Ralph J. Gleason is my hero.

It's impossible to put an exact date on it, but I think I started reading his column in Rolling Stone in the summer of 1973. I was 14 years old and already immersed in music. Reading him, I discovered you could write about music and get paid for it — and then I discovered his writing was just as immersive as the music we both loved.

Snarky Puppy On World Cafe

May 20, 2016

With all the genre and style possibilities that are a part of its music, the Brooklyn band Snarky Puppy is happy just to be called an "instrumental band." It's the only label inclusive enough to encompass the band's fusion of rock, jazz and funk. Snarky Puppy is in its element when it's performing live, and it's often recorded its albums that way: live in the studio, often with an audience.

Leroy Jones' New Orleans Strut

May 20, 2016

Trumpeter Leroy Jones was playing in New Orleans back when Bourbon Street was lined with jazz clubs. The city has changed since then — Bourbon Street is a prime example — and Jones has evolved with it. From second lines with the Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band and the Hurricane Brass Band, club gigs with modern combos and tours with Harry Connick Jr., he's been a part of many jazz scenes.

Tania Maria On Piano Jazz

May 13, 2016

Born in Brazil to a musical family, pianist and vocalist Tania Maria was leading her own group of professional musicians by the time she was 13. In the 1970s, she moved to Paris, where she found the international spotlight through her work in jazz festivals. In the 1980s, Maria moved to New York, where she recorded hit albums and worked with some of the most renowned jazz artists in the world.

On this 1994 episode of Piano Jazz, Maria performs her own composition "Carona," then solos in "Ta Tudo Certo."

Originally broadcast in the fall of 1994.

Catherine Russell: Sunny Side Of The Street

May 12, 2016

Catherine Russell has been a backup singer with Steely Dan and David Bowie, but she's better known as an interpreter of blues and early jazz. At Jazz At Lincoln Center, Russell recently assembled a vocal trio (with Carolyn Leonhart and La Tanya Hall, her partners on tour with Steely Dan) to unearth a book of charts by arranger Sy Oliver.

Jim Ferguson On Piano Jazz

May 6, 2016

Bassist and vocalist Jim Ferguson got his start in South Carolina, where his father was a church music director. He picked up the bass late in high school and learned to play on the job before taking formal lessons. He went on to play with greats such as Teddy Wilson, Kenny Burrell, Mose Allison and Stephane Grappelli.

On this episode of Piano Jazz from 2001, Ferguson joins host Marian McPartland to perform "While We're Young" and McPartland's "There'll Be Other Times."

Originally broadcast in the spring of 2001.

Set List

In 1965, the trumpeter, composer and arranger Thad Jones and the drummer Mel Lewis found themselves with a book of big-band music originally intended for the Count Basie Orchestra — and nobody to perform it. So they made their own. They handpicked some of New York's top talent and called rehearsals on Monday nights, when the studio musicians could actually make it.

This song is called "Rhapsody In Berlin," and it was recorded in the German city recently. But Berlin isn't exactly the geography that comes to mind. It's more like a Central African nightclub, with layered instrumental funk interjected by yelps and whistles similar to Hindewhu Pygmy music. Or downtown Manhattan or Chicago's South Side in the late '60s and early '70s, where free-improvising saxophones met electronics and rock music and Sly Stone amid the urgency of the civil rights struggle.