When Harry Connick Jr. sat down with host Marian McPartland in 1991, he was in his twenties, had already won two Grammy Awards and was coming off a worldwide big band tour. He has gone on to record multiple best-selling albums and develop a successful acting career.
On this Piano Jazz, Connick sings and plays "They Didn't Believe Me" and joins McPartland for "Stompin' at the Savoy."
Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 3:31 pm
Jimmy Greene's Beautiful Life is dedicated to the memory of his 6-year-old daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, one of the 20 children killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The first song is an arrangement of "Come Thou Almighty King." The hymn was in a piano book that Greene's son, Isaiah, was learning.
As the son of jazz legends John and Alice Coltrane, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane is continuing his family's legacy by developing his own sound and feeling. In 2012, he released his sixth album, Spirit Fiction.
Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 9:21 am
As a teenager in Abbeville, La., Robert Charles Guidry — better known as Bobby Charles — wrote songs that would become classics for Bill Haley and Fats Domino: "See You Later, Alligator" and "Walking To New Orleans," respectively.
Every year, NPR Music invites a handful of the world's top keyboard players to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. We ask them to play some of their favorite holiday music for the audience — solo — and the recording becomes the public radio special A Jazz Piano Christmas.
Ellis Marsalis is a father figure of modern jazz — in quite a few ways. As a pianist, he was among the first generation of musicians to bring bebop to New Orleans, and even worked with Ornette Coleman before the saxophonist recorded his landmarks of free jazz. As an educator, many great musicians came through Marsalis' tutelage, whether in New Orleans' arts high school or at various university programs. And of course, he is also the actual father of several exceptional musicians named Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis.
Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 10:39 am
For the next stop on World Cafe's Sense Of Place visit to Lafayette, La., the show visits a group of young musicians who combine the two French cultures of the state. Soul Creole — led by Grammy-nominated Cajun fiddler Louis Michot and zydeco accordionist Corey Ledet — fuses Cajun and Creole music into a wild, boundary-blurring mix.
Hear a live set by the band, performed at The Blue Moon Saloon in downtown Lafayette, at the audio link.
Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 12:38 pm
Last weekend, at a sold-out, star-studded gala concert in Hollywood, Pharrell Williams and Herbie Hancock remixed Williams' hit "Happy," Kevin Spacey served up a compelling Frank Sinatra imitation singing "Fly Me To The Moon" and former President Bill Clinton offered a heartfelt reminiscence about his early days as a John Coltrane wannabe. ("Sometimes frustrated jazz musicians end up in another line of work and it ends up pretty good," he joked.) The opener was a jazz concert: Three virtuosic young trumpet players — Adam O'Farrill, Billy Buss and Marquis Hill — deftly negotiated standards.
Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 10:17 pm
What would it sound like if someone bridged the gap between big band jazz and classic hip-hop anthems? Between Oliver Nelson and A Tribe Called Quest; between Freddie Hubbard and J. Dilla? One answer is offered by producer/emcee Brian "Raydar" Ellis and trumpeter Igmar Thomas. Between originals, standard jazz repertoire and orchestrations of rap beats (and the jazz records they sample), Ellis and Thomas align a multi-generational ensemble with a black music tradition that leads to the present day.
On today's installment of World Cafe's Sense Of Place visit to Lafayette, La., we speak with Michael Doucet, who plays Cajun, Creole, zydeco and other traditional music as a founding member and fiddler of Lafayette band BeauSoleil.
Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 8:47 pm
Henry Threadgill's music has always pushed boundaries. Two tubas with two guitars, a "sextett" with seven members, a free-improvising trio with an instrument made of hubcaps, a dance orchestra: Nothing is off the table.
A vital force on the West Coast jazz scene, Pete Jolly was a pianist and accordionist known for his movie soundtracks and television themes, including Get Smart, Dallas and M*A*S*H.
On this episode of Piano Jazz from 1986, Jolly showcases his swinging piano style with a solo in "You, The Night And The Music"; then, host Marian McPartland joins in for a performance of "Barbados." McPartland solos in "Close Enough For Love," and the two performers create a rousing finale as they play a two-person version of "Oleo."
In the noise-improv trio Borbetomagus, Jim Sauter hooks bells with Don Dietrich to obliterate any notion you have of the saxophone (sorry, birthday boy Adolphe Sax). In Oneida and Man Forever, Kid Millions is a psychedelic shaman of the drums. In "Game Jump," Sauter issues a brief warning that sounds something like a zombie-infested cruise ship bellowing its final notes before it plummets into a blood-freezing ocean. Then it's on.