Music

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz
8:22 am
Fri April 17, 2015

Henry Mancini On Piano Jazz

Henry Mancini.
Evening Standard Getty Images

Composer, arranger and pianist Henry Mancini (1924–1994) wrote some of the most memorable tunes of the modern era. Throughout his career, he recorded more than 90 albums and won 20 Grammys and four Oscars.

To mark what would have been Mancini's 91st birthday, Piano Jazz brings you this episode from 1985. He discusses his muse — the movie screen — and performs several favorites, including "Days Of Wine And Roses."

Originally broadcast in the spring of 1985.

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Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program
7:01 am
Fri April 17, 2015

Celebrating Billie Holiday's Centennial With Cassandra Wilson

Cassandra Wilson.
Mark Seliger Courtesy of the artist

Among the celebrations of Billie Holiday's centennial birthday anniversary is a new album from Cassandra Wilson. In Coming Forth By Day, one of today's top jazz vocalists salutes one of her idols, drastically rearranging the Holiday songbook.

Jazz Night In America features Cassandra Wilson's blues, country and folk-tinged delivery as she performs her Billie Holiday tribute, and catches up with some key collaborators of both Wilson and Holiday herself.

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Music
9:03 am
Sat April 11, 2015

In 'Snowy Egret,' A Fierce New Band Takes Flight

Myra Melford's new album is titled Snowy Egret.
Bryan Murray Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 6:04 pm

Jazz pianist and composer Myra Melford's latest album is a suite of music inspired by the Memory Of Fire trilogy — a three-volume history of the Americas by Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano.

More simply, it's the recorded debut of what she calls a "killer band."

In an interview with NPR's Arun Rath, she explains the genesis of Snowy Egret — the name of both her new album and the group behind it.

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Music
8:10 am
Fri April 10, 2015

Carmen McRae On Piano Jazz

Carmen McRae on the cover of Rhino Hi-Five: Carmen McRae.
Courtesy of the artist

Vocalist Carmen McRae (1920-1994) was an expert on rhythm, deft phrasing and personal, bittersweet ballads. Her enigmatic, dark contralto voice helped place her among the pantheon of great female jazz singers.

In 1994, McRae received the Jazz Master Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. On this 1985 episode of Piano Jazz, McRae accompanies herself for "As Long As I Live" and joins host Marian McPartland to perform "Carmen's Blues."

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A Blog Supreme
12:33 am
Thu April 9, 2015

Remembering Ralph Sharon, Tony Bennett's Pianist

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 6:05 am

Pianist Ralph Sharon, the longtime accompanist for Tony Bennett, died March 31 at age 91. In the audio link above, Tom Cole has a brief report for NPR's Morning Edition, and below, Walter Ray Watson filed this remembrance for NPR Music.

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Jazz Night In America: Wednesday Night Webcasts
12:23 am
Thu April 9, 2015

Simón Bolívar Big Band Jazz In Concert

Simón Bolívar Big Band Jazz performs at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Frank Stewart Jazz at Lincoln Center

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 3:45 pm

The public youth music education program known as El Sistema has reached hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans, largely through participation in classical music ensembles. In 2007, drummer Andrés Briceño and head of the Simón Bolívar Conservatory of Music Valdemar Rodríguez introduced a jazz program to El Sistema, with the goal of promoting the music throughout Venezuela. The flagship ensemble, Simón Bolívar Big Band Jazz, presents the work of both American jazz masters and Venezuelan composers, and like its orchestral counterparts, has now toured the U.S.

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Music Articles
8:39 am
Tue April 7, 2015

Billie Holiday: A Singer Beyond Our Understanding

Billie Holiday has become a mythic presence in absentia.
William Gottlieb Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 4:54 pm

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Music Interviews
2:08 pm
Sun April 5, 2015

Cassandra Wilson 'Couldn't Wait' To Reinvent The Billie Holiday Songbook

Cassandra Wilson's Billie Holiday tribute album is titled Coming Forth By Day.
Mark Seliger Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 5:54 am

Vocalist Billie Holiday was born 100 years ago this week. Today, her place in music history is clear.

