WBGO Blog
  • Oscar-Nominated Terence Blanchard On 30 Years Of Jazz And Film Scoring For Spike Lee

    February 15, 2019. Posted by Alex Ariff.

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    (Image Credit: Henry Adebonojo)

    Terence Blanchard wrote his first piece of music for a Spike Lee joint nearly 30 years ago. The movie was Mo' Better Blues, which revolves around a brooding jazz trumpeter played by Denzel Washington. Blanchard was on set to ghost those trumpet parts, but at one point, Spike heard him playing a theme at the piano, and asked him to write an accompanying string arrangement.

    That moment kicked off a collaboration that has now spanned well over a dozen films, from Jungle Fever and Malcolm X up through BlacKkKlansman, which yielded first-time Academy Award nominations for both artists (in the categories of Best Director, Best Picture and Best Original Score.) Blanchard's haunting main theme for BlacKkKlansman, "Blut Und Boden (Blood and Soil)," also just won Best Instrumental Composition at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards.

    Beyond the accolades, Blanchard's extensive work in film has transformed his capacities as a composer and bandleader. In this radio episode of Jazz Night in America, we'll consider not only how jazz influences his scoring, but also how he brings cinematic perspective to the bandstand. Along with Blanchard and Spike, we'll glean perceptive insights from pianist Fabian Almazan and critic and scholar Jason King.

    We'll also hear a lot of music from the Tri-C Jazz Festivals in Cleveland where Blanchard performed with his band, The E-Collective; played original themes from The Comedian; and unveiled a sweeping new commission, "Our Voices: Democracy RE:visited," featuring The E-Collective with orchestral and choral reinforcements.

    SET LIST

    • "Jackie in the Rain" (Blanchard)
    • "Electricity on MacDougal" (Blanchard)
    • "See Me As I Am" (Blanchard)
    • "Our Voices: Democracy RE:visited" (Blanchard)

    MUSICIANS

    "Jackie in the Rain" and "Electricity on MacDougal" - Terence Blanchard: trumpet; Khari Allen Lee: alto saxophone; Ravi Coltrane: tenor saxophone; Kenny Barron: piano; David Pulphus: bass; Carl Allen: drums

    "See Me As I Am" - Terence Blanchard: trumpet; Charles Altura: guitar; Fabian Almazan keyboards; Donald Ramsey: bass; Oscar Seaton: drums

    "Our Voices: Democracy RE:visited" - Terence Blanchard: trumpet; Charles Altura: guitar; Dale Black: bass; James Francies: keys; Oscar Seaton: drums; Orlando Watson, RA Washington: vocals

    ENSEMBLES

    CityMusic Cleveland:

    Ellen Breakfield-Glick, Andrew Stefaniak: clarinet; David Snyder: bass clarinet; John Wetherill: bassoon; Lisa Fink, Andrew Symington: horn; Nina Dvora Bell, Heather Zweifel: trumpet; Morgan Wynn, Sebastian Bell: trombone; Kenneth Heinlein: tuba; Dylan Moffit, Evan Mitchell: percussion; Miho Hashizume, Paul Meyer, Susan Britton, Tobiah Murphy, Aaron Schwartz: violin I; Minju Kim, Aniela Eddy, Ann Yu, James Larson: violin II; Yaël Senamaud-Cohen, Katerina Istomin: viola; Anna Hurt, Nataliya Pshenychna: cello; Joel Negus: bass; Brany Hudelson: flute; Justine Meyers: oboe.

    Spirit of the Groove Gospel Choir:

    Led by Jimmie Parker with Raziya Hernton, Sierra Robinson, Tasheka Washington, Latasha Brown , Jeanneice Jackson, Mirna Nock, June Burrage, Linda Jackson, Laveta Parker, Valerie Mathis: soprano; Kate Kooser, Adrianna Miller, Qiong-Mei Ngo, Nancy Osgood, Leslie Perkins, Kimille Webb, Zeta Wilkins, Tamara Shelton, Jubilee Jones, Leah Sanders, Marla Travick, Manalisa Williams, Diana Harris: alto; Alex Berko, Patricia Buckingham, Deitrick Burgess, D'Brian Cross, Ian Morgan, Charlie Pride, Ramone Wilkins, Carlin Jackson, Quentin Pope, Brandon Edwards, Willie Pope, Charles Harris: tenor; Reginald Bowens, Robert Grant, Jordan Shores, Joél Tucker, Caleb Wright: bass.

    CREDITS

    Producer: 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 engineers: Bruce Gigax, David Pietk.

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

  • A Reunion Of Brotherly Love: Joey DeFrancesco Traces His Roots

    January 24, 2019

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    Bassist Christian McBride (left) and Blues artist Joey DeFrancesco (right). (Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist)

    There are probably better uses for a time machine — but if you could drop in on the band room at Philadelphia's High School for Creative and Performing Arts, sometime in the late 1980s, you'd encounter some historic jazz talent in the making. I'm referring in particular to the untouchable organ virtuoso Joey DeFrancesco and the irreproachable bassist Christian McBride.

