WBGO Blog
  • Women To Watch: 3 Young Jazz Artists You Need To Know

    May 2, 2019

    image
    Melanie Charles, Lakecia Benjamin and María Grand (Image Credit: Weird Hours / Elizabeth Leitzell / Dimitri Louis/Courtesy of the artists)

    One question we often hear at Jazz Night in America is, 'Who are the young musicians to look out for?' There are many contenders, of course, and we try to do our part in featuring their efforts. To that end, this episode of Jazz Night spotlights three bright women coming into their own as artists: Vocalist and flutist Melanie Charles, and saxophonists Lakecia Benjamin and María Grand. Each woman has a unique story to tell, as we'll hear in this show, which also features a healthy dose of their music, recorded on the bandstand at Dizzy's Club in New York.

    SET LIST

    • "Spiral" (John Coltrane)
    • "Liberia" (John Coltrane)
    • "West" (María Grand)
    • "Damballah Wedo" (Traditional - Arrangement: Eddy Bourjolly)
    • "Symphony" (Melanie Charles)
    • "Billie's Blues" (Billie Holiday)

    MUSICIANS

    Lakecia Benjamin Quartet: Lakecia Benjamin, alto saxophone; Yeisson Villamar, piano; Lonnie Plaxico, bass; Darrell Green, drums.

    María Grand Quartet: María Grand, tenor saxophone and vocals; Faye Victor, vocals; Savannah Harris, drums; Kanoa Mendonhall, drums.

    Melanie Charles and Make Jazz Trill Again: Melanie Charles, flute and vocals; Jonathan Michel, bass; Luke Carlos O'Reilly, piano; Charles Haynes, drums; Godwin Louis, soprano saxophone; Rogerst Charles, alto saxophone.

    CREDITS

    Producer: Sarah Kerson; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey; Executive Producers: Amy Niles, Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundman; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Recording Engineer: Rob Macomber.

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

  • Watch It Live: The 2019 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert

    April 15, 2019

    image
    The 2019 NEA Jazz Masters (Image Credit: NEA)

    The livestream has concluded.

    Every year since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts has presented its Jazz Masters award — a pinnacle of achievement in the form. The honor is presented to musicians and advocates who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz, and the 2019 class is no exception, as we'll see during tonight's live stream of this year's tribute concert, taking place at the John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

    The 2019 NEA Jazz Masters are: Stanley Crouch, jazz historian, author, critic, and co-founder of Jazz at Lincoln Center; Bob Dorough, vocalist, composer, arranger and pianist; Abdullah Ibrahim, a pianist and composer; and Maria Schneider, composer, arranger and bandleader. Tonight's host is Jason Moran, the Kennedy Center's Artistic Director for Jazz.

    Starting at 8:00 p.m. EDT in the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall, musicians Jay Anderson, Steve Berger, Terence Blanchard, Terri Lyne Carrington, Kurt Elling, Sullivan Fortner, Bill Goodwin, Cleave Guyton, Noah Jackson, 2012 NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan, Grace Kelly, Frank Kimbrough, Christian McBride, Charles McPherson, Jason Moran, David Murray, Pat O'Leary, Scott Robinson, and JD Walter will perform and pay tribute to the careers of the 2019 NEA Jazz Masters.

    Click here to view live close-captioning of the event.

    Copyright 2019 WBGO and The Kennedy Center. To see more, visit WBGO and The Kennedy Center.

  • Watch Electro-Jazz Drummer Mark Guiliana Perform His New Album Live

    April 12, 2019

    image
    (Image Credit: Justin Bettman/International Music Network)

    For the last decade, drummer Mark Guiliana has had a powerful outlet in Beat Music, an underground electronic project that has made periodic appearances outside his New Jersey basement lab.

    Tonight, Beat Music performs at Rough Trade in Brooklyn, and you can watch live right here, and at The Checkout's Facebook page, starting at 9 p.m. EST.

    The show, which ushers in Beat Music! Beat Music! Beat Music! on Motéma Music, will feature Guiliana on drums and electronics, Chris Morrissey on electric bass, and BIGYUKI and Nick Semrad on keyboards and synthesizers.

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

  • No Man's Band: All-Female Jazz Orchestras Then and Now

    March 14, 2019

    image
    (Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist)

    "When I was younger," Sherrie Maricle says, "it was almost a mission to blend in with all the men I was playing with. Not to be viewed as female in any way." But Maricle, a drummer inspired by the precision and power of Buddy Rich, found her calling as a leader of women — specifically, as leader of The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, which recently marked 25 years as a proving ground, a pipeline and a rejoinder to any lingering bias that this music is a masculine domain.

