WBGO Blog
  • 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.

  • Crate Digging With Christian McBride: The History Of Latin Bass

    October 29, 2020

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    The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra featuring bassists Cachao, Andy González, and Charnett Moffett. (Image Credit: Frank Stewart/Jazz at Lincoln Center)

    In the Afro-Caribbean musical tradition, the essential pulse on the low end can be conjured in a single word, tumbao. But within that word, there are worlds — as we know from the shining example of bassist and bandleader Israel López Valdés, known to all as Cachao.

    This episode of Jazz Night in America, which kicks off a new series called Crate Digging, is a jubilant celebration of this Latin bass legacy. We'll hear highlights of a 2006 concert by the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, spotlighting four virtuoso bassists: Rubén Rodríguez, Charnett Moffett, the late Andy González, and yes, the mighty Cachao, two years before his death at 89.

    Jazz Night's host, Christian McBride, who handpicked this concert from the Jazz at Lincoln Center vault, knows a thing or two about the bass himself. But we'll join him in a spirit of discovery with this music — and in conversation with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra's founder, pianist and composer Arturo O'Farrill. "Even though they all play in the same world," O'Farrill says of the four bassists on the show, "they all have such different approaches to it."

    Musicians

    Arturo O'Farrill, piano and conductor, with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra: Rubén Rodríguez, bass; Luis Bonilla, trombone; Reynaldo Jorge, trombone; Gary Valente, trombone; Douglas Purviance, trombone; Michael Rodriguez, trumpet; John Walsh, trumpet; Michael Philip Mossman, trumpet; Pablo Calogero, saxophone; Bobby Porcelli, saxophone; Erica von Kliest, saxophone; Mario Rivera, saxophone; Jimmy Delgado, percussion; Ivan Renta, saxophone; Raul Agras, trumpet; Tony Rosa, congas; Vince Cherico, drums. Special guests: Israel López Valdés (aka Cachao), bass; Andy González, bass; Charnett Moffett, bass.

    Set List
    (All featured guests on bass)

    • "Mas Bajo" (Tito Puente) feat. Rubén Rodríguez
    • "Caravan" (Juan Tizol) feat. Cachao
    • "Asia Minor" (Machito) feat. Andy González
    • "Vieques" (Andy Gonzalez) feat. Andy González
    • "Tricotism" (Oscar Pettiford) feat. Charnett Moffett
    • "Bajo Descarga" (Arturo O'Farrill) feat. Rubén Rodríguez, Cachao, Andy González, Charnett Moffett

    Credits

    Writer and Producer: Suraya Mohamed; Contributing Producer: Alex Ariff; Host: Christian McBride; Music Engineers: Rob Macomber and Jeff Rothman (JALC), Edward Gavitt (Jazz Gallery); 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.

  • Swinging The Clouds Away: Jazz Takes Over Sesame Street

    October 23, 2020. Posted by Alex Ariff.

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    (Image Credit: Richard Termine/JALC)

    It wasn't your typical crowd in the Rose Theater one afternoon last fall, for a sold-out concert by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. For one thing, every grown-up in the audience seemed to be accompanied by an excited child or two. Then there were the guest artists, whom everybody knew on a first-name basis: Big Bird, Elmo, Rosita, Oscar, Abby. Bert and Ernie.

    A Swingin' Sesame Street Celebration — the title of that boisterous concert, a new album and PBS broadcast special — was a 50th-anniversary party for Sesame Street, the beloved educational television series. It was also a joyous acknowledgment of the role music has played on the show, with those familiar characters and their talented puppeteers dashing about the stage, as they sang custom new arrangements of "Doin' the Pigeon" and "Elmo's Song."

    On this episode of Jazz Night in America, we'll feature music from that show while exploring the jazz undercurrent in Sesame Street's history, which goes back to its first musical director, the late Joe Raposo. We'll hear from Raposo's fellow songwriter Chris Cerf, and Hoots the Owl (ahem, that would be Chris Thomas Hayes,) who sings Cerf's tune "Put Down the Duckie." Marsalis will share his thoughts about Big Bird and Elmo too.

    But it doesn't stop there. The in-demand trombonist Joe Fiedler, an associate musical director for Sesame Street, started a band a few years back called Open Sesame, with peers like Steven Bernstein on trumpet and Jeff Lederer on saxophone. As its name suggests, the group takes a freewheeling approach to songs from the show — as we'll hear in a recording from The Jazz Gallery in New York. Like the rest of this show, it carries a core truth: "You could be serious and have your musical skill set impeccable," as Fiedler aptly puts it, "and still have it be fun."

    Musicians

    Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra: Wynton Marsalis, music director, trumpet; Ryan Kisor, trumpet; Kenny Rampton, trumpet; Marcus Printup, trumpet; Vincent Gardner, trombone; Chris Crenshaw, trombone; Elliot Mason, trombone; Sherman Irby, alto saxophone; Ted Nash, alto saxophone; Victor Goines, tenor saxophone; Janelle Reichman, tenor saxophone; Paul Nedzela, baritone saxophone; Dan Nimmer, piano; Carlos Henriquez, bass; Jason Marsalis, drums.

    Sesame Workshop: Ken Diego, director; Andrew Moriarty, writer; Paul Rudolph, music director, vocals; Matt Vogel: puppet captain, Big Bird, Count von Count, Mr. Johnson; Eric Jacobson: Bert, Grover, Oscar The Grouch; Peter Linz: Ernie, Herry Monster; Carmen Osbahr-Vertiz: Rosita; Leslie Carrara-Rudolph: Abby Cadabby; Ryan Dillon: Elmo; Christopher Thomas Hayes: Hoots the Owl.

    Joe Fiedler's Open Sesame: Joe Fiedler, trombone; Jeff Lederer, tenor saxophone; Steve Bernstein, trumpet; Sean Conly, bass; Michael Sarin, drums.

    Set List

    • "Sesame Street Theme" (Joe Raposo, Bruce Hart & Jon Stone, arr. Kenny Rampton)
    • "Pinball Number Count" (Walt Kramer & Ed Bogas, arr. Carlos Henriquez)
    • "Mahna Mahna" (Piero Umiliani, arr. Wynton Marsalis)
    • "Put Down The Duckie" (Christopher Cerf & Norman Stiles, arr. Carlos Henriquez )
    • "I Don't Want To Live On The Moon" (Jeff Moss, arr. Wynton Marsalis)
    • "Has Anybody Seen My Dog" (Joe Raposo)
    • "Doin The Pigeon" (Joe Raposo)
    • "The Sesame Street Theme"
    • "Elmo's / Wynton's Song" (Tony Geiss, arr. Kenny Rampton)
    • "Sing" (Joe Raposo, arr. Ted Nash)

    The full performance featuring Wynton Marsalis and the Sesame Street Muppets will debut Oct. 30 at 9:00 p.m. EDT on PBS stations nationwide—check your local listings for details.

    Credits

    Special thanks to Shaniqua Martin, Aaron Bisman, Brit Edwards, Samantha Kennedy at Sesame Workshop and Kathleen Dunn at Penguin Random House.

    Writer and Producer: Alex Ariff; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Host: Christian McBride; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Music Engineers: Rob Macomber and James Nichols (JALC), Edward Gavitt (Jazz Gallery); Technical Director: David Tallacksen; 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.