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Songs for the fathers: A tribute to Jazz Dads

Clockwise from top left: Chick & Armando Corea; Madison & Bobby McFerrin; Luis & Catherine Russell; Benny & Bert Green; Cory Wong & father
Luis and Catherine Russell © Catherine Russell Collection, all other photos courtesy of artist
Clockwise from top left: Chick & Armando Corea; Madison & Bobby McFerrin; Luis & Catherine Russell; Benny & Bert Green; Cory Wong & father

When we talk about the "Granddaddies of Jazz," Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Count Basie come to mind. Jelly Roll Morton dubiously claimed to have invented the art form thus giving himself that "Father of Jazz" distinction.

But when it comes to some actual fathers — who are bestowing whole traditions of great music and passing it down to their children — those come in many different forms. This Father's Day, we celebrate a variety of dads: well-known musicians, passionate moonlighters and die-hard music fanatics.

We'll hear stories and songs from Bobby and Madison McFerrin, Catherine Russell, Cory Wong, Benny Green and the late Chick Corea — all toasting the "Dads of Jazz."

Set List:

  • Bobby McFerrin feat. Robert McFerrin Sr. "Discipline" (Bobby McFerrin)
  • Madison McFerrin feat. Bobby McFerrin, "Run" (Madison McFerrin)
  • Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra (music director: Luis Russell) "After You've Gone" (Henry Creamer, J. Turner Layton)
  • Catherine Russell, "At the Swing Cat's Ball" (Luis Russell, William Campbell)
  • Cory Wong feat. Jon Batiste, "Home" (Cory Wong)
  • Chick Corea & The Spanish Heart Band, "Armando's Rhumba" (Chick Corea)
  • Benny Green Trio, "Song for My Father" (Horace Silver)
  • Credits:

    Sarah Geledi and Trevor Smith, writers and producers; Ron Scalzo, episode mix; Suraya Mohamed, project manager; Keith Jenkins, vice president of visuals and strategy at NPR Music; Anya Grundmann, executive producer; Christian McBride, host.

    Special thanks to Dan Rucinski, Ben Baruch, Jordin Pinkus, Lydia Liebman and Simon Rentner.

    Copyright 2023 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

    Sarah Geledi left her job in advertising in Montreal to pursue a career in music in New York City. She fulfilled that mission, producing content for the JAM Festival at WBGO, segments for The Checkout, and programs for WWOZ and PRI's Afropop Worldwide. She also served as a producer for NYC Winter Jazzfest before landing the "job of her dreams," producing radio for Jazz Night in America.
    Trevor joined the WBGO Development Department in April of 2017 and currently handles grant writing and institutional giving initiatives as the Coordinator of Corporate and Foundation Relations.Since graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2011, Trevor has worked extensively in the jazz community in fundraising, events, and artist management capacities.