WBGO Blog
  • Take Three: Three Different Styles of Jazz Vocalists

    October 31, 2019

    No jazz instrument is more personal — or relatable — than the human voice. Jazz singers come in every conceivable style, each with their own expressive signature. This episode of Jazz Night in America offers a chance to spend time with some of the brightest newer voices in the genre.

    We'll get to know Quiana Lynell, who made a name for herself in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La. before winning the 2017 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. We'll check in with Jeremy Bosch, lead singer of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra and a bandleader with his own busy profile in Latin jazz. Finally, a three-for-one deal in Duchess, the harmonizing vocal trio composed of Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner and Melissa Stylianou.

    All of these artists were caught in performance recently at Dizzy's Club, which has taken pride in showcasing all manner of jazz singers over the years. In Lynell, Bosch and the women of Duchess, we have a shining illustration of the range of talent stepping on and off the stage.

    Musicians:

    Quiana Lynell's band

    Quiana Lynell, voice; Alex Wintz, guitar; Willerm Delisfort, piano; Noah Young, bass; Joe Dyson, drums.

    Jeremy Bosch's band:

    Jeremy Bosch, vocals and flute; Felipe Fournier, vibraphone and vocals; Yeissonn Villamar, piano; Daniel Torres, bass; Marcos López, timbales and vocals; Marcos Torres, conga and vocals.

    Duchess:

    Hilary Gardner, vocals; Melissa Stylianou, vocals; Amy Cervini, vocals; Michael Cabe, piano; Jesse Lewis, guitar; Matt Aronoff, bass; Jared Schonig; drums; Jeff Lederer, tenor sax; Anat Cohen, clarinet.

    Credits:

    Host: Christian McBride; Producer: Christpher Johnson; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Recording Engineer: Rob Macomber; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Executive Producers: Anya Grundman, Gabrielle Armand and Amy Niles; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey.

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

  • Andy Bey At 80: A Love Letter To A Jazz Legend

    October 25, 2019. Posted by Alex Ariff.

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    (Image Credit: Jonathan Chimene/Courtesy of the Artist)

    Here are a few indisputable truths about Andy Bey. First things first: as he approaches 80, Bey occupies the first rank of living jazz singers. He has led a circuitous career — starting out as a prodigy, slipping into obscurity, experiencing a late renaissance. And he's an original: nobody else has ever sounded quite like him and it's almost certain nobody else ever will.

    "I've always been a loner, and I was looking for nobody's approval," Bey reflects. "I never tried to follow anybody, musically or otherwise." And in this episode of Jazz Night in America, we're celebrating his unique artistry and telling his story.

    We'll listen in on an illuminating conversation between Bey and his producer, Herb Jordan. We'll hear tributes from collaborators, like guitarist Paul Meyers, and longtime admirers, like jazz-vocal guru Dominique Eade. And of course, we'll hear plenty of music — an exquisite, previously unissued concert recorded at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse in New York in 2002.

    Set List:

    • "Pick Yourself Up" (Jerome Kern, Dorothy Fields)
    • "Invitation" (Bronisław Kaper, Paul Francis Webster)
    • "Tuesdays In Chinatown" (Herb Jordan, Dorian Elliot)
    • "Riverman" (Nick Drake)
    • "All The Things You Are" (Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II)

    Musicians:

    Andy Bey, voice and piano; Paul Meyers, guitar; Joe Martin, bass; Mark McLean, drums.

    Credits:

    Host: Christian McBride; Producer: Alex Ariff; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Music Recorded by Ed Haber and George Wellington; Thanks to: Ashley Kahn, Jane Gilvin, Olivia Meyer, Kay Wolff, Joseph Fridman, and James Crawford. Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Executive Producers: Anya Grundman, Gabrielle Armand and Amy Niles; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey.

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

  • Watch Béla Fleck And Edmar Castañeda's Stunning Collaboration In A Cathedral

    October 24, 2019

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    Béla Fleck and Edmar Castañeda perform at St. John's Cathedral in Knoxville, Tenn., as part of the 2019 Big Ears Festival. (Image Credit: NPR)

    Béla Fleck, the world's preeminent banjo player, and Edmar Castañeda, a peerless master of the Colombian harp, share more than a penchant to pluck magic out of strings. Both musicians are keen listeners with lightning reflexes and the ability to pounce on any digression. They're both alchemists of style, unbound by the rules of genre. And each has a way of making virtuosity feel generous, disarming any look-at-me heroics with a spirit of welcome.

