Duke Ellington's compositions present a timeless contribution to American music's legacy.
Credit Victor Drees//Evening Standard / Getty Images
The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s inspired several black artists to explore their African heritage and the black experience in America, from enslavement to life after emancipation and migration to cities in the north. In the musical world, pianist James P. Johnson composed Yamekraw: A Negro Rhapsody, a 12-minute portrait of a black community in Savannah, Ga. Yamekraw was orchestrated for a 1928 performance at Carnegie Hall by black composer William Grant Still, who would write his own Afro American Symphony in 1930.
Jose James performs before a live audience for KCRW.
Watching Jose James perform live was one of the most remarkable experiences we've had at our intimate in-studio sessions.
The soulful jazz singer blends his powerful vocals with hip-hop beats, smooth R&B choruses and an equally talented backing band. You'll never hear James' songs the same way again after hearing them live.
Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 12:20 pm
By Patrick Jarenwattananon
Pianist Orrin Evans performs at 92Y Tribeca as part of WBGO's The Checkout Live concert series.
Credit John Rogers / johnrogersnyc.com
The pianist Orrin Evans splits much of his time between Philadelphia, where he grew up, and New York, a much larger jazz scene where he gigs often. A hard-charging player, seasoned with the harmonic touch of fellow Philadelphian McCoy Tyner, Evans is in high demand in a lot of places. Last year saw him release his 19th album as a bandleader or co-leader, Flip the Script. It's a trio recording, a format which both intimidates and excites him; here, he takes up the three-man challenge anew.
Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 12:19 pm
By Matt Fleeger
Pianist Darrell Grant is one of the anchors of the Portland jazz community.
Credit Hiroshi Iwaya / Courtesy of the artist
No matter what a certain television series tells you, Portland, Ore., isn't all that weird. Sure, we make great coffee, ride bicycles, eat organic food — and, yes, there are a lot of hippies and hipsters here. But Portland is much more than that.
Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 9:37 am
Bill Frisell plays John Lennon songs on the Fort Stage at the Newport Jazz Festival.
Credit Erik Jacobs for NPR
On a video promoting Bill Frisell's album All We Are Saying, the guitarist shares the depth of his connection to John Lennon's music: "I don't know if I'd be playing guitar if it weren't for The Beatles." Frisell tells the story of how, several tours ago, a European presenter asked Frisell's band to play a Lennon set.
Throughout his career, English musician Bryan Ferry has been one of popular music's most forward-looking performers. His band Roxy Music remodeled rock into an artsy, cosmopolitan sound in the early '70s and spearheaded the New Romantic style of the '80s.
Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 10:51 am
Credit Courtesy of the artist
From his 1970s breakthrough as a founding member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra to his influential role as a leading drummer in the style of jazz and jazz-fusion, Billy Cobham remains a powerful musical explorer. Born in Panama, raised in New York and residing in Switzerland, he translates his multicultural experience into a blend of jazz, rock and funk.
Saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa's quartet can sound like it's cross-pollinating Indian classical music and vintage Captain Beefheart. That befits a bicultural saxophonist who grew up in Boulder, where his Hindu family had a Christmas tree. For a long time, Mahanthappa resisted combining jazz and Indian music — it was almost too obvious a trajectory. But then he got serious about it.