Jazz News

Today marks what would have been jazz giant John Coltrane's 94th birthday. Two years before his untimely death from liver cancer in 1967, a young San Francisco couple heard him play — and their experience was literally religious.

They founded a spiritual community inspired by his music and 50 years later, they're still preaching that gospel at the Coltrane Church in San Francisco.

Philadelphia's famed jazz culture runs deep among fans and regional artists, who have celebrated this uniquely American art form for the better part of a century.

The dawn of the '70s were heady times for keyboardist Doug Carn and drummer Michael Carvin. Both men had recently relocated to Los Angeles from points south; Carn came from Florida, Carvin from Houston. Carn was getting gigs with well-known bands like Nat Adderly and Earth, Wind And Fire, while Carvin was getting work in television bands as a sideman. Most central to the pair, though, was the demo the two had recorded along with Carn's wife, vocalist Jean Carn, that they thought marked the future of jazz. Inspired by three legendary African-Americans – Dr.

Meet the NEA Jazz Masters, Class of 2020

Sep 18, 2020

Every year since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts selects a new class of NEA Jazz Masters, a formal recognition reserved for seasoned musicians and jazz advocates.

Stanley Crouch, the lauded and fiery jazz critic, has died. According to an announcement by his wife, Gloria Nixon-Crouch, Stanley Crouch died at the Calvary Hospital in New York on Wednesday, following nearly a decade of serious health issues.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Philadelphia's Best Of The Bass, Part 1 includes WRTI's 8 favorite bebop and hard bop players. Philadelphia's Best Of The Bass, Part 2 features some of the most impactful jazz, rock, funk, and fusion bassists to have come out of Philly. This final installment of the series showcases artists at the crossroads of jazz, pop, hip-hop, and R&B.


Philadelphia's Best Of The Bass, Part 1 includes WRTI's 8 favorite bebop and hard bop players. The list of some of the most impactful bass players to have come out of Philadelphia continues with this group of jazz, rock, funk, and fusion bassists.


This is a glimpse, a cross-section of some of the most impactful bass players to have come out of Philadelphia. Sometimes their respective impacts were local, sometimes national, sometimes global. Collectively, they've excelled in several different eras and idioms, from bebop and hard bop, to free jazz and post-bop and fusion, all the way through Philly Soul and R&B to hip-hop.

Weather Report founder Joe Zawinul once famously declared that the city produced "the world's greatest bassists." This list will show you why.

Gary Peacock, a versatile bassist who collaborated with some of the 20th century's most notable jazz musicians, has died. He was 85.

His family confirmed in a statement to NPR that Peacock died peacefully Friday, Sept. 4, at his home in upstate New York. No cause of death was provided.

Over a career that spanned seven decades, he played on recordings alongside Albert Ayler, Paul Bley, Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, among many others.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

The NEA Jazz Masters fellowship, America's highest honor reserved for jazz musicians, is typically bestowed by the National Endowment for the Arts in grand fashion with a gala and all-star tribute concert. This year it was set to take place at San Francisco's SFJAZZ Center in April, but it had to be rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic. And so, like the artists being honored, the NEA opted to improvise, transforming the event into a virtual presentation with musicians beaming in from locales across the country.

Steve Grossman, a saxophonist whose lunging projection, sure rhythmic footing and clarity of attack helped propel him into the spotlight in the 1970s, notably in bands led by Miles Davis and Elvin Jones, died on Aug. 13 at Glen Cove Hospital in Glen Cove, N.Y. He was 69. The cause was cardiac arrest after a long illness, his brother Myles Grossman confirmed to NPR.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Pianist Micah Thomas is having the jazz equivalent of a standout rookie season. Just within the last several weeks, he finished his graduate studies at Juilliard and released a terrifically assured debut album called Tide.

It introduces an artist of superb technical facility, along with something even more striking — a deep understanding of the sprawling lineage of modern jazz piano and a youthful determination not to get caught retracing anybody's steps.

