Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 10:41 am
John McNeil may be the most important trumpet player you've never heard of.
Many aspiring musicians know him as an educator, through his many instructional books like The Art of Jazz Trumpet. But getting to know McNeil as a performer or recording artist hasn't always been easy: his records could be tough to find.
Born with the genetic disease osteogenesis imperfecta, he only stood at three feet. But with hands unaffected by his disease and an extraordinary talent, Michel Petrucciani is one of the greatest French jazz pianists of all time.
British jazz pianist George Shearing was a friend and frequent guest on Piano Jazz. On this special edition of the program from 2001, Shearing joins host Marian McPartland to celebrate the holidays in a jazzy way.
The two reminisce about seasons gone by and perform traditional and contemporary holiday tunes, including "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and "Away In A Manger."
Originally published on Sun December 21, 2014 6:15 pm
NPR Music is pleased to present a poll in which 140 jazz critics picked their favorite recordings of 2014.
For nine consecutive years, this poll has been a labor of love by eminent critic Francis Davis. It's grown tremendously since he initially submitted the consensus of 30 writers to TheVillage Voice in 2006. Over the last month, print journalists, bloggers and broadcasters nominated more than 700 different albums. We're thrilled to welcome his exhaustive project back to our site.
Originally published on Sun December 21, 2014 6:17 pm
Could anyone have predicted that Steve Lehman and Wadada Leo Smith would place first and second in this year's NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, among a field including previous winners Sonny Rollins, Vijay Iyer and Jason Moran, plus 2011 runner-up (and favorite going in) Ambrose Akinmusire? Not me, and I even had Lehman and Smith on my ballot, along with Rollins and Akinmusire.
Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 3:07 am
In the dead of January in the Northeast, New York City's Winter Jazzfest manages a minor miracle. Over the course of two marathon nights, it brings crowds in the thousands out to jam-packed theaters and clubs to see dozens of varied and sundry bands.
Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 9:48 am
This year saw the passing of numerous jazz legends. In Jazz Night In America's year in review, we pay tribute to bassist Charlie Haden, pianist Horace Silver and composer/bandleader Gerald Wilson, among others. We'll listen back to great live performances recorded over the past 30 years from these musicians — all from the WBGO vault — and highlight remembrances from friends and loved ones.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, "Teri" (Gerald Wilson)
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, "Carlos" (Gerald Wilson)
British jazz vocalist and pianist Anthony Strong built his reputation as a session pianist, supporting stars like B.B. King. His EP release Delovely reached No. 1 on the U.K. jazz charts, and he's continued his rise with his last album of classic jazz songs and originals, Stepping Out.
Described by film critic Rex Reed as "America's greatest male singer," Mel Tormé (1925-99) was one of the most versatile performers of his day.
On this episode of Piano Jazz from 1992, Tormé shares how his classic "The Christmas Song" inspired him to put out his own holiday album. He also sings and plays "Too Late Now" and "Walking My Baby Home," with host Marian McPartland joining in.
Originally recorded Jan. 21, 1992. Originally broadcast May 9, 1992.