    Jazz Night in America recently caught up with Maricle and the band at Dizzy's Club in New York during an album celebration for The DIVA Jazz Orchestra 25th Anniversary Project. In this radio episode, we'll hear some of that new original music. And we'll hear from a few DIVA musicians, including Alexa Tarantino, an excellent saxophonist who was born in the same year as the band.

    There's a rich, important and often under-recognized legacy of all-female big bands, so we'll also spend some time in this show paying tribute. Our host, Christian McBride, traveled to California to sit down with 93-year-old saxophonist Roz Cron — one of the last surviving members of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, which caused a sensation in the 1940s. You'll want to hear Cron's recollections of the road, which underscore why Earl "Fatha" Hines once characterized the International Sweethearts of Rhythm as "the first freedom riders."

    SET LIST

    • "Jami's Tune" (Barbara Laronga)
    • "East Coast Andy" (Leigh Pilzer)
    • "Caravan" (Duke Ellington)
    • "Square One" (Alexa Tarantino)
    • "La Americana" (Tomoko Ohno)

    MUSICIANS

    Core band with leader/drummer Sherrie Maricle; pianist Tomoko Ohno; bassist Noriko Ueda; alto saxophonists Alexa Tarantino and Mercedes Beckman; tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Janelle Reichman; tenor saxophonist Cynthia Mullis; baritone saxophonist Leigh Pilzer; trumpeters Liesl Whitaker, Jami Dauber, Rachel Therrien, and Barbara Laronga; trombonists Jennifer Krupa, Hailey Brinnel, and Leslie Havens. Special featured guest trumpeter Ingrid Jensen.

    CREDITS

    Producers: Sarah Geledi with Alex Ariff; Production Assistant: Sarah Kerson; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey; Executive Producers: Amy Niles, Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundman; Recording Engineer: Rob Macomber

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

  • Makaya McCraven: The Brain Behind The Mind-Bending Beats

    February 28, 2019. Posted by Alex Ariff.

    image
    (Image Credit: Carolina Sanchez/Red Bull Content Pool)

    Makaya McCraven — a drummer-producer-bandleader-composer who sums up his MO with the evocative term "beat scientist" — has lately been on the hottest of hot streaks. His album Universal Beings was hailed as one of the best albums of 2018, by outlets ranging from The New York Times to Rolling Stone. (In the NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, it came in at No. 4.) For McCraven, who lives in Chicago, this vaulting acclaim is just the latest evidence that he's onto something vital and new.

    Jazz Night in America devotes this episode to McCraven, his innovative process, and the creative background that continues to inform his work. We'll look at the precedent of record producers splicing tape in the studio, and how it applies to McCraven's constructive methods. We'll meet his earliest influences — his parents, African-American drummer Stephen McCraven and Hungarian folk artist Agnes McCraven. We'll join McCraven in a thrilling recent performance at the Red Bull Music Festival Chicago, on the South Side, with partners including Nubya Garcia on tenor saxophone, Brandee Younger on harp, Jeff Parker on guitar and Joel Ross on vibraphone.

    "I don't think what I'm doing is necessarily that far off of the legacy of jazz that I grew up in," McCraven observes, before acknowledging the persistence of debates about what jazz is, or should be. "I think one of the things that gives it strength is that people want to argue over it. That's a good sign. That means there's life here."

    SET LIST

    • "Atlantic Black" (McCraven)
    • "Wise Man, Wiser Woman" (McCraven)
    • "Hungarian Lullaby" (Peter Dabasi)
    • "Song of the Forest Boogaraboo" (Stephen McCraven)
    • "Suite Haus" (McCraven)

    MUSICIANS

    Makaya McCraven: drums;Nubya Garcia, tenor saxophone; Joshua Johnson, alto saxophone; Miguel Atwood Ferguson on electric violin; Brandee Younger, harp; Jeff Parker, guitar; Junius Paul, Dezron Douglas; bass, Carlos Niño, percussion; Joel Ross, vibraphone

    CREDITS

    Producer: Alex Ariff and Sarah Kerson; Senior Producer: Katie Simon, Senior Director of NPR Music, Lauren Onkey; Executive Producers: Amy Niles, Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundman; Recording engineer: Dave Vettraino; Concert producer: Red Bull Music Festival Chicago

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