Written by Patrick Jarenwattananon from NPR
Toward the end of every year, NPR Music invites some of the world’s best jazz keyboard players to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. We ask them to take on some of their favorite Christmas tunes, solo, and the recording becomes the public radio special A Jazz Piano Christmas.
For the program’s 24th year, a familiar mix of veteran talent and up-and-comers takes to the stage. Stanley Cowell has been known as one of the most versatile keyboard stylists for decades. Twentysomething Sullivan Fortner is the pianist of choice for jazz stars like Roy Hargrove, Christian Scott and Stefon Harris. Michele Rosewoman is known as much for her modern jazz as for her deep study of Afro-Cuban folklore. And Andy Bey, 74, possesses a silky baritone voice, which he accompanies tactfully with a spare keystroke every now and again.
At the end of the second of two sets, the pianists get together to jam on “Jingle Bells” — a highlight captured on video this year.