Most people probably know Eartha Kitt for her famous recording of the seductive "Santa Baby" or perhaps for her role in the campy '60s television series, Batman — and on this Piano Jazz, she even threw in a few trademark growls for good measure. However, her musical and performance career went far deeper than that, as is evident on this program.
The pianist Marcus Roberts rose to prominence as a gifted performer — first with the Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center bands for years, then with his own trio and as a classical soloist. Along the way, he's become a mentor to many younger musicians, training many on the bandstand and from his professorship at Florida State University. That's given rise to a new group called The Modern Jazz Generation, which recently released a suite of original work called Romance, Swing, and the Blues.
The artists featured on this week's Jazz Night In AmericaWednesday Night Webcast are, by a fair margin, the least-known performers we've had on the program. Their names don't travel far outside the underrated musicians' community of the mid-Atlantic — specifically, Washington, D.C. — but not for lack of talent. They're among the premier musicians in the region, some being bandleaders themselves, and they all have strong individual sound identities.
In the early 1980s, when a young sixth-grader in Colorado first heard Charlie Parker, his life was transformed. Now a world-class saxophonist, Rudresh Mahanthappa is paying homage to Parker with his new album, Bird Calls. Mahanthappa says it's a tribute to Charlie Parker — but there are no Charlie Parker songs here.
Pianist and composer Joe Sample (1939-2014) began studying his instrument at age 5 and was exposed to a variety of musical traditions as a child. While still in high school in the late 1950s, he formed The Jazz Crusaders, a band he kept together for much of his professional life. On this episode of Piano Jazz from 2005, Sample and Marian McPartland team up for "I've Got Rhythm," and Sample solos in his original tune "Carmel."
Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 10:34 pm
His instrument is now synonymous with jazz, but Coleman Hawkins was the first to carve out a place for the tenor saxophone in the music. A burly-toned player with an advanced harmonic understanding, Hawkins was not only a titan of early jazz, but also a progenitor of developments to come.
Eric Reed, one of the standout pianists of his own generation, came to Jazz at Lincoln Center last November to celebrate the 110th birthday anniversary of Coleman Hawkins. Jazz Night In America visits Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola to take in a special set led by the hard-swinging Reed.
The Washington, D.C. area trombonist Reginald Cyntje speaks English with an accent — it's a patois from the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he grew up. He also plays jazz with a Caribbean accent, where hard bop vocabulary meets reggae and calypso rhythms. His group draws from a rich regional talent pool of undersung talent, including two men — childhood friend and drummer Amin Gumbs and steel drum bebop master Victor Provost — who also hail from the Islands.
Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez worked with Dizzy Gillespie and his United Nations Orchestra, from whom he absorbed bebop and pre-bop styles. But Gillespie also impressed upon Perez the importance of getting to the roots of his own heritage, and Perez began creating music that seeks connection and defies boundaries. In this Piano Jazz session from 1994, he demonstrated his fresh ideas in his original composition "Reminisce."
Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 1:13 am
Blue Note Records made its name on names: Sonny Clark, Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley, Grant Green, Paul Chambers, Tony Williams, and many more who have etched their marks on jazz history. For its 75th anniversary, the label gathered together a new crop of artists — those pushing the label forward now — and sent them on tour together, performing each others' compositions.