Regular visitors to Jazz at Lincoln Center know Marcus Roberts the pianist — as a former member of Wynton Marsalis' bands and the Jazz at Lincoln Orchestra, he still returns often with his own groups. But since leaving Marsalis, he's also become a mentor to many younger musicians, both on the bandstand and in the classroom. His new 11-piece ensemble the Modern Jazz Generation combines his trio with many of his younger protégés, looping the feedback full circle.
One half of the jazz vocal duo Jackie & Roy, Jackie Cain was an icon in the cabaret world, with a smooth, feathery voice. Her ability to express a full range of emotions as a performer allowed her to traverse the broad landscape of American popular song.
In this 1999 episode of Piano Jazz, host Marian McPartland and bassist Dean Johnson join Cain for performances of "Wait 'Til You See Her" and "You Don't Know What Love Is."
When trumpeter and composer/arranger Steven Bernstein first met the virtuoso pianist Henry Butler, he says he was floored. "This is it," he recalls thinking. "This is like the music that I always imagined. Everything you ever loved about music, all being in one place, but now it's all coming from one person." Decades later, when they two finally began to work together, Bernstein started to study Butler's playing — and realized there were more than a few licks that set Butler apart.
The jazz clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen comes from Israel, studied and lives in the Northeastern U.S., and maintains a deep affinity for Brazilian music. Specifically, she's a specialist in the Afro-Western, improvisatory, instrumental music known as choro — an analogue of early jazz in the U.S. — where her clarinet is a lead instrument. She now helms a group called Choro Aventuroso, a quartet whose other members hail from Brazil, which takes the style as a launching pad for further adventures.
Jazz singer, songwriter and actress René Marie launched her career in 1999 with her self-released debut album, Renaissance, and quickly found success as a performer and recording artist. Her 2013 album, I Wanna Be Evil, is the first ever tribute album to the late Eartha Kitt. You can hear Kitt on an episode of Piano Jazz from 1993.
Most people probably know Eartha Kitt for her famous recording of the seductive "Santa Baby" or perhaps for her role in the campy '60s television series, Batman — and on this Piano Jazz, she even threw in a few trademark growls for good measure. However, her musical and performance career went far deeper than that, as is evident on this program.
The pianist Marcus Roberts rose to prominence as a gifted performer — first with the Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center bands for years, then with his own trio and as a classical soloist. Along the way, he's become a mentor to many younger musicians, training many on the bandstand and from his professorship at Florida State University. That's given rise to a new group called The Modern Jazz Generation, which recently released a suite of original work called Romance, Swing, and the Blues.
The artists featured on this week's Jazz Night In AmericaWednesday Night Webcast are, by a fair margin, the least-known performers we've had on the program. Their names don't travel far outside the underrated musicians' community of the mid-Atlantic — specifically, Washington, D.C. — but not for lack of talent. They're among the premier musicians in the region, some being bandleaders themselves, and they all have strong individual sound identities.