Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 9:24 am
Jitterbug Vipers' members perform 1930s-style "viper jazz" with a rock 'n' roll twist. The Austin band's original music — crafted by singer Sarah Sharp, guitarist Slim Richey, bassist Francie Meaux Jeaux and drummer Masumi Jones — recalls swing classics by Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Cab Calloway.
On this installment of Song Travels, you can hear Jitterbug Vipers perform a set live in the studio. Host Michael Feinstein also sits down with Sharp to discuss the history of viper jazz and the inspiration behind the band's sizzling original music.
Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 1:42 pm
Just before 11 o'clock on a crisp Monday night in Hollywood, 82-year-old Kenny Burrell put his Gibson guitar in its velvet-lined case and said goodnight to several members of the Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra Unlimited. He had just finished an intermission-free, two-hour-plus set with the large ensemble, as he has done once a month since the summer. Waiting patiently among the suits and smiles was a 21-year-old guitarist eager to meet his idol. When the room finally cleared, Burrell was amiable and inquisitive, talking to the young fan about music and Michigan, where he grew up.
While growing up in San Antonio, Patrick Cornelius listened to JazzSet on KRTU. Off the air, he taped the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band playing Lalo Schifrin's Gillespiana in the 1990s and more. Cornelius went on to complete degrees and diplomas from Berklee College of Music, the Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School.
In 2012, Cornelius won a New Jazz Works: Commissioning and Ensemble grant from Chamber Music America, and this episode of JazzSet features the composition for which he applied for support, titled While We're Still Young.
Composer and bandleader Guillermo Klein is known largely for Los Guachos, a large ensemble which draws from Argentine folk forms, the New York jazz talent pool and a postmodern mash-up imagination. His is beguiling music, filled with human voices and off-kilter meter and cutting melody. It's a form he and some of his band first started developing at Berklee College of Music, where he and fellow Argentines learned to apply jazz concepts to the many sounds in their heads.
For someone who came to piano rather late, at 17, Lafayette Gilchrist has dug deep into its history. He loves the old piano professors who'd pack the punch of a dance band into two hands at the keyboard. Players like Eubie Blake, James P. Johnson and Willie "The Lion" Smith could keep going for hours without exhausting their folkloric materials.
The third song in this Tiny Desk Concert, explains the jocose pianist Robert Glasper, first appeared on one of his trio's albums of acoustic, instrumental jazz. It was called "F.T.B." then, though it later acquired words and a singer and was retitled "Gonna Be Alright" on the record which won the 2013 Grammy for Best R&B Album. That in itself provides a sense of the worlds to which Glasper has access; depending on your point of view, he either freely traverses or explodes those boundaries.
Donny Hathaway's repertoire occupies a peculiar space in jazz. Though not a jazz artist, he has influenced a variety of jazz musicians through his work as a singer, keyboardist and composer. Still, jazz musicians have only skimmed the surface of his small but remarkable catalog.
With this episode of Piano Jazz, weremember drummer Joe Morello in a special reunion session with the Hickory House Trio recorded in 1990. He died on March 12, 2011, but during the 1950s, Marian McPartland, Morello, and bassist Bill Crow performed together at the Hickory House, one of the last jazz clubs on 52nd Street in Manhattan. In this session, guest host Crow shares music and memories from his days playing bass in the trio.
Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 7:07 pm
The logo for the 2014 Winter Jazzfest, marking the festival's 10th anniversary, is a giant iceberg floating into New York harbor. Like the iceberg, this year's edition was both big — 90-plus groups over five nights, representing just a small portion of a larger scene — and cold and wet, in that it rained both nights of the music marathon last Friday and Saturday evening. But Winter Jazzfest was hot on the inside, as we soaked up great music like a sponge.
Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 4:33 pm
In a concert and ceremony at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, the National Endowment for the Arts recognized its 2014 class of Jazz Masters.
The honor is the highest federally supported award for jazz artistry; those recognized receive a $25,000 grant and a tribute performance. The event was webcast live on the NEA's website, XM Satellite Radio and WBGO.org, as well as on NPR Music.