As a teaching assistant for UCLA's undergraduate course "Jazz in American Culture," I spend much of my time in a scene found on college campuses around the world. My professor, the seasoned jazz guitarist Charley Harrison, lectures eager students on the music's geniuses. In the evening, he directs the college big band through classic Swing Era repertoire and modern reinterpretations of it. Harrison and his colleagues also lead smaller ensembles that take 1960s hard bop as their aesthetic core.
Our partners at Jazz24 — that's the Internet jazz radio service from Seattle-Tacoma's KPLU — are making a list of the 50 Quintessential Jazz Vocals of All Time. They'll create an online stream from the results, and they're looking for your help. Vote for up to three of your top picks via a simple online survey.
Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 12:30 pm
Credit Courtesy of the artist
Trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis hails from one of New Orleans' most distinguished jazz families. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his oratorio Blood on the Fields, as well as multiple Grammy Awards and the National Medal of Arts, but his commitment to the improvement of life for all people is what demonstrates the best of his character and humanity.
Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 2:42 pm
By Becca Pulliam
Credit Benedict Smith / Courtesy of the artist
Hammond B3 organ master Dr. Lonnie Smith recently led his trio through a soulful set before a sold-out house at the Kennedy Center Jazz Club in Washington, D.C. The good doctor turns 70 this year, and he's still a leader and innovator on his instrument. He's also gaining a whole new audience, as young musicians and producers sample his deep, relentless grooves.
In 2013, the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, founded and still run by Joe Segal, celebrates 65 years of presenting jazz. The venue has hosted NPR recordings several times, including Toast of the Nation 1989. That's when trumpeter Clark Terry brought a quintet into the club, featuring his long-time friend Red Holloway on saxophone. Now 92, Terry — who played in the bands of both Count Basie and Duke Ellington — is universally recognized as a living legend. He and his band were in great spirits as 1989 turned to 1990.
It started as a bongo beat — a nod to James Brown, just after his death in late 2006. Then came a few signature riffs. And an ecstatic response from the crowd. Before long, the Godfather of Soul was permanently embedded in the Evolution Ensemble's repertoire. For leader Dee Alexander, a powerful and versatile vocalist, it was all part of the same continuum — as was the music of Jimi Hendrix, whose music carried the same revolutionary weight.
Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 5:03 pm
By Patrick Jarenwattananon
Credit Tomas Ovalle
The composer/arranger Gordon Goodwin, leader of the Big Phat Band, says he had the opportunity to play the Monterey Jazz Festival some "three or two or four decades ago." In 2012, Goodwin, who plays keyboards and reeds, returned with his large jazz orchestra.
The Robert Glasper Experiment makes a unique mix of jazz, soul and R&B. It's impossible to classify as one particular genre, but as a sound, it's as eclectic and different as it is cohesive and round. Watch the group (with Robert Glasper on keys) perform "Lift Off" from Black Radio, released earlier this year.
A jazz trio and Minnesota music supergroup, The New Standards features singer and pianist Chan Poling of The Suburbs, singer and bassist John Munson of Semisonic and Trip Shakespeare, and vibraphonist Steve Roehm of Electropolis and Billy Goat. With a repertoire composed largely of holiday classics and unexpected covers of contemporary pop and rock favorites, the band has long been a must-see live, but it's also hit the studio a handful of times, releasing albums in 2005 and 2008.