Big Band Jazz with Bob Craig

Sunday, 6 to 8 pm

Bob Craig takes you on a musical journey through the evolution of "Big Band Jazz," which started off with the heavy hitters including Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Stan Kenton. They opened the door for Claude Thornhill, Quincy Jones, Thad Jones, and Mel Lewis, who took Big Band Jazz to exciting new places. Bob also covers the soloists who became great bandleaders, such as Lionel Hampton, Gerry Mulligan, Dizzy Gillespie, and the more contemporary big bands, such as the Resonance Big Band, Mike Barone's Big Band, and the MHCC Jazz Band.

Ways to Connect

It was just a year ago that WRTI partnered with the Philadelphia Jazz Project to present a very unique concert featuring Afro-Brazilian percussion in Big Band Jazz style! It was the Philadelphia premiere of Letieres Leite & Orkestra Rumpilezz at the Temple Performing Arts Center, with guests Arturo O'Farrill and Steve Bernstein, and Another Holiday For Skins with Pablo Batista, Mike Boone, Luke Carlos O'Reilly, and company.

The tremendous trumpeter Terell Stafford says finding talent for the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia was “super easy” because Philadelphia is filled with brilliant musicians. Chemistry is key in the band that Stafford put together in 2013. He says the jazz orchestra is what Philadelphia is about:  jazz virtuosos with ties to the city, focusing on music connected to its past and present.


The vocal virtuosity of one of the last century’s jazz giants lives on through those who came after her, scores of albums, and now a U.S. Postal Service stamp. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston and Bob Perkins consider the late, great Sarah Vaughan. Check  out the Philadelphia Clef Club's Sarah Vaughan Tribute on Thursday, June 2nd from 5 to 9 pm with live music and a display of rare and vintage photographs and art works capturing the "Divine One," exhibited along with U.S. Postal Service postage stamps and memorabilia.

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.

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.

If jazz bands were like classic muscle cars measured by power and torque, the high performance Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra was an inexhaustible engine that roared. February 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of this historic 18-member band and All My Yesterdays (Resonance Records) is the double-disc recording that documents their debut performances in February and March 1966.

It's Jazz Appreciation Month, and WRTI is celebrating the local and national jazz greats who have shaped the music we enjoy today. WRTI's Susan Lewis looks at bandleader, composer and pianist Duke Ellington, who wrote over 1700 songs, as well as longer orchestral suites and film scores.

Born To Be Blue: Chet Baker In 5 Songs

Mar 25, 2016

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