Inspired by A.A. Milne’s 1924 book of poetry, When We Were Very Young, Cornelius presents a composition commissioned by Chamber Music America. It features Bill Evans-like voicings and Ellingtonian ideas.
The composer and bandleader mixes Argentine folk forms, New York’s jazz talent pool and a postmodern mash-up imagination. He returns to his alma mater, a core group of bandmates in tow, to coach a performance of his own uniquely beguiling music.
The pianist builds R&B with old-school values: singers who don’t need software, live improvising, hand-built beats. They’re jazz aesthetics, essentially — readily evident when members of his Grammy-winning Experiment band jam with singer Marsha Ambrosius.
On Gilchrist’s The View From Here, go-go dance beats inform his piano the same way freight-train boogie-woogie does.
The singer-songwriter remains influential in jazz, but improvisers have yet to fully mine his repertoire. Here are a few of the attempts so far, from musicians such as Kenny Garrett, Carmen Lundy and George Benson.
In the 1950s, New York’s Hickory House was known for its sizzling steaks and a swinging jazz trio led by a young female pianist with a British accent and a God-given touch. McPartland, along with bassist Joe Morello and drummer Bill Crow, held court at the Hickory House for more than a decade.
Jazz writers and broadcasters recap the New York City event, now in its 10th year. Plus, see photos from the music marathon, which took place Friday and Saturday.
The highest federally supported award for jazz artistry goes to four individuals this year. In a live performance from Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, Anthony Braxton, Richard Davis, Jamey Aebersold and Keith Jarrett are honored.
The composer and bandleader made his first recordings in the late 1940s. In the decades since, Heath has played with and written for everyone from Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie to Miles Davis and Milt Jackson.
Proulx performs Nat King Cole’s “The Frim Fram Sauce,” Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes” and more.
McPartland and guest host Elvis Costello stroll down memory lane as she discusses her favorite moments from more than 700 episodes of Piano Jazz. Costello serenades McPartland with a moving version of “P.S. I Love You” and introduces a new song, “You Hung the Moon.”
Fit with rubbery keys and advanced electronics, the newly minted keyboard is designed to realistically mimic other instruments, thus allowing one player to sound like many. Christopher Werth speaks with the instrument’s inventor, Roland Lamb, to understand just how it works.
Former New Jersey poet laureate Amiri Baraka, born LeRoi Jones, died on Thursday. A contemporary of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, his later work was strongly influenced by his commitment to Black Nationalist ideals. His poems were as controversial as they were influential.
Faced with a rapid tempo one night, Kenny Clarke devised a new way to play the beat on the ride cymbal. His “spang-a-lang,” and the rhythmic ideas it generated, wound up transforming the way we feel swing ever after.
The New York music marathon turns 10 this year and expands far beyond its modest origins, but it remains a place to discover new views of improvisation. Hear tunes from groups like the Jeff Ballard Trio, Tillery and Aruán Ortiz’s Orbiting Quartet.
Whether famous or obscure, dozens of artists, producers, documentarians and others who contributed to the music’s growth left us last year. Here’s a thorough list — and 12 who didn’t make all the headlines.
Much as families reunite around the holidays, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s artistic director convened his own family reunion of sorts at the end of the year. His working band of the ’90s — one of his best — came together again to ring in 2014.
The tables are turned, as McPartland sits at the guest bench to discuss her life as a performer and as the host of Piano Jazz. She reminisces about moments from the program’s early days; then, guest host Elvis Costello sings as McPartland plays “Our Love Is Here to Stay.”
The decorated young jazz singer describes his gospel roots and performs songs from Liquid Spirit.
A 24-year-old with a taste for finely aged songs, the vocalist was one of the breakout jazz stars of 2013. Accompanied by pianist Aaron Diehl’s trio, she performs at the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Festival.
A Jazz Messenger, a Young Lion, a New Orleans torchbearer, a mentor for new talent: when leading bands, the “King of Nouveau Swing” merges all that and more. The alto saxophonist leads a young rhythm section on New Year’s Eve.
The vocal gymnast comes from a musical family — his father was the first African American man to sing at the Metropolitan opera, and an important interpreter of spirituals. He sings his own takes on spirituals and then some — with his daughter.
