Nick Drake's music is catnip to a certain kind of artist. Melodically pristine and rhythmically complex in quiet ways, the small songbook of the late English singer-songwriter offers interpreters a chance to be enchanting without stretching much. Yet to make Drake's songs new is a challenge. His vocal style of lingering around a beat, while playing guitar parts that were never flashy but always dazzlingly complex, is possible to imitate but difficult to make truly personal.
Multi-instrumentalist Corky Hale has been blazing trails since her career began. She started piano at age 3, harp at 8, flute at 10 and cello at 12. In the late 1950s, she became Mel Tormé's pianist and teamed up with Billie Holiday in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Rio Clemente was born Rosario Clemente in Morristown, N.J. Known as the "Bishop of Jazz," he was educated at the Juilliard School of Music. His training in classical music paved the way for his vibrant career in jazz, playing with the likes of Bucky Pizzarelli, Clark Terry, Milt Jackson and Bobby Hackett, with whom he toured.
L.A. native Kamasi Washington has one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year with his three-volume set The Epic, released on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label. At KCRW's studio, Washington recently brought in a stripped-down version of his band, many of whose members he grew up with here in town.
Willie Ruff is a master of both the bass and the French horn, which he reveals to be a singularly beautiful jazz instrument. Trained as a classical musician, Ruff studied with Paul Hindemith at the Yale School of Music and signed as first horn with the Tel Aviv Symphony. He went on to team up with pianist Dwike Mitchell, with whom he formed the Mitchell-Ruff Duo and toured worldwide.
You know how some older "legacy" artists program their concerts like a greatest-hits collection? Duke Ellington did some of that as he was getting older — people wanted to hear the Maestro lead "Satin Doll" and "Mood Indigo," after all — but he never stopped writing new music, either. And his late works didn't stop pushing his own boundaries.
June is National Black Music Month. WVAS-FM celebrated by producing a series of live jazz every evening in the month. We closed out our series The Freedom Sounds - Live Jazz featuring Eric Perkins performing live outside the Alumni House on the campus of Alabama State University.
The Freedom Sounds - Live Jazz is produced by Milton Shirdan in the studios of WVAS-FM on the campus of Alabama State University.
June is National Black Music Month. WVAS-FM celebrated by producing a series of live jazz every Monday evening in the month. Sam Williams and Bobby Morgan performed live in our studios for week four of National Black Music Month.
June is National Black Music Month. WVAS-FM celebrated by producing a series of live jazz every Monday evening in the month. Al's Hot Sauce performed live in our studios for week three of National Black Music Month.