Jazz News

Makoto Ozone On Piano Jazz

Oct 27, 2017

In 1984, when pianist Makoto Ozone was Marian McPartland's guest for the first time, he had become known as a rising jazz star. In his early 20s, he was already a master technician with many keyboard influences, including Oscar Peterson, but he first heard jazz from his father at home in Kobe, Japan.

Norah Jones didn't have much time to scale up her operation. She was a singer-songwriter of immense talent but intimate affect, accustomed to playing Lower East Side dives and folk cafés, when her debut album, Come Away With Me, became a sleeper smash in 2002. Then came the deluge: major television appearances, enormous stages, armloads of Grammy awards.

This week we present the first episode from the 2017-2018 Pickathon Woods Series. These videos are hand-picked by opbmusic to showcase some of the most exciting performances captured at the Woods Stage during Pickathon, a three-day festival held annually just outside Portland, Ore.

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.


What kind of man is Gregory Porter? As it happens, he's already told us himself. "I'm a real good man," he sang in "Real Good Hands," one of a handful of sturdily built original songs from his 2012 album, Be Good. He was extending a suitor's reassurance there, addressing a future father-in-law. But we were invited to listen in and draw our own conclusions.

The music of pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim conveys an extraordinary depth in stillness. More than perhaps any other improvising artist, he knows how to turn the solitary act of introspection into a communal experience that's both transporting and immersive.

After Midnight: Thelonious Monk At 100

Oct 10, 2017

Thelonious Monk, the incomparably influential jazz composer and pianist, would have turned 100 today, and across the country a healthy range of commemorative tributes is already underway. But the flagship event that bears his name has quietly been put on hold: the next Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, which at one point had been scheduled for this week at the Kennedy Center in Washington, will not happen in 2017.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released.

Holly Hofmann On Piano Jazz

Oct 6, 2017

Classically trained flutist Holly Hofmann was influenced by her father, a fine jazz guitarist. At age five, she chose the flute because she could carry it to play music with him. Hofmann has taken the flute from the orchestra to the jazz stand, making her mark with a bluesy style all her own. In this session from 2002, bassist Darek Oles joins Hofmann and host Marian McPartland to perform a set including "You and the Night and the Music" and "Bohemia After Dark."

Antonio Sánchez, the virtuoso drummer and composer, can often be found on tour — tending rhythmic fires for guitarist Pat Metheny; leading Migration, his own dynamic post-bop band; or performing his solo drum score at screenings of Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), the 2014 Alejandro G. Iñárritu film.

Jazz singing has always been a tree with firm roots, but a wild entanglement of branches. Its sound and shape are mutable, prone to outside influence and local inflection. Take the two artists featured in this week's episode of Jazz Night in America, recorded at the 2017 San Jose Jazz Summer Fest — each a cultural ambassador as well as a cosmopolitan, with the elusive ability to bring any audience along for the ride.

Dave Douglas On Piano Jazz

Sep 22, 2017

A composer, improviser and trumpeter, Dave Douglas develops music that transcends the boundaries of traditional jazz. In 2000, when he was Marian McPartland's guest, he was JazzTimes magazine's "Artist of the Year." On this 2000 episode of Piano Jazz, Douglas talks about his album Soul on Soul, a stunning tribute to Mary Lou Williams.

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.

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