Music

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

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."

At 75, Chick Corea Still Has That Magic Touch

Nov 13, 2016

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.

Pink Martini is just showing off. To take in Je Dis Oui! is to experience a globetrotting victory lap across no fewer than eight different languages — English, French, Farsi, Armenian, Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish and, in a cover of Miriam Makeba's glorious "Pata Pata," Xhosa — all tackled with cosmopolitan sophistication and the playfulness of pop.

Sir Roland Hanna On Piano Jazz

Nov 4, 2016

This 2003 Piano Jazz session with guest Sir Roland Hanna (1932 – 2002) was recorded before a live audience at the 2002 Tanglewood Jazz Festival. A subtle and insightful pianist, Hanna was a superb two-piano partner, as evidenced by his and Marian McPartland's performances of "I Get A Kick Out Of You" and "Blues In The Closet." In this session, Hanna uses his solid sense of rhythm as a springboard into exciting explorations of melody and harmony.

The Lush Life Of Billy Strayhorn

Nov 3, 2016

The fruitful collaboration between Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington is widely known to have brought us such classics as "Take The 'A' Train," "Chelsea Bridge" and "Isfahan." But behind the music, Strayhorn's life and identity were complex.

Patrick Jarenwattananon has been the backbone of our jazz coverage almost since NPR Music started in 2007. Patrick came to us as a 22-year-old intern and shortly after began covering legendary and rising jazz luminaries like a veteran journalist. His writing for A Blog Supreme captured the spirit of the jazz community and was a rich resource for thoughtful coverage on this living American musical culture.

Calling themselves "an accidental brass quartet," the members of The Westerlies, like the prevailing winds, blew east to New York from their hometown of Seattle, where they were childhood friends.

Mario Grigorov On Piano Jazz

Oct 28, 2016

Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Mario Grigorov studied classical music until he fell in love with jazz. When he was a child, his parents performed in the Sofia Symphony Orchestra before the family moved to Iran, where his father played in the Shah's symphony orchestra. Grigorov continued to study music intensively as his family moved to Austria and Australia before he settled in the United States in 1992.

Esperanza Spalding On Piano Jazz

Oct 21, 2016

Bassist Esperanza Spalding is one of the most talked-about artists in jazz today. She scored a surprise win for Best New Artist at the 2011 Grammy Awards and went on to win two additional Grammys.

In 1963, Duke Ellington and his orchestra participated in a State Department "jazz diplomacy" tour of the Middle East. Inspired by the experience, Ellington and composer Billy Strayhorn wrote a collection of songs called The Far East Suite.

After forays into pop and folk, Norah Jones has returned to jazz and the piano for her latest album, Day Breaks. Jones has a long history with the genre –- she says she became "mildly obsessed with it" as a teenager in Dallas, and she signed with the legendary Blue Note Records at just 21. For her latest project, Jones also connected with some true jazz giants, including saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

Jackie And Roy On Piano Jazz

Oct 14, 2016

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."

SET LIST

  • "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.

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