Latest Jazz from NPR Music

Music Interviews
3:23 pm
Sat August 18, 2012

Rhiannon: An Improviser Resists The Urge To Reuse

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"There was this sensation of going on a journey together, without seat belts," says Rhiannon of her band's first totally improvised performance. Her newest album is called Spontaneous.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat August 18, 2012 7:14 pm

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.

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A Blog Supreme
5:59 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Jazz Goes Honky-Tonkin': The Songs Of Hank Williams

Hank Williams has written plenty of tunes covered by jazz artists over the years.
Courtesy of the artist

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.

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Piano Jazz
5:17 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Melissa Walker On Piano Jazz

Melissa Walker.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 12:05 pm

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."

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JazzSet
11:08 am
Thu August 16, 2012

Juan-Carlos Formell On JazzSet

Juan-Carlos Formell and Johnny's Dream Club at the 2011 Monterey Jazz Festival.
Cole Thompson Monterey Jazz Festival

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 2:12 pm

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.

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Jazz Review
3:51 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

How Jan Garbarek Came To Epitomize Nordic Jazz

A new box set of early albums captures Jan Garbarek's forming saxophone sound — austere and astringent.
Roberto Massoti ECM Records

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 3:22 pm

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.

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A Blog Supreme
12:44 pm
Sat August 11, 2012

Branford Marsalis On Sensitive Musicians And The First Family Of Jazz

Branford Marsalis spoke with NPR about modern jazz, his family, and his new album, Four MFs Playin' Tunes.
Courtesy of Marsalis 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.

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Piano Jazz
2:22 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Hod O'Brien On Piano Jazz

Hod O'Brien.
Courtesy of the artist

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."

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JazzSet
3:37 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Gabriel Alegria And Gerald Clayton On JazzSet

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.

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Music Interviews
1:03 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

Susie Arioli On Fresh Air

Susie Arioli's new album, All the Way, was released in June.
Marianne Larochelle

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 8:03 am

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.

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Newport Jazz Festival
10:58 am
Wed August 8, 2012

The Bad Plus With Bill Frisell, Live In Concert: Newport Jazz 2012

Pianist Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus performs at the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival.
Erik Jacobs for NPR

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.

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