Tom Cole

Classical guitarist John Williams reached millions of ears and even hit the charts when he played the main theme to the Oscar-winning 1978 film The Deer Hunter. But by then, Williams was already a classical star on a major record label who'd toured the world many times over.

He released his latest album, On The Wing, earlier this year. And although he announced a retirement from touring a few years ago, he's now 76 and still plays every day.

"But I love doing it so it's not a problem," he says.

Mention Austria and music in the same phrase and some people will think Haydn and Mozart. Others will think of The Sound of Music, with its singing Von Trapp family. In recent years, another musician has been added to this list: Wolfgang Muthspiel, one of the most respected jazz guitarists playing today.

Derek Gripper was a musician with a problem. He'd been playing classical music since he was 6 years old — violin, then piano and finally guitar. He was poised for an international career as a classical guitarist. But he remembers going to the homeland of one of his favorite composers, Johann Sebastian Bach.

"It felt kind of strange," he says. "It felt strange to be in Germany playing Bach to them."

Jean-Baptiste "Toots" Thielemans, the Belgian-American musician who cut a singular path as a jazz harmonica player, died in his sleep Monday in his hometown of Brussels. He was 94.

Jazz guitarist John Scofield has had a pretty remarkable career. Without even finishing music school, he found himself on the Carnegie Hall stage playing with jazz legends Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan. Then it was on to Miles Davis, his own successful jazz-funk fusion groups, and even greater exposure playing with jam bands.

"I consider the guitar as this sort of multi-faceted instrument," says Janet Feder, "that can make and do all of these other things."

Chime like a bell, or gong, buzz like a locust, or rattle and hum.

Guitarist and composer John Scofield's 2015 album is called Past Present. And that's what it is: four jazz musicians very much in the moment, looking back at events that informed the music they're playing—and listening back to a sound three of them created some 20 years ago.

It seemed as if he'd go on forever — and B.B. King was working right up until the end. It's what he loved to do: playing music, and fishing. Even late in life, living with diabetes, he spent about half the year on the road. King died Thursday night at home in Las Vegas. He was 89 years old.

Pianist Ralph Sharon, the longtime accompanist for Tony Bennett, died March 31 at age 91. In the audio link above, Tom Cole has a brief report for NPR's Morning Edition, and below, Walter Ray Watson filed this remembrance for NPR Music.

Pages