Jazz

The Lush Life Of Billy Strayhorn

Nov 3, 2016

The fruitful collaboration between Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington is widely known to have brought us such classics as "Take The 'A' Train," "Chelsea Bridge" and "Isfahan." But behind the music, Strayhorn's life and identity were complex.

Patrick Jarenwattananon has been the backbone of our jazz coverage almost since NPR Music started in 2007. Patrick came to us as a 22-year-old intern and shortly after began covering legendary and rising jazz luminaries like a veteran journalist. His writing for A Blog Supreme captured the spirit of the jazz community and was a rich resource for thoughtful coverage on this living American musical culture.

Calling themselves "an accidental brass quartet," the members of The Westerlies, like the prevailing winds, blew east to New York from their hometown of Seattle, where they were childhood friends.

Mario Grigorov On Piano Jazz

Oct 28, 2016

Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Mario Grigorov studied classical music until he fell in love with jazz. When he was a child, his parents performed in the Sofia Symphony Orchestra before the family moved to Iran, where his father played in the Shah's symphony orchestra. Grigorov continued to study music intensively as his family moved to Austria and Australia before he settled in the United States in 1992.

In 1963, Duke Ellington and his orchestra participated in a State Department "jazz diplomacy" tour of the Middle East. Inspired by the experience, Ellington and composer Billy Strayhorn wrote a collection of songs called The Far East Suite.

After forays into pop and folk, Norah Jones has returned to jazz and the piano for her latest album, Day Breaks. Jones has a long history with the genre –- she says she became "mildly obsessed with it" as a teenager in Dallas, and she signed with the legendary Blue Note Records at just 21. For her latest project, Jones also connected with some true jazz giants, including saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

Jackie And Roy On Piano Jazz

Oct 14, 2016

Roy Kral (1921 – 2002) was working in Chicago with the George Davis Quartet when he met Jackie Cain (1928 – 2014). They formed a duo, Jackie and Roy, and the rest is history. The vocal and piano duo blended witty lyrics and unusual melodies with a light modern jazz feeling.

Oliver Jones: A Canadian Jazz Legend Heads Home

Oct 13, 2016

Oliver Jones may be the most famous living jazz pianist you've never heard of. But in Canada, Jones is a hero — adored in his native Quebec and across the country for helping to build a vibrant jazz scene that can sustain the country's top musicians.

A serious talent and a tireless advocate for Canadian jazz, Jones is a champion for local musicians — a folk hero of sorts. You can find his images on the sides of buildings and on his very own postage stamp. He's also a serious talent with charisma and charm that's been winning over fans for years.

Chucho Valdés On Piano Jazz

Oct 7, 2016

At one time, pianist Jesús "Chuco" Valdés was banned from performing in the U.S. Today, he performs and teaches here, as well as in his native Cuba. Valdés is a world-class innovator in Latin jazz. In 1973, he founded Irakere, a group that introduced a new fusion of African traditional music with Cuban jazz.

Dance Like Animals In Wynton Marsalis' 'Spaces'

Oct 6, 2016

In Spaces, Wynton Marsalis' new dance suite for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, each movement corresponds to a different animal — a chicken, a lion, a frog and more.

He enlisted tap dancer Jared Grimes and "jooker" (street dancer) Lil Buck to embody the animals in their performances. In this piece, Marsalis also describes his fascination with the animal kingdom, his process of writing, and the way he attempts to draw on the spaces that all creatures inhabit.

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