In 2013, the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, founded and still run by Joe Segal, celebrates 65 years of presenting jazz. The venue has hosted NPR recordings several times, including Toast of the Nation 1989. That's when trumpeter Clark Terry brought a quintet into the club, featuring his long-time friend Red Holloway on saxophone. Now 92, Terry — who played in the bands of both Count Basie and Duke Ellington — is universally recognized as a living legend. He and his band were in great spirits as 1989 turned to 1990.
It started as a bongo beat — a nod to James Brown, just after his death in late 2006. Then came a few signature riffs. And an ecstatic response from the crowd. Before long, the Godfather of Soul was permanently embedded in the Evolution Ensemble's repertoire. For leader Dee Alexander, a powerful and versatile vocalist, it was all part of the same continuum — as was the music of Jimi Hendrix, whose music carried the same revolutionary weight.
Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 4:03 pm
The composer/arranger Gordon Goodwin, leader of the Big Phat Band, says he had the opportunity to play the Monterey Jazz Festival some "three or two or four decades ago." In 2012, Goodwin, who plays keyboards and reeds, returned with his large jazz orchestra.
There's not much about Ben Sollee's career that could be described as conventