British jazz pianist George Shearing was a friend and frequent guest on Piano Jazz. On this special edition of the program from 2001, Shearing joins host Marian McPartland to celebrate the holidays in a jazzy way.
The two reminisce about seasons gone by and perform traditional and contemporary holiday tunes, including "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and "Away In A Manger."
Could anyone have predicted that Steve Lehman and Wadada Leo Smith would place first and second in this year's NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, among a field including previous winners Sonny Rollins, Vijay Iyer and Jason Moran, plus 2011 runner-up (and favorite going in) Ambrose Akinmusire? Not me, and I even had Lehman and Smith on my ballot, along with Rollins and Akinmusire.
In the dead of January in the Northeast, New York City's Winter Jazzfest manages a minor miracle. Over the course of two marathon nights, it brings crowds in the thousands out to jam-packed theaters and clubs to see dozens of varied and sundry bands.
Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 4:00 pm
This year saw the passing of numerous jazz legends. In Jazz Night In America's year in review, we pay tribute to bassist Charlie Haden, pianist Horace Silver and composer/bandleader Gerald Wilson, among others. We'll listen back to great live performances recorded over the past 30 years from these musicians — all from the WBGO vault — and highlight remembrances from friends and loved ones.
British jazz vocalist and pianist Anthony Strong built his reputation as a session pianist, supporting stars like B.B. King. His EP release Delovely reached No. 1 on the U.K. jazz charts, and he's continued his rise with his last album of classic jazz songs and originals, Stepping Out.
Described by film critic Rex Reed as "America's greatest male singer," Mel Tormé (1925-99) was one of the most versatile performers of his day.
On this episode of Piano Jazz from 1992, Tormé shares how his classic "The Christmas Song" inspired him to put out his own holiday album. He also sings and plays "Too Late Now" and "Walking My Baby Home," with host Marian McPartland joining in.
Originally recorded Jan. 21, 1992. Originally broadcast May 9, 1992.
Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 3:59 pm
Ellis Marsalis has four famous musical sons — Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis — but considering his career, he's a father figure for many more musicians. In high school and college classrooms, he's been the major figure in New Orleans jazz education since the time that formal jazz education didn't exist. And as a pianist, he carved out a space for contemporary jazz in his hometown, and has grown into an elder statesman of the scene.
If anyone has earned the nickname Pops, it's Ellis Marsalis.
As jazz's best-known father figure, the senior Marsalis has four noted musical offspring: Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason. But if you consider all the musicians he's taught or mentored, his clan is even more extensive, diverse and influential.
I talked to six musicians who gave us the long view of the Marsalis family tree, and how they were schooled by its patriarch.
Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 10:53 pm
Mezzrow is New York City's newest listening room: an intimate club for solo and duo performers where silence and attention are more than encouraged. It's a bit of a throwback, as is its Monday night host Johnny O'Neal. A virtuoso who shot onto the scene in the 1980s, the pianist is now re-establishing his presence in New York after decades off the radar. And on Mondays, he holds court at Mezzrow, singing the blues and welcoming guest after guest onto the tiny stage.
Jazz Night in America stops into the Greenwich Village club to listen closely.
Originally published on Sun November 30, 2014 3:43 pm
Many fans first encountered one of the great voices in jazz as a whisper: Sheila Jordan made a quiet but lasting impression as a guest singer on pianist George Russell's 1962 arrangement of "You Are My Sunshine."
Since then, Jordan's career has taken her all over the world, and in 2012, she received one of the highest honors in jazz: she became an National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. Her music has soared, but her story starts with pain.
When Harry Connick Jr. sat down with host Marian McPartland in 1991, he was in his twenties, had already won two Grammy Awards and was coming off a worldwide big band tour. He has gone on to record multiple best-selling albums and develop a successful acting career.
On this Piano Jazz, Connick sings and plays "They Didn't Believe Me" and joins McPartland for "Stompin' at the Savoy."
Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 3:31 pm
Jimmy Greene's Beautiful Life is dedicated to the memory of his 6-year-old daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, one of the 20 children killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The first song is an arrangement of "Come Thou Almighty King." The hymn was in a piano book that Greene's son, Isaiah, was learning.
As the son of jazz legends John and Alice Coltrane, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane is continuing his family's legacy by developing his own sound and feeling. In 2012, he released his sixth album, Spirit Fiction.
Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 7:36 am
As a teenager in Abbeville, La., Robert Charles Guidry — better known as Bobby Charles — wrote songs that would become classics for Bill Haley and Fats Domino: "See You Later, Alligator" and "Walking To New Orleans," respectively.