WBGO Blog
  • Jazz Night In America Wants To Celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month With You

    April 1, 2021

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    Jazz Night in America (Image Credit: NPR)

    April is Jazz Appreciation Month! Whether it be sharing the music with family or friends, going to a concert or playing in a band, NPR's Jazz Night in America is inviting you to tell the world about the role jazz plays in your life.

    We want to know: What is your favorite moment in jazz? Is there a special moment in your life where jazz played an important role? Why is public radio important to jazz? What attracts you to the spirit of improvisation?

    Selected submissions will appear as an audio post (example below) with your picture on Jazz Night in America's social media throughout April and the coming months, as well as a possible compilation video near the end of the project.

    Share your story with us and a producer may contact you to follow up for an opportunity to have your voice included in Jazz Night in America's celebration of this music, whose soul is freedom and exploration.

    Your submission will be governed by our general Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. As the Privacy Policy says, we want you to be aware that there may be circumstances in which the exemptions provided under law for journalistic activities or freedom of expression may override privacy rights you might otherwise have.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

  • Leni and Mike Stern: Alone Together Duets

    March 11, 2021. Posted by Simon Rentner.

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    Leni & Mike Stern (Image Credit: Youtube)

    Guitarists Mike and Leni Stern are one of those awe-inspiring couples. More than 40 years together, they've had a front row seat in witnessing music history from their flat in Manhattan. Mike's credits include performing with Miles Davis and Jaco Pastorius. Leni was named Gibson's "Female Jazz Guitarist of the Year" five times. They have another guitar hero, Bill Frisell, to thank for making the introduction back in 1977, when Frisell took Leni on as a private student at the Berklee College of Music. She asked Frisell to show her some rock licks, so he took her to a Mike Stern concert, and the rest is history.

    The couple rarely performs together in public, yet they often make a point to jam in private. Before the lockdown, now one year removed, they had a rule that they would not spend more than three weeks apart on tour; otherwise, one would have to join the other on the road. "Now that we've been together for one full year," says Leni, who has an album coming out in June. "It's gonna be so hard to be separated. We are already plotting to minimize our time apart."

    Here, we get to peak into one of their private jams, now on display for everyone to see: Leni's West African-inspired tune "The Cat Stole The Moon." Clearly, their love for each other is as palpable as it was four decades ago.

    Produced by Jazz Night in America and The Checkout from WBGO.

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

  • Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn: Alone Together Duets

    March 9, 2021. Posted by Simon Rentner.

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    Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn (Image Credit: Youtube)

    It's been one year since we first "locked down" together, and yet here we are: back with another Alone Together Duets video.

    These two stars are no strangers to performing onstage together. Early in the crisis, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn continued to warm hearts and make beautiful music together from their home in Nashville.

    Their "Banjo House Lockdown" series can almost be viewed as a time capsule of what we all can relate to: two adults (often in their pajamas) trying to work from home without being interrupted by their adorable kids. "Life without other people is fine, but life without banjos would be intolerable," reads a credo on their Facebook page.

    For our video, Washburn plays the largest banjo we've ever seen (it's really a bass banjo). The couple dusts off an old-timey, bluegrass ditty, "My Home's Across the Blue Ridge Mountains," and refurbishes it into a blues – giving the public domain number a healthy injection of soul.

    Produced by Jazz Night in America and The Checkout from WBGO.

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

  • Alone Together: Jazz Couples (Stuck) at Home

    February 12, 2021. Posted by Simon Rentner.

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    Taali and José James (Image Credit: /Courtesy of the artist)

    Our greatest ally in life can also be a royal pain in our butt. One moment your partner may be a bundle of joy; the next they are driving you up a wall. This is particularly magnified during a year when there is no place to go, or be, other than right in front of your loved one's face. All of our idiosyncrasies are on display. There is nowhere to hide.

    This seems pronounced for musician couples, who often have separate touring schedules and aren't used to spending so much time together. As a result, they are learning to live with each other like never before.

    In the spring of 2020, we brought you an inner window into some of these creative partnerships with Alone Together Duets. During that time, we also asked some of the dynamic duos to give us a behind-the-curtain look at love life during quarantine — alone together.

    Featured Couples:

    Thana Alexa and Antonio Sanchez; Taali and José James; Brandee Younger and Dezron Douglas; Regina Carter and Alvester Garnett; Linda May Han Oh and Fabian Almazan; Jean and Marcus Baylor; La Tanya Hall and Andy Milne; Melissa Walker and Christian McBride.

    Credits:

    Producers: Sarah Geledi, Simon Rentner, Colin Marshall, Nikki Birch. Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand; 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.

  • 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.