Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 5:16 pm
The drummer Pete La Roca, a top freelance drummer during New York's post-bop heyday in the 1950s and '60s, died early this morning in New York. The cause was lung cancer, according to Randa Kirshbaum, a former girlfriend. He was 74 years old.
The rumors that had been around for a couple of years have finally been confirmed: At long last, there's a film in the works about the turbulent life of Nina Simone, otherwise known as the "High Priestess of Soul."
Simone was famous from the 1950s through the '70s for her music and her civil rights activism. And although she died in 2003, her voice remains popular on TV, movie soundtracks and commercials.
Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 11:34 am
Our November edition of "Heavy Rotation" includes new favorite songs from public-radio stations across the country. Starting out west, Colorado Public Radio's OpenAir channel highlights one of Denver's most promising young voices, Esme Patterson. Kansas Public Radio's "Trail Mix" show is obsessed with folksinger Rayna Gellert. WEMU in Ypsilanti, Mich., is feeling blues belter Mary Bridget Davies. WXPN in Philadelphia recently added the wonderfully named Foxygen. And Vermont Public Radio is getting ready for winter with bassist Marcus Miller.
Nearly three seasons in, the character Davis still puzzles many of us who watch the show Treme.
He certainly cares. Whether leading historical tours or launching R&B operas for royalty-abuse awareness, or throwing himself into various protests, he has a winning drive to do right by his hometown. Davis lives to participate in the New Orleans music community, and the earnest charm of his homerism isn't lost on other characters around him.
Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 4:03 pm
It's no wonder that pianist Bill Charlap loves the music that has come to be called The Great American Songbook — the songs of great Tin Pan Alley composers such as Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. He grew up with it. Charlap was born and raised in New York, the son of Moose Charlap (a Broadway composer) and Sandy Stern, a self-described "popular singer with jazz overtones."
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 4:13 pm
It's New Year's Eve at The Blue Whale, a "live jazz + art space" in the Little Tokyo section of downtown Los Angeles. Founded in 2009 by singer Joon Lee, this is a listening room. There's food at the bar, poetry (Rumi!) on the ceiling, and wall-to-wall people. The Blue Whale has been sold out for days, and the phone keeps ringing off the hook because everybody wants to be on the air, cheering for Billy Childs live on NPR's Toast of the Nation.
Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 4:24 pm
The Chicago-based record label Thrill Jockey, led by founder Bettina Richards, has been presenting music on its own terms since 1992. Like any great independent label, it's difficult to identify the core "sound" of its releases, but its fans can easily identify its curatorial spirit. This is by design. "The way I listen to music, there are no categorical limits," Richards says.
The saxophonist Dayna Stephens, originally of the San Francisco Bay Area, has built up an impressive educational pedigree: Berkeley High, Berklee College of Music, the Thelonious Monk Institute's masters program. But he's really flourished by backing up greats like Kenny Barron and Idris Muhammad, and being a first-call player on both the East and West Coast. Blessed with a warm, enveloping tone, he's made two records as a bandleader, including this year's Today Is Tomorrow.
Pianist, composer and teacher Pete Malinverni is a multifaceted player known for his attention to melody and delicate phrasing. Spiritual influences radiate throughout his arrangement of "Deep River," and Malinverni and host Marian McPartland end a delightful hour as they join together in a performance of the Harold Arlen standard "Get Happy."