Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 12:05 pm
This episode of Piano Jazz features the unique music of soprano saxophonist Paul Winter. He joins host Marian McPartland, along with bassist Gary Mazzaroppi and drummer Glenn Davis, for a set of ballads and originals. The set also features an additional special soloist — a humpback whale.
"It was very impressive," remembers McPartland. "And we don't often do a show so full of ballads. It was a different sort of show."
People often asked Kevin Eubanks during his 15 years leading the band on NBC every night, "What would you like to do when you leave The Tonight Show?" And he would answer, "I'm going to get to finish a tune."
His answer implies that he needs a few minutes. But he means more than that.
Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 8:01 am
Drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath, 77, has certainly played thousands of gigs like this one, where he's hired to bring his casual brilliance to the extended songbook of jazz standards. After all, he played on John Coltrane's first album as a leader, and with every other name in hard bop from the late 1950s onward. In contrast, pianist Ethan Iverson's schedule currently revolves around touring with The Bad Plus, a band whose repertoire almost entirely omits common-practice jazz.
If you ever listened to jazz vocalists and wondered if you could ever in your life scat like them, there's someone who's willing to teach you. The vocalist Rhiannon has long held the importance of improvisation as a personal credo, and in her career has blended that art form with jazz, world music and storytelling.
Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 12:12 pm
Hank Williams was a great singer-songwriter who forged his own brand of honky-tonk music from a variety of influences: country, folk, blues, gospel and jazz. Yes, jazz.
If you haven't listened to his music in a while you might not recall — Williams had swing. And even if some jazz listeners have forgotten that fact, many jazz players haven't. Here then are five jazz artists out of many who have taken Williams' music and put their own spins on it.
Marian McPartland recalls meeting singer Melissa Walker for the first time in the "powder room" at Birdland. McPartland was immediately taken with the young singer's glowing personality — and she probably heard hints of Walker's warm and rich vocals in the few words they exchanged that night.
"She's got such a wonderful voice," recalls McPartland. "The tunes she did aren't heard too often, they were very well done though. I enjoyed that session."
Juan-Carlos Formell participated in a multi-artist showcase at SOB's — home to Brazilian and Latin music in New York — a few years ago. Between a couple of amped-up bands, he took the stage alone (as I recall) and sang in Spanish, accompanying himself on guitar. His voice had urgency to it, and there was an irresistible engine inside that guitar. Ever since, I've wanted to hear and know more.
Saxophonist Jan Garbarek was a teenage protege of American composer George Russell in Norway in the 1960s and later played in Keith Jarrett's Scandinavian quartet. More recently, he has collaborated with the vocal quartet the Hilliard Ensemble, improvising as they sing medieval music.
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 5:13 pm
Saxophonist Branford Marsalis, oldest son of New Orleans pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis, released an album with his quartet this week. He spoke to weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz about the failings of modern jazz, his hopes for the next generation and leaving New York City to move back to the South.