WBGO Blog
  • Rachel Eckroth And Tim Lefebvre: Alone Together Duets

    May 12, 2020. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Electric bassist Tim Lefebvre and his wife, singer-songwriter and keyboardist Rachel Eckroth are two in-demand musicians who elude categorization. His impressive credits range from artists such as David Bowie, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Chris Potter and Jon Batiste. She's played with Chris Botti, Donny McCaslin, and Rufus Wainwright.

    Before the lockdown, the LA-based duo often found creative opportunities to work together, but now have become full-on collaborators, launching a joint Patreon page from their home, which they've baptized "Live From Blackbird."

    "Our house has become a moveable music/photo/video studio in that pretty much every room has a purpose," says Eckroth. "It's going great at this point, we are basically offering glimpses into our musical multi-personalities."

    For this Alone Together Duet, Lefebvre dusts off his double bass to perform one of Eckroth's songs, "Words Don't Mean."

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

    Copyright 2020 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • Jazz And Art Take Center Stage To Form 'Portraits Of America'

    May 7, 2020. Posted by Alex Ariff.

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    The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis performs 'Portraits of America: A Jazz Story.' (Image Credit: Frank Stewart /WBGO )

    Jazz and the visual arts have always enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship. Last year the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis put that bond front and center with an ambitious original program called Portraits of America: A Jazz Story.

    The concert featured new compositions by members of the orchestra, directly inspired by works in the collection of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark. So in this special episode of Jazz Night in America, we'll not only hear the resulting music but also get inside the inspiration — learning how Grace Hartigan's abstract painting Rough, Ain't It motivated alto saxophonist Sherman Irby, and which qualities in the Romare Bearden collage Sacrifice spoke to tenor saxophonist Walter Blanding.

    At a moment when it's not possible to visit an art museum in person, Portraits of America invites us to experience color and shape in a new way. "I love the fact that you can take a painting, a piece of art that isn't changing, and then create something that's constantly changing to represent it," reflects multi-reedist Ted Nash. "It almost seems like it wouldn't work, but the music can actually make the painting move."

    Musicians: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

    Wynton Marsalis: Music Director, trumpet; Ryan Kisor: trumpet; Kenny Rampton: trumpet; Michael Rodriguez: trumpet; Vincent Gardner: trombone; Chris Crenshaw: trombone; Elliot Mason: trombone; Sherman Irby: alto saxophone, flute, piccolo; Ted Nash: alto saxophone, flute, piccolo; Victor Goines: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Camille Thurman: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Carl Maraghi: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Dan Nimmer: piano; Carlos Henriquez: bass; Jason Marsalis: drums.

    Set List:

    • "Summer Day" (Elliot Mason)
    • "Black Balloon" (Chris Crenshaw)
    • "Au Café (Synchromy)" (Ted Nash)
    • "A Hot Jam on Grand" (Sherman Irby)
    • "For Never and Forever" (Walter Blanding Jr.)
    • "One Understands" (Vincent Garnder)
    • "Salvation, Serenity, Reflection" (Marcus Printup)

    Credits:

    Writer and Producer: Alex Ariff; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Host: Christian McBride; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Music Engineer: James P. Nichols; Tech Director: David Tallacksen; Thanks to Linda Freemen from L&S Video; 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.

  • José James And Taali: Alone Together Duets

    May 5, 2020. Posted by Simon Rentner.

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    José James and Taali perform from home. (Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist)

    In this crazy quarantine moment, we're all frozen in place. Many of us are spending more time with our families and significant others than ever before. That goes double for musician couples, who regularly spend months apart from one another on tour — and some cases, those duos are connecting in ways they never anticipated. Jazz Night in America is providing an inner window into some of these creative partnerships with a new series: Alone Together Duets.

    Partners living in isolation are likely to discover a lot about each other. That's true for José James and Taali (née Talia Billig), vocalists and founders of Rainbow Blonde Records, who "found a love" together in this song they co-wrote. For our first Alone Together Duet and on their first wedding anniversary, we issue a warning: This song may induce some very lovely feelings.