The Cuban-born reedman has made a career out of crossing genres. So Chicago’s Latino Music Festival invited him to perform with a jazz rhythm section and a string quartet — and the Festival’s own director gets into the act.
Every month, the Colorado-born sextet of over 20 years gathers from far and wide at the Denver club Dazzle. This particular month, Convergence welcomed a special guest on the Hammond B-3 organ from Los Angeles.
Celebrated jazz pianist Marcus Roberts is releasing three albums simultaneously. One is a 12-movement suite titled From Rags to Rhythm. The other two are collaborations with the now-famous trumpeter who helped launch his career.
Wilson is a bandleader dedicated to the infinite possibilities of jazz. Hear a 2006 session.
Assisted by members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, the trumpeter and bandleader offers a celebratory double helping of the early pioneers — and adds an “Auld Lang Syne” for good measure.
The late jazz multi-instrumentalist, a bluesy experimentalist, was known for his soulful, internationally flavored music. He died Monday at 93. For one struggling photographer, he was also close counsel for more than a decade.
The hot and historic band from New Orleans brings us a tuba-wielding Santa and some original holiday cheer and praise — what its members call a Cajun Christmas from the French Quarter. The goal here is simple: to bring you joy.
The Big Phat Band makes its Monterey Jazz Festival debut with “Rhapsody in Blue” and “Hunting Wabbits,” inspired by Carl Stalling’s 1940s scores for Warner Brothers cartoons. The music tumbles all over itself.
American Routes host Nick Spitzer calls in to chat with NPR’s David Greene about a few noteworthy Christmas contributions from some of jazz music’s most revered and beloved artists.
In a year where pop culture looked back at the 1960s, it makes sense that jazz critics lauded the 80-year-old Shorter, who made his first recording in 1959. His latest album displays him as enigmatic as ever — and as committed to finding new sounds.
We asked 136 jazz journalists to pick their favorite albums that came out this year. Out of over 700 nominees, here are their collective top 50 picks, along with top finishers in the Latin jazz, vocal, debut and reissue categories.
You could look at Michele Rosewoman’s New Yor-uba band as reuniting cousins who’ve drifted apart: jazz, and folkloric Cuban music with its own family ties to the slave coast of West Africa.
Cline expertly shifts from one genre to another, with an emphasis on melodic improv and minimalism. Hear the guitarist and composer perform songs from 2009′s Coward in this archived session from the same year.
With a career derailed due to severe hand problems, Amadie found a way to play the music he loved.
Baum’s latest music is inspired by the late Pakistani vocalist Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, one of the most celebrated voices in the world. While Khan died more than 15 years ago, Baum talks about his influence on her new album, In This Life.
NPR’s Melissa Block talks with music critic Tom Moon about three recently released live recordings, all from around 1970, that each capture an artist at a distinct point of change in his career.
Italian pianist Stefano Bollani stretches the limits of imagination with improvisations ranging from quirky to transcendent. Virtuoso technique and a keen harmonic sense bolster Bollani’s improvisations, which are influenced as much by Charlie Parker as Prokofiev and Zappa.
Every year, NPR Music invites some of the world’s best jazz keyboard players to Washington, D.C., for a special performance of holiday tunes. Hear Stanley Cowell, Sullivan Fortner, Michele Rosewoman and Andy Bey play live.
The guitarist, composer and arranger died in his sleep Tuesday at 83. Hall was known for a subtle, lyrical playing style, a gift for innovation and collaborations with a host of talented musicians in a career that stretched more than seven decades. Hear an interview from 1989.
The vocalist mixes funk with electric soul in a live tribute to Jimi Hendrix and James Brown in Chicago. When Dee Alexander launches into the James Brown half of the show, she yells to the crowd, “Everybody down here on the floor. I don’t want to dance by myself!”
Hear public radio stations’ favorite songs of the year — from jazz to indie rock to cutting-edge classical. A wide range of programmers sent NPR Music their Top 10 lists, and we gathered all the tracks into one mighty stream.
“This is it,” Webb said of Fitzgerald. “I have a real singer now. That’s what the public wants.”
The guitarist said he didn’t “really have all that much technique anyway,” but it was clearly enough to influence half a century of jazz musicians. Peers and proteges like Sonny Rollins, Julian Lage and John Scofield reflect on one of the finest ever on his instrument.
