Jazz

Wayne Shorter Travels The Spaceways

Jan 5, 2019

Eighty-five now and in a wheelchair for his recent Kennedy Center Honors, not to mention notoriously self-critical, Wayne Shorter releases albums so infrequently these days that a new one is automatically a BIG EVENT. Whether or not Emanon — the winner of this year's NPR Jazz Critics Poll and Shorter's first album since Without a Net in 2013, which topped that year's poll — is an event, it's surely big, literally.

The 2018 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll

Jan 5, 2019

This time each year, amidst the warmth of year-end highlights and holiday wishes, we pause to remember those we have lost. But while it's an occasion for sadness, it's also an opportunity to celebrate their legacies in full. That's the spirit with which Jazz Night in America offers this In Memoriam episode, featuring testimonials by some of those who knew the artists best.

To the extent that there's a runaway Jazz Album of 2018 — factoring in critical reception, commercial success and cultural relevance — it comes to us from a saxophonist who died more than 50 years ago. I'm referring to John Coltrane, who probably wasn't thinking in terms of an album when he brought his quartet into the studio for a routine workout on March 6, 1963.

Every December, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis brings this Grammy Award–winning holiday extravaganza to Rose Theater for a series of sold-out shows. With soulful big band arrangements of songs both sacred and secular, Big Band Holidays is an uplifting tradition enjoyed by audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Famed singer Nancy Wilson died this past Thursday at the age of 81. In addition to her accomplished artistic career, Wilson was the host of Jazz Profiles, a long-running NPR series which dove deeply into the history of that singular art form. In remembrance of Nancy, Jazz Profiles lead producer Tim Owens recalls the show's founding, and shares some of its most memorable episodes.

Nancy Wilson died Thursday after a long illness at her home in Pioneertown, Calif., her manager Devra Hall Levy told NPR. She was 81.

Born in Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1937, Wilson has recounted in interviews that she started singing around age 3 or 4.

"I have always just sung. I have never questioned what it is. I thank God for it and I just do it," she told Marian McPartland, host of NPR's Piano Jazz in 1994.

For his multimedia tribute to jazz pioneer and war hero James Reese Europe, Jason Moran doesn't wear his usual performance attire. His wife, the musician Alicia Hall Moran, had some ideas for a more meaningful costume.

"She told me I needed to experience the same weight and pressure Europe and his soldier musicians did when they performed in uniform overseas," says Moran.

"I've been drunk with music all my life," Charles Lloyd muses, "and it's been my spiritual path. And the times that I was knocked off my mooring, I just found a way to get back up."

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