Helen Jones Woods, who played trombone with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, a history-making all-female big band that toured widely during World War II, died of COVID-19 on July 25 in Sarasota, Fla. She was 96.

Her daughter Cathy Hughes, founder and chairperson of the broadcast media company Urban One, confirmed the details of her death to NPR.

Makaya McCraven calls himself a beat scientist, so it's no surprise when you ask about his childhood, you hear he was pretty much surrounded by rhythm.

"Rehearsals at our house, banging on drums since I was able to hold a drumstick, sleeping in my dad's bass drum," he recalls. "There was no front head, and a little pillow in there. And you could just kinda go in and lay down if you're small enough."

Six years ago, Maria Schneider, the meticulous jazz composer and orchestrator, embarked on a project with David Bowie, the polymorphic pop vanguardist.

Annie Ross, Mid-Century Jazz Icon, Dead At 89

Jul 22, 2020

Annie Ross, the veteran jazz singer, actress and founding member of the historic vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, died on July 21, four days before her 90th birthday. According to her friend and former manager, Jim Coleman, Ross died in her sleep at her home in Manhattan. She had been suffering from emphysema and a heart condition.

During jazz's first half-century, there were several great musicians who were all-but criminally under-recorded, relative to their talent. They include the clarinetist Jimmy Noone, trumpeter Freddie Webster and, most famously, pianist Herbie Nichols. With recording facilities increasingly accessible after the end of World War II, there are fewer such lost masters today — but the recent death of Eddie Gale is a reminder that they are not extinct. Gale was a stellar trumpeter who played in several crucially important bands and on a handful of exceptional recordings.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

For Jazzmeia Horn, this concert defined a moment. This was The Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center, after all, one of the most prestigious stages in the America jazz circuit. "Not a lot of people get that opportunity," she reflected, not only to show up for herself and her art, but to act as a good steward of jazz music, an African American art form and legacy by which the idioms of today's industry, according to Horn, don't always reflect the culture of a specific people.

Fabiano Do Nascimento: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

Jul 2, 2020

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Freddy Cole, whose debonair yet unassuming vocal style lighted his way through a distinguished jazz career in and out of the shadow of his older brother, Nat King Cole, died on Saturday, June 27, at his home in Atlanta, Ga. He was 88.

His manager, Suzi Reynolds, did not specify a cause of death but said he had been suffering of late from cardiovascular issues.

The summer of 1968 looked like the summer of 2020. Americans were in the streets protesting racism, among other things. And a high school student in Palo Alto, Calif., got in on the action by enlisting the help of a jazz legend. Danny Scher came up with the idea to book Thelonious Monk to play his school's auditorium and now, a professional recording of this concert will be released publicly for the first time on July 31. The album is called Palo Alto.

Jimmy Heath made one of his first appearances on record as a member of Dizzy Gillespie's band, late in 1949. Released on Capitol under the title Dizzy Gillespie And His Orchestra, it featured Heath on alto saxophone alongside his fellow Philadelphian, an up-and-comer named John Coltrane.

Jazz musicians have always faced systems of discrimination in America. One insidious example was the cabaret card, a form of identification required for any musician to work in a New York nightclub from 1940 to 1967. The New York Police Department administered these licenses and revoked them for any minor infraction. As a result, some of the biggest names in the music at the time, like Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker, lost their right to work at a crucial points in their careers.

If you saw the first Heat Check Live on NPR Music's Instagram this past weekend, you rocked with us for a live DJ set of all your favorite new songs. Afterward, New York-based artist Linda Diaz, whose work has been featured on Heat Check before, reminded us why we create spaces for the playlist to exist: "Community is invaluable. Black joy is radical," she wrote.

Jon Batiste spent his 33rd birthday playing an intimate, private concert with his band in the round while Jazz Night in America captured the show. He kept it classy, donning a suede jacket and playing selections from his two latest Verve releases, Chronology of A Dream and Anatomy of Angels.

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