Saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa's quartet can sound like it's cross-pollinating Indian classical music and vintage Captain Beefheart. That befits a bicultural saxophonist who grew up in Boulder, where his Hindu family had a Christmas tree. For a long time, Mahanthappa resisted combining jazz and Indian music — it was almost too obvious a trajectory. But then he got serious about it.
The trumpeter and educator Donald Byrd, a top jazz practitioner in the '50s and '60s whose later work shaped black pop music through multiple generations, died Feb. 4 in Dover, Del. Haley Funeral Directors near Detroit confirmed the news, which was first circulated online last week. He was 80.
Pianist Randy Weston recently returned to Piano Jazz for a new session with host Marian McPartland. Weston got his start playing with Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson and Kenny Dorham in the late 1940s and '50s, and won New Star Pianist in the 1955 Downbeat poll. By the end of that decade, Weston was inspired by the burgeoning civil rights movement in the U.S. and the independence movement among African nations.
Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 10:00 am
The Philadelphia Museum of Art recently commissioned Jason Moran to write music in conjunction with its exhibition of quilts made by a remarkable group of African-American women in a small rural community on a bend in the Alabama River.
Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 3:44 pm
The drummer Marcus Gilmore is coming off a major year in his career. In 2012, DownBeat magazine named him its top Rising Star Drummer in its long-running Critics Poll; pianist Vijay Iyer's trio, of which Gilmore is a member, also took the Jazz Album and Jazz Group of the Year categories.
Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 10:03 am
Lionel Loueke was born in Benin, West Africa, in 1973. As a youngster, he sang and played percussion, but didn't really take up the guitar until the age of 17. Loueke was so gifted on the instrument that he was sent to study music at the Ivory Coast's Institute of Art. He continued on to the American School of Modern Music in Paris, where he turned heads, and in 1999 came to America on scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston.