The ever-evolving Pat Metheny constantly experiments with new technology, honing his improvisational skills and refining his unique style. On this episode of Piano Jazz, Pat Metheny performs with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Antonio Sanche.
Written by John Kessler Bo Diddley may not have had the commercial success of some other performers, but his contributions to American musical culture are huge. Besides his trademark “Bo Diddley beat,” he had a brash sense of style, dressing in outlandish outfits, playing custom-made square guitars and generally having a lot of fun on […]
Canadian vocalist, Holly Cole, is one of greatest song interpreters alive. She can take a song you think you know and bring something out of it that you’ve never heard before. For example, her latest CD, Night, contains Holly’s inventive re-imagining of a James Bond theme (You Only Live Twice), as well as songs by […]
Written by Robin Lloyd. Charles Mingus was a virtuoso bass player, accomplished pianist, bandleader and composer. Influenced both by church choirs and Duke Ellington, he studied double bass and composition with classical masters. Mingus played and recorded with the leading musicians of the 1950′s– Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Duke Ellington […]
Written by John Kessler Repression of African Americans didn’t stop at the end of the Civil War, and prisons and chain gangs were full of black people arrested for minor violations. This song, “Another Man Done Gone”, tells of the death of a man on one of those chain gangs. Folklorist Alan Lomax recorded Vera […]
Written by Robin Lloyd Bassist Buster Williams is a living legend of jazz,who has worked with Miles Davis, Count Basie, Herbie Hancock, Art Blakey, Chet Baker, McCoy Tyner, Woody Shaw, Benny Golson, and Kenny Baron, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson. Williams has been making music on stage for over 50 years. He learned acoustic bass and drums from […]
As NPR’s employees file their federal returns and take up shop in a new building, we look back at an interesting historical moment in the 1940s. A cabaret tax led to more jazz being performed in smaller venues that couldn’t accommodate dancing. Of course, that’s not the only reason why bebop sounds the way it does.
Written by Robin Lloyd Herbie Mann was among the first jazz musicians to specialize on the flute and was jazz music’s preeminent flautist during the 1960s, an early pioneer of the fusion of jazz and world music. When Mann began playing flute in 1940s, there weren’t many jazz flautists to learn from, no pioneers of jazz flute to idolize. He […]
Written by John Kessler Lonnie Johnson was one of the first American guitar masters, with a style that bridged jazz and blues, as well as country styles. Though often labeled as a “blues” player, he was versatile and accomplished enough to be a guest artist with Louis Armstong’s Hot Five in 1927, and with […]
In this studio session singer, Jackie Ryan, gives us three of her favorites: a gospel-tinged version of Accentuate The Positive, a beautiful reading of I Loves You, Porgy and the Spanish-language song, La Puerta, dedicated to her mother. As you’ll hear Jackie say in this interview, she grew up singing. After years as a touring R&B singer, Jackie discovered jazz […]
Written by John Kessler Willie Dixon didn’t make his career writing songs about people who behaved themselves, and “Back Door Man” is no exception — it’s about a guy who cheats and then brags about it. Songs like this were well suited to the larger-than-life Howlin’ Wolf, who was already a well-established, middle-aged bluesman when […]
Written by John Kessler Sleepy John Estes was a master of country blues with a “down-home” feeling. A little rough around the edges, but loaded with emotion. Though his music wasn’t complex, his songs have lasted through the years, and have been sung by Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan. In his 1935 recording of “Someday […]
It’s one of the defining songs of the Blues, written by one of its formative figures, Son House. The opening lyric “Woke up this morning…” would be considered trite today, but its 1930 recording date makes it more iconic than anything. With its simple but insistent guitar rhythm and mournful lyrics, “Walkin’ Blues” is a […]
It’s another one of those mysteries — who actually wrote “One Way Out”? Elmore James recorded it in 1961, but didn’t release it until ’65. Sonny Boy Williamson released a version in 1961 and 1965 and G.L. Crockett had a 1965 hit with the same song under a different name. Elmore James’ 1961 recording is […]
Muddy Waters was born in rural Mississippi, and learned his blues at the feet of Son House and Robert Johnson. By the 1940’s he took that delta blues to Chicago and led the gradual transition to electrified urban blues. He then recorded “Honey Bee” in 1951 with just bass and guitar accompaniment. The sound was […]
By Nick Morrison During his 84 years on the planet, Yip Harburg contributed brilliant lyrics to some of the finest melodies of the American popular song canon. Most of his songs were originally written for Broadway shows or Hollywood musicals. Finian’s Rainbow is probably his most popular stage work, but he’s best known for working with composer […]
It’s one of the most iconic songs from New Orleans, and like the city, it’s origin and meaning are a product of may different influences. Its meaning is still being debated by scholars and linguists, but “Iko Iko” was first recorded in 1953 by James “Sugar Boy” Crawford, who wrote the pop song “Jock-A-Mo” based […]
By John Kessler Most blues started in the country before becoming urbanized, and Bukka White brought his brand of Mississippi blues to Chicago in the 1930’s and 40’s. It is likely that he met and learned from elemental bluesman Charley Patton, and he was known for playing a National steel guitar with a slide. He […]
Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup has been called the “father of rock and roll” for writing the song that launched Elvis Presley’s career. His own career had a rough start– after migrating from Mississippi around 1940, he was living on the Chicago streets, playing for tips. His unique, though unpolished sound was distinctive enough to land […]
Little Walter made a harmonica sound like nothing that had been heard before – somewhere between a saxophone and an electric guitar. By the early 1950’s he not only used amplification, he used the amp to creatively alter his sound with distortion and sonic effects. You might say he was the Jimi Hendrix of the […]
Earl King is one of the great songwriters and performers to come out of New Orleans, and his legacy continues to live on. Many of his compositions, including “Big Chief,” “Trick Bag” and “These Lonely, Lonely Nights” have become an important part of the New Orleans “songbook.” His 1960 recording of “Come On Pts. 1 […]
In the midst of the U.S. civil rights movement, pianist and composer Randy Weston found himself in Morocco, where he incorporated African musical forms and musicians in his recorded work. Weston returns to Piano Jazz with host Marian McPartland to perform “A Ballad for T.,” “Little Niles” and “African Lady.”
Columbia Records’ latest release from the jazz maverick’s vault is a three-CD, one-DVD live compilation. The previously unreleased material captures a little-known burst of creativity, recorded between two vastly different periods in Davis’ career.
Once he had established himself as a world-class saxophonist, Joshua Redman moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he grew up. Soon afterward, he co-founded the SFJAZZ Collective. With his successor in the tenor sax chair, Joe Lovano, the band runs through “Blackwell’s Message,” a jaunty, open swinger to ring in the opening of the new SFJAZZ Center.