Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 1:25 pm
Credit John Rogers for NPR / johnrogersnyc.com
Drummer Matt Wilson is always a colorful player — a timekeeper who exploits all the timbres a snare drum can give him, finding melody in it. And when it's his gig, he's also a colorful personality with flailing limbs and goofy joy on his face.
One of Billie Holiday's most iconic songs is "Strange Fruit," a haunting protest against the inhumanity of racism. Many people know that the man who wrote the song was inspired by a photograph of a lynching. But they might not realize that he's also tied to another watershed moment in America's history.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 10:23 am
Credit Courtesy of Marina Abadjieff
Sometimes known as the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, the New York band Antibalas — which means "bulletproof" in Spanish — is a large group of talented musicians who play rhythm-intensive Afrobeat music. In a seven-year stretch, Antibalas has released four albums and withstood a five-year hiatus in which several members worked on the Broadway musical FELA!
The new quartet album by alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón and pianist Laurent Coq is called Rayuela, which means "hopscotch." It's named for Julio Cortázar's novel, the fragmented tale of a wandering bohemian and his social circles in Parisian exile, as well as back home in Buenos Aires.
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 5:12 pm
There's something about the melodies of the great hard bop tunes — they unfurl with a certain sonic poetry. They're taut and neat, the ledgers of ragged syncopations all balanced out. Every repetition feels necessary, every variation opens up a new universe of possibilities, every chord change is the exact right movement.
Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 7:38 pm
Credit Courtesy of the artist
Brazilian singer Luciana Souza has worked in many genres, from jazz and bossa nova to classical music and even, as a small child, commercial jingles. A graduate of Berklee and the New England Conservatory of Music, Souza has been nominated for four Grammys and worked at a prolific pace. In fact, she's just released two albums of covers, Duos III and The Book of Chet; the latter finds her covering the works of Chet Baker.
A pioneer who muddies the waters separating jazz, blues, country, soul and rock, Cassandra Wilson possesses a beautiful voice and more than three decades of musical experience. The two-time Grammy winner began her career with the M-base collective, but found success as a solo jazz singer.