Reports focusing on the latest music news and trends along California's Central Coast.

Jackie And Roy On Piano Jazz

15 hours ago

Roy Kral (1921 – 2002) was working in Chicago with the George Davis Quartet when he met Jackie Cain (1928 – 2014). They formed a duo, Jackie and Roy, and the rest is history. The vocal and piano duo blended witty lyrics and unusual melodies with a light modern jazz feeling.

Oliver Jones: A Canadian Jazz Legend Heads Home

Oct 13, 2016

Oliver Jones may be the most famous living jazz pianist you've never heard of. But in Canada, Jones is a hero — adored in his native Quebec and across the country for helping to build a vibrant jazz scene that can sustain the country's top musicians.

A serious talent and a tireless advocate for Canadian jazz, Jones is a champion for local musicians — a folk hero of sorts. You can find his images on the sides of buildings and on his very own postage stamp. He's also a serious talent with charisma and charm that's been winning over fans for years.

Chucho Valdés On Piano Jazz

Oct 7, 2016

At one time, pianist Jesús "Chuco" Valdés was banned from performing in the U.S. Today, he performs and teaches here, as well as in his native Cuba. Valdés is a world-class innovator in Latin jazz. In 1973, he founded Irakere, a group that introduced a new fusion of African traditional music with Cuban jazz.

Dance Like Animals In Wynton Marsalis' 'Spaces'

Oct 6, 2016

In Spaces, Wynton Marsalis' new dance suite for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, each movement corresponds to a different animal — a chicken, a lion, a frog and more.

He enlisted tap dancer Jared Grimes and "jooker" (street dancer) Lil Buck to embody the animals in their performances. In this piece, Marsalis also describes his fascination with the animal kingdom, his process of writing, and the way he attempts to draw on the spaces that all creatures inhabit.

This coming season, the San Luis Obispo Symphony will audition five candidates for the position of music director. Marisa Waddell will speak with each one through May 2017. In this conversation, she chats with Maestro Andrew Sewell about his vision and ideas for the Symphony, and with David Hamilton, the chairman of the search committee.

KUHS Hot Springs Arkansas

NPR podcast host Tom Wilmer reports from Hot Springs, Arkansas at KUHS L.P. 97.9--KUHS is a trend setter as the station is Arkansas’s first solar powered radio station. Come along and join the founders of Hot Spring's community radio, Cheryl Roorda and Zac Smith.

A Blog Supreme was a jazz thing published by NPR Music from May 2009 through September 2016. It presented news, features, aggregated content, historical primers, opinion and analysis, recommendations and other types of music journalism. It was twice named the Jazz Journalists Association Blog of the Year.

Lee Musiker On Piano Jazz

Sep 30, 2016

Grammy- and Emmy-winning conductor, pianist, composer and arranger Lee Musiker has long worked with leading jazz, classical, pop and Broadway performers. He conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the National Orchestra in the U.S. and Canada. His work can also be heard on the soundtracks of major Hollywood films.

Musiker brings a wealth of knowledge to this 2005 episode of Piano Jazz, on which he performs "Fascinating Rhythm" with host Marian McPartland.

Norah Jones returns to the piano for many of the songs on her new album, Day Breaks, which hearkens back to her blockbuster debut, Come Away With Me. She recruited an assortment of Blue Note jazz greats for the album, on which she delves into some of the issues of the day — particularly in "Flipside."


  • "Flipside"

Many jazz pianists play tunes from the Great American Songbook, that beloved canon of standards from the early 20th century. But pianist Edward Simon has chosen to focus on another great collection of American standards for his newest album, Latin American Songbook.

Growing up in Venezuela, near the northern edge of South America, was an advantage for Simon. His early listening encompassed music from the north — Cuba and Puerto Rico — and also extended southward to the music of Chile, Brazil and Argentina.

Leonard Feather On Piano Jazz

Sep 16, 2016

Leonard Feather (1914–1994) was hailed as the "Dean of Jazz Journalists." He critiqued artists for Downbeat, Melody Maker, Wire and his own weekly syndicated column in the Los Angeles Times. He authored works including The Jazz Years: Earwitness To An Era and The Encyclopedia Of Jazz.

Robert Glasper is always making music. Solo or with his quartet, the Robert Glasper Experiment, he's released 9 albums and collaborated with everyone from Herbie Hancock to Kendrick Lamar, investigating the sounds and rhythms of jazz and hip-hop in equal measure,

Oliver Jones On Piano Jazz

Sep 9, 2016

Oliver Jones is one of Canada's premier pianists and a winner of the prestigious Oscar Peterson Award. As a child, he took lessons with Daisy Peterson Sweeney, Oscar Peterson's sister. With a long career as a performer, composer and educator, Jones is an important player in the international jazz piano scene.

Nels Cline is unabashed about his love for sound. "I get a kind of fundamental, if not moronic, pleasure from sound as soon as it starts," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "Even in sound checks, once we start playing, I'm in the zone. I'm happy, because I like playing."

Perla Batalla performing live in Ojai CA
Claud Mann

NPR podcast host, Tom Wilmer met up with Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Perla Batalla in Ojai, California. Come along and join Perla as she shares her musical journey through life. 

