NPR Music

Philadelphia lost seven great musicians in the first four months of 2020. As a matter of cultural endowment, the loss represents the equivalent of whole libraries reduced to ash. These elders were the children of auto mechanics, beauticians, restaurant workers, scientists, unionizers and ministers — people who added measurable value to their communities. Each of the departed took the lived experience of Black America and articulated it with an instrument. They nurtured generations of musicians in this calling.

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Since 2017, Slingshot—a collaboration between NPR Music and the digital music service VuHaus—has provided a platform where 'taste-making' music stations share stories about the music scene and emerging artists in their communities. Now, Slingshot is shining a spotlight on jazz in Philadelphia: its history, its present, and its future, with stories produced by WRTI.

This is a glimpse, a cross-section of some of the most impactful bass players to have come out of Philadelphia. Sometimes their respective impacts were local, sometimes national, sometimes global. Collectively, they've excelled in several different eras and idioms, from bebop and hard bop, to free jazz and post-bop and fusion, all the way through Philly Soul and R&B to hip-hop.

Weather Report founder Joe Zawinul once famously declared that the city produced "the world's greatest bassists." This list will show you why.

Philadelphia's Best Of The Bass, Part 1 includes WRTI's 8 favorite bebop and hard bop players. The list of some of the most impactful bass players to have come out of Philadelphia continues with this group of jazz, rock, funk, and fusion bassists.


The cohort of carefully selected emerging jazz musicians that make up the LUQ Boysie Lowery Living Jazz Residency collaborate to perform original works that forward the creative ideas of its namesake, Robert "Boysie" Lowery.

As America and the world reexamine race and equality, creatives are addressing these issues by producing art and music. NPR Music stations invited artists to join the the national discussion—and Philadelphia-based Vocussionist Bethlehem Roberson responded with her piece, "Evolution."

It's Jazz Appreciation Month, and WRTI is highlighting vocalist Laurin Talese as part of a diverse playlist featuring both established and emerging women from around Philadelphia and around the world.

Sandlin Gaither

January 13, 2020. Jonathan Scales Fourchestra sessions—filmed as part of the noncomMUSIC Alliance's debut of the 2019 Public Radio Music Sumit—showcase the band’s impressive and unexpected instrumental charms that weave elements of funk, soul, R&B, jazz, Latin, fusion, and more.

Christopher Andrew McDonald

NPR's recent debut of its new microsite, Live Sessions From NPR Music Stations Across America, now features “Philly Jazz,” a mix of music videos curated by WRTI. J. Michael Harrison is executive producer of WRTI’s jazz series.

Only it wasn't a tie, exactly. I abhor ties more than nature does a vacuum. Ties are unlikely, if not impossible, in the poll's upper echelons. The rules are cleverly designed to circumvent them. See those parenthetical figures next to the point totals?

1 (tie). Rudresh Mahanthappa, Bird Calls (ACT). 350 (53)

1. (tie). Maria Schneider, The Thompson Fields (ArtistShare). 350 (49)

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