Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are masters of irony and erudition. The pair perform their Steely Dan hit “Josie” and standards “Mood Indigo” and “Hesitation Blues.”
Metal superstar Robert Trujillo never spoke with the late Jaco Pastorius. But Trujillo is funding a film and a new compilation of demo recordings from his personal bass guitar hero.
Longtime friends and collaborators Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter headline the numerous performing artists, ensembles and recordings awarded for achievement in the year 2013.
Cape Cod’s “First Lady of Jazz” performs a medley of tunes by Fats Waller, her stride-piano mentor, in this session from 1983.
The singer performs two of Billie Holiday’s signature songs, “Loverman” and “God Bless the Child,” and discusses the haunting experience of portraying Holiday onstage.
Structured and free, sonic and rhythmic, poems and jazz music seem like natural partners. For National Poetry Month and Jazz Appreciation Month, here are some notable collisions between the two.
The trombonist and three fellow musicians from Houston started one of jazz’s most popular groups in the 1960s. As the times changed, so did their music — and their success magnified further.
In a 2002 session, Miller’s unique harmonic and rhythmic style comes through in his composition, “Carousel.” He also joins host Marian McPartland for Duke Ellington’s “What Am I Here For?”
On this episode of Piano Jazz, host Marian McPartland accompanies Reeves in “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise” and “Million Dollar Secret.”
The great jazz photographer Chuck Stewart recently found six rolls of 50-year-old film in his archive. They contained previously unpublished shots of John Coltrane recording his masterpiece.
Whether executing the new visions of his peers or fielding calls from veterans, few young jazz guitarists are as highly tipped. Matthew Stevens leads a band in songs from his forthcoming debut album.
On Feb. 5, 1953, Powell was uncommunicative face to face at the New York jazz club Birdland. But when he sat at the keys, it was a whole other story.
Marian McPartland joins the pianist and horn player in “Yesterdays” and “Nadine’s Blues” in 1988.
With his heady, bop-rooted explorations of improvised music, pianist and composer Hill stretched the boundaries of jazz. He demonstrated his mastery of melody, rhythm and technique in a 2005 session.
Rene Marie, Allan Harris and Carla Cook are in sweet harmony with a message in this concert from the KC Jazz Club in Washington, D.C.
A jazz trio plays the score to Igor Stravinsky’s gloriously noisy, 101-year-old fever dream of a ballet as literally as possible — and still manages to sound like itself.
One of the most talked-about names in jazz, the 32-year-old trumpeter is more auteur than star. In an extended interview, he explains why it’s crucial to let his collaborators think for themselves.
Brackeen, the only female alumnus of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, plays originals, standards and a few Ornette Coleman-inspired tunes with host Marian McPartland.
Sutton and host Michael Feinstein compare back-to-back versions of jazz standards “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Without a Song” in a session.
Host Marian McPartland talks to her longtime friend and idol on the first episode, recorded in 1978 with Williams and bassist Ronnie Boykins.
“The beauty was in the rawness,” says the violinist, who based her latest album around field recordings from the American South.
In January, the North American jazz drummer Harris Eisenstadt spent two weeks studying percussion in Matanzas and Havana. Here’s what he gained from the experience.
The young trumpeter may be the most buzzed-about, sought-after player of his generation. Does the broad vision of his new album live up to the outsized expectations?
The Baltimore native plays mean piano and drums, but he’s made his biggest mark as a bandleader with his mallets. The jazz vibraphonist visits his alma mater to lead his quintet in concert.
The Grammy Award-winning singer joins host Michael Feinstein to talk about his own musical evolution. McFerrin demonstrates his a cappella style and performs songs from Porgy and Bess.
Coltrane performs her own “Transfiguration” and joins host Marian McPartland in “Giant Steps.”
Eric Dolphy’s creativity was exploding early in 1964, and he was finding more players who could keep up. Out to Lunch is free and focused, dissonant and catchy, wide open and swinging all at once.
Thanks to prohibition and trains, the Canadian city became known as a nightlife capital. A web documentary traces how Oscar Peterson and others emerged from the black neighborhood of Little Burgundy.
Piano Jazz remembers the musician, composer, arranger and band leader with this 1998 session, recorded before an audience at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.
Danilo Pérez got his start playing piano with Dizzy Gillespie. The celebrated composer’s latest project is an ambitious one: 500 years of trade, exploration and colonization represented in music.
Growing up in Denver, Rudy and Shamie Royston dreamed about moving to a jazz hub like New York. After a few welcome delays to teach and raise a family, they’re beginning to pursue careers as performing musicians.
Though she’s only 16, jazz phenom Grace Kelly has already played with a host of jazz legends, including Phil Woods and Wynton Marsalis. As if her early sax stardom weren’t enough, Kelly has recently begun singing, as well. She displays her vocal acumen in “East of the Sun” before showing off her sax skills in “‘Round Midnight.”
It may seem as if jazz recordings have slowed to a flurry, but it’s more like a blizzard, with dozens already coming down in the new year. Hear highlights from a few albums worth shoveling out, by Archie Shepp, Edward Simon, James Brandon Lewis and more.
There is something tender and specific about the ways elders like Frank Wess shaped their notes.
Facing no interest from record labels, jazz bassist Mimi Jones made two albums under her own imprint. Along the way, she signed two “amazing, bad-ass” musicians — who also happen to be black female instrumentalists.
On Feb. 12, 1964 a high-stakes gig and some backstage tension led to a singular performance caught on tape.
In 1980, the pianist plays his tune “N.P.S.” and duets with host Marian McPartland in “Lover Man.”
When the prolific composer died in 1974, he left one of his most ambitious projects unfinished. Forty years later, admirers are still trying to fill in the blanks.
In a program from 1987, Hancock solos on “Dolphin Dance” and then improvises with Marian McPartland.
On Sixteen Sunsets, the soprano saxophonist varies and honors melody like Billie Holiday.
Sixty years ago, a jazz pianist found himself in much the same bittersweet position as a rapper did on Sunday night. Surely proud of their hard work, they also sensed that their privilege as white musicians had something to do with their new success.
Many Shanghai jazz standards of the 1930s and ’40s were banned in China after the Chinese Communist Party took over. But they reemerged decades later through cover versions. Now, the songs are back again in a new cover album by a Chinese-American electronic artist and a jazz singer from Shanghai.
The innovative guitarist plays “Blue Monk” with host Marian McPartland in a session from 2003.
The 1930s-style “viper jazz” band swings with rock ‘n’ roll fury in a live studio session.
When he was studying jazz in the ’50s and becoming a revered guitarist, Kenny Burrell vowed to teach the subject one day. Now, decades after his first class, he’s never committed more to music education.
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 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.
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.
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.