Walter Davis Jr. On Piano Jazz

Sep 2, 2016

Pianist Walter Davis Jr. (1932–1990) spent more than four decades contributing to the development of jazz history. He worked with a wide variety of talent, including Dizzy Gillespie, Donald Byrd and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.

Sometimes in jazz, a melody is an excuse. It gets played once at the start and again at the end, becoming a suggestive frame upon which to improvise; sometimes it might as well be dispensed with entirely. That can be liberating and dazzling and creatively rich. But sometimes a melody deserves much more. Sometimes it is more essential; even if its mass feels relatively light, its gravity remains immense. Sometimes it demands a whole song to express itself.

Gabe Dixon at Bluebird Cafe
Thomas Wilmer

 Join NPR podcast host Tom Wilmer at the legendary Bluebird Cafe for a conversation with Nashville based musician, Gabe Dixon.

Just mention the name Bluebird Café to anyone in the world familiar with the Nashville Music Scene and you are bound to receive a fond smile of reverence in response. 

Front facade Ryman Auditorium
Thomas Wilmer

Join Lisaann Dupont, PR and Digital Media Manager at the legendary Ryman Auditorium. Revered as the “Mother Church” of country music, the Ryman has been an anchor of the Nashville music scene for more than a century.

The Grand Ole Opry moved in to the Ryman in 1943 where it broadcast shows weekly across the airwaves every Saturday on WSM 650 AM radio.

Three Miles Ahead

Aug 26, 2016

It's been said that Miles Davis is to jazz is like Hemingway is to the American novel, like Picasso is to art. He was more than just a trumpet player — he was an icon of style and artistry.

Jazz Night in America explores three interpretations of Miles Davis: on the silver screen, the page and the bandstand. We speak with actor Don Cheadle, who directed, produced, wrote and starred in Miles Ahead; writer Quincy Troupe, who helped Davis write his autobiography; and trumpeter Keyon Harrold, who led a special tribute concert at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola.

Cecile McLorin Salvant And Sullivan Fortner

Aug 26, 2016

Ever since the earliest days of jazz music, the pairing of piano and voice has frequently attained a deeply personal level of communication. It's evident in the distinct chemistry between two rising stars of their instruments: pianist Sullivan Fortner and singer Cécile McLorin Salvant.

Jazz Night In America gets to know the charming duo on stage at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola and beside a piano in a Harlem brownstone.

Rudy Van Gelder, an audio recording engineer who captured the sounds of many of jazz's landmark albums, died Thursday morning in his sleep. He was at his home studio in New Jersey, according to Maureen Sickler, his assistant engineer. He was 91.

Norah Jones On Piano Jazz

Aug 26, 2016

Vocalist Norah Jones has a sweet, smoky voice that makes standards sound not just revived, but new. Her style branches out into the realms of folk, country, soul, pop and jazz. In 2003, the year she was Marian McPartland's guest on Piano Jazz, Jones won her first Grammy Awards for her debut album, Come Away With Me.

Country Music Hall of Fame entry
Thomas Wilmer

The Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee is the Mother Ship where the entire history of country music, from the 1800s to present, is showcased and revered in the 360,000 square-foot, multi-story facility.


Aug 23, 2016

The Toronto improvisational band BADBADNOTGOOD recently released its fourth album, IV. The instrumental group includes Matthew Tavares on keys, Chester Hansen on bass, Leland Whitty on saxophone and Alexander Sowinski on drums. The four, most of whom met at Humber College, have become known for their jazz-inflected covers of hip-hop songs and, notably, for their collaborations with Tyler, the Creator.

Jean-Baptiste "Toots" Thielemans, the Belgian-American musician who cut a singular path as a jazz harmonica player, died in his sleep Monday in his hometown of Brussels. He was 94.

Marty Napoleon On Piano Jazz

Aug 19, 2016

Pianist Marty Napoleon (1921–2015) came from a musical family: He was the nephew of trumpeter and bandleader Phil Napoleon and brother of pianist Teddy Napoleon. In 1950, he joined his uncle's group, The Memphis Five; he later became a member of the Big Four, led by Charlie Ventura. He also played with Louis Armstrong's All Stars, led his own trio and performed as a soloist.

Here's a tip for jazz musicians that works better than it should: If you wish to be noticed by people who use words, play some covers. Not standards, but songs from a more recent era of popular music, or something else left-field. Even today, it stands out from mainstream practice, which shifts gradually over longer durations. It moves the playing field away from the nuts and bolts of your playing, where our critical lexicon is generally impoverished, to your signaled influences and decision-making, which are much easier to talk about. At the very least, it tends to be amusing.

Bobby Hutcherson, a vibraphonist whose improvising and composition helped to define modernity for jazz as a whole, has died. He had long struggled with emphysema. He was 75.

As a mallet percussionist, he expanded the scope of what was possible on his instrument. And the sound he created was widely influential.

It's summer. We're still in the thick of the Rio Olympics. So it's a perfect time for Peter Eldridge's hypnotic "Mind To Fly." Shaded with the sounds of Brazil, it's also deeply colored by rich harmonic textures, intricate rhythmic ideas and wistful lyrics about the end of a romance.