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

WRTI's Bob Craig has his picks of the top big band tunes released in 2015. Here's his list!

After 26 years of bringing us the stories and sounds of traditional jazz and swing — early jazz from the streets of New Orleans to the music of Harlem clubs in the '20s — Riverwalk Jazz is coming to an end. The program, adored by WRTI listeners, will air for the last time on Sunday, January 3rd at 6 pm.

You can still listen to podcasts of the show here!

Frank Sinatra was born 100 years ago on December 12th, and there have been any number of stars in the entertainment world during that century. But WRTI’s Kile Smith looks at what truly sets him apart from all the rest.


In 1964, near the end of his career, Billy Strayhorn accompanied himself on a live recording of one of his best-known songs. It starts:

I used to visit all the very gay places

Those come-what-may places

World-class musician and Philadelphia native Christian McBride is presenting his widely acclaimed The Movement Revisited at the Merriam Theater on Saturday, November 21st at 8 pm. WRTI's Bob Craig spoke with McBride about the evolution of the show.

John Pizzarelli is a seasoned guitarist, pop singer, and debonair entertainer whose greatest talent is communicating the jazz idiom to music listeners who otherwise are indifferent to the form. On stage in August at Birdland in New York to celebrate the release of Midnight McCartney, his relentless enthusiasm as a bandleader smoothed the way for a sweetly nostalgic appreciation for lesser-known tunes by Paul McCartney. Along the way, his relaxed stage banter left the audience laughing and feeling great.

Drummer Jamison Ross: An Instant Connection

Aug 27, 2015

Jamison is the debut of a significant talent. Winner of the 2012 Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition, the singularly entertaining Jamison Ross is a drummer of enormous presence and an irrepressible bandleader, judging from his album release show I attended at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in June.

The Philadelphia Jazz Project and WRTI are partnering to present a very special concert featuring the Philadelphia premiere of Letieres Leite & Orkestra Rumpilezz, with guests Arturo O'Farrill & Steve Bernstein, and Another Holiday For Skins w/Pablo Batista, Mike Boone, Luke Carlos O'Reilly, and others. Don't miss this unique experience of hearing Afro-Brazilian percussion in Big Band Jazz style!

Friday, July 31st, at 7:30 pm at TPAC/Temple Performing Arts Center, 1837 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122. Tickets $10 in advance / $15 at the door. Order tickets here.

The Astonishing Maria Schneider

Jul 21, 2015
Jimmy and Dena Katz

The most harmonious and beautiful jazz orchestral music of the year comes from Maria Schneider, an emotionally affecting composer, arranger, and bandleader, whose work is astonishing in its capacity to emotionally connect with this listener.

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.

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