Jazz Night In America

Sunday, 8 to 9 pm
  • Hosted by Christian McBride

A new, national jazz series presented by some of the leading producers of jazz content in the U.S., Jazz Night In America is a weekly syndicated jazz program that reflects our times. It showcases the artists who are on the scene today, at the height of their creative powers, and offers listeners a way to discover and connect with the world of jazz using the technology that's available to them. Christian McBride, the extraordinary bassist and bandleader, is the host of the show.

How to Experience Jazz Night In America:

On The Radio: Every Sunday night, we'll broadcast the one-hour program centered on great concerts and the stories behind them. 

On Wednesday Nights: Every Wednesday at 9 pm, starting on Oct. 15, 2014 and running through the academic calendar, we'll videocast a streaming video presentation of a concert. It will often be the same show that you hear on-air — except you can hear AND see the full performance. We'll run a live chat, which all are welcome to join. The videocasts are ONLY available on Wednesdays at 9 pm. So don't miss it!

On Demand: Did you miss the radio broadcast? No problem. The audio will be available on demand on our website. Additional content, including highlights from webcasts, documentary features, and other content will be at npr.org/jazznight.

Credit: William Gottlieb / Adam Cuerden

The fruitful collaboration between Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington is widely known to have brought us such classics as "Take The 'A' Train," "Chelsea Bridge" and "Isfahan." But behind the music, Strayhorn's life and identity were complex.

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.

Pioneering bassist and composer Jymie Merritt was born in Philadelphia in 1926. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, he made a name for himself nationally but also founded a groundbreaking Philadelphia-based band that continues to inspire today’s generation of jazz artists.

NPR’s Jazz Night in America honored Jymie Merritt with a special concert this past January at World Cafe Live. The concert will air on WRTI, Sunday, April 10th at 8 pm. Watch video here!

Tony Webb / City of Philadelphia, 2016

When the Newport Jazz Festival announced that Philadelphia-born musician Christian McBride would assume the role of its artistic director in 2017, festival founder and current producer George Wein said,  "When I first met Christian McBride in 1989, I knew he was someone special."  

 In the greater jazz world, Danilo Pérez is a respected pianist. In his homeland of Panama, he's a national icon and cultural ambassador, and not just for his artistry. Ever since he returned to perform in his war-torn homeland in the 1980s, he's seen the potential for jazz to be a vehicle for social change, and spent much of his time offstage seeding this vision in the form of youth music education programs.

NPR

There's no one person responsible for creating music festivals — or for making them such a huge part of how we witness live performances today. But starting in 1954, one person developed a recipe for their secret sauce.

George Wein still goes to his signature event every year, checking out performances and greeting the artists. These days, he does it on a golf cart which drives him between stages — he's about to turn 90, after all — but he says he takes his job as producer very seriously.

Even if you don't know anything about jazz, it's quite possible you've heard the music of saxophonist Kamasi Washington: That's him on the latest albums by Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus. But that's only the very tip of his iceberg.

Is there a modern-day equivalent to Duke Ellington? Or Ornette Coleman?

Who are the people today who think differently about jazz — who have created new forms, and expanded the musical vocabulary?

For 30 years, saxophonist Steve Coleman has been pushing the music forward, traveling the world to collect new sounds, rhythms and ideas. Along the way he's mentored many of the most exciting younger artists in jazz — musicians like Ambrose Akinmusire, Jason Moran and Vijay Iyer.

WXPN

The Hammond electronic organ was developed with churches in mind, as a lower-cost alternative to pipe organs. But in Philadelphia, a keyboard player named Jimmy Smith was inspired by early jazz experiments on the instrument, and found a devastating way to adapt the new bebop style to the Hammond B-3.

It seeded a new tradition of organ players in Philadelphia — major figures like "Groove" Holmes, Jimmy McGriff, Papa John and Joey DeFrancesco, and Trudy Pitts — and started a new sound in jazz at large.

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