Jazz

Michel Camilo On Piano Jazz

Sep 14, 2018

Grammy-winning pianist, composer and bandleader Michel Camilo is one of the most fascinating jazz artists working today. A prodigy from the Dominican Republic, he began his professional career at the age of 16 as the youngest member of the National Symphony Orchestra. In his twenties, Camilo moved to New York City, where he took the jazz scene by storm with his whirlwind approach to music, technical brilliance and post-bop Latin rhythms. In this 1989 Piano Jazz session, Camilo plays his own composition "Nostalgia."

GoGo Penguin: Tiny Desk Concert

Sep 14, 2018

During his setup, GoGo Penguin's pianist Chris Illingworth asked if he could remove our piano cover to "access the inside" and, after a few rotations of a screwdriver, he soon handed me a long plank of black painted maple, which has no convenient place to rest in the NPR Music office. If you look closely at the piano innards during "Bardo," you can see a strip of black tape stretched over a few strings, opposite Illingworth's bobbing head. It mutes a group of strings, turning them into percussive jabs and dividing the instrument into more explicit rhythmic and melodic sections.

Wayne Shorter likes to tell a story about going to see Charlie Parker, the mercurial titan of bebop, sometime around 1951. Shorter was 18 at the time — a saxophonist, like Parker, and a bop obsessive already gigging around his hometown of Newark, N.J. He headed across the river into Manhattan, where Parker, colloquially known as Bird, was headlining at Birdland, the club named in Parker's honor.

Gene Harris On Piano Jazz

Aug 30, 2018

Pianist Gene Harris (1933 – 2000) was an integral part of the well-known group The Three Sounds trio, with bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Bill Dowdy. After a brief hiatus in the 1970s, Harris teamed up with bassist Ray Brown to form a new group and also made his way as a solo act. An accomplished leader and sideman, Harris played with such greats as Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls and B.B. King.

On this 1988 Piano Jazz episode, Harris opens with a slow and easy "Black and Blue," then Marian McPartland joins him on "Bag's Groove."

Esperanza Spalding Is The 21st Century's Jazz Genius

Aug 28, 2018

In the world of jazz, most musicians choose one single thing and get as good as humanly possible at it, but not Camille Thurman. She's known as a double threat: The rare jazz musician who has mastered both a highly technical instrument — in her case, the saxophone — and sings. Thurman's vocals have been compared to Ella Fitzgerald. Her latest album, Waiting for the Sunrise, is out now.

"It used to be: 'Nashville — that's where you come to play country music.'"

Stefon Harris On Piano Jazz

Aug 17, 2018

Vibraphonist Stefon Harris is one of the most innovative and impressive artists in jazz, blazing new trails on vibraphone and marimba. While much of his music is on the cutting edge, he has a strong sense of tradition and his technical facility knows no bounds.

On this 2002 Piano Jazz, Harris shows off his fresh, clear sound on a number of duets with McPartland, including "Whisper Not," "Blue Monk," and "Bemsha Swing." McPartland solos on her own "Twilight World."

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