Jazz Through the Day

Monday through Saturday, 6 am to 6 pm
heard on HD-2 and the jazz stream

Join us for an exploration of the American treasure we all know as jazz - great sounds from great artists, featuring music by the masters as well as those who are new on the scene.

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Jazz Appreciation Month 2015
11:25 am
Tue April 7, 2015

It's Vintage Jazz Week on WRTI

Jazz Appreciation Month continues on WRTI! During the week of April 6th, 2015, we're sharing our favorite vintage jazz recordings.  Tune in to hear top favorites from Bob Perkins, Jeff Duperon, Zivit, J. Michael Harrison, Bob Craig, and Maureen Malloy throughout the week at 7 pm, 9:30 pm, 12:30 am and 5:30 am.

Listen to our hosts discuss their vintage jazz favorites below.

1. Bob Perkins: Modern Jazz Quartet - "Django" - Django 

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Latest From ICON Magazine
5:25 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

Oliver Nelson, One More Who Died Too Young

Oliver Nelson

Many talented souls in various walks of life have departed the planet well before their loved ones thought they should have. The abbreviated stays of the gifted makes us ponder what other wonders they might have contributed, had they lived.

Oliver Nelson comes to mind. He was less famous than Clifford Brown or Charlie Parker or John Coltrane, all of whom were innovators and pioneers and who died well before their time. But Nelson was not only a gifted multi-instrumentalist but also a top-flight arranger and composer. He advanced the careers of many performers, and not just those in jazz.

I first heard of Nelson in the early 1960s via his composition “Stolen Moments,” which became a jazz classic. A few years later I broke into radio and began hosting a jazz program. He then became an even more familiar name to me, because I played his music on the air.

Oliver Nelson’s “Stolen Moments” with Nelson on tenor saxophone, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, et al.:

Oliver Nelson was born into a musical family on June 4, 1932 in St. Louis. He played piano at age six, and several years later, the saxophone. He got his first major job with Louis Jordan while still in his teens, playing alto saxophone and arranging. Military service called, and he joined a band in the Marine Corps. While traveling in Tokyo, he heard the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, which he credited with whetting his appetite to become more advanced as an arranger.

After the military, Nelson studied harmony and theory at Washington and Lincoln Universities and privately. He moved to New York City and made music with Erskine Hawkins, organist Wild Bill Davis and a host of other established musicians. He also landed a job as house arranger for the Apollo Theater.

Prestige Records signed Nelson to a contract, and he recorded six albums for them. He later moved to the Impulse label and recorded The Blues and the Abstract Truth, a landmark LP that included “Stolen Moments.” It’s a work of art. With the likes of pianist Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Roy Haynes, Eric Dolphy doubling on also sax and flute, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, and Nelson on tenor sax—how could it not be the monster that it was? It still is.

Doors began to open. Not only was he producing and arranging for Nancy Wilson, James Brown, the Temptations, Diana Ross, organist Jimmy Smith, and other well-known artists, he was also composing for TV shows, including Ironside, Longstreet, and The Six Million Dollar Man (for which he wrote the theme). He also arranged the music for the motion picture Last Tango in Paris.

Those close to him knew he was spreading his gargantuan talents too thin by racing from the East Coast to perform with his jazz group, then to the West Coast for music-arranging jobs. Their concern for his well-being turned out not to be an abstract truth: Nelson suffered a massive heart attack in Los Angeles in 1975, and died at the age of 43. The word was that he had literally worked himself to death. So, Oliver Nelson, like some of his ever-youthful jazz predecessors, left while still having much more to say. But he, like they, kicked up a lot of creative dust prior to departing.

One of his best CDs (besides The Blues and the Abstract Truth) is one he shares with vibraphonist Lem Winchester, Nocturne. Oliver Nelson’s solos on “Azur’te” and “Man with a Horn” please the ear and massage the heart.

Oliver Nelson, Lem Winchester, “Man With a Horn”:

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Latest from ICON Magazine
2:00 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

The Centennial Collection of Billie Holiday

Is Billie Holiday the ultimate jazz singer? You might think so, listening to this commemorative anthology that draws from Lady Day’s early period. She performs tunes recorded between 1935 and 1945, either fronting pianist Teddy Wilson and His Orchestra or leading her own. These are timeless, defining songs that continue to feed into the myth, magic, and tragedy that is Ms. Holiday.

