Rudresh Mahanthappa creates an explosive blend of South Indian classical music and progressive jazz. A Guggenheim Fellow who's been named the Jazz Journalists Association's "Alto Saxophonist of the Year" for four years running, Mahanthappa makes innovative music that reflects his experience as a second-generation Indian-American. He shares his fascinating style and story on this episode of Piano Jazz.
"He didn't have the same chops and virtuosic approach like Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw, but he told a deep story," says Lovano, who played with Herman early in his career. "He was a blues player from his heart, and really had a beautiful voice on alto saxophone."
As a child in Bogotá, Edmar Castañeda and his sister took folk dance classes. Their mother made sure of that. Castañeda liked the dancing, but he really liked the live harp accompaniment. In Spanish, the harp is called the llanero. It's Colombian, not a classical harp.
Subway entertainers are a mixed bag, but in the arts mecca of New York City, they're often overqualified — so much so that bands and other musical acts need to audition to even set up underground. And those are just the "official" performers.
Tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin got his start at age 12, when he began playing in his vibraphonist father's band in Santa Cruz, Calif. That group played the Monterey Jazz Festival for three years. In 1984, McCaslin took a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston; while there, he performed regularly in the area with Ken Schaphorst's True Colors Big Band.
What is a mistake? By going through examples with his improvisational jazz quartet, Stefon Harris gets to a profound truth: many actions are perceived as mistakes only because we don't react to them appropriately.
The band Sexmob specializes in a distinct strain of deconstructionist improvised music: jazz that aims at fun by bouncing off the walls. The quartet has tackled James Bond music, rock covers, Duke Ellington, the Macarena and exotica, plus originals from leader Steven Bernstein.
Eddie Palmieri has been a force for Latin jazz since the 1950s, when he hosted the legendary mambo shows at New York's Palladium Ballroom. His groups, including the renowned La Perfecta, revolutionized Latin music in the 1960s and '70s. His records number more than 30 as a leader, and he's won nine Grammy Awards. At 76, Palmieri is still a foremost ambassador for the music he loves.