Music

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

This year's Winter Jazzfest, which took place last week in New York City, presented an explicit theme of "Celebrating Social Justice." Conceptually and musically, Winter Jazzfest pushes the genre forward; after taking in as many of the 130-plus acts across many stages in Manhattan and Brooklyn as they could, our team reported back with some of the festival's highlights.


"Stories like forests are subject to seasons."

There is a sense of pensive melancholy as the wail of Keyon Harrold's trumpet pushes its way past the Hitchcock-esque piano that sets the tone for "Stay This Way." With Philadelphia singer Bilal and Southern rapper Big K.R.I.T. contributing vocals, the song asks if euphoric moments are meant to last, or if they're naturally fleeting.

Near the beginning of the track, Bilal sings almost waveringly:

Toots Thielemans On Piano Jazz

Jan 6, 2017

This week, Piano Jazz remembers Jean-Baptiste "Toots" Thielemans (1922 – 2016), unrivaled master of the jazz harmonica.

Loston Harris On Piano Jazz

Dec 30, 2016

For more than a decade, Loston Harris has headlined at Bemelmans Bar in Manhattan, delighting audiences with his smooth, soulful voice and piano style. Harris began his jazz career as a drummer, but was encouraged by mentor Ellis Marsalis to switch to the piano. There, he discovered a new instrument and a new musical world.

The New Year holiday tradition continues with the Toast of the Nation jazz party. Spirited, improvised and swinging, each hour was recorded live at Blue Note venues throughout the country and the world.

The Robert Glasper Experiment took a left turn with the recording of its new album, ArtScience. Instead of recruiting big-name guests, the core quartet wrote and recorded it entirely on its own. The band continues to expand on its genre-hopping sound — rooted in jazz but exploring elements of R&B, hip-hop and more — particularly in this performance of "Day To Day."

SET LIST

  • "Day To Day"

Photo: Brian Lowe/KCRW.

In the last week of 2016, Songs We Love is featuring just a few of the songs that, for whatever reason, never got their due this year.

The clarinet and guitar are common enough instruments, but you've probably never heard them sound quite like this. In the hands of guitarist Golfam Khayam and clarinetist Mona Matbou Riahi, the instruments breathe together in music that borrows melody and improvisation from their Iranian homeland and classical structures from the West.

André Previn On Piano Jazz

Dec 23, 2016

Conductor, composer, and pianist André Previn has received multiple Lifetime Achievement Awards, including honors from the Kennedy Center, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Grammy Awards. Previn achieved an exceptional reputation as a jazz pianist in a series of recordings he made in the 1950s and '60s.

The results of this year's Jazz Critics Poll — NPR's fourth annual and my 11th, counting from its 2006 inception in the Village Voice — slightly resemble those of the last two.

The 2016 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll

Dec 21, 2016

In Memoriam 2016

Dec 19, 2016

Music suffered heavy losses in 2016, a year like no other in recent memory. We bid unexpected farewells to the very brightest stars — David Bowie and Prince — but we also lost masters from every corner of the music world, from classical composers and jazz greats to world music superstars, soul singers, country giants, prog-rock pioneers and record producers. They left us with unforgettable sounds and compelling stories. Hear their music and explore their legacies here.

(Credits: Tom Huizenga, producer; Mark Mobley, editor; Brittany Mayes, designer)

Patti Wicks On Piano Jazz

Dec 16, 2016

Pianist and vocalist Patti Wicks (1945 – 2014) began picking out tunes at the age of 3 and learned to play by ear because she was born visually impaired. As an adult, Wicks continued her music education at the Crane School of Music, SUNY. She honed her craft in New York jazz clubs and went on to perform in major venues and festivals the world over. In this 2004 Piano Jazz session, Wicks solos on Marian McPartland's tune "There'll Be Other Times" and joins McPartland for "Body and Soul."

Each year on Jazz Piano Christmas, we celebrate with one of the most beloved holiday traditions, music. This year, we add another sacred tradition common to every community: family. The stage at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington Dec. 10 was overflowing with love as father-daughter and husband-wife duos let fly with love for each other and the holiday canon.

