Jazz Albums of the Week

Every week on the air there's a special focus on one particular jazz album. Check them all out here!

August 24, 2020. Champian Fulton’s first paid gig was playing Clark Terry’s 75th birthday party. She was 10 years old. Now, at 35, the pianist and vocalist is more than just precocious and well-connected; she’s ambitious, too—averaging nearly one new release every year since her 2007 debut. But her latest, Birdsong, released to coincide with Charlie Parker’s centennial, might be her loosest and most joyful recording to date.

August 17, 2020. A group of musicians from a place called Hell’s Kitchen exhorting you to smile might seem a little presumptuous in times like these. Then again, what do you have to lose?

August 10, 2020. When legendary saxophonist Jimmy Heath passed away on January 19th, Philadelphia lost one of our upper-echelon of jazz—a high priest, if you will. Less than two months later, we lost McCoy Tyner and Danny Ray Thompson.

Augut 3, 2020. Instead of telling people about the benefits of ethnic and cultural diversity, sometimes it’s more effective to just show them. And then, all of a sudden, to paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, the medium—jazz in this case—becomes the message.

July 27, 2020. Guitarist Dave Stryker has had massive success in the jazz world, with numerous albums as a leader, and a fun approach to playing jazz. Bob Mintzer is a master arranger and conductor. He is so great at what he does that he is now the principal conductor of the world class WDR Big Band. These three forces came together to create Blue Soul, a fun collaboration that celebrates Stryker’s work.

July 20, 2020. Turns out Winnipeg, the capital and largest city of the Canadian province of Manitoba, is more than just a cold, forbidding outpost that once lost— and has since regained— its NHL franchise. It’s also a not-half-bad place for jazz.

July 13, 2020. Back in 2007, the Philly jazz scene was excited for the young homegrown bassist who was on Terence Blanchard’s Grammy-nominated album A Tale of God’s Will. That bassist, Derrick Hodge, went on to play with big names in the Neo Soul and R&B scene, and other jazz greats like Mulgrew Miller and Robert Glasper. Hodge put all of this experience together, and came out with Color of Noize, his first release (as a leader) to use a live jazz band throughout.

July 6, 2020. Trained in jazz and forged in funk, alto saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin grew up hooked on Coltrane—Alice Coltrane. A friend introduced her to the music of John’s second wife, and she became enthralled. It wasn’t until some time later that Benjamin learned who John Coltrane was and that he could play a little, too.

[Originally published in June, 2019] Sometimes in music, especially jazz, we call a particularly ambitious new album “a project,” especially when the music is something more, the perfect vehicle to deliver an impactful story. With 400: An African American Musical Portrait, bassist Avery Sharpe hasn’t just released a new album—he’s unveiled a serious project.

June 22, 2020. Inspired by the protest music of the '60s that helped dismantle the codified racism of that era, bassist Marlene Rosenberg’s latest album, MLK Convergence, released almost exactly a year ago, presents a new catalogue of socially conscious compositions with the exigency of our current moment in mind, taking aim at the vestiges of institutionalized prejudice that continue to link America to its original sin.

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