There's a certain intensity of spirit in jazz and improvised music, to the point where it occasionally aligns with religious worship. You especially see it around Christmastime, when certain musicians who happen to be Christians purpose their craft in observance of the season.
Of course, sometimes jazz musicians just like playing familiar songs.
Here are five records, all from 2012, which run the gamut of Christmas jazz. From deep meditations on the holiday's narrative to more offbeat ways to get into the spirit, inventiveness isn't a scarce resource this winter.
Egyptians are voting on a new constitution - but the vote is polarizing the country. Meanwhile, in Syria, the main opposition group is now recognized by the U.S., but there are questions about al-Qaeda affiliates fighting alongside them. To make sense of the developments, host Michel Martin talks with Abderrahim Foukara of Al Jazeera International.
Lawrence Guyot spent his life fighting for civil rights - but often at great personal cost. He was jailed and beaten regularly by police in the Deep South while helping black people get involved in politics. Host Michel Martin speaks with Washington, D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who worked alongside Guyot, about his life and activism.
In this week's Barbershop, the guys weigh in on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrawing her name from consideration for secretary of state. They also discuss Michigan's right-to-work law and whether unions are still relevant today.
"Being welcomed by and embraced by Igbos, who take Judaism so seriously ... it raises the question of what it means to be a Jew," says William Miles.
Three years ago, Miles, a self-proclaimed semi-practicing Jew, decided to celebrate Hanukkah in Africa's most populous country. He wrote about his experience in a new book called Jews of Nigeria: An Afro-Judaic Odyssey. He tells NPR's Tell Me More host Michel Martin that he found "a very Jewish community, but also a very African community."
Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 10:32 am
The energy in the room is palpable, as Wynton Marsalis launches into "Dipper Mouth Blues," a tune named for King Oliver's trumpet player, Louis Armstrong. "New Orleans Bump" features the whimsical clarinet of Victor Goines.
"I've definitely stopped in the middle of sex and recorded things."
R&B singer and songwriter Miguel gets creative whenever the mood strikes him. He has been heating up the airwaves with his newest album Kaleidoscope Dream, which received five Grammy nominations including Song of The Year for the single Adorn.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, those apps you've been downloading to keep the kids occupied during car rides and sports practices? It turns out, according to federal regulators, they are collecting all kinds of information that they aren't telling you about. So we will. In a few minutes.
And finally today, we want to take a moment to remember a legend in Indian classical music. Ravi Shankar died this week at the age of 92. He played the sitar, a long six-stringed wood instrument. He used it to communicate Indian music and culture to an American audience, and in fact audiences around the world. Shankar is known both for his own musicianship and his collaborations with Western greats like the Beatles and John Coltrane. Here's a collaboration with American violinist Yehudi Menuhin. The album is called "West Meets East."