Jazz Profiles

Courtesy of the artist

Pioneering bassist and composer Jymie Merritt was born in Philadelphia in 1926. He died on Friday, April 10th, 2020 at age 93. No cause was given by his son, who posted the sad news on social media.

Legendary Jazz Pianist McCoy Tyner Has Died at Age 81

Mar 6, 2020

WRTI mourns the loss of jazz pianist extraordinaire McCoy Tyner who has died at age 81. The announcement of Mr. Tyner's passing was posted on his Facebook page: It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of jazz legend, Alfred “McCoy” Tyner. McCoy was an inspired musician who devoted his life to his art, his family and his spirituality.

Wikipedia Commons

The great Ella Fitzgerald was born on April 25th, 1917, and died in 1996. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, "The Queen of Jazz" - also called "The First Lady of Song," left a lasting legacy on American song and jazz.

Two great sax players were born on the same day, just three years apart. On February 2nd, 1924, Sonny Stitt was born in Boston, and Stan Getz made his first appearance in Philadelphia on the same day in 1927. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, each had his own style that would influence future generations.

The songs, or standards, known to us today as "The Great American Songbook" flourished from the mid 1920s to about 1950. Singer Carmen McRae popularized the term with her 1972 album, The Great American Songbook. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, a new book on the subject shines light on the role of jazz in the rise, fall, and rebirth of these great American songs.


 

Known for her distinctive singing, which she did most often from the keyboard, Shirley Horn studied classical music before turning to jazz in the 1950s.  In the early '60s she caught the attention of Miles  Davis, and then her career started to take off.

Jazz Superstar Christian McBride Still Has That Philly Pride

Apr 30, 2017
Tony Webb / City of Philadelphia, 2016

When the Newport Jazz Festival announced that Philadelphia-born musician Christian McBride would assume the role of its artistic director in 2017, festival founder and current producer George Wein said, "When I first met Christian McBride in 1989, I knew he was someone special.

The bass player, composer, band leader, arts and education advocate strikes people that way.  Along with his stand-out talent and engaging personality, McBride pays attention and seems to live in the moment.  That focus reaps rewards for McBride and for the rest of us.   

What is Gypsy Jazz?

Jan 9, 2017

Gypsy Jazz founders Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli were both born this month in the first decade of the 20th century. Rooted in African-American communities of the South, jazz became popular in Europe in the 1920s and '30s and influenced the development of other styles. WRTI's Susan Lewis has more on "Gypsy jazz."

Born in North Carolina in 1926, saxophone player and composer John Coltrane spent over a decade in Philadelphia and then moved to New York. WRTI's Susan Lewis considers the impact of Coltrane, who expanded the boundaries of jazz with a wide range of styles.

The Singular Voice of Saxophone Virtuoso Odean Pope

Sep 5, 2016

The Philadelphia-based tenor sax player and composer Odean Pope is known worldwide in jazz circles for his impeccable artistry and for his Saxophone Choir. He's had a steady gig at the Blue Note in NYC for many years, and is a longtime soloist with the Max Roach Quartet.

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