Jazz News

Even a professional gamer is no match for Kamasi Washington in the arcade classic Street Fighter II Turbo.

Your Favorite Summer Jams

Jun 22, 2018

Earlier this week, we asked you for your favorite summer jams — the feel-good music that'll carry you through unrelenting news cycles, flat LaCroix, and incessant reminders from your mom ("HAVE YOU PUT ON SUNSCREEN YET?"). We loved your choices, from the sultry Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa song "One Kiss" to Korean boy band BTS's "Fake Love." More importantly, we appreciated your enthusiasm: "It bangs" was a common comment, along with "It slaps" and "IT BUMPS IN THE WHIP." (We may have learned some new terms).

Virtuosity — of a dazzling, ebullient, yet altogether generous sort — might be the most obvious bridge between David Holland and Zakir Hussain. But there's also a deep cultural foundation behind their musical dialogue, which forms the beating heart of a project called Crosscurrents.

Kamasi Washington's idea of heaven is the world he creates and retreats to in his mind. The jazz torchbearer's double album Heaven and Earth, out today, represents that inward heaven versus his outward reality on Earth.

On this week's episode of New Music Friday, All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton chats with NPR Music's Ann Powers and Rodney Carmichael, along with jazz critic Nate Chinen from WBGO about the most exciting new releases for June 22. Albums include the intense, industrial rock of Nine Inch Nails, the new joint project of Lecrae & Zaytoven and the wildly ambitious, shape-shifting jazz of Kamasi Washington.

Featured Albums

  1. Nine Inch Nails: Bad Witch
    Featured Song: "Ahead Of Ourselves"

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

New York's Village Vanguard may come closer than any other club to embodying the spirit of jazz. For nearly 30 years, the guardian of that spirit has been the Vanguard's formidable impresaria, Lorraine Gordon. Gordon, a jazz champion since her teen years and one of the music's female pioneers, died Saturday at the age of 95.

Harold Mabern has never had any hang-ups about not being the center of attention. "I get joy out of being an accompanist," the pianist affirms, likening himself to an offensive lineman on a football team. "When you can do something to make the soloist happy and proud," he says plainly, "you've done your job."

Harry 'Sweets' Edison On Piano Jazz

May 18, 2018

Harry "Sweets" Edison (1915 - 1999) was a legendary stylist of jazz trumpet.

Piano Excursions Sunday May 13 with Jed Distler

May 13, 2018

Airing on the second Sunday and Wednesday of each month, Piano Excursions celebrates the broadest range of jazz piano, hosted by Jed Distler, the Classical Network's Artist-in-Resident, and host of the 2017 ASCAP Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award winning program Between the Keys.

Virginia Mayhew On Piano Jazz

May 11, 2018

Saxophonist, composer and bandleader Virginia Mayhew has appeared in major New York jazz venues from the Blue Note to Carnegie Hall, toured internationally and twice represented the U.S. as a Jazz Ambassador. She is also an active jazz educator and founded the Greenwich House Music School Jazz Workshop.

On this 1998 episode of Piano Jazz, Mayhew and McPartland join forces to perform "All the Things You Are" and "Body and Soul." They wrap up the show with a free piece, improvised live in studio, and McPartland closes the hour with "Darn that Dream."

It isn't typically news when a jazz group makes a change in personnel. But The Bad Plus isn't a typical jazz group, and its announcement, this time last year, landed like a bombshell. In short: Ethan Iverson, the band's pianist, would be leaving to pursue his own projects. Orrin Evans, an esteemed peer, would be stepping in. For a group that has always stood for musical collectivism — and never accepted any substitutions — this was a shakeup of existential proportions.

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