• Marilyn Maye: The Queen Of Cabaret

    January 26, 2017

    Marilyn Maye on stage at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. (Image Credit: Jazz At Lincoln Center)

    Marilyn Maye could easily be nominated as the voice of experience: At 88, she's one of our greatest living songbook singers, as well as a jazz-cabaret star of singular achievement. A vocal stylist both sensitive and swinging, with a deep understanding of her chosen tradition, she's had a storied career, and doesn't seem the slightest bit inclined to slow it down.

    Maye has had hit singles — like "Cabaret" in 1966, and "Step To The Rear" the following year — as well as notable success on the musical-theater stage. She holds the record for the most appearances by a singer on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where she logged a total of 76. She's performed her share of symphonic concerts, notably with the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall.

    But her natural habitat is still the nightclub, where she can stretch out and banter with a crowd hanging onto her every word. She has long been one of the most beloved figures on New York's lively cabaret circuit, performing at places like the Metropolitan Room and Feinstein's/54 Below.

    This episode of Jazz Night In America brings you into one such room — Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, one evening last fall — as Maye plays a set full of insight, warmth and puckish whimsy. (Hear the tangent she shoehorns into a take of "I've Got You Under My Skin.") You'll also hear Maye reflect on her long career, starting with the amateur contests that landed her a radio show in Topeka, Kansas, at age 9. She also fields insightful questions from her trusted piano accompanist, Tedd Firth.

    "I always say I work to the audience, not for them," says Maye, who puts that philosophy to the test night after night. Hear her on Jazz Night, and you'll know precisely what she means.

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

  • Radical Imagination: Jazz And Social Justice

    January 19, 2017

    "Our best musicians in the jazz tradition were radical imaginers," Samora Pinderhughes says. A pianist and composer in his mid-20s, he has asserted his connection to that lineage with The Transformations Suite, an earnest and ambitious new work combining music, words and visuals. The piece, which took five years to chisel into shape, was inspired by African-American resistance and protest movements, as well as the oppression that many still endure.

    Pinderhughes now lives in Harlem, but he grew up in the Bay Area, in a family of academics and social activists. Shortly after releasing The Transformations Suite last fall, he brought the project to the Way Christian Center in Berkeley for a performance that was several things at once: a homecoming, an album-release concert, a rousing community gathering.

    Along with a group of smart young jazz musicians, the ensemble features spoken-word poetry by the accomplished actor Jeremie Harris and passages of soulful singing by Jehbreal Jackson. The site of convergence for these artists was Juilliard, the elite conservatory — and that unlikely setting for grassroots activism is a sign of how pressing and pervasive these issues have become.

    Social justice and political outrage have been front and center in a wide array of music over the last few years, from Common's hip-hop exhortation Black America Again to the Drive-By Truckers' Southern-rock manifesto American Band. But jazz artists have often been the leaders in this regard: Pinderhughes joins a growing number of his elders and peers in creating music that indicts, confronts and critiques, without pretending to provide easy answers. (It should come as no surprise that the pianist considers James Baldwin's writing a touchstone.)

    One movement in The Transformations Suite, "Momentum, Pt. 2," grapples with income inequality and the criminal justice system: "Who owns the prisons," Harris cries, "and who are its occupants? Why do some have billions / While most struggle to survive?" Elsewhere, there are references to police violence and the legacies of slavery and state-sanctioned discrimination. In the concert performance, it's not hard to hear the urgency in the music itself — look no further than Riley Mulherkar's evocative trumpet solo in "History," over a vamp in hypnotic 5/4 time.

    The call to change is central to the suite, as is the awareness of historical progress, however halting or tenuous it may seem. In the end, Pinderhughes voices a literal call to action: "Fight back!" goes the stirring refrain in a video montage that concludes the concert, amidst a ritual recitation of all-too-familiar names like Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray.

    "We are searching for transformation," Pinderhughes says, adding that the word connotes more than any mere gesture of reform. "That's actual transformation of this society: how we think, how we act towards one another, and also the rules and policies that we put in place in our institutions and practices." The music, meanwhile, is here to stir as well as soothe, carrying its unambiguous sense of mission.


    Samora Pinderhughes (bandleader, piano, vocals), Jehbreal Jackson (vocals), Jeremie Harris (spoken word), Riley Mulherkar (trumpet), Lucas Pino (tenor sax), Joshua Crumbly (bass), Jimmy Macbride (drums).


    Producers: Alex Ariff, Josie Holtzman, Colin Marshall, Nick Michael; Editors: Nikki Boliaux, Colin Marshall; Concert Audio Engineer: Zach Miley; Doc Audio: Alex Ariff, Josie Holtzman; Supervising Sound Editor: Suraya Mohamed; Concert Videographers: Alex Ariff, Danger Charles, Josie Holtzman, Colin Marshall, Nick Michael, Matt Radick; Doc Videographers: Colin Marshall, Nick Michael; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Executive Producers: Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundmann, Amy Niles; Special Thanks: The Way; Funded In Part By: The Argus Fund, Doris Duke Foundation, The National Endowment For The Arts, The Wyncote Foundation.

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

  • Winter JazzFest 2017

    January 11, 2017. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    New York City Winter JazzFest isn’t an ordinary music gathering. Because it coincides with APAP – Association of Performing Arts Presenters – as one industry insider told me, what occurs this week in Manhattan is “the biggest music happening in the world that the world isn’t aware of.” NYCWJF is the place where deals get done, new bands showcased, but, perhaps, most importantly, inspiration spawns. Every year, there’s usually a few musicians that shines above rest. They get consideration for honorary designation bestowed by The Checkout --The Jason Lindner Award. This goes to the musician with the most activity during the two day madness. And, naturally, it isn’t a coincidence that his year’s honoree was also one of the hottest artists to emerge in 2016 – as reflected to our recent NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll. It’s the guitarist Mary Halvorson. Her festival appearances include Chicago’s cellist Tomeka Reid and her Quartet, the Brooklyn-based trombonist Jacob Garchik and his fascination for Fantasia with his three guitar ensemble Ye Olde, New York downtown mainstay Marc Ribot and the Young Philadelphians, and Halvorson’s own unruly Octet, as represented on her critically acclaimed recording. As with many of the “buzzed about” happenings at the fest, Halvorson’s humble 7pm hit in a New School classroom was a scene onto itself – the room was uncomfortably packed – with long, asymmetrical lines of anxious, agitated fans winding to the elevator, patiently waiting only to get a peep of some adventurous, cerebral, and unclassifiable music.

    Go to The Checkout from WBGO and WBGO 88.3FM Facebook pages to see all of our coverage from the festival by using the hashtag. #WBGOWinterJazz

  • Singer Tessa Souter Sits in for a Salon Session

    January 10, 2017. Posted by Corey Goldberg.

    Singer Tessa Souter joins Sheila Anderson for this Salon Session, taking us from the Wayne Shorter album that first introduced her to jazz to the story of how an attempt to rekindle a romance pushed her to pursue singing.


  • Kenia Talks to Awilda Rivera

    January 9, 2017. Posted by Corey Goldberg.

    Brazilian singer Kenia joins Awilda Rivera to talk about her latest release, On We Go.