The vibraphone is a special instrument. That spooky, smoky, sparkling sound — there's nothing like it. And there's nothing like hearing the vibes played by Bobby Hutcherson.
Hutcherson has covered a lot of ground on his instrument. In the 1950s he was already playing professional gigs, as a teenager. In the '60s, he was a leading light of jazz's avant garde, breaking new ground on some of the most revered LPs issued by Blue Note Records.
Originally published on Sat June 14, 2014 12:34 pm
About two years ago, playwright David Henry Hwang turned down an offer to write a play about the brief life and suicide of Army Pvt. Danny Chen.
But an opera? He couldn't refuse.
"This is a story with big emotions, big primary colors in a way, and big plot events," says Hwang, who wrote the libretto for An American Soldier, a new hourlong opera commissioned by Washington National Opera.
Almost any pianist, from a budding beginner to a pro like Simone Dinnerstein, will tell you that one of the basic techniques of keyboard playing is also the toughest to master: making your hands to do separate things simultaneously.
Originally published on Mon February 6, 2012 12:06 pm
For nearly 50 years, Betty Carter was an irrepressible and incomparable practitioner of the jazz vocal tradition, with an intense, adventurous style and a booming voice. The fiercely dedicated and demanding vocalist was a pioneer in the music business, paving the route for scores of younger musicians.
Originally published on Sat June 14, 2014 10:07 am
Eliot Fisk looks like the happiest man on the planet. Watch that face as he plays guitar. Between performing music by J.S. Bach and partnering with the world's best flamenco guitarist, Paco Peña, Fisk can barely control his joy. I find his exuberance and their performance undeniably brilliant, inspiring and so completely universal.
Blue Note Records has been many things over the course of its 75 years: a label responsible for blinding jazz innovations, a home for the titans of hard bop and soul jazz, a place for smart, sly, jazz-inflected pop creations.
One constant running throughout its history is improvisation. Its records have showcased jazz soloing in every possible mood and temperament. Its artists, both the jazz legends and those journeymen who are little regarded today, have helped shape the ever-evolving notion of what a solo is and what it can be.
Blue Note Records is the kind of record label that people like to call "storied" — so celebrated and impactful that no one narrative can capture its essence. From swing to bebop and hard bop, through fusion and the avant-garde, Blue Note has been telling the story of jazz in the grooves of its records since 1939 — and for its 75th anniversary, it's releasing remastered vinyl editions of some gems from its catalog. But the real legacy of the label is too big to capture on disc.