Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 12:39 pm
Credit Michael Borgida / Berklee College of Music
Many jazz musicians write music here and there, but it's still a leap for someone to go from "writing tunes" to taking pride in the art of composition. The alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius, based in New York for a decade now, is headed that way. After releasing his fourth album, Infinite Blue, earlier this year, he's now set to premiere a new set of compositions for jazz octet. While We're Still Young is a suite based on the illustrated book of children's poems When We Were Very Young, by Winnie-The-Pooh creator A.A.
Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 1:23 pm
Credit John Rogers for NPR / johnrogersnyc.com
A Brian Blade Fellowship concert feels a bit like a family reunion. Its core — drummer Blade, pianist Jon Cowherd and bassist Chris Thomas — has played together for more than 20 years, and its horn players have stayed loyal to the operation, too. Its repertoire feels rooted in a deep emotional well where sacred abuts secular and jazz meets its Southern folk cousins. Sparks always seem to fly when it gathers for an infrequent recording or string of tour dates.
Keith Jarrett is a jazz legend. His catalog of recordings includes solo piano improvisations, trio and quartet works, classical performances, early sessions with Charles Lloyd and late ones with Miles Davis. But there's nothing quite like Jarrett's new double-CD set No End: It was recorded in his home studio in 1986, and he plays all the instruments — notably drums, bass and electric guitar.
Most music fans will recognize the title of Ben Allison's new album, The Stars Look Very Different Today, as a reference to the song "Space Oddity," itself a reference to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Pianist Jonathan Batiste was born and raised in New Orleans as part of the Batiste jazz family dynasty there. He was playing with the family band by age 8. Eventually he took his talents to Julliard, and that's where he met the rest of Stay Human: Joe Saylor on the drums, Ibanda Ruhumbika on tuba and Eddie Barbash on alto sax.
Credit Jati Lindsay / Courtesy of the Kennedy Center
He's not 40 yet, but Jason Moran is a 2010 MacArthur Fellow, the Artistic Advisor for Jazz at the Kennedy Center, and a Resident Artistic Director at SFJAZZ in San Francisco. He grew up in Houston, teaches at the New England Conservatory of Music and lives in New York, home to an early 20th century piano tradition of which he is more than aware. Moran has led this trio, The Bandwagon, for more than a dozen years.
Grammy Award-winning musician Esperanza Spalding has a problem with using the phrase "protest song" to describe her new recording, "We Are America." The song, along with its accompanying music video, demands congressional action to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
" 'Protest' doesn't seem accurate to me," she tells NPR's Celeste Headlee. "We weren't thinking of a 'protest' song, we're thinking of a 'let's get together and do something pro-active, creative and productive' song."
Pianist, composer and author Kenny Werner is known for his 1996 book Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within, which has become a university textbook for improvising musicians and other artists. His album of original compositions, No Beginning No End -- a meditation on loss, death and renewal — was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 2010.