Latest Jazz from NPR Music

Marty Napoleon On Piano Jazz

14 hours ago

Pianist Marty Napoleon (1921–2015) came from a musical family: He was the nephew of trumpeter and bandleader Phil Napoleon and brother of pianist Teddy Napoleon. In 1950, he joined his uncle's group, The Memphis Five; he later became a member of the Big Four, led by Charlie Ventura. He also played with Louis Armstrong's All Stars, led his own trio and performed as a soloist.

Here's a tip for jazz musicians that works better than it should: If you wish to be noticed by people who use words, play some covers. Not standards, but songs from a more recent era of popular music, or something else left-field. Even today, it stands out from mainstream practice, which shifts gradually over longer durations. It moves the playing field away from the nuts and bolts of your playing, where our critical lexicon is generally impoverished, to your signaled influences and decision-making, which are much easier to talk about. At the very least, it tends to be amusing.

It's summer. We're still in the thick of the Rio Olympics. So it's a perfect time for Peter Eldridge's hypnotic "Mind To Fly." Shaded with the sounds of Brazil, it's also deeply colored by rich harmonic textures, intricate rhythmic ideas and wistful lyrics about the end of a romance.

David Sánchez On Piano Jazz

Aug 12, 2016

Multiple Grammy-winning saxophonist David Sánchez weaves threads of Latin American and North American jazz into a colorful tapestry.

The central equation behind Slavic Soul Party! is self-explanatory: an American black-music spin on the Balkan brass band. The net product is akin to a New-Orleans-style brass band, but with different percussion timbres, horn trills and glissandi. (Also, accordion, because Europe.) It's the sort of multiculti collision you see forged in major population centers; you may be interested to know the band has a standing Tuesday night gig at a Brooklyn bar which specializes in international music.

The trombone virtuoso J.J. Johnson was among the first to adapt the challenge laid down by bebop saxophonists and trumpeters to his more ungainly instrument. Among the recordings he left as evidence was a series of albums partnering with fellow trombonist Kai Winding. In a concert at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra trombonist Vincent Gardner recently took on that "Jay and Kai" repertoire, joined by sectionmate Elliot Mason, other members of the JLCO and special guests.

Marilyn Crispell On Piano Jazz

Aug 5, 2016

Critics hail pianist Marilyn Crispell as a "luminous presence at the forefront of creative music." Known for her challenging compositions and improvisations, Crispell plays free jazz with an evocative and disciplined style. She has performed on stages the world over and, in 2005, received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

The pianist, composer and music ambassador Herbie Hancock is working on new music with a new band, and he's about to present the first taste of it in live performance.

Eric Reed On Piano Jazz

Jul 29, 2016

Pianist and composer Eric Reed began playing piano as a small child. He was only 18 when he played his first string of gigs with Wynton Marsalis — work that catapulted him to the forefront of jazz.

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