Among jazz musicians, especially in New York City, pianist Kenny Barron is considered an institution. He spent years in bands led by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Yusef Lateef and Stan Getz, and brings that wisdom to every note. He's put out dozens of albums, continues to write new music, and turns up in classrooms and on concert stages throughout the city. And he continues to play brilliantly, with clarity and ebullience alike — his latest album pairs him with an all-Brazilian band.
On June 9, 2013, Kenny Barron turned 70 — and he was celebrated in style. The pianist, composer and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master has booked a week-long residency with his quartet at the Village Vanguard in New York and a live WBGO/NPR webcast on June 5.
Sometimes records have to steep. Four years after it was recorded live in Lucerne, Switzerland, an album of six standards called Somewhere is finally getting a proper release. Keith Jarrett and his trio, including bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette, just weren't happy with the sound of the room or the circumstances at the time. Listen to Somewhere, however, and none of that comes across.
When Duke Ellington received the news that Billy Strayhorn, his songwriting and arranging partner of 28 years, had died, Ellington reportedly cried and told a friend, "No, I'm not all right! Nothing is going to be all right now."
Singer Sarah Vaughan came up in the 1940s alongside bebop lions Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, starting out in Earl Hines' big band. Hines had hired her as his singer and deputy pianist, while Gillespie praised her fine ear for chords as she grasped the arcane refinements of bebop harmony.
Rudresh Mahanthappa creates an explosive blend of South Indian classical music and progressive jazz. A Guggenheim Fellow who's been named the Jazz Journalists Association's "Alto Saxophonist of the Year" for four years running, Mahanthappa makes innovative music that reflects his experience as a second-generation Indian-American. He shares his fascinating style and story on this episode of Piano Jazz.
"He didn't have the same chops and virtuosic approach like Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw, but he told a deep story," says Lovano, who played with Herman early in his career. "He was a blues player from his heart, and really had a beautiful voice on alto saxophone."
As a child in Bogotá, Edmar Castañeda and his sister took folk dance classes. Their mother made sure of that. Castañeda liked the dancing, but he really liked the live harp accompaniment. In Spanish, the harp is called the llanero. It's Colombian, not a classical harp.