    They had never played together before this performance at the 2019 Big Ears Festival. The concert, at Saint John's Cathedral in Knoxville, Tenn., features an equal portion of compositions by Fleck and Castañeda, as well as a flamenco-charged classic by Brazilian composer Jacob do Bandolim. The notes rain in cascades, or flow like rivulets, but always in service of bright communion.

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

  • Turning The Tables: Celebrating Eight Women Who Invented American Popular Music

    October 2, 2019

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    Turning the Tables at Lincoln Center (Image Credit: NPR)

    Whose faces would you put on a musical Mount Rushmore? The question amounts to a facile parlor game, but for the team behind the annual series Turning the Tables – an annual collaboration between NPR Music and Lincoln Center dedicated to recalibrating music history so that underrepresented, overlooked and hidden-in-plain-sight pioneers get their due – it opened up a set of possibilities as wide as a whole mountain range.

    This year, Turning the Tables focused on music's "founding mothers," eight women without whose contributions jazz, blues and myriad other musical styles would be unrecognizable: Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Maybelle Carter, Marion Anderson, Ella Fitzgerald, Mary Lou Williams, Celia Cruz and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Over eight weeks, NPR Music shared essays, videos and reported stories illuminating the rich histories of these women. The season-opening concert produced by Jill Sternheimer and the team at Lincoln Center Out of Doors was itself an historic occasion bringing together three generations of stellar musicians and writers.

    Musical director Terri Lyne Carrington, herself well on the way to legend status via her own compositions and dazzling drumming, assembled a band that navigated from the Appalachian country of the Carter Family to "Guantanamera," the unofficial Cuban anthem and a favorite of salsa pioneer Cruz. The night's mood ranged from down and dirty to sacred and funky to dramatic and somber as some of the best singers working today shared the microphone on some of the finest songs in the American repertoire. Lizz Wright stunned with her meditative version of "Strange Fruit." Rhiannon Giddens got everyone dancing with the gospel roof-raiser "Up Above My Head." Americana's rising star Courtney Marie Andrews shared the program with the venerable jazz pianist Amina Claudine Myers. With something for everything, from Charenée Wade's savvy spin on "Cotton Tail" to Valerie Simpson's no-holds-barred breakdown on Bessie Smith's "Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair," the concert showed that women indeed laid the floorboards upon which we all dance.

    Featured performers: Courtney Marie Andrews, Rhiannon Giddens, Xiomara Laugart, Valerie Simpson, Charenée Wade, Lizz Wright.

    Band:
    Lea-Lorién Alomar (voice)
    Gerardo Contino (voice)
    Terri Lyne Carrington (drums and bandleader)
    Jeremy Bosch (flute)
    Tanya Darby (trumpet and backing voice)
    Lakecia Benjamin (saxophone and backing voice)
    Edmar Colón (saxophone, piano and backing voice)
    Felicia Collins (guitar)
    Adam Rogers (guitar)
    Jon Cowherd (keyboard and piano)
    Alex Tosca Laugart (piano)
    Ben Williams (bass)
    Crystal Vargas (percussion)

    Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

  • Gregory Porter: Personal Stories For Universal Songs

    September 20, 2019

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    Gregory Porter (Image Credit: Jonathan Chimene/Courtesy of Jazz At Lincoln Center)

    The smooth, booming voice of Gregory Porter brought a galvanizing force to jazz when he broke onto the scene about a decade ago. It's a voice of exhortation, flowing out of the gospel church. A voice of dignity, in the mode of his hero, Nat King Cole. A voice of reassurance, whether aiming for the heavens or toward a single soul across the room.

    It's also, crucially, the voice of experience — Porter's own, going back to his childhood in Bakersfield, Calif. For this episode of Jazz Night in America, the two-time Grammy-winning jazz vocalist opens up about that journey in conversation with our host, Christian McBride. We'll hear about Porter's transition from sports to theater to music and about the meaning behind some of his soul-baring songs, like "Don't Lose Your Steam."

    We'll hear that song and others in performance as Porter and his band electrify a crowd at the 2019 St. Lucia Jazz Festival, produced in collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center.

    Musicians:

    Gregory Porter: vocals; Chip Crawford: piano; Jahmal Nichols: bass; Andre Jay: organ; Emanuel Harrold: drums; Tivon Pennicott: saxophone

    Credits:

    Host: Christian McBride; Producers: Trevor Smith with Alex Ariff; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Recording Engineer: Cory Carson; Technical Director: David Tallacksen; Executive Producers: Amy Niles, Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundmann; 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.