Many fans first encountered one of the great voices in jazz as a whisper: Sheila Jordan made a quiet but lasting impression as a guest singer on pianist George Russell's 1962 arrangement of "You Are My Sunshine."
Since then, Jordan's career has taken her all over the world, and in 2012, she received one of the highest honors in jazz: she became an National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. Her music has soared, but her story starts with pain.
When Harry Connick Jr. sat down with host Marian McPartland in 1991, he was in his twenties, had already won two Grammy Awards and was coming off a worldwide big band tour. He has gone on to record multiple best-selling albums and develop a successful acting career.
On this Piano Jazz, Connick sings and plays "They Didn't Believe Me" and joins McPartland for "Stompin' at the Savoy."
Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 6:31 pm
By Craig LeMoult
Jimmy Greene's Beautiful Life is dedicated to the memory of his 6-year-old daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, one of the 20 children killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The first song is an arrangement of "Come Thou Almighty King." The hymn was in a piano book that Greene's son, Isaiah, was learning.
As the son of jazz legends John and Alice Coltrane, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane is continuing his family's legacy by developing his own sound and feeling. In 2012, he released his sixth album, Spirit Fiction.
Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 10:36 am
As a teenager in Abbeville, La., Robert Charles Guidry — better known as Bobby Charles — wrote songs that would become classics for Bill Haley and Fats Domino: "See You Later, Alligator" and "Walking To New Orleans," respectively.
Every year, NPR Music invites a handful of the world's top keyboard players to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. We ask them to play some of their favorite holiday music for the audience — solo — and the recording becomes the public radio special A Jazz Piano Christmas.
Ellis Marsalis is a father figure of modern jazz — in quite a few ways. As a pianist, he was among the first generation of musicians to bring bebop to New Orleans, and even worked with Ornette Coleman before the saxophonist recorded his landmarks of free jazz. As an educator, many great musicians came through Marsalis' tutelage, whether in New Orleans' arts high school or at various university programs. And of course, he is also the actual father of several exceptional musicians named Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis.
Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 1:39 pm
For the next stop on World Cafe's Sense Of Place visit to Lafayette, La., the show visits a group of young musicians who combine the two French cultures of the state. Soul Creole — led by Grammy-nominated Cajun fiddler Louis Michot and zydeco accordionist Corey Ledet — fuses Cajun and Creole music into a wild, boundary-blurring mix.
Hear a live set by the band, performed at The Blue Moon Saloon in downtown Lafayette, at the audio link.
Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 3:38 pm
By Alex W. Rodriguez
Last weekend, at a sold-out, star-studded gala concert in Hollywood, Pharrell Williams and Herbie Hancock remixed Williams' hit "Happy," Kevin Spacey served up a compelling Frank Sinatra imitation singing "Fly Me To The Moon" and former President Bill Clinton offered a heartfelt reminiscence about his early days as a John Coltrane wannabe. ("Sometimes frustrated jazz musicians end up in another line of work and it ends up pretty good," he joked.) The opener was a jazz concert: Three virtuosic young trumpet players — Adam O'Farrill, Billy Buss and Marquis Hill — deftly negotiated standards.