If you ever listened to jazz vocalists and wondered if you could ever in your life scat like them, there's someone who's willing to teach you. The vocalist Rhiannon has long held the importance of improvisation as a personal credo, and in her career has blended that art form with jazz, world music and storytelling.
Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 12:12 pm
Hank Williams was a great singer-songwriter who forged his own brand of honky-tonk music from a variety of influences: country, folk, blues, gospel and jazz. Yes, jazz.
If you haven't listened to his music in a while you might not recall — Williams had swing. And even if some jazz listeners have forgotten that fact, many jazz players haven't. Here then are five jazz artists out of many who have taken Williams' music and put their own spins on it.
Marian McPartland recalls meeting singer Melissa Walker for the first time in the "powder room" at Birdland. McPartland was immediately taken with the young singer's glowing personality — and she probably heard hints of Walker's warm and rich vocals in the few words they exchanged that night.
"She's got such a wonderful voice," recalls McPartland. "The tunes she did aren't heard too often, they were very well done though. I enjoyed that session."
Juan-Carlos Formell participated in a multi-artist showcase at SOB's — home to Brazilian and Latin music in New York — a few years ago. Between a couple of amped-up bands, he took the stage alone (as I recall) and sang in Spanish, accompanying himself on guitar. His voice had urgency to it, and there was an irresistible engine inside that guitar. Ever since, I've wanted to hear and know more.
Saxophonist Jan Garbarek was a teenage protege of American composer George Russell in Norway in the 1960s and later played in Keith Jarrett's Scandinavian quartet. More recently, he has collaborated with the vocal quartet the Hilliard Ensemble, improvising as they sing medieval music.
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 5:13 pm
Saxophonist Branford Marsalis, oldest son of New Orleans pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis, released an album with his quartet this week. He spoke to weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz about the failings of modern jazz, his hopes for the next generation and leaving New York City to move back to the South.
On the drive from his home in Charlottesville, Va., to the Manhattan studios of Piano Jazz, pianist Hod O'Brien was inspired to compose an original tune in honor of the occasion. By the time he'd arrived, he'd worked out a swinging little ditty in his head, so he kicked off this session with a tune he called "Clarion for Marian."
"His playing was wonderful," recalls host Marian McPartland. "And I really enjoyed playing on Charlie Parker ['Now's The Time'] with Hod. I thought it came off very well."
Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 4:10 pm
The Litchfield Jazz Festival leads off with a weeks-long camp for high-school students and New York's finest musicians on the faculty, then climaxes with a two-day festival. This year it's August 11-12 in Goshen, Conn., but here we have two sets from the 2010 festival, featuring two groups with young leaders.
Fresh Air's Terry Gross has been listening to jazz singer Susie Arioli since she first heard Arioli's 2002 album Pennies From Heaven. Arioli is Canadian and has a big following there, but she's not well known in the U.S., and hasn't toured in many American cities. So when Arioli and her longtime guitarist and arranger, Jordan Officer, stopped in for an in-studio concert and conversation, Gross was thrilled.
Here's a pairing that raises the question: "Why hasn't this happened before?" The Bad Plus have been a revisionist cover band and today mostly make original piano trio music sui generis. Bill Frisell is the quintessential jazz collaborator: The guitarist, making the second of three appearances at this year's Newport Jazz Festival, is down for anything involving good musicians, and can be counted on to execute it well. Together, they paid tribute to one of their mutual heroes, the late drummer Paul Motian, in a set comprised mostly of his haunting compositions.