Music

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

Randy Weston At 90

2 hours ago

The eminent pianist Randy Weston turned 90 this year, and he enjoyed an early celebration at the 2016 Panama Jazz Festival, where he was the guest of honor. Weston, whose father was born in Panama, has long celebrated his African roots in his life and music. His career spans the better part of 70 years.

The Ray Charles Songbook

2 hours ago

At age 21, trumpeter Kenny Rampton (now of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra) launched his touring career with a nine-month stint in Ray Charles' band. Earlier this year, Rampton honored his former bandleader by presenting the most authentic Ray Charles experience possible. The band was full of Ray Charles alumni (including backing vocalists The Raelettes), the set lists were faithful recreations of actual Ray Charles sets, and the charts were transcribed from the original tour music.

Valerie Capers On Piano Jazz

6 hours ago

Valerie Capers is a pianist, composer and educator. The first blind graduate from the Juilliard School of Music, she is blessed with a diverse piano style that combines elements of Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans, with some Chopin thrown in.

Benny Golson On Piano Jazz

Jun 24, 2016

Saxophonist and composer Benny Golson began studying piano as a child, but was soon seduced by the tenor-saxophone sounds he heard on jazz records. He gained recognition as a composer when he joined Dizzy Gillespie's big band, and he went on to form a hard-bop group called The Jazztet with trumpeter Art Farmer. Golson has devoted much of his time to jazz education and continues to record and tour regularly.

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer reports from Chattanooga. Come along and join the conversation with passionate music lover, Mary Howard Ade. She moved here from New York City to work as the Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau’s full-time Music Marketing Manager

Live music has been an integral ingredient in the cultural fabric of Chattanooga since the founding of the riverfront town in 1839. Bessie Smith, born in Chattanooga in 1892, was fondly nicknamed "Empress of the Blues" and became America’s #1 blues performer throughout the 1920s and 30s.

Thomas Wilmer

Join Correspondent Tom Wilmer in Detroit, Michigan at Hitsville U.S.A., the birthplace of Motown Records. The Motown Sound— It’s been described as a marriage of saintly and secular music, melding the syncopation and improvisation of the jazz be-bop movement.

Monty Alexander On Piano Jazz

Jun 17, 2016

Pianist Monty Alexander grew up in Kingston, Jamaica. His earliest musical experiences came from the folk and popular songs of his country, as well as from the calypso rhythms that originated from Trinidad. Alexander moved to Miami in 1961 and worked in clubs before moving in 1962 to New York City, where he performed at Minton's Playhouse.

Return Of The Jazz Harp

Jun 17, 2016

The harp may be one of the most ancient musical instruments, but it isn't particularly prominent in jazz. Despite the mid-century emergence of innovators Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane, the harp has remained on the fringe.

Sarah Vaughan On Piano Jazz

Jun 10, 2016

Sarah Vaughan (1924 – 1990) was one of the greatest vocalists of the 20th century. With rich vibrato and an incredible range, the singer known as "Sassy" recorded critically acclaimed interpretations of standards including "Misty" and "I've Got a Crush On You."

Ahead of the 2016 Tony Awards, it seems fair to make a few educated guesses. First: This stands to be the most widely watched Tonys in recent memory, thanks to a little show called Hamilton and its record-breaking 16 nominations. Second: Even fans of that beloved musical are going to be a little on edge — since, in a few of those categories, the show's stars are up against one another.

Alan Clare On Piano Jazz

Jun 3, 2016

British pianist Alan Clare (1921–1993) was Marian McPartland's guest at the BBC's Delaware Road studios in London. Clare began his professional career at age 11 and went on to work with George Shearing, Stephane Grappelli and Spike Milligan. He also fulfilled regular engagements at the London residence of the U.S.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

Dena DeRose On Piano Jazz

May 27, 2016

Singer and pianist Dena DeRose has performed at some of the most renowned venues in the world, from The Blue Note in New York to Swing Hall in Japan. She has shared the stage with artists including Clark Terry, Ray Brown and Ingrid Jensen. She teaches at the Jazz Institute of the University for Music and Performing Arts in Austria, and continues to perform worldwide.

DeRose was Marian McPartland's guest in this 2001 session. She opens the show with "If I Should Lose You," and McPartland joins for "I'm Old Fashioned."

A Tribute To Artie Shaw On Piano Jazz

May 27, 2016

Cornetist and jazz historian Richard "Dick" Sudhalter (1938 – 2008) joined Marian McPartland on several occasions to provide historical perspective on great performers and songs from the golden era of jazz. In 2002, Sudhalter sat down with McPartland to talk about clarinetist Artie Shaw (1910 – 2004). Shaw was known for his unparalleled virtuosity and as a successful bandleader with a limitless imagination.

Piano Jazz honors Shaw with selections including "Love of My Life" and "Any Old Time."

Originally broadcast Spring 2002.

Ralph J. Gleason is my hero.

It's impossible to put an exact date on it, but I think I started reading his column in Rolling Stone in the summer of 1973. I was 14 years old and already immersed in music. Reading him, I discovered you could write about music and get paid for it — and then I discovered his writing was just as immersive as the music we both loved.

Leroy Jones' New Orleans Strut

May 20, 2016

Trumpeter Leroy Jones was playing in New Orleans back when Bourbon Street was lined with jazz clubs. The city has changed since then — Bourbon Street is a prime example — and Jones has evolved with it. From second lines with the Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band and the Hurricane Brass Band, club gigs with modern combos and tours with Harry Connick Jr., he's been a part of many jazz scenes.

Snarky Puppy On World Cafe

May 20, 2016

With all the genre and style possibilities that are a part of its music, the Brooklyn band Snarky Puppy is happy just to be called an "instrumental band." It's the only label inclusive enough to encompass the band's fusion of rock, jazz and funk. Snarky Puppy is in its element when it's performing live, and it's often recorded its albums that way: live in the studio, often with an audience.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Tania Maria On Piano Jazz

May 13, 2016

Born in Brazil to a musical family, pianist and vocalist Tania Maria was leading her own group of professional musicians by the time she was 13. In the 1970s, she moved to Paris, where she found the international spotlight through her work in jazz festivals. In the 1980s, Maria moved to New York, where she recorded hit albums and worked with some of the most renowned jazz artists in the world.

On this 1994 episode of Piano Jazz, Maria performs her own composition "Carona," then solos in "Ta Tudo Certo."

Originally broadcast in the fall of 1994.

Catherine Russell: Sunny Side Of The Street

May 12, 2016

Catherine Russell has been a backup singer with Steely Dan and David Bowie, but she's better known as an interpreter of blues and early jazz. At Jazz At Lincoln Center, Russell recently assembled a vocal trio (with Carolyn Leonhart and La Tanya Hall, her partners on tour with Steely Dan) to unearth a book of charts by arranger Sy Oliver.

Jim Ferguson On Piano Jazz

May 6, 2016

Bassist and vocalist Jim Ferguson got his start in South Carolina, where his father was a church music director. He picked up the bass late in high school and learned to play on the job before taking formal lessons. He went on to play with greats such as Teddy Wilson, Kenny Burrell, Mose Allison and Stephane Grappelli.

On this episode of Piano Jazz from 2001, Ferguson joins host Marian McPartland to perform "While We're Young" and McPartland's "There'll Be Other Times."

Originally broadcast in the spring of 2001.

Set List

In 1965, the trumpeter, composer and arranger Thad Jones and the drummer Mel Lewis found themselves with a book of big-band music originally intended for the Count Basie Orchestra — and nobody to perform it. So they made their own. They handpicked some of New York's top talent and called rehearsals on Monday nights, when the studio musicians could actually make it.

This song is called "Rhapsody In Berlin," and it was recorded in the German city recently. But Berlin isn't exactly the geography that comes to mind. It's more like a Central African nightclub, with layered instrumental funk interjected by yelps and whistles similar to Hindewhu Pygmy music. Or downtown Manhattan or Chicago's South Side in the late '60s and early '70s, where free-improvising saxophones met electronics and rock music and Sly Stone amid the urgency of the civil rights struggle.

Rose Murphy On Piano Jazz

Apr 29, 2016

Rose Murphy (1913–1989) was a legendary singer and pianist who starred at the nightclub Café Society in the heyday of New York's jazz scene. She made history with her version of "I Can't Give You Anything But Love." Critics and audiences were delighted by her breathless voice, her spirited playing and her signature "chee-chee."

In this Piano Jazz session from 1988, Murphy showcases her trademark vocal style in "Cecilia," then teams up with host Marian McPartland for "St. Louis Blues."

Carlos Henriquez: The Bronx Pyramid

Apr 28, 2016

This Saturday, April 30, marks the fifth anniversary of International Jazz Day, a celebration organized by UNESCO to celebrate jazz across the globe. To do our part, we're highlighting some of our favorite jazz musicians to play behind Bob Boilen's desk. Rising stars, young virtuosos, NEA Jazz Masters and veteran ensembles alike have played in NPR's D.C. offices. Here are five standout jazz performances at the Tiny Desk.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Pages