Jazz

From Lionel Hampton to Milt Jackson, to Bobby Hutcherson and beyond, every jazz generation has had its swinging heroes on the vibraphone. Since around the turn of the century, we've had a leading light in Stefon Harris.

Before the lockdown, harpist Brandee Younger and double bassist Dezron Douglas were constantly on the road, usually spending time apart as they toured with artists such as Makaya McCraven and Enrico Rava. This quarantine has allowed these college sweethearts to shine radiantly together as a duo.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Ambrose Akinmusire was in the eighth grade, a budding trumpeter in Oakland, Calif., when he made his first excursion to a jazz club. Through a radio contest, he'd won tickets to the local mainstay, Yoshi's, unaware of the creative portal he was opening.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Jazz and the visual arts have always enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship. Last year the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis put that bond front and center with an ambitious original program called Portraits of America: A Jazz Story.

In this crazy quarantine moment, we're all frozen in place. Many of us are spending more time with our families and significant others than ever before. That goes double for musician couples, who regularly spend months apart from one another on tour — and some cases, those duos are connecting in ways they never anticipated. Jazz Night in America is providing an inner window into some of these creative partnerships with a new series: Alone Together Duets.

Jon Batiste came to the Tiny Desk with some surprises back in November of 2019. Midway through his set, he stopped to say, "it's the first time we're ever playing these songs, and it's the first time we're playing together." The New Orleans musician came to the Tiny Desk not with his late-night house band, but with an all-new cast. His all-female collaborators — Endea Owens on acoustic bass, Negah Santos on percussion, Sarah Thawer on drums, and Celisse Henderson on guitar and vocals — were an inspiration.

In an alternate timeline, I know precisely how I would have spent the evening of April 17. The dynamic South African pianist Nduduzo Makhathini had been booked for an album-release engagement at Dizzy's Club, the in-house nightclub at Jazz at Lincoln Center. I was looking forward to hearing his band in that room — not only because Makhathini's stateside appearances are few and far between, but also because the urgent, questing spirit of his music is something best experienced in person and in close quarters, as a form of communion.

Relative to other states, Louisiana experienced an early spike in COVID-19 cases and on March 16, the city of New Orleans issued social distancing guidelines that advised against gatherings of more than 10 people. That included funerals. When a few names on the deceased list hit close to home, Brass-a-Holics bandleader Winston "Trombone" Turner felt they needed to be honored like they would have been, ordinarily — with music.

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