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5:27 pm
Sun November 2, 2014

Reconnecting The Circuit Of Puerto Rican Identity Through Music

Miguel Zenón's new album is titled Identities Are Changeable.
Jimmy Katz Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon November 3, 2014 3:50 pm

New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent are a diverse group. Some were born in Puerto Rico, some have never set foot on the island, and everyone else falls somewhere between.

But they do share a special identity, calling themselves "Nuyoricans." And when you look over the long list of notable Nuyoricans — everyone from Supreme Court Justice Sandra Sotomayor to Jennifer Lopez — it's kind of amazing how much they've contributed to American culture.

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Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz
1:34 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Kenny Drew Jr. On Piano Jazz

Kenny Drew Jr.
Jack Vartoogian Getty Images

The son of pianist Kenny Drew, who rose to fame in the 1950s and '60s, Kenny Drew Jr. made his own way with a virtuosic career in both jazz and classical music. He favored direct, single-note lines, but could also play in a full orchestral style.

In this 1992 session, Drew interprets Monk's "In Walked Bud" — and he and host Marian McPartland collaborate in a performance of "Falling In Love With You."

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Tiny Desk Concerts
10:31 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Sun Ra Arkestra: Tiny Desk Concert

Marshall Allen and the Sun Ra Arkestra perform at the Tiny Desk.
Claire Eggers NPR

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 11:48 am

Sun Ra was a big-band innovator, a pioneer of recording and playing with electronics, a poet, a cosmic philosopher, a bandleader and a keyboard innovator who claimed to be from Saturn. Herman Poole Blount would have turned 100 in 2014 had he not left us more than 20 years ago. But his spirit lives on, and so does his long-running band.

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Jazz Night In America Videos
10:36 am
Wed October 29, 2014

The Funky Tune That Was Too Big For Miles Davis

NPR

When Miles Davis returned to performing in the early 1980s, he asked his former bandmate and master composer, Wayne Shorter, to write something for him. What came out was a large ensemble work too unwieldy for Davis, and Shorter put it back on his shelf. "I asked him for a tune, and he gives me a [expletive deleted] symphony," Davis reportedly said at the time.

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Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz
12:42 pm
Mon October 27, 2014

Roy Hargrove On Piano Jazz

Courtesy of the artist

Grammy-winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove has played with jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Mulgrew Miller and Bobby Watson.

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Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz
3:49 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Ruth Brown On Piano Jazz

Paul Bergen Redferns

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 12:51 pm

Ruth Brown was one of the pioneers of R&B. The vocalist and actress also hosted a blues program on NPR called Blues Stage that helped bring wider attention to the genre.

On this episode of Piano Jazz from 1993, Brown's roots in blues, R&B and jazz are on display as she sings to host Marian McPartland's accompaniment in "Skylark" and "Fine And Mellow."

Originally recorded Feb. 8, 1993. Originally broadcast June 19, 1993.

Set List

  • "Fine And Mellow" (Holiday)
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Music News
4:31 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Who Sang It First? Mockingbirds And Musicians Cover Each Other In New Orleans

A short phrase New Orleans musicians use to communicate is identical to a common mockingbird call.
Sven Halling Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 23, 2014 7:47 pm

In certain New Orleans music scenes, there is a special sound — a signal — that lets players know it's time to pick up their instruments and strike up the band.

"It's a bugle call, or a band call, to assemble," trumpeter Leroy Jones says.

"It's like: C'mon, rally," musician Matt Bell adds. "Come to the bandstand and be ready to do it. Let's go."

The four-note phrase, however, doesn't belong to musicians alone. Another common New Orleans species, the mockingbird, also produces the call.

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Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program
4:13 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Blue Note

Lou Donaldson and Dr. Lonnie Smith perform at Blue Note At 75, The Concert.
NPR

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 8:26 pm

Blue Note Records turns 75 this year, and to celebrate, Washington, D.C.'s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts hosted a concert featuring some of the record label's living legends and rising stars. From the early years with co-founder Alfred Lion to the revitalization under Bruce Lundvall, Blue Note Records has become and remained one of the most iconic brands in jazz.

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Song Travels
1:45 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Charenee Wade On 'Song Travels'

Charenee Wade.
Frank Stewart Courtesy of the artist

Jazz vocalist Charenee Wade began singing at 12 and learned from jazz luminaries such as Carmen Lundy and Christian McBride. Her clear voice and impressive technique landed her first runner-up in the 2010 Thelonious Monk competition, and she followed this success with her debut album, Love Walked In.

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