In this festive annual tradition, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis offer swinging and soulful performances of classic holiday music.

In addition to the selections heard on their Big Band Holidays album, the ensemble will perform new arrangements of songs both sacred and secular, from "Silver Bells" to favorites like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

The occasion features Sherman Irby, an extraordinary saxophonist, arranger and composer whose most recent commissioned work was met with a standing ovation in Rose Theater.

Jon Batiste has two big gigs –- he's the band director for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and he's an artistic director at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. And now, he also has his very own holiday album: Christmas With Jon Batiste.

Jungle Fire

Jungle Fire's Michael Duffy is one of three percussionists in the 10-piece Latin funk band from Los Angeles. In anticipation of the KCBX Holiday Funk & Folk Fest on December 10th, 2017, Duffy talks with Marisa Waddell about the band's music, creative process, and upcoming album. Plus, a sampling of tracks from their last album, "Tropicoso."

Grover Washington, Jr. On Piano Jazz

Dec 9, 2016

Saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. (1943 – 1999) was a master musician and multiple-Grammy winner. He performed internationally and worked with names like Bobby McFerrin, B.B. King, Patti LaBelle and Nancy Wilson.

In 1938, Ella Fitzgerald sang her first big hit, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," for a national audience on CBS Radio. Now, a global audience has access to this performance again — thanks to the discovery and restoration of the Savory Collection, a legendary private trove of nearly 1,000 recordings that haven't been heard by the general public since the 1930s. The National Jazz Museum in Harlem acquired them in 2010, and today they're beginning to make their way to a new generation of jazz fans.

2016 has been a time of great loss for music: Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Sharon Jones all passed away this year, just to name a few. The jazz world was no exception.

Meredith D'Ambrosio On Piano Jazz

Dec 2, 2016

A sensitive and romantic vocalist and pianist, Meredith D'Ambrosio is a champion of the lesser-known songs of famous composers. She is also respected as a visual artist, composer and teacher. In the late '80s, she met her husband, pianist Eddie Higgins, and the pair went on to record and to perform as a musical duo.

On this 1994 episode of Piano Jazz, D'Ambrosio performs her own songs "Beware Of Spring" and "Give It Time."

Originally broadcast in the fall of 1994.

Set List

  • "Beware Of Spring" (D'Ambrosio)

Lonnie Liston Smith On Piano Jazz

Nov 25, 2016

Lonnie Liston Smith is one of contemporary music's most versatile keyboardists. With a career spanning four decades, Smith has worked as a soloist, bandleader and sideman to greats including Miles Davis, Betty Carter, Max Roach and Pharoah Sanders.

BADBADNOTGOOD knows its name is a little strange. The jazz group's bassist, Chester Hansen, says it invites jokes from nearly everyone the band meets. "It's probably the most punned name I have ever heard," he says.

Nellie Lutcher On Piano Jazz

Nov 18, 2016

Nellie Lutcher (1912 — 2007) started out playing piano at 15, but soon transitioned to singing. She built a career as a prominent jazz vocalist in the 1940s and 1950s with hits like "Fine Brown Frame."

Lutcher joined Marian McPartland for Piano Jazz in 1986. She performs two of her most popular compositions, "Hurry On Down" and "Real Gone Guy." McPartland solos on "Love Is The Sweetest Thing," and the two combine their talents on "I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues."

Richard Sudhalter On Piano Jazz

Nov 11, 2016

Richard Sudhalter (1938 — 2008) was a true Renaissance man of jazz. A top cornetist, he was also a respected critic, author, recording artist and featured guest at major jazz festivals. He co-wrote Bix: Man And Legend, which was nominated for a National Book Award, and in 1983 won a Grammy for his liner notes for Bunny Berigan: Giants Of Jazz.

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 José-Luis Novo about his vision and ideas for the Symphony, and with David Hamilton, the chairman of the search committee.

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