Born with the genetic disease osteogenesis imperfecta, he only stood at three feet. But with hands unaffected by his disease and an extraordinary talent, Michel Petrucciani is one of the greatest French jazz pianists of all time.
British jazz pianist George Shearing was a friend and frequent guest on Piano Jazz. On this special edition of the program from 2001, Shearing joins host Marian McPartland to celebrate the holidays in a jazzy way.
The two reminisce about seasons gone by and perform traditional and contemporary holiday tunes, including "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and "Away In A Manger."
Originally published on Sun December 21, 2014 6:17 pm
Could anyone have predicted that Steve Lehman and Wadada Leo Smith would place first and second in this year's NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, among a field including previous winners Sonny Rollins, Vijay Iyer and Jason Moran, plus 2011 runner-up (and favorite going in) Ambrose Akinmusire? Not me, and I even had Lehman and Smith on my ballot, along with Rollins and Akinmusire.
In the dead of January in the Northeast, New York City's Winter Jazzfest manages a minor miracle. Over the course of two marathon nights, it brings crowds in the thousands out to jam-packed theaters and clubs to see dozens of varied and sundry bands.
Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 9:48 am
This year saw the passing of numerous jazz legends. In Jazz Night In America's year in review, we pay tribute to bassist Charlie Haden, pianist Horace Silver and composer/bandleader Gerald Wilson, among others. We'll listen back to great live performances recorded over the past 30 years from these musicians — all from the WBGO vault — and highlight remembrances from friends and loved ones.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, "Teri" (Gerald Wilson)
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, "Carlos" (Gerald Wilson)
British jazz vocalist and pianist Anthony Strong built his reputation as a session pianist, supporting stars like B.B. King. His EP release Delovely reached No. 1 on the U.K. jazz charts, and he's continued his rise with his last album of classic jazz songs and originals, Stepping Out.
Described by film critic Rex Reed as "America's greatest male singer," Mel Tormé (1925-99) was one of the most versatile performers of his day.
On this episode of Piano Jazz from 1992, Tormé shares how his classic "The Christmas Song" inspired him to put out his own holiday album. He also sings and plays "Too Late Now" and "Walking My Baby Home," with host Marian McPartland joining in.
Originally recorded Jan. 21, 1992. Originally broadcast May 9, 1992.
Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:59 pm
Ellis Marsalis has four famous musical sons — Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis — but considering his career, he's a father figure for many more musicians. In high school and college classrooms, he's been the major figure in New Orleans jazz education since the time that formal jazz education didn't exist. And as a pianist, he carved out a space for contemporary jazz in his hometown, and has grown into an elder statesman of the scene.
If anyone has earned the nickname Pops, it's Ellis Marsalis.
As jazz's best-known father figure, the senior Marsalis has four noted musical offspring: Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason. But if you consider all the musicians he's taught or mentored, his clan is even more extensive, diverse and influential.
I talked to six musicians who gave us the long view of the Marsalis family tree, and how they were schooled by its patriarch.