"I think we witness in Billie Holiday's music the beginning of the jazz vocal age, really," fellow vocalist Cassandra Wilson says. "Her phrasing is very conversational, and it swings — it moves with the musicians. She's very much in charge of her place in the music. She's in control of the story, and in control of her cadence."

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Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz
2:51 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

John Pizzarelli On Piano Jazz

John Pizzarelli.
Jimmy Katz Courtesy of the artist

Guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli is one of the hottest jazz acts around. With his swinging and sophisticated style, he makes music that sounds both classic and modern. He's the son of jazz guitarist John "Bucky" Pizzarelli, who helped him get his start.

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Mountain Stage
8:57 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Hot Club Of Cowtown On Mountain Stage

Hot Club of Cowtown.
Brian Blauser Mountain Stage

Hot Club Of Cowtown makes its sixth visit to Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. The band formed in 1996, when guitarist and singer Whit Smith answered an advertisement placed by singer and fiddler Elana James. After moving to Austin, the pair added upright bass player Jake Erwin, and the trio quickly made a name for itself by fusing hot jazz and Western swing. The band has since become a favorite at fairs and festivals across Europe, and has opened stadium shows for Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.

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Jazz Night In America: Wednesday Night Webcasts
6:20 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Home Cooking: The Philadelphia Jazz Organ Tradition In Concert

Sonny Keaton performs during the Home Cooking concert.
WXPN

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 10:03 pm

The Hammond electronic organ was developed with churches in mind, as a lower-cost alternative to pipe organs. But in Philadelphia, a keyboard player named Jimmy Smith was inspired by early jazz experiments on the instrument, and found a devastating way to adapt the new bebop style to the Hammond B-3. It seeded a new tradition of organ players in Philadelphia — major figures like "Groove" Holmes, Jimmy McGriff, Papa John and Joey DeFrancesco, and Trudy Pitts — and kickstarted a new sound in jazz at large.

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Jazz Night In America: Wednesday Night Webcasts
5:50 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Cassandra Wilson Sings Billie Holiday

Cassanda Wilson sings Billie Holiday at the Kennedy Center.
NPR

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 1:19 pm

One hundred years after she was born, Billie Holiday remains iconic in American music, not to mention jazz singing. Cassandra Wilson has made her career in jazz singing by embracing a wide range of American music, and it holds true on her latest project: a new album rearranging the Billie Holiday songbook. The new Coming Forth By Day, created with rocker Nick Cave's producer and rhythm section, reshapes songs like "Good Morning Heartache" and "Strange Fruit" with fresh textures and resonances.

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A Blog Supreme
3:03 am
Sat March 28, 2015

Three Jazz Pianists, A Generation After Apartheid

Nduduzo Makhathini, from rural Eastern South Africa, connected to jazz as a way to heal others through music.
Ignatius Mokone Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 4:11 pm

In South Africa, the major art of resistance during apartheid was jazz: a melting pot where folk songs and hymns defiantly mixed with influences from South Asia, America and West Africa. South African jazz's central formula — its equivalent to the 12-bar blues — is a buoyant, four-chord progression that even seems to evoke a blending motion.

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Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz
2:10 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Dardanelle Hadley On Piano Jazz

Dardanelle Hadley, pictured here on vibes circa 1938-1948.
William Gottlieb Library of Congress

Jazz vocalist and pianist Dardanelle Hadley was born Marcia Marie Mullen, the daughter of vocalist and pianist Marcius Mosely "Buck" Mullen. In the 1940s, she formed a trio that played regularly at the Copacabana Club in New York, and she went on to work with jazz greats such as Bucky Pizzarelli and Grady Tate.

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Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program
10:37 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

Anat Cohen's Roots Of Rio

Anat Cohen.
Jimmy Katz Anzic Records

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 4:04 pm

The genre choro — a word which means "cry" in Portuguese — is often described as "the New Orleans jazz of Brazil." Like its U.S. counterpart, both are Afro-Western hybrids which emerged in the early 20th century; both call for jam sessions showcasing improvisation and virtuosity. Both jazz and choro are also the domains of clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen. Her newest band, the quartet Choro Aventuroso, culminates an affinity and intense study of Brazilian music — one which began as part of an international community of jazz students at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

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