In South Africa, the major art of resistance during apartheid was jazz: a melting pot where folk songs and hymns defiantly mixed with influences from South Asia, America and West Africa. South African jazz's central formula — its equivalent to the 12-bar blues — is a buoyant, four-chord progression that even seems to evoke a blending motion.
Jazz vocalist and pianist Dardanelle Hadley was born Marcia Marie Mullen, the daughter of vocalist and pianist Marcius Mosely "Buck" Mullen. In the 1940s, she formed a trio that played regularly at the Copacabana Club in New York, and she went on to work with jazz greats such as Bucky Pizzarelli and Grady Tate.
The genre choro — a word which means "cry" in Portuguese — is often described as "the New Orleans jazz of Brazil." Like its U.S. counterpart, both are Afro-Western hybrids which emerged in the early 20th century; both call for jam sessions showcasing improvisation and virtuosity. Both jazz and choro are also the domains of clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen. Her newest band, the quartet Choro Aventuroso, culminates an affinity and intense study of Brazilian music — one which began as part of an international community of jazz students at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
The late, distinctively melodic jazz composer Kenny Wheeler was also a great trumpet player, though, being famously self-effacing, often declined to toot his own horn about his talents. Many musicians sang his praises, though, and when he died in 2014, saxophonist Steve Treseler and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen were inspired to revisit his music. As they traded notes and arrangements, they realized they had to record these tunes which had been so influential to their growth as musicians.
Pianist, composer and bandleader Marian McPartland was a renowned jazz artist who performed for seven decades. She was also one of the music's great champions, as host of NPR's Marian McPartland'sPiano Jazz for 33 years.
Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 10:26 pm
In our first 19 Jazz Night In America webcasts, we've presented over 150 musicians from 13 venues in six cities — with many more musicians and locations on the way. Whether in huge concert auditoriums like Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Hall to tiny basement salons like Mezzrow in New York, we've heard from living legends, rising stars and very, very talented artists somewhere in between.
Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 1:37 am
The SFJAZZ Collective, an all-star octet representing the SFJAZZ institution in San Francisco, has an intriguing approach to repertoire. Each year, each member writes a new piece for the Collective, and also rearranges a composition by a modern jazz master. For the 2014-15 season, that master was tenor saxophone titan Joe Henderson, a longtime San Francisco resident.
Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 6:36 pm
Albert "Tootie" Heath is one of the most accomplished jazz drummers of the past 60 years. The 79-year-old has played with everyone from John Coltrane to Ethan Iverson, the piano player for The Bad Plus. Iverson and bassist Ben Street join Tootie Heath for his new album, Philadelphia Beat, named for the fertile jazz city of Heath's upbringing — where, as a young man starting out, he once piloted a group consisting only of the drums and two horns.
Copyist, arranger and musician Mercer Ellington worked for his father, Duke Ellington, as a horn player before becoming manager of the group. He took on additional duties, including composition, resulting in his original tune "Things Ain't What They Used To Be."
American vocalist and songwriter Somi combines the music of her African heritage with American-style jazz, pop and soul. After her parents left Rwanda and Uganda, Somi spent 18 months living in Lagos, Nigeria; that time provided the inspiration for her 2014 album The Lagos Music Salon.
On this episode of Song Travels, Somi and host Michael Feinstein discuss the cultural roots of her music. She performs her original "Last Song" and joins Feinstein for "Embraceable You."