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

I’m not sure what year I became a June Christy fan, but it must have been during her later years with the Stan Kenton band. I liked Kenton’s innovative approach to jazz. I first saw the band perform at Philly’s Academy of Music in the early 1950s. Christy was a member of the band at the time, but I don’t remember seeing her that night. At that time, almost everyone went to see Kenton’s trumpet virtuoso Maynard Ferguson—whose high notes on the instrument threatened to bring rain.

Join us from Friday, May 22 to Monday, May 25 during jazz hours as we remember those who fought for our country by presenting jazz performed by United States military bands. Jeff Duperon kicks off the festivities on Friday, May 22nd at 6 pm with music from The West Point Jazz Knights, the U.S. Army Blues, and many other military bands, old and new. This music continues all weekend long, until the Hot 11 Countdown kicks off at 10:30 pm on Monday.  

What Makes DUCHESS Swing?

Apr 6, 2015

The notion that “everything old is new again” blossoms like spring on the charming self-titled debut record by the DUCHESS trio, and it’s altogether refreshing. With a sound inspired by songs sung by the Boswell Sisters and the Andrews Sisters—albeit with classy, updated arrangements—to charts that date back to the 1930s and '40s, Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner, and Melissa Stylianou are three strong jazz and pop vocalists with their own solid careers. Here, they serve up sophisticated humor (Cy Coleman’s “A Doodlin’ Song”) and café society swing (Peggy Lee’s “Love Being Here With You”) with the cleverest wit. 

Join WRTI's Bob Craig for a special 100th birthday tribute to the great jazz singer Billie Holiday, who was born on April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia, and died on July 17, 1959 in New York City at age 44.

You'll hear two hours of Holiday's rare, live performances from the 1930s through the 1950s, plus an hour of other singers performing songs closely associated with "Lady Day."

That's Sunday, April 5th from 3 to 6 pm on WRTI HD-2 and the all-jazz stream at WRTI.org.

Romance, Swing, Blues, and Marcus Roberts

Mar 19, 2015

There are jazz pianists who lead their own bands, and then there is the innovative Marcus Roberts, an Ellington acolyte and original Young Lion (along with his peer, bandleader and collaborator Wynton Marsalis). Though some critics shrugged when Roberts released his early opus, Deep in The Shed (1998), many—including me—found that work exhilarating and an essential jazz recording.

In 1944 big dance bands were all the rage. They were so popular that to gain additional revenue for World War II, the federal government enforced a 30 percent "cabaret tax" on the gross receipts of any "public place where music and dancing privileges... except instrumental or mechanical music alone, are afforded the patrons in connection with the serving or selling of food, refreshment, or merchandise."

Why Ron Carter is the Ace of Bass

Dec 11, 2014

As a cultural institution, the Blue Note in NYC's Greenwich Village is surprisingly small. It’s a long, shotgun room with a snug stage set midway down against the left wall - the jazz club’s glowing blue neon logo centered as a backdrop. Tables line up front in tight formation and fan out to the left and right with as many patrons squeezed into place as the room can hold.

Since it's always about the music, there’s a collective understanding why you’re there. And last February, it was all about the man of the hour—the one and only, bassist Ron Carter.

Memorial Day is known as the unofficial start of summer, but was established to honor fallen troops who gave their lives for our country. Join WRTI as we honor both aspects of this holiday weekend. We'll provide the perfect music to fuel your holiday barbeque all weekend long, featuring a type of jazz that - historically - goes hand-in hand with patriotism – Big Band!

The Big Band side of the influential baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan will be featured on Big Band Jazz this Sunday, April 13 at 7 pm. An arranger with Gene Krupa, Elliot Lawrence, and Stan Kenton in the '40s and '50s, to his own Concert Jazz Band in the '60s, it's an 87th birthday tribute to the one-time Philly resident.

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