Jazz News

This essay is one in a series celebrating deserving artists or albums not included on NPR Music's list of 150 Greatest Albums By Women.

Esperanza Spalding — the multiple Grammy-winning bassist, singer-songwriter, bandleader and composer — maintains a fierce commitment to the unfolding moment. Spontaneity is her watchword and her discipline, the condition to which she aspires.

Starting at 9 a.m. Pacific time on Tuesday, Grammy Award-winning musician Esperanza Spalding will spend 77 hours creating her new album, “Exposure.” The entire session will be streamed on Facebook Live for all her fans to see.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young talks with Spalding (@EspeSpalding) about the experiment.

Ernie Andrews On Piano Jazz

Sep 8, 2017

Vocalist Ernie Andrews is a musician known for his tremendous vitality and ability to communicate, which stems from his gospel roots. Influenced by Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine and Johnny Mercer, Andrews' own special style is a mix of energy, drama and humor.

Lee Konitz On Piano Jazz

Sep 1, 2017

A former member of the Miles Davis "Famous Nonet," Lee Konitz is the foremost saxophonist in the cool style of jazz. He is also a composer, arranger and teacher. While his very first instrument was a clarinet, he favored tenor sax and then made his way to alto. What's more, he plays the piano! On this 1992 Piano Jazz, Konitz and host Marian McPartland combine forces for a version of "Like Someone In Love."

Kendrick Scott opened his first set on Tuesday night, at the Jazz Standard in New York City, with a pensive new composition titled "Home." It had a bittersweet melody, a waft of dark harmony, and a beat defined both by chop and flow. "I'm just going to send this out as a meditation for everybody in Houston, Texas right now," said Scott, a drummer, as he introduced the tune.

Vijay Iyer is an acclaimed jazz pianist, MacArthur winner and Harvard professor of music. His new album, recorded with a six-person band, is called Far From Over. With the band, he says, he wanted to write with "different dance rhythms and dance impulses" in mind; the record also reflects Iyer's belief that jazz is "a category that keeps shifting."

Patrice Rushen On Piano Jazz

Aug 25, 2017

A popular vocalist whose talent ranges from jazz to soul to R&B, Patrice Rushen is also a songwriter, arranger and master keyboardist.

At 46, Ben Jaffe is almost exactly the same age as Jazz Fest. Like a lot of New Orleans natives, he has memories of the annual event stretching back to childhood, though his experience is a little more rarefied than most. "That's where I got to sit on Fats Domino's lap and then hear him play," he says. "It's where I heard Allen Toussaint play for the first time as a child.

Lenore Raphael On Piano Jazz

Aug 18, 2017

Award-winning pianist and vocalist Lenore Raphael has emerged as one of the most promising musicians in modern mainstream jazz. Influenced by such jazz greats as Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk, Raphael has developed her own swinging style.

In the French Quarter of New Orleans, there's a tiny venue with old wooden floors where on a good night you can cram in around a hundred people. The audience sits right up in front of the band and it's so intimate that the musicians don't need microphones. It's a truly magical place, where the spirit of New Orleans jazz is not only alive but evolving. It's called Preservation Hall. And it's home to our guests – the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Guest DJ Randy Newman

Aug 15, 2017

Note: This week we're featuring select episodes from our Guest DJ archives. Today we've got a conversation with Randy Newman. The singer, composer and pianist recently released his 11th solo album. It's called Dark Matter. Bob Boilen originally spoke with Newman back in 2008 when Newman released his previous record, Harps And Angels.

For those who haven't had the good fortune to attend a jazz festival this summer, Jazz Night has a ticket just for you — section A, row 1 for The Robert Glasper Experiment.

When NPR Music published its list of 150 Greatest Albums By Women two weeks ago, we who created it firmly intended that this be just the beginning of a conversation that puts women's musical artistry at the center. Immediately, others took up our call. Lists began proliferating, representing different taste affinities, time periods and genre focuses than what our list encompassed.

Daniela Schaechter On Piano Jazz

Aug 4, 2017

In 2005, Sicilian pianist Daniela Schaechter won the prestigious Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz competition. Ever devoted to the next generation of female jazz musicians, Marian McPartland wasted no time in having Schaechter on this 2006 show.

There's an emblematic photograph of Herbie Hancock on the back cover of his album Sunlight, which he began recording 40 years ago this month. He's depicted against a red backdrop with a Sennheiser vocoder headset on his cranium, which is bowed in deep focus.

Patti Bown On Piano Jazz

Jul 28, 2017

As the swinging pianist in the Quincy Jones Orchestra, Patti Bown (1931–2008) kept the music moving. In honor of her birthday on July 26, Piano Jazz remembers Bown with this encore from the early years of the program. Bown joins host Marian McPartland to talk about the role of women in jazz.

Almost exactly 30 years ago, guitarist John Scofield recorded an album he evocatively titled Loud Jazz. Not quite a decade later, he made one called Quiet. Both albums were statements of intent, widely embraced and justly acclaimed. And despite the obvious differences between the two, both were genuine expressions of Scofield's musical personality, which has always been more flexible than those extreme dynamic markings would seem to suggest.

Baltimore's Lafayette Gilchrist is a jazz pianist, but when his band the New Volcanoes backs him up, listeners also get something different: a go-go beat.

Willie Nelson And Jackie King On Piano Jazz

Jul 21, 2017

Country music legend Willie Nelson and jazz guitarist Jackie King (1945 - 2016) performed and recorded together for decades. They were host Marian McPartland's guests for this unforgettable 2002 Piano Jazz session.

Gerald Wiggins On Piano Jazz

Jul 14, 2017

Piano Jazz remembers jazz piano master Gerald Wiggins (1922 – 2008). Born in Harlem, Wiggins began learning classical piano at a young age, but he discovered jazz through the music of pianists Teddy Wilson and Art Tatum.

"I've got a pocketful of blues here still, you know?" says Charles Lloyd, the saxophonist-flutist-composer-bandleader who, at 79, has become one of jazz's enlightened elders.

From the sounds of things on the phone, Lizz Wright is going about the business of her daily life while she gives thoughtful responses to her interviewer's questions. There's the ding of a bell as a shop door closes behind her, a whispered "Hi" and, later, the electronic chiming that reminds you to fasten a car's seatbelt.

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