Billie Holiday singing “Sugar” with Teddy Wilson and His Orchestra, 1939:

Released to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Holiday’s birth (April 7, 1915), these essential tracks showcase the singer at her peak. As a cultural icon, she has no modern-day equivalent (Amy Winehouse deserves her own story).

Hearing Holiday sing these pop tunes, jazz songs, and jukebox tracks on this artfully prepared collection is not only a gift to music fans of all stripes, but a paean to a singer who ultimately transcends genres. (Billie Holiday: The Centennial Collection. Sony Legacy)

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Latest From ICON Magazine
12:51 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

What Makes DUCHESS Swing?

Credit: Shervin Lainez

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. 

Up close and personal, I heard them during their March CD release gig at the Jazz Standard in NYC, where the sold-out crowd was seduced by ballads like “Que Sera, Sera” and Johnny Mercer’s “P.S. I Love You.” Their warm, earthy harmonies hit you like Cupid’s arrow. That original blend of sauce and swing deservedly make DUCHESS stand out.


With a fine band in tow anchored by pianist Michael Cabe, bassist Paul Sikvie and ace drummer Matt Wilson, this completely delightful trio hearkens back to the era when performers like Bobby Short sang songs and entertainment was the priority.

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WRTI Arts Desk
12:47 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

Obsessed with Jazz Tap!

Pam Hetherington and the Jazz Tap Quartet

Tap dancer Pam Hetherington says tap can be the visual representation of any kind of music. And jazz tap provides the opportunity for the dancer to reflect the emotions and story inspired by a live jazz combo. A choreographer and a teacher, she says she’s obsessed with tap’s percussive possibilities: hard-driving, soft and sweet, and in between.

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Billie Holiday Tribute
12:37 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

WRTI Celebrates 100 Years of Lady Day on April 7th

Billie Holiday (1915—1959)

Join us on Tuesday, April 7th during jazz hours for our centennial tribute to Billie Holiday, who was born in West Philadelphia, on April 7, 1915, and went on to become a musical and social phenomenon who changed the face of music forever.  

As part of Vintage Week on WRTI, we'll present anecdotes about Lady Day and continue to play vintage jazz favorites from our jazz staff in celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month.

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WRTI Arts Desk
6:07 am
Mon April 6, 2015

Remembering The Sensational Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday (1915-1959) - Nicknamed "Lady Day" by saxophonist Lester Young

Jazz great Billie Holiday, who died at age 44 in 1959, would have turned 100 on April 7, 2015. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, in her short career, this Philadelphia-born singer made a huge impact on jazz and American song.

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WRTI Picks from NPR Music
5:08 pm
Sun April 5, 2015

Cassandra Wilson 'Couldn't Wait' To Reinvent The Billie Holiday Songbook

Cassandra Wilson's Billie Holiday tribute album is titled Coming Forth By Day.
Mark Seliger Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 8:54 am

Vocalist Billie Holiday was born 100 years ago this week. Today, her place in music history is clear.

"I think we witness in Billie Holiday's music the beginning of the jazz vocal age, really," fellow vocalist Cassandra Wilson says. "Her phrasing is very conversational, and it swings — it moves with the musicians. She's very much in charge of her place in the music. She's in control of the story, and in control of her cadence."

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Happy 100th Birthday Lady Day!
7:33 am
Sun April 5, 2015

Bob Craig Celebrates Billie Holiday's Centennial: Voices in Jazz on HD-2, April 5, 3 to 6 PM

Billie Holiday

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.

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Arts Desk
3:02 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

An Interview With MAD MEN Composer David Carbonara

As the popular AMC series Mad Men begins its final season, listen back to a revealing and humorous interview with Mad Men Music Editor David Carbonara from March, 2012, as he shares the inside story on how he writes music for Mad Men, how creator Matthew Weiner chooses the '60s songs, and how it's all mixed together to make a hit TV series. And how did he get this gig, anyway?

David, a former trombonist, spices the show with jazz-tinged music that lends flavor as much as the crisp dialogue and mod decor.

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