Jazz

3:28am

Thu May 22, 2014
Music

Saturn Still Swings: Celebrating Sun Ra At 100

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 9:18 am

"In my music I speak of unknown things, impossible things, ancient things, potential things," Sun Ra said in a 1980 documentary. May 22, 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the composer and bandleader's birth.
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Today marks 100 years since Sun Ra was born — or, as the musician might have put it, since he arrived on Earth. An influential jazz composer, keyboardist and bandleader, Sun Ra always insisted he was just visiting this planet.

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5:09pm

Tue May 20, 2014
Music

Heir To A Jazz Legacy, A Trumpeter Finds His Own Way

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 10:20 am

Theo Croker's new album, AfroPhysicist, comes out May 20.
Thomas Brodin Courtesy of the artist

Jazz composer and trumpeter Theo Croker opens his new album, AfroPhysicist, with an ode to his grandfather: New Orleans jazz great Doc Cheatham. The thing is, Croker didn't grow up in New Orleans or any other jazz hub. He's from Jacksonville, Fla., and he was just a child when his grandfather died in 1997. It wasn't until his grandfather's memorial services — attended by jazz legends — that he decided to join the legacy.

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5:29am

Sun May 18, 2014
Music News

How Do You Wring Sound From Sculpture? It Takes A 'Quiet Pride'

Originally published on Sun May 18, 2014 11:24 am

Rufus Reid has played with just about everybody in the mainstream jazz world. His latest project, Quiet Pride, is based on works by the late sculptor and civil rights activist Elizabeth Catlett.
Jimmy Katz Courtesy of the artist

Bassist and composer Rufus Reid has been playing jazz for half a century. He's worked with just about everyone, from saxophonists Dexter Gordon and Stan Getz to singer Nancy Wilson and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.

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1:46pm

Fri May 16, 2014
Song Travels

Diane Schuur On 'Song Travels'

Diane Schuur.
Courtesy of the artist

Blessed with perfect pitch and a resonant voice, vocalist and pianist Diane Schuur received her training at the Washington State School for the Blind. Today, Schuur is a two-time Grammy winner who has performed at Carnegie Hall and the White House.

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12:53pm

Fri May 16, 2014
Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Clint Eastwood On Piano Jazz

Clint Eastwood at the piano in Monterey, Calif.
Chris Felver Getty Images

Clint Eastwood is best known for his work in Hollywood, but he's also a composer and jazz aficionado. Combining his love of both art forms, he's included classic jazz recordings in his films — including Play Misty for Me, which features the famous Errol Garner ballad.

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3:34pm

Fri May 9, 2014
Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Rachel Z On Piano Jazz

Rachel Z.
Courtesy of the artist

Pianist Rachel Z trained at the New England Conservatory before beginning her professional career as a performer with the likes of Al Di Meola, Larry Coryell and the fusion band Steps Ahead. She also worked with saxophonist Wayne Shorter on his Grammy-winning comeback album, High Life.

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3:31pm

Thu May 8, 2014
Concerts

Blue Note At 75, The Concert

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 10:37 am

Dr. Lonnie Smith at the Blue Note 75 concert.
NPR

The iconic jazz label Blue Note Records turns 75 this year, and it celebrated in Washington, D.C. As the capstone to a week of performances, film screenings and discussions, Blue Note artists gathered in the 2,465-seat Concert Hall of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for a special performance.

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4:21pm

Wed May 7, 2014
A Blog Supreme

The First African-American Piano Manufacturer

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 11:20 am

The high-end Setai Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York, now called Langham Place, took in one of Warren Shadd's pianos.
Courtesy of Warren Shadd

At the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in February, one couldn't help but notice the striking new grand piano on the main stage, emblazoned with the name SHADD. When the many accomplished pianists that wee­­kend sat down to strike those keys, it was equally easy to spot their delight in the instrument.

That piano was the product of a trailblazer in his field. The Shadd in question is jazz drummer Warren Shadd, the first African-American piano manufacturer. That makes him the first large-scale commercial African-American instrument manufacturer, period.

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5:18pm

Sat May 3, 2014
Music Interviews

Sonny Rollins: 'You Can't Think And Play At The Same Time'

Originally published on Sat May 3, 2014 6:27 pm

"Jazz improvisation is supposed to be the highest form of communication," Sonny Rollins says, "and getting that to the people is our job as musicians."
John Abbott Courtesy of the artist

When you consider that critics have been writing about him for over 60 years, it can seem as if there's nothing left to say about Sonny Rollins. But there is – because over the decades, the "Saxophone Colossus" has never stopped growing or adding to his sound.

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3:42pm

Fri May 2, 2014
Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Howard Alden On Piano Jazz

Howard Alden.
Joseph Boggess Courtesy of the artist

Guitarist Howard Alden's superb solo and accompaniment skills have led to work with legends including Red Norvo, Woody Herman and his mentor, guitarist George Van Eps. On this episode of Piano Jazz, Alden demonstrates his harmonic and melodic mastery of the seven-string guitar with a glowing version of "Single Petal of a Rose."

Originally recorded July 26, 1999.

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