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.
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.
Written by Nick Morrison In the Western Hemisphere, January is typically the coldest month of the year. Most of us feel that if we can somehow drag ourselves through January, things will begin to turn around and we’ll be on the road to springtime. But January is also typically the month that feels as if […]
Grammy award-winning jazz vocalist, Dee Dee Bridgewater almost always performs with a band accompanying her, while pianist Benny Green is generally heard in a trio configuration and seldom works with vocalists (with the notable exception of being Betty Carter’s pianist when he was in his 20’s). So this session was a double treat: hearing […]
Thirty years after presenting its first concerts in San Francisco, the organization SFJAZZ has built a permanent home and performance venue. For its grand opening, masters like McCoy Tyner and Chick Corea rubbed shoulders with modern stars like Esperanza Spalding and the SFJAZZ Collective. WWOZ, WBGO and NPR Music present a live recording of the concert.
By Robin Lloyd On the day we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let’s revisit his thoughts on Jazz and Blues from his address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival: “God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create—and from this […]
The urban blues of places like Detroit and Chicago came from country blues. Little Son Joe and his better known partner Memphis Minnie were among the players who brought the blues to the cities, paving the way for Muddy Waters and others who would follow. Memphis Minnie is known as one of the best guitarists […]
Henry Thomas is literally a link to an earlier time. Born in 1874, his music is a patchwork of blues, rags and folk songs. His use of quills, or pan-pipes, is a relic of a nearly vanished African American tradition. Listening to Henry Thomas gives a glimpse of what music might have sounded like before […]
Blind Willie Johnson was a bluesman and a preacher. His lyrics were spiritual, and his music was blues. Though he only made 30 recordings, his work is a lasting part of the blues legacy. Early players like Son House and Fred McDowell played his tunes, and his influence reached people like Bob Dylan and Led […]
“I believe I’ll dust my broom” is an old saying meaning to make a new start. With that catchy phrase, and a distinctive guitar riff Robert Johnson created an important piece of blues history when he recorded “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom” in 1936. True to Johnson’s form, it synthesized existing musical elements in […]
Sonny Boy Williamson’s career had a wide range. He played with Robert Johnson in the 1930’s and with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page in the 1960’s. His ability to span eras is a testament to the timelessness of his voice and harmonica. Sonny Boy Williamson recorded “Help Me” in 1963, and it bears a striking […]
This song emphasizes the “rhythm” in “rhythm & blues.” “Mercy, Mercy” or “Have Mercy” was recorded by Don Covay in 1964. It features 22-year-old Jimi Hendrix on guitar. He’s still a few years away from his own solo career, but his guitar playing is recognizable. After his stint in the Army, Hendrix did gigs and […]
Graham Dechter is a 26-year-old jazz guitarist who is, indeed, currently living his dream. Graham was invited to join the world-famous Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra at age 19. Now, 7 years later, he is leading his own group and just released his second CD, “Takin’ It There.” Here is a video of the quartet performing the […]
It’s a modern blues standard with roots in the 1920’s, one of Willie Dixon’s many great compositions, and it can trace its origin in part to a Charlie Patton song from 1929: “A Spoonful Blues.” In 1960 Howlin’ Wolf recorded “Spoonful,” a track many consider one of the defining songs of modern blues. By the […]