Jazz

During World War II, with thousands of men shipping off to war, half a dozen all-female, instrumental big bands toured around America. It was a rarity in a musical world dominated by men and, for the most part, their stories have been erased or minimized in jazz history.

A fire is coming from Flying Lotus. And David Lynch is fanning the flames. The Brainfeeder boss has shared "Fire is Coming" to fuel the announcement of the his upcoming album, Flamagra, due out May 24 via Warp Records.

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Every year since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts has presented its Jazz Masters award — a pinnacle of achievement in the form. The honor is presented to musicians and advocates who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz, and the 2019 class is no exception, as we'll see during tonight's live stream of this year's tribute concert, taking place at the John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

Mark Guiliana is a drummer renowned for his chameleon-like ways with pulse — whether he's leading his acoustic jazz quartet, playing in a duo with Brad Mehldau or providing the back beat behind David Bowie's final album, Blackstar. Now, Guiliana is in another mutation mode, shifting his focus from acoustic jazz sounds to explore an exciting realm of electro-jazz.

In 2005, even as the flood waters that rose in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina subsumed his home along with countless others, Allen Toussaint was reluctant to leave his city. But the elegant architect of New Orleans rhythm and blues was left with no other option. Just a day after his evacuation, in an interview with Rolling Stone, he described the experience less in terms of what had been lost than what could yet be gained.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

Karl Denson has one of the coolest side gigs in the world. In 2015, he took over for Bobby Keys as the saxophonist for The Rolling Stones. In his day job however, he's the leader of Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, a fusion of funk, jazz, soul, and rock.

The West Coast music scene has a new group to champion. The music of Oakland's SOL Development has been described as jazz, hip-hop, and, of course, soulful. The four-person collective's style may sound familiar but the member's backgrounds are not. They're teachers and classically trained musicians who use music in the classrooms to promote learning.

Born 100 years ago today, Nat King Cole was one of the most popular and influential entertainers of the 20th century. As an African American ballad singer and jazz musician, he topped the charts year after year, sold more than 50 million records, pushed jazz piano in a new direction and paved the way for later generations of performers.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.

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