Pianist Rachel Z trained at the New England Conservatory before beginning her professional career as a performer with the likes of Al Di Meola, Larry Coryell and the fusion band Steps Ahead. She also worked with saxophonist Wayne Shorter on his Grammy-winning comeback album, High Life.
The iconic jazz label Blue Note Records turns 75 this year, and it celebrated in Washington, D.C. As the capstone to a week of performances, film screenings and discussions, Blue Note artists gathered in the 2,465-seat Concert Hall of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for a special performance.
At the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in February, one couldn't help but notice the striking new grand piano on the main stage, emblazoned with the name SHADD. When the many accomplished pianists that weekend sat down to strike those keys, it was equally easy to spot their delight in the instrument.
That piano was the product of a trailblazer in his field. The Shadd in question is jazz drummer Warren Shadd, the first African-American piano manufacturer. That makes him the first large-scale commercial African-American instrument manufacturer, period.
Guitarist Howard Alden's superb solo and accompaniment skills have led to work with legends including Red Norvo, Woody Herman and his mentor, guitarist George Van Eps. On this episode of Piano Jazz, Alden demonstrates his harmonic and melodic mastery of the seven-string guitar with a glowing version of "Single Petal of a Rose."
It's hard to imagine a musical career that included musicians as varied as Charlie Parker, Peggy Lee, George Shearing and Carlos Santana. But such was hand percussionist Armando Peraza's resumé after almost 70 years making music.
The Julian Lage Trio makes its first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown.
A bona fide prodigy, Lage was the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary Jules At Eight. He made his recording debut in 1999 at age 11, alongside David Grisman, Bela Fleck, Vassar Clements and Edgar Meyer.
Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 2:04 pm
If you've witnessed a headlining performance from pianists Toshiko Akiyoshi or Hiromi, visited a "jazu kissa" cafe where records are spun and coffee poured, or read nearly any work by author Haruki Murakami, then you probably have a sense that Japan has taken well to jazz music.
Originally published on Tue April 29, 2014 12:52 pm
Duke Ellington didn't consider himself a jazz musician.
He said he was a musician who played jazz. And what a musician: pianist, bandleader, composer of more than 1,000 songs including standards like "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," "Satin Doll" and "Sophisticated Lady."