• A David Murray Double Bill

    January 2, 2018

    For decades, David Murray was known as one of New York's most monstrously talented and astoundingly prolific artists — a tenor saxophonist who played and wrote for just about every imaginable context. He's still these things, but he lives in Europe now. So this year's Winter Jazzfest — already jam-packed with over 100 acts in two nights — saw fit to give New York audiences a proper saturation of what they'd been missing, presenting David Murray in three completely different sets.

    Jazz Night In America filmed two of those sets at the Minetta Lane Theatre as part of Winter Jazzfest in early 2015. A four-man clarinet summit — featuring Murray with fellow reedmen Hamiet Bluiett, David Krakauer and Don Byron — echoes the project he played in with clarinetist John Carter in the 1980s. And a new collaboration with Geri Allen (piano) and Terri Lyne Carrington (drums) found the three improvising openly around loose themes.

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

  • Wayne Shorter: Artist In Residence At The Detroit Jazz Festival

    December 28, 2017

    Wayne Shorter performs at the 2017 Detroit Jazz Festival. (Image Credit: Farrad Ali)

    Wayne Shorter didn't release any new music in 2017. But that's not to say the eminent saxophonist, composer and NEA Jazz Master had anything less than a banner year. In the spring he returned to Newark, for the first time in ages, as the honored guest of a festival at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. He turned up as a sage witness in two notable documentary films, I Called Him Morgan and Chasing Trane. And over Labor Day weekend he was artist in residence at the Detroit Jazz Festival, the largest free outdoor event of its kind in the country.

    This episode of Jazz Night In America focuses on Wayne in Detroit. We were there for the duration of his residency, catching him in two magnificent concerts. For the first performance, he led his working quartet, a magically telepathic unit that has been well chronicled in this century. The second concert featured a special-edition band that had only played together twice before — a quartet with Terri Lyne Carrington on drums, Esperanza Spalding on acoustic bass and vocals, and Leo Genovese on piano. That's the set we're bringing to you in this show, along with words of wisdom from the man of the hour.

    The set included reimagined versions of "Endangered Species" and "Someplace Called Where," from Shorter's 1980s fusion period; a new take on "Encontros e Despedidas," from Native Dancer, his collaboration with Milton Nascimento; and "Midnight in Carlotta's Hair," from the 1995 album High Life. We'll hear flashbacks to the original versions of these themes as we shine a light on Shorter, with special guests, on an open-air plaza in the Motor City. You'll hear fireworks going off not only in the distance, but also right there, onstage.

    Copyright 2017 WBGO. To see more, visit WBGO.

  • 'Jazz Night In America' Remembers Artists We Lost In 2017

    December 21, 2017

    Every year around this time, the jazz community takes the measure of its highlights and bright moments — along with a tally of its losses. And while it's true that important jazz artists leave us every year, 2017 was tougher than most. We bade farewell to avant-garde pioneers like Muhal Richard Abrams and Sunny Murray, genre-blending synthesists like John Abercrombie and Larry Coryell, and behind-the-scenes giants like Nat Hentoff and George Avakian.

    The list goes on and on, and we've paused to pay homage often during the year. But in this episode of Jazz Night In America, we'll focus on a small handful of departed artists, fondly toasted by three friends of the program. Kurt Elling remembers two of his vocal heroes, Jon Hendricks and Al Jarreau. Matt Wilson reflects on the genius of three major drummers: Grady Tate, Ben Riley and Mickey Roker. And another drummer, Terri Lyne Carrington, memorializes her dear friend and bandmate, pianist and composer Geri Allen.

    We're saddened by these departures, of course, but the show is a celebration of the lives they led. So there's humor and deep insight here — along with plenty of music, which is something we think every one of these great artists would have wanted.

    Copyright 2017 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Nate Chinen's Top 10 (Actually 21) Albums Of 2017

    December 14, 2017

    Three of Ron Miles' works were among Nate Chinen's favorites of the year. (Image Credit: Thomas J. Krebs/Courtesy of the artist)

    Most of us can agree: 2017 was a beast of a year. The music sometimes reflected our weariness, carrying it like a burden. At other times it engaged directly with the sense of foreboding and crisis in the air. But what spoke to me the most, it turns out, was music that delivered both comfort and challenge, a salve and a spur. To one degree or another, every album on this list fits that criterion — and so do the additional 10 that appear as honorable mentions, any of which could easily have come off the bench and into the game.

    Copyright 2017 WBGO. To see more, visit WBGO.

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  • How Grover Washington Jr. Defined And Transcended 'Smooth Jazz'

    November 17, 2017

    Grover Washington Jr. performs on stage during the "One Night With Blue Note" concert in New York on Feb. 22, 1985. (Image Credit: Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)

    One way or another, you've heard Grover Washington Jr.'s saxophone. Perhaps on "Mister Magic" or another of his instrumental hits, like "Winelight." Or on "Just the Two of Us," the smash hit featuring Bill Withers. What Washington's sound represents is soul, plain and simple, though it's often been associated with another word: "smooth." A lot of musicians have some choice words to say about that, starting with Washington himself.

    Jazz Night in America recently partnered with WRTI, in Grover Washington's adopted hometown of Philadelphia, to present a tribute concert at the Temple Performing Arts Center. In this episode of the radio show, we'll put you in that room with a wildly enthusiastic crowd, to hear a reunion of Grover Washington band members, like bassist Gerald Veasley and keyboardist Bill Jolly, as well as two saxophonic inheritors, Gerald Albright and Najee. We'll also hear from musicians like David Sanborn, a near-contemporary of Washington's, about the legacy and presumptions surrounding "smooth jazz," and the ways in which Washington both defined and transcended it.


    Najee (tenor and soprano saxophone), Gerald Albright (alto saxophone), Bill Jolly (keyboards, vocals), Donald Robinson (keyboards), Richard Lee Steacker (guitar), Gerald Veasley (bass), Pablo Batista (percussion), Steven Wolf (drums), Carl Cox Jr. (tenor saxophone), Michael Jarosz (trumpet), Brent White (trombone), La' Trese Jones (vocals), Suzanne Burgess (vocals)


    Recorded by Weston Sound; Location engineers: Joe Hannigan, Clark Conner; Audio produced, arranged and mixed by Bill Jolly; Presented by The Philadelphia Jazz Project, WXPN, Temple Performing Arts Center, PhillyCAM, WRTI

    Copyright 2017 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.