thanks to Simon Rentner, Murray Street Productions, and the Jazz At Lincoln Center archives.

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

  • Ring In The Holiday Season With Sherman Irby

    December 10, 2020

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    Saxophonist Sherman Irby preforms winter classics like "Let It Snow" and "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" for the Jazz Night In America holiday special. (Image Credit: Frank Stewart/Jazz at Lincoln Center)

    This holiday season, Jazz Night in America presents your favorite holiday classics, courtesy of Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra saxophonist Sherman Irby and his band.

    MUSICIANS

    Sherman Irby, alto saxophone; Steve Turre, trombone; Isaiah J. Thompson, piano; Gerald Cannon, bass; Chris Beck, drums; Camille Thurman, vocals.

    SET LIST

    • "Let it Snow" (Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne)
    • "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" (J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie)
    • "Wonderin'" (Sherman Irby, lyrics by Sofija Knezevic)
    • "My Only Christmas Wish" (Sherman Irby, lyrics by Sofija Knezevic)
    • "Frosty The Snowman" (Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins)

    CREDITS

    Producer: Suraya Mohamed; Writer: Sarah Kerson; Host: Christian McBride; Music Engineers: Rob Macomber and James Nichols(JALC); Technical Director: David Tallacksen; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; 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.

  • Crate Digging With Christian McBride: Joe Zawinul And 50 Years Of Weather Report

    November 25, 2020

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    (Image Credit: Frans Schellekens/Redferns)

    Like some fellow Austrians before him, Mozart, Haydn and Mahler, keyboardist Joe Zawinul deserves a place in the upper echelon of composers. Exhibit A for his inclusion would be the soul ballad "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," a piece Zawinul wrote in 1966 for Cannonball Adderley. But that was only the beginning.

    Harnessing the power of synthesizers and global grooves, Zawinul led jazz through successive waves of fusion: with Miles Davis on the groundbreaking 1969 album In a Silent Way; in Weather Report, the group he co-led with saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter in the '70s and '80s; and in his international band, The Zawinul Syndicate, until his passing in 2007.

    This Crate Digging episode of Jazz Night in America finds our host, Christian McBride, selecting a must-hear 2006 concert from The Zawinul Syndicate, with Zawinul leading the way through a career-spanning setlist. We'll also look back on 50 years of Weather Report with some esteemed alumni of the band joining McBride in conversation.

    "We had a good time. We had an adventure," Shorter says of his time collaborating with Zawinul. "We liked going for it — whatever 'it' is..."

    Musicians

    Joe Zawinul, keyboards; Alegre Correa, guitar; Linley Marthe, bass; Roger Biwandu, drums; Aziz Sahmaoui, percussion, vocals; Jorge Bezerra Jr., percussion.

    Set List

    • "Orient Express" (Joe Zawinul)
    • "Scarlet Woman" (Alphonso Johnson, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul)
    • "Madagascar" (Joe Zawinul)
    • "Borges Buenos Aires, Part 1" (Joe Zawinul)
    • "Patriots" (Joe Zawinul)

    Credits

    Writer and Producer: Trevor Smith; Contributing Producer: Alex Ariff; Host: Christian McBride; Music Engineers: Rob Macomber and Jeff Rothman; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Technical Director: David Tallacksen; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey.

    Special thanks to Seth Applebaum, Steve Rathe, Carolina Shorter and Tony Zawinul.

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