Marian McPartland, who gave the world an intimate, insider's perspective on one of the most elusive topics in music — jazz improvisation — died of natural causes Tuesday night at her home in Long Island, N.Y. She was 95.
Albert Murray, the influential writer and critic who helped found Jazz at Lincoln Center, died Sunday at home in Harlem. He was 97 years old. Duke Ellington once described him as the "unsquarest person I know."
For Murray, jazz and blues were more than just musical forms. They were a survival technique — an improvisatory response to hardship and uncertainty, as he told NPR in 1997: "You don't know how many bars you have, but however many of them you can make swing, the better off you are. That's about it."
On this episode of Piano Jazz, alto saxophonist Lee Konitz stops by to present a master class in improvisation on the standards. Konitz and host Marian McPartland get together for a set that includes "Stella By Starlight," "Body & Soul" and "All the Things You Are."
Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 10:44 am
Credit John Rogers for NPR / johnrogersnyc.com
The drummer Jimmy Cobb is 84 — which, even if you didn't know his name, would signal that he's been around the jazz scene for a while. But he's been more than around: He was the drummer when Miles Davis recorded his late-'50s and early-'60s masterpieces, and then toured with Sarah Vaughan for nearly a decade. He's freelanced with just about every great of his generation.
Woody Shaw, who made his first recordings 50 years ago this summer, might be the jazz trumpet's least appreciated giant. Not among musicians, mind you; they recognize his genius whether they're horn players or not. Yet even hardcore fans often know Shaw's name more than his music.
Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 12:47 pm
Credit Adam Kissick for NPR
Few musicians today are as versatile as Marcus Miller: bassist, keyboardist, bass clarinetist, film composer, producer and more. He does jazz, rock, jazz-rock, pop, R&B, smooth jazz — anything that black musicians have invented in the last half-century. He was in Miles Davis' last band, and the ethos of that music tends to carry over into his own. His band closed out day one on the main Fort stage.
Should you ever meet Donny McCaslin, you'll encounter an imposingly tall fellow who's one of the nicest guys you'll shake hands with — and who wields a sax like few others. His band has gone electro-funk with fuzz-dub bass, analog synths and hard grooves. One of his newer tunes is called "Stadium Jazz," which is a little tongue-in-cheek and with a little bit of the grand vision implied. They played a side stage in the morning. The audience didn't know what hit 'em.