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

    Copyright 2020 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

  • 'Smile' With A Performance By Pianist Monty Alexander And Bassist Ray Brown

    April 23, 2020

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    JNIA Monty Alexander and Ray Brown (Image Credit: (Photo Courtesy of the Artist))

    On this episode of Jazz Night in America, we check out a concert from the archives that I just had to take a listen to. It features one of the greatest pianists ever, Monty Alexander, and my mentor and hero, the late bassist Ray Brown.

    Ray, who held down the bass chair in the Oscar Peterson Trio for years, had a very close bond with many pianists after Oscar, including Gene Harris, André Previn, Hank Jones, Cedar Walton and Benny Green. But his connection with Monty was special. No matter what Ray's primary group was at a particular time, he always found time to play with Monty, who could make the piano feel like a one-man band. Couple that with Ray's titanium pulse, and you have a beat and a groove that could shake the Rock of Gibraltar to rubble.

    Everything about this gig is so "quintessential" for the both of them: hardcore swingin'; plenty of blues and standards; Monty's reference both to his Jamaican roots ("Fungii Mama" and "No Woman, No Cry") and R&B ("Got To Go"); Ray's obvious happiness (listen to how he shouts during "Straighten Up and Fly Right"). When Ray felt good about a groove, he would almost yell out a karate chop type of "HYAH!" — and he does that a lot in this set. — Christian McBride

    Musicians:

    Monty Alexander: piano; Ray Brown: bass.

    Set List:

    • "Straighten Up and Fly Right" (Nat King Cole, Irving Mills)
    • "Fungii Mama" (Blue Mitchell)
    • "Got to Go" (Monty Alexander)
    • "Duke Ellington Medley" (Duke Ellington)
    • "Sweet Georgia Brown" (Ben Bernie, Maceo Pinkard, Kenneth Casey)
    • "No Woman, No Cry / I Shot the Sheriff" (Bob Marley)
    • "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" (Bob Hilliard, David Mann)
    • "Take the A Train" (Billy Strayhorn)
    • "Smile" (Charlie Chaplin, John Turner, Geoffrey Parsons)

    Credits:

    Producer: Trevor Smith; Concert Recording: Murray Street Productions; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Executive Producers: Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundman; 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.

  • Jazz Vocalist René Marie Is Determined To Craft Songs With Moral Conscience

    March 26, 2020. Posted by Alex Ariff.

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    Vocalist and songwriter René Marie. (Image Credit: Lawrence Sumulong)

    "It just takes time, time to get it right." René Marie wrote that line for a tender song about an extramarital affair, but it could easily apply to the arc of her jazz career, which began when she was in her 40s.

    Marie has built her career on the foundation of truth-telling songs like that one, "Go Home." She's the rare jazz vocalist who has put songwriting at the very heart of her enterprise, addressing the human condition through an unvarnished personal lens.

    In this episode of Jazz Night in America, we'll get to know the person behind that personality: how Marie came up in Virginia, telling stories and making up songs; how she left the Jehovah's Witnesses and her first marriage in search of freedom; how she found her true voice as an artist of political and moral conscience.

    "I don't see the sense in singing empty songs, or songs void of some type of oomph," she says.

    We'll hear Marie in concert with her working band at Dizzy's Club in New York, and you'll see what she means.

    Set List:

    • "I Like You"
    • "Go Home"
    • "Colorado River Song"
    • "Surrey With The Fringe On Top"

    All songs written by René Marie, except "Surrey With The Fringe On Top," written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.

    Musicians:

    René Marie: vocals; John Chin: piano; Dan Wilson: guitar; Elias Bailey: bass; Quentin Baxter: drums.

    Credits:

    Writer and Producer: Alex Ariff; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Host: Christian McBride; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Music Engineer: Rob Macomber; Tech 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.