The Czech Republic capital of Prague is home to the annual Strings of Autumn International Music Festival where, in October 2012, soulful jazz singer Gregory Porter brought down the house. Applause between songs ran for a minute or longer.
Veteran jazz masters “Killer” Ray Appleton and Barry Altschul have issued fine new albums this year. Both in their early 70s, it’s clear they draw from extensive experience. So how might that translate to making music that’s fun to listen to?
Many jazz standards are themselves about making lists. Here are five of them, including Louis Armstrong’s take on “Let’s Do It,” Johnny Hartman’s version of “These Foolish Things” and a classic reading of Jobim’s “Waters of March.”
Homegrown Christie Dashiell and expat Alfredo Rodriguez each bring something new to Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center. Dashiell’s vocal delivery is so easy, you can barely hear her breathe. Rodriguez’s control and dynamics make the piano sing, sweat and shake as he plays the music of Cuba.
The tenor saxophonist plays in some of the most talked-about jazz groups of today; bands led by Ambrose Akinmusire, Eric Harland and Terence Blanchard. Freshly signed to a new record deal, Smith draws the leadership role in presenting his own quintet at his alma mater.
A guitarist with a decidedly non-standard approach to jazz’s standard practices, Halvorson balances golden-era hard-bop order and free improvising entropy. At the NPR Music offices, her band strikes comforting tones, but also morphs, rephrases and implodes those ideas.
One of the most celebrated voices in jazz returns to her old stomping grounds in Portland, Ore., to honor her longtime mentor, Thara Memory. Watch Esperanza Spalding and the Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra perform “City of Roses” in the place that inspired the song.