One’s seen the world with countless jazz, country and other artists. He’ll be releasing his new album on a new label owned by his big brother and fellow percussionist. The Shreveport, La. siblings talk growing up together and the lessons of gospel master Brady Blade Sr.
Saxophonist Jean Fineberg and drummer Allison Miller join the trumpeter in a 2006 session.
The songs were a byproduct of slavery in the U.S. But after being passed along by generations of African-American musicians, they were later embraced by a variety of improvisers, including Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Grant Green and John Coltrane.
With six concerts spread over eight discs, Wood Flute Songs documents the bassist’s exhaustive and creative live output.
After releasing his fourth album earlier this year, the alto saxophonist premieres a new set of compositions: a suite for jazz octet inspired by A.A. Milne’s poetry for children. He visits his alma mater on Dec. 11 to introduce the music in a live broadcast.
One of the world’s great percussionists leads a band driven by decades-long friendships, emotionally resonant anthems and flying drumsticks. With a new album on the way, the Fellowship reunites in New York for a week. Watch a live webcast on Dec. 10.
In 1986, the iconic jazz pianist experimented with drums, bass and electric guitar in his home studio. Decades later, he’s finally released the tapes. Reviewer Banning Eyre says that on No End, Jarrett seems to cherish rediscovering a side of his younger self.
Jazz bassist and composer Ben Allison looks back on an era when sci-fi sounds began infiltrating popular music, and discusses his new album, The Stars Look Very Different Today.
Host Rachel Martin is joined by pianist Batiste and his band, who hope to make jazz transcend genres and generations, as they play live at NPR’s headquarters.
Hear the former Bill Evans Trio bassist play “Stella by Starlight” with host Marian McPartland.
At the KC Jazz Club, Moran sets up two tunes with pre-produced field recordings and sound montages, including a unique take on Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose.” Hear Moran’s long-running trio The Bandwagon in a set recorded in Washington, D.C.
A linchpin of “cool” jazz in the 1950s and ’60s, he assembled bands that came to be described as chamber jazz, full of unusual textures and future star talent. Hamilton, who continued performing into his ninth decade, was 92.
Grammy-winning musician Esperanza Spalding is pushing for the closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention center in a new protest music video called “We Are America.” She tells guest host Celeste Headlee why she feels it’s an important cause.
The pianist is a musician for whom creativity is a credo and improvisation a way of life. Transforming brilliant technique into unbridled creativity is not only Werner’s musical mission; it’s also the subject of his popular book, Effortless Mastery. Hear an interview and performance.
The pianist’s first visit to France and the 3,000-seat Salle Pleyel concert hall ended in disaster. Fifteen years later, after he became an international star, Monk returned to the same stage with his own band, planning a surprise.
Singer-songwriter and pianist Anthony Strong, 29, waited until he could create something “authentic” before launching his solo career. Now, he’s mining the classic jazz-pop tradition on his new album, Steppin’ Out.
The jazz multi-instrumentalist and composer embarked on a spiritual journey that spanned years before he was able to complete his new record. In a discussion with NPR’s Arun Rath, Nash talks about starting from square one in educating himself about Hindu philosophy.
Glasper jams with host Marian McPartland on Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance” in a 2006 session.
The trumpeter composes with jazz and Arabic materials, and mixes instruments from both sides of the world. Marvel at the musical flow — even in non-Western modes and odd, long meters at breakneck speeds — in this set, recorded live at the Newport Jazz Festival.
It’ll take at least three guys to move Larry Goldings’ instrument of choice into a basement jazz club. But it also lets the keyboardist explore all his control freak tendencies. He explains the appeal of the legendary electric organ, a staple of gospel and soul music.
Down-home and majestic, the tenor saxophonist’s sound was like a cane stalk shooting up out of rich earth. His 1960 album The Book Cooks features fellow sax-man Zoot Sims in a friendly square-off.
As a bandleader in the 1960s and ’70s, Smith wrote timeless music — and secured that label during the ’80s and ’90s, when hip-hop producers sampled his work left and right. NPR’s Arun Rath speaks with Smith on the occasion of a new album that revives the out-of-print gems of a six-decade career.
The jazz vibraphone pioneer played with Stan Getz and Chick Corea, was an early adopter of jazz fusion, and became the Dean of Berklee College of Music. He’s now past retirement age, but in a session with guitarist Julian Lage, his flying four-mallet technique hasn’t slowed a bit.
