Music

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

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

There are masterpieces of the studio, and certainly Sarah Vaughan left plenty of those behind. But the really crushing exhibitions from jazz musicians of her caliber come nightly, in clubs and concert halls, tossed off so repeatedly and seemingly casually that any given tune in any given set reeks of talent. Throw a dart at any one moment and there's probably something there.

Recently, two new jazz recordings came my way. One, titled Some Other Time: The Lost Session From The Black Forest, is an album of never-before-released studio recordings from Germany in 1968.

The Legacy Of The Benny Goodman Quartet

Apr 21, 2016

In the late 1930s, a bespectacled white man who played the clarinet was a teen idol. That was Benny Goodman, and he got to be that way from leading a quartet with Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa — one of jazz's first racially integrated bands. In a special stage show written by Geoffrey Ward and narrated by Wendell Pierce, a young band (Christian Sands, piano; Joel Ross, vibraphone; Sammy Miller, drums) with a rotating cast of clarinetists (Will Anderson, Peter Anderson, Patrick Bartley and Janelle Reichman) tells the whole story at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

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.

For more than 10 years, Diana Panton has been quietly building her jazz career. She's also a high-school French teacher by day, which means she mostly records and tours while her students are on vacation. But on her latest album, she's aiming for a new audience.

A swing-revival band formed in 1993, Squirrel Nut Zippers got together in Chapel Hill, N.C. Best known for its breakthrough single, "Hell," the group visited the World Cafe studio in 1996 to perform four songs, discuss how Squirrel Nut Zippers formed, and explain how they took a different approach to recording Hot, their latest record at the time.

Ayako Shirasaki On Piano Jazz

Apr 15, 2016

Originally from Japan, pianist Ayako Shirasaki showed an early talent for jazz and classical styles. As an adult, she moved to New York and entered the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Kenny Barron and Ted Rosenthal. She's gone on to establish herself as one of New York's finest jazz pianists.

On this 2006 episode of Piano Jazz, Shirasaki performs her compositions "Far Away" and "Falling Leaves."

Originally broadcast in the fall of 2006.

Barbara Lea On Piano Jazz

Apr 8, 2016

Vocalist Barbara Lea (1929–2011) was a widely respected and admired interpreter of classic American popular song. She began her career in the 1950s, and the Downbeat Critics Poll of 1956 recognized her as "Best New Singer."

Jymie Merritt: The Beat Goes Deep

Apr 7, 2016

Philadelphia bassist Jymie Merritt's place on the historical register of jazz was cemented by his work with major players like Art Blakey, Max Roach and Lee Morgan. But there's a lot more music for which he hasn't received due credit: notably, his own. Starting in the 1960s, he began developing a personal system of polyrhythms and harmonies called Forerunner, and a working ensemble called The Forerunners to match.

Show Notes (4-4-2016)

Apr 4, 2016

Watch to an episode of Democracy Now covering the life of E. Y. "Yip" Harburg.

A Tribute to Blacklisted Lyricist Yip Harburg: The Man Who Put the Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz

Don Cheadle has been playing Miles Davis for his entire career. To look back now on some of the actor's most exciting performances — as flashy porn star Buck Swope in Boogie Nights, velvet-slick con man Basher Tarr in the Ocean's trilogy, and rabble-rousing deejay Petey Greene in Talk to Me — is to recognize those same larger-than-life elements from the persona of the jazz legend and Cheadle's personal hero.

Paul Bley On Piano Jazz

Apr 1, 2016

A legendary leader of the jazz avant-garde, pianist Paul Bley (1932–2016) cultivated his own musical vision and influenced a generation of performers.

Ibrahim Maalouf Plays Umm Kulthum

Mar 31, 2016

The trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf was born in Lebanon and grew up in France; like his father, he studied Western classical music, but also microtonal Arabic music using a custom-built instrument. His latest project in a career full of cross-pollinating ventures was inspired by the late Umm Kulthum, the Arab world's greatest vocalist.

Just before he died in 2009, Joe Castro sat down with his son James to listen to some tapes. The reel-to-reels were full of Castro's own decades-old recordings, in which the jazz pianist jammed with his contemporaries.

"It was kind of like a shock," James says, "because right when we put the first tape on, it sounded like it was recorded yesterday."

Father and son went through more than 40 hours of tape. James says he was used to hearing his dad back up other musicians.

In 1955, jazz pianist Erroll Garner played a concert in Carmel, Calif. When his manager spotted a tape recorder rolling backstage, she grabbed the reels and decided to release them.

Brittany App

The Central Coast quintet, Café Musique, is about to release its fourth album, Ebb and Flow. Marisa Waddell talks with the band's violinist, Brynn Albanese and accordion player, Duane Inglish, about signing to a label, picking repertoire, the process of recording, and embracing changes in the band.

Guests:

  • Duane Inglish - accordion, banjo
  • Brynn Albanese - violin, vocals

Of all Marian McPartland's attributes, possibly the most underrated was her ability as a composer. Her piano pieces have entered the jazz repertoire, while some of her songs — with lyrics by such stars as Johnny Mercer, Sammy Cahn and Peggy Lee — have become part of The Great American Songbook.

Born To Be Blue: Chet Baker In 5 Songs

Mar 25, 2016

Pages