Jazz

This Saturday, April 30, marks the fifth anniversary of International Jazz Day, a celebration organized by UNESCO to celebrate jazz across the globe. To do our part, we're highlighting some of our favorite jazz musicians to play behind Bob Boilen's desk. Rising stars, young virtuosos, NEA Jazz Masters and veteran ensembles alike have played in NPR's D.C. offices. Here are five standout jazz performances at the Tiny Desk.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

There are masterpieces of the studio, and certainly Sarah Vaughan left plenty of those behind. But the really crushing exhibitions from jazz musicians of her caliber come nightly, in clubs and concert halls, tossed off so repeatedly and seemingly casually that any given tune in any given set reeks of talent. Throw a dart at any one moment and there's probably something there.

Recently, two new jazz recordings came my way. One, titled Some Other Time: The Lost Session From The Black Forest, is an album of never-before-released studio recordings from Germany in 1968.

The Legacy Of The Benny Goodman Quartet

Apr 21, 2016

In the late 1930s, a bespectacled white man who played the clarinet was a teen idol. That was Benny Goodman, and he got to be that way from leading a quartet with Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa — one of jazz's first racially integrated bands. In a special stage show written by Geoffrey Ward and narrated by Wendell Pierce, a young band (Christian Sands, piano; Joel Ross, vibraphone; Sammy Miller, drums) with a rotating cast of clarinetists (Will Anderson, Peter Anderson, Patrick Bartley and Janelle Reichman) tells the whole story at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

For more than 10 years, Diana Panton has been quietly building her jazz career. She's also a high-school French teacher by day, which means she mostly records and tours while her students are on vacation. But on her latest album, she's aiming for a new audience.

A swing-revival band formed in 1993, Squirrel Nut Zippers got together in Chapel Hill, N.C. Best known for its breakthrough single, "Hell," the group visited the World Cafe studio in 1996 to perform four songs, discuss how Squirrel Nut Zippers formed, and explain how they took a different approach to recording Hot, their latest record at the time.

Ayako Shirasaki On Piano Jazz

Apr 15, 2016

Originally from Japan, pianist Ayako Shirasaki showed an early talent for jazz and classical styles. As an adult, she moved to New York and entered the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Kenny Barron and Ted Rosenthal. She's gone on to establish herself as one of New York's finest jazz pianists.

On this 2006 episode of Piano Jazz, Shirasaki performs her compositions "Far Away" and "Falling Leaves."

Originally broadcast in the fall of 2006.

Barbara Lea On Piano Jazz

Apr 8, 2016

Vocalist Barbara Lea (1929–2011) was a widely respected and admired interpreter of classic American popular song. She began her career in the 1950s, and the Downbeat Critics Poll of 1956 recognized her as "Best New Singer."

Jymie Merritt: The Beat Goes Deep

Apr 7, 2016

Philadelphia bassist Jymie Merritt's place on the historical register of jazz was cemented by his work with major players like Art Blakey, Max Roach and Lee Morgan. But there's a lot more music for which he hasn't received due credit: notably, his own. Starting in the 1960s, he began developing a personal system of polyrhythms and harmonies called Forerunner, and a working ensemble called The Forerunners to match.

Pages