Mon November 4, 2013
Live At The Village Vanguard

Peter Bernstein, Larry Goldings, Bill Stewart: Live At The Village Vanguard

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 9:36 am

Left to right: Larry Goldings, Bill Stewart and Peter Bernstein.
John Rogers for NPR johnrogersnyc.com

When their busy schedules align, guitarist Peter Bernstein, keyboard player Larry Goldings and drummer Bill Stewart play together as a trio. Their format isn't earth-shatteringly new — largely standards, a few original pieces, classic sonorities in which Hammond B3 organ meets electric guitar — but after nearly 25 years as a band, their rapport is. Theirs isn't an organ trio of greasy funk, but their cleaner language is plenty tasteful, overlaying smart choices atop plenty of swing.

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Mon November 4, 2013
Music Reviews

Amir ElSaffar Navigates Uncharted Blue Notes On 'Alchemy'

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 3:01 pm

Amir ElSaffar's new album is called Alchemy.
Nicole LeCorgne Courtesy of the artist

Trumpeter Amir ElSaffar grew up near Chicago, playing jazz trumpet. In the early 2000s, while in his mid-20s, he began investigating the music of his Iraqi heritage, studying in Baghdad and with expatriate musicians in Europe. Then he began combining the two.

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Fri November 1, 2013
Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Carli Muñoz On Piano Jazz

Carli Muñoz.
David Gasser Courtesy of the artist

Pianist Carli Muñoz's musical journey has taken him from Puerto Rico to the studios and clubs of Los Angeles and back to the island of his birth. His musical career has followed a similar trajectory. He left jazz to perform with big names in pop such as The Beach Boys and Rickie Lee Jones, then returned to his first love, filling the role of a jazz-club owner.

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Fri November 1, 2013
A Blog Supreme

Frank Wess, Basie Woodwind Specialist, Dies

Frank Wess appears at a tribute concert in 2007.
Hiroyuki Ito Getty Images


Thu October 31, 2013
JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater

Nicole Mitchell And Ice Crystal On JazzSet

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 9:48 am

Nicole Mitchell performs at the Kennedy Center.
Margot Schulman Courtesy of the Kennedy Center

Nicole Mitchell grew up in California, but Chicago is where she became the original artist she is today. From her mid-20s into her 40s, she played and taught there, and composed and presented complete works for creative spirits like science-fiction novelist Octavia Butler (Xenogenesis Suite) and musician Alice Coltrane (Where the Paths Meet the Sea).

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Fri October 25, 2013
Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Dr. Billy Taylor On Piano Jazz

Dr. Billy Taylor.
William Gottlieb Library of Congress via Flickr

Born in 1921 in Greenville, N.C., Billy Taylor moved to Washington, D.C., at age 5. He grew up in a musical family and tried his hand at various musical instruments, including guitar, drums and saxophone, but was most successful at the piano.

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Thu October 24, 2013
JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater

Alan Blackman's 'Coastal Suite' On JazzSet

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 9:53 am

Performances of The Coastal Suite are accompanied by a slow slideshow of Ruth Brownlee's paintings, including this one, Midwinter Gale.
Courtesy of Ruth Brownlee.

We're in Brooklyn at Ibeam, named by the New York City Jazz Record as one of the top five music venues of 2012, for The Coastal Suite by pianist Alan Blackman. This is the radio premiere.

From outside, Ibeam is just a notch in a long warehouse near an industrial canal (and EPA Superfund cleanup site). Inside, it's a warm community space dedicated to presenting experimental music.

"We are as close together as we're ever going to be," Blackman says, "and that's a good thing."

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Sat October 19, 2013
Tiny Desk Concerts

Matt Ulery's Loom: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:05 pm

Matt Ulery performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in August 2013.
Chloe Coleman Chloe Coleman/NPR

The next time you go to see live jazz in a club, and the band is playing original compositions, look closely in front of the musicians. Sometimes there'll be stands holding sheet music. There's nothing wrong with this per se, especially if the music is a bit complicated. But sometimes there'll be no need for stands, as the musicians have memorized the material. It's impressive, but it also signals a certain commitment, one borne of having rehearsed and performed together often. You frequently see this in tight bands that know what they're doing.

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Sat October 19, 2013
Author Interviews

The Birth Of Bird: Young Charlie Parker Found Focus, Faith In Music

Originally published on Sat October 19, 2013 7:40 am

Charlie Parker started playing as a boy, when his mother gave him a saxophone to cheer him up after his father left. He went on to spearhead a musical revolution.
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Charlie "Bird" Parker was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. In his brief life, Parker created a new sound on the alto saxophone and spearheaded a revolution in harmony and improvisation that pushed popular music from the swing era to bebop and modern jazz.

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Sat October 19, 2013
Ecstatic Voices

Wynton Marsalis Goes Back To Church For 'Abyssinian Mass'

Originally published on Sat October 19, 2013 10:01 am

Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis performs his Abyssinian Mass in 2008.
Frank Stewart Jazz at Lincoln Center