WBGO Blog
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • How Benny Green Saw His Jazz Horizon

    July 19, 2018

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    (Image Credit: Frank Stewart/JALC)

    Jazz has always been a music of continuum, its secrets passed down across generations. Benny Green is a shining embodiment of this process: A pianist originally inspired (and eventually endorsed) by mid-century modernists like Oscar Peterson; An apprentice to two of the music's greatest mentors, Betty Carter and Art Blakey; A conservationist of the bebop idiom, and a joyful guardian of its lexicon.

    Green is now 55, and has come a long way since the days when he was featured in a group called Jazz Futures, with fellow up-and-comers like bassist Christian McBride. He inhabits a midpoint in the music, not yet as an elder but certainly a mature artist, and an influence on more than a few players himself. In this episode of Jazz Night in America, we'll catch a recent set of his at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, featuring his spit-and-polish trio with drummer Kenny Washington and bassist David Wong.

    We'll also be a fly on the wall as Green catches up with McBride — one of his oldest friends, and our show's multifaceted host. They'll reminisce about Green's youth in Berkeley, Calif., where his father, saxophonist Bert Green, instilled a reverence for jazz. They'll talk about what the younger Green learned from Betty Carter, and how he tactfully left her band to join Blakey's Jazz Messengers, turning heads right away. And they'll talk shop about Green's experience working with Ray Brown, who happens to be McBride's foundational bass hero, and another bridge from one jazz era to the next.

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

  • The GroundUP Music Festival Brings Even More Heat to Miami

    July 12, 2018. Posted by Alex Ariff.

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    (Image Credit: Stella K. /WBGO)

    The first "destination" jazz festival took place in Newport, R.I., in 1954 — multiple days, one stage and gorgeous scenery. These days, Newport is going strong, as is Monterey in California, and the festival model has expanded to multiple stages and far beyond big-brimmed hats and lawn chairs.

    Still, Snarky Puppy leader Michael League saw a void and an opportunity. After years of performing at festivals around the world, the 34-year-old bassist founded the GroundUP Music Festival in order to bring musicians and fans together in an intimate setting: the beach. Miami Beach, to be exact.

    At GroundUP, "the line between stage and audiences doesn't really exist," says musician Magda Giannikou, who led a massive drum and vocal session on the sand. "It's a very interactive and creative festival. It feels like spending three days with your family."

    Jazz Night in America takes you to the GroundUP Music Festival, practically plopping you on South Beach for an hour of exploration. We'll get a taste of League's vision for music festivals: healthy local food, a cap of 2,000 tickets sold per day, and no overlapping sets. Our show is a sampler of sorts, featuring banjo adventurist Bela Fleck; a new quartet led by Snarky Puppy trumpeter Jay Jennings and saxophonist Bob Reynolds; some solo work by Snarky keyboardist Bill Laurance; and a funky, one-time meeting of League, saxophonist Joshua Redman, guitarist Lionel Loueke and drummer Larnell Lewis.

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