    They were musical brothers then, bound by a deep love of the jazz tradition and the impressive scope of their youthful abilities. And while each has followed his own path since — leading bands, making albums, achieving preeminence in the field — that fraternal bond hasn't faded or faltered. So for this soulful episode of Jazz Night in America, it was only fitting that McBride, our host, reconnects with DeFrancesco in the City of Brotherly Love.

    Over the course of the show, we'll hear music from some sharp, recent DeFrancesco gigs at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, as well as a taste of his spiritually-minded new album, In the Key of the Universe. And we'll hear what it sounds like when a couple of outspoken Philly cats lock into a groove. Pull up a chair and enjoy some reminiscing, some reflecting, some repartee ­— even a bit of spontaneous singing — as Chris McB catches up with Joey D.

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

  • 'Jazz Night In America' Remembers Artists We Lost In 2018

    December 20, 2018

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    Grammy-winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove passed away at age 49. (Image Credit: Courtesy of The Roy Hargrove Estate)

    This time each year, amidst the warmth of year-end highlights and holiday wishes, we pause to remember those we have lost. But while it's an occasion for sadness, it's also an opportunity to celebrate their legacies in full. That's the spirit with which Jazz Night in America offers this In Memoriam episode, featuring testimonials by some of those who knew the artists best.

    The mercurial genius of pianist Cecil Taylor is vividly captured by a longtime friend, poet Steve Dalachinsky. Singer-songwriter Bob Dorough receives a toast from Nellie McKay, while the tireless Village Vanguard owner Lorraine Gordon is remembered by pianist Fred Hersch. The iconic South African trumpeter and freedom fighter Hugh Masekela is memorialized in a reflection by vocalist Somi. The New Orleans piano maestro and singer Henry Butler receives his encomium from a close collaborator, trumpeter Steven Bernstein. And the bridge-building trumpeter Roy Hargrove receives his tribute from a longtime friend and collaborator: our host, Christian McBride. (Nancy Wilson, the elegant singer and former host of NPR's Jazz Profiles, died just as this episode was coming together.)

    Which brings us to an important fact about this show: It's full of music to go along with the memories. The subjects of these tributes, after all, would hardly have it any other way.

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

  • Big Band Holiday Cheer With The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra

    December 17, 2018

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    The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, with Catherine Russell as a guest vocalist, perform at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. (Image Credit: Sarah Escarraz/Jazz at Lincoln Center)

    The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis is back with lively arrangements of holiday classics like "Jingle Bells" and "White Christmas." Catherine Russell joins the orchestra as a guest vocalist.

    PERFORMERS

    Wynton Marsalis (music director, trumpet), Greg Gisbert (trumpet), Kenny Rampton (trumpet), Marcus Printup (trumpet), Vincent Gardner (trombone), Chris Crenshaw (trombone), Sam Chess (trombone), Sherman Irby (alto saxophone), Ted Nash (alto saxophone), Victor Goines (tenor saxophone), Walter Blanding (tenor saxophone), Paul Nedzela (baritone saxophone), James Chirillo (guitar), Dan Nimmer (piano), Carlos Henriquez (bass), Marion Felder (drums), Catherine Russell (vocals).

    SET LIST

    • "White Christmas" (Irving Berlin) arranged by Victor Goines
    • "What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Finds Everybody Swingin'?)" (Louis Prima) arranged by Chris Crenshaw
    • "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane) arranged by Victor Goines
    • "Brazilian Sleigh Bells" (Percy Faith) arranged by Carlos Henriquez
    • "Here Comes Santa Claus" (Gene Autry) arranged by Walter Blanding
    • "Cool Yule" (Steve Allen) arranged by Sherman Irby
    • "Jingle Bells" (James Lord Pierpont) arranged by Ernie Wilkins
    Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
  • Jazz, Love and Letting Loose: Brooklyn's Surprising Senior Jazz Scene

    December 10, 2018

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    (Image Credit: Colin Marshall/NPR)

    As a producer on Jazz Night in America, part of my job is to highlight the intersections of jazz and everyday life. It's easy to get caught up in the large, romantic art projects and album releases, but what about the stories that are happening in our own backyards? When I started asking that question, I was introduced to Jazz 966.

    Odds are, when you think about going out, whether it's clubbing or to hear live music, you don't envision an elderly crowd. Most traditional clubs aren't set up to cater to the aging population and as a result, senior music lovers can be left out in the cold. There's where Jazz 966 comes in. Founded in 1990 by the Fort Greene Council in Brooklyn, N.Y., Jazz 966 is a senior center by day, but, on Friday nights, it transforms into a swinging jazz club. 966 is an affordable, inclusive, and lively refuge for seniors to hear live music — and, arguably, more importantly, to dance. The club's lineup runs the gamut, ranging from neighborhood locals to renowned jazz giants like trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

    At Jazz Night, we accompanied two of the club's regulars, Ted Harvin, 81, and Delrosa Marshall, 74, through a typical evening. The duo has been frequenting the club for almost a decade now, and it's become a pivotal place for them to socialize, especially as Ted's mobility has decreased. Despite the additional challenges they face, including reckoning with aging, the joy that music and dance bring them prevails. "I think my outlook on life hasn't changed since I was 20," Ted says, "I know that she says, 'Well, why are we here?' We're here to enjoy life, and that's the only thing we can do: Just enjoy it."

    Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.