Fifty years ago today, Andrew Hill recorded what would become his signature album: Point of Departure. Fifty years later, it still sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday. Assembling a murderer's row of horn players (Eric Dolphy, Kenny Dorham, Joe Henderson) with a rhythm section for the ages (Hill, Richard Davis, Tony Williams), Hill juxtaposed complex, layered harmonies with charged grooves. The result occupies that rare territory between the comfort of the familiar and the allure of the perceptibly unique.
After a sweetly harmonized "Tryin' Times" from 1970 by Donny Hathaway and a rocking version of "Compared to What" by Gene McDaniels ("The president, he got his war / Folks don't know just what it's for"), Rene Marie pauses to ask two questions: "Do you remember when it was not unusual for jazz composers to write about social issues? What happened?" There's a pause, and then Carla Cook says off-mic, "The '80s." The audience hears her and laughs.
Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 10:40 am
This is a recording of a jazz trio playing the score to a 101-year-old ballet. It is not a "jazzing the classics" record or a "fantasia on the themes of" sort of project. It is a band translating one of the landmark works in music history to piano, bass and drum set, and doing it as literally as possible.
Jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton has headlined national venues, from Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood Bowl, and has earned five Grammy nominations. With her latest project, After Blue, Sutton takes on the genius of singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.
Mary Lou Williams was the guest on the the very first Piano Jazz session ever, recorded in 1978 with Williams and bassist Ronnie Boykins. Host Marian McPartland is initially nervous interviewing her longtime friend and idol, and the cagey Williams still stands as a tough nut to crack.
Jazz violinist Regina Carter grew up in Detroit, but as a child she spent summers in Alabama, where her paternal grandmother lived. Her grandfather died before she was born, and recently she began researching his side of the family. One revelation that sparked her interest: Her dad's dad had been a coal miner.
From a young age, Warren Wolf studied piano and drums, and you can still see him gig on those instruments. But the Baltimore native and resident has made his biggest mark as a vibraphone and marimba player — whether with Christian McBride's Inside Straight group, or with the SFJAZZ Collective, or, increasingly, as a bandleader himself. His 2013 album Wolfgang, his second LP, turns up the spotlight on his composing, and his Wolfpack band showcases his mallets up front.
The Grammy Award-winning Bobby McFerrin joins host Michael Feinstein to talk about his musical evolution. In addition to demonstrations of his a cappella style, McFerrin performs a number of songs from Porgy and Bess and shares a bluegrass track from his 2013 album Spirityouall.