Jazz News

An anthology devoted to early Nat King Cole recordings was recently released, and it offers a new window into his artistic development. The collection is called Hittin' the Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943), and this massive 7-CD, 10-LP package is clearly aimed at obsessives. It's a deep dive that traces Nat King Cole's evolution — from smooth, unflappable piano player into a singing star with an endearingly smooth style all his own.

Last month, trumpeter and composer Nicholas Payton had the U.S. premiere of his Black American Symphony with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic.

There are charismatic people, and then there's Michael Mwenso. The leader of Mwenso & the Shakes is full of energy, charm and most importantly, joy. That joy is ever-present when he's telling stories about growing up in Ghana and Nigeria and spending four years trying to impress James Brown.

Motherless Brooklyn is a new film about a private detective trying to solve a murder in 1950s New York.

No jazz instrument is more personal — or relatable — than the human voice. Jazz singers come in every conceivable style, each with their own expressive signature. This episode of Jazz Night in America offers a chance to spend time with some of the brightest newer voices in the genre.

Here are a few indisputable truths about Andy Bey. First things first: as he approaches 80, Bey occupies the first rank of living jazz singers. He has led a circuitous career — starting out as a prodigy, slipping into obscurity, experiencing a late renaissance. And he's an original: nobody else has ever sounded quite like him and it's almost certain nobody else ever will.

Béla Fleck, the world's preeminent banjo player, and Edmar Castañeda, a peerless master of the Colombian harp, share more than a penchant to pluck magic out of strings. Both musicians are keen listeners with lightning reflexes and the ability to pounce on any digression. They're both alchemists of style, unbound by the rules of genre.

Something happens for me when I hear jazz mixing it up with Brazilian rhythms. In the right hands it falls into the realm of magic.

Pianist, multi-instrumentalist and composer Jovino Santos Neto certainly cast a spell over those who gathered for this joyful turn behind the Tiny Desk.

His trio rushed right out of the gate with the samba-influenced "Pantopé" that introduces the concept of the trio: seamless interaction between the musicians that make the band sound like one big, melodic rhythm machine.

Jazz has a glorious history, but it's also a music of boundless curiosity, brash experimentation and an ever-changing set of tools. Such is the complex landscape covered by Jazz Night in America, which curates this playlist from music heard on the show. Consider it a modern jazz survey at ground level, from stone classics to state-of-the-art jams.

I want Flying Lotus to score my reincarnation.

Saxophonist, flautist and bandleader Jane Bunnett has been traveling back and forth between her home in Toronto and Cuba for over 30 years because, well, she can.

You don't have to look far, in 2019, to encounter the mystique of trumpeter Miles Davis. This month Rhino released Rubberband, a previously unheard, posthumously refurbished pop-funk studio album recorded in 1985.

Catherine Russell On Mountain Stage

Sep 26, 2019

Making her fifth appearance on Mountain Stage since 2006, Grammy-winning vocalist Catherine Russell treated the audience to songs off her latest album, Alone Together.

The smooth, booming voice of Gregory Porter brought a galvanizing force to jazz when he broke onto the scene about a decade ago. It's a voice of exhortation, flowing out of the gospel church. A voice of dignity, in the mode of his hero, Nat King Cole. A voice of reassurance, whether aiming for the heavens or toward a single soul across the room.

For many observers of modern jazz, pianist Jason Moran became a known entity 20 years ago, with the release of his debut album. For Adrienne Edwards, curator of performance at the Whitney Museum of American Art, his name first circulated more recently, as a kind of rumor.

The city of Montréal in the Canadian province of Quebec is known for a number of things: Great bagels, a thriving art scene, a certain je ne sais quoi. It's also home to the largest jazz festival in the world, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Historians and critics have pored over the recordings of these jazz greats like Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Stan Getz so exhaustively, it might feel like they've left no stone unturned. And yet, fans are seeing a slew of exciting new discoveries lately from these and other artists — so-called "lost" albums by some of the biggest names in jazz.

Fifty years ago this August, Miles Davis assembled a group of musicians to record the sprawling, groundbreaking album Bitches Brew. With the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone and James Brown in his head, Davis plugged in and brought these electric rock sensibilities to jazz.

Electric Miles. Few word pairings in the jazz lexicon are apt to inspire so much contention and challenge and ferment. What the phrase refers to, of course, is a period in the career of trumpeter Miles Davis, spanning the last third of his life. And while there are other important antecedents, the big bang of this period is an album recorded 50 years ago by the name of Bitches Brew.

"Jazz built for arenas."

A friend and former rock critic shared this admiring assessment of Sons of Kemet, after seeing the band for the first time at this year's Big Ears Festival. There's obviously truth in it: Over the last eight years, Sons of Kemet has not only fueled the fires of a raging London jazz scene; it has also scaled up the pyrotechnics, in strictly musical terms.

Cannonball Adderley was a mere 46 when he died, of a brain hemorrhage, in 1975. An alto saxophonist of robust intellect and irrefutable soul, he left a monumental legacy during his two decades in the spotlight — as a member of the Miles Davis Sextet, an exemplar of 1960s soul jazz and the leading avatar of a brand of post-bop modernism with popular appeal.

YouTube

Dev Hynes, also known as Blood Orange, has released a new music video for his song "Benzo." The video itself is a reima

Drummer/composer Mark Guiliana traverses many musical landscapes from modern jazz (Brad Mehldau), Tunisian oud music (Dhafer Youssef), Hasidic reggae (Matisyahu), or legendary rock (David Bowie.) However, these days, his primary mode for expression is displayed in two distinctly different sounding bands: the acoustic The Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet and his electric Beat Music project.

Updated at 9:34 p.m. ET Saturday

João Gilberto, one of the principal architects of the Brazilian musical style bossa nova, has died at his home in Rio de Janeiro, according to a Facebook post by his son. João Marcelo Gilberto wrote that his father, who was 88 years old, died following an undisclosed illness.

How do you distill the spirit of the Monterey Jazz Festival into a single band? Considering the ethos of the annual event, the band was designed to be a celebration of diverse international talent, forward-thinking sensibilities and just plain killin' performances. For artistic director Tim Jackson, that was the task at hand in 2018, marking the festival's 60th anniversary.

"I don't believe America was founded to be one dimensional," pianist Cyrus Chestnut asserts. "It's various different people coming together, quote unquote, to develop something hip."

Some musicians don't have to expend much effort to achieve radiance. Camila Meza is one of these — a singer-songwriter and improvising guitarist originally from Santiago, Chile, and now a luminous fixture on the scene in New York. Ámbar, her major-label debut, just out on Masterworks, captures the deep synthesis in her music, with a chamber-jazz cohort she calls the Nectar Orchestra.

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

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