Latest Jazz from NPR Music

Don Cheadle has been playing Miles Davis for his entire career. To look back now on some of the actor's most exciting performances — as flashy porn star Buck Swope in Boogie Nights, velvet-slick con man Basher Tarr in the Ocean's trilogy, and rabble-rousing deejay Petey Greene in Talk to Me — is to recognize those same larger-than-life elements from the persona of the jazz legend and Cheadle's personal hero.

Paul Bley On Piano Jazz

Apr 1, 2016

A legendary leader of the jazz avant-garde, pianist Paul Bley (1932–2016) cultivated his own musical vision and influenced a generation of performers.

Just before he died in 2009, Joe Castro sat down with his son James to listen to some tapes. The reel-to-reels were full of Castro's own decades-old recordings, in which the jazz pianist jammed with his contemporaries.

"It was kind of like a shock," James says, "because right when we put the first tape on, it sounded like it was recorded yesterday."

Father and son went through more than 40 hours of tape. James says he was used to hearing his dad back up other musicians.

In 1955, jazz pianist Erroll Garner played a concert in Carmel, Calif. When his manager spotted a tape recorder rolling backstage, she grabbed the reels and decided to release them.

Of all Marian McPartland's attributes, possibly the most underrated was her ability as a composer. Her piano pieces have entered the jazz repertoire, while some of her songs — with lyrics by such stars as Johnny Mercer, Sammy Cahn and Peggy Lee — have become part of The Great American Songbook.

Though he's best known as a live collaborator of techno wunderkind Nicolas Jaar and one-half of the electronic-rock group Darkside, guitarist Dave Harrington has a deep history with jazz and improvisation. Become Alive, the debut album of the group that bears his name, digs deep into these musical roots. Yet there's a twist: electronic studio processes are also on-hand to coax new results in the music.

Harold Mabern On Piano Jazz

Mar 18, 2016

Harold Mabern (born March 20, 1936) is both one of New York's most requested pianists and a staple of Japan's jazz scene. A mainly self-taught musician, his style is influenced by Art Tatum, Chris Anderson, Billy Wallace and Bud Powell.

Ernestine Anderson: A Natural At The Blues

Mar 17, 2016

From tender and soulful to hard-edged and gritty, Ernestine Anderson was one of the most versatile jazz vocalists to emerge from the big band era.

Anderson was born Nov. 11, 1928. At age 3, she could sing along with recordings of Bessie Smith; she soon moved on to the more refined environs of her local church's gospel choir. After winning a regional talent competition at age 12, the precocious Anderson landed a gig with trumpeter Russell Jacquet's big band.

Mark Murphy On Piano Jazz

Mar 14, 2016

Regarded as one of the world's hippest jazz vocalists, Mark Murphy (1932–2015) epitomized the jazz singer. He was discovered by Sammy Davis Jr. in 1953 and remained true to his art throughout his life.

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