An in-demand singer and pianist, Walesch has earned fans across the Midwest, one jazz club and piano bar at a time. Hear him perform three songs live on stage in Grand Marais, Minn.
Anderson shares his “musical memoir” of growing up in 1960s Chicago with a live version of his Sweet Chicago Suite at the Newport Jazz Festival. His scaled-down Pocket Brass Band aims to sound like a full-sized jazz marching band.
Giordano has been obsessed with 1920s jazz since he first heard it on his grandparents’ Victrola. His band the Nighthawks performs the music heard on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.
When their busy schedules align, the three jazz sidemen come together as a trio. Their format isn’t earth-shatteringly new — it’s built on classic sonorities in which Hammond B3 organ meets electric guitar — but after nearly 25 years as a band, their rapport is. Watch a live concert.
Alchemy is a step forward in defining and refining the trumpeter’s mix of jazz and Iraqi rhythms.
The pianist and club owner plays Cole Porter’s “So in Love” with host Marian McPartland in 2006.
He had gigs before and enjoyed prominent freelance work afterward. But the mellow saxophone and flute player’s career was kickstarted by spending more than a decade in the front row of Count Basie’s “New Testament” band.
In Nicole Mitchell’s words, “The flute and vibes coming together gives us the visual for Ice Crystal.” Hear the adventurous musician and composer play the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival with her quartet.
On this 2007 program, recorded before a live audience at the John F. Kennedy Center, Taylor performs his tunes “In Loving Memory” and “If You Really Are Concerned.”
The pianist loves water and music. Inspired by a trip along the Pacific Northwest, The Coastal Suite spins out as one uninterrupted arc. JazzSet captures the broadcast premiere at the Ibeam in New York.
The trumpeter and bandleader premiered his gospel-jazz Abyssinian Mass back in 2008. But now, accompanied by a 70-voice choir, he’s taking the sprawling work on the road and into African-American churches — whose services were the inspiration for the piece.
Chicago bassist Matt Ulery writes beautiful music in an unpretentious way. It’s intricate stuff, with interlocking parts and multiple sections, but it comes out sounding folky and simple. His small group, featuring bass clarinet and accordion, has it down pat.
The jazz legend practiced his saxophone 10 to 15 hours a day before he got his big break, and while he wasn’t the most reliable husband, when it came to music, he never wavered. Scholar Stanley Crouch’s Kansas City Lightning is the first of a two-volume biography of Parker.
The Broadway and screen actress known for her Tony-winning role in Cats, among many other major productions, has recorded 15 solo albums with another on the way. Along with musical director Kenny Werner, she joined Marian McPartland in 2007 for a session of standards.
Professing love for Bob James’ music can yield a side-eye in some circles, as his 1970s work is seen as a progenitor to smooth jazz. But he certainly knew his way around a catchy melody and an infectious riff — as legions of rap and house producers have discovered through sampling.
Costello joins host Marian McPartland and bassist Gary Mazzaroppi to perform “At Last” and more.
At 27, bandleader Trombone Shorty is already an icon in his hometown. So he’s giving back: Through his own foundation, the “supafunkrock” brass player is nurturing even younger talent in local schools.
The saxophonist, 24, came to the U.S. from Chile with little money and less command of English. But she did have some serious ability at the saxophone, which has now found footing in the New York scene. She visits her alma mater to perform with her international band.
The jazz pianist uses his new record to recall works of yesteryear and simultaneously illustrate his new sense of direction.
Growing up in Chile, Melissa Aldana insisted on playing in clubs and transcribed solos like mad — as her father did before her. Now, at 24, she’s won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition for young musicians, and her youthful dedication is beginning to pay off.
The multi-instrumentalist joins Marian McPartland for Duke Ellington and Gershwin tunes in 1997.
Talent, dedication, a skill at adapting classical dances to jazz formats — these are some of Sung’s musical and personal qualities that make her one to watch and listen to. Hear a set from the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival.
Widely recognized as one of the preeminent interpreters of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Eliane Elias has lately begun exploring the works of Bill Evans. She plays and sings a previously unreleased Evans tune, “Here Is Something for You,” for which she has written a lyric, and host Marian McPartland gives her own Evans tribute on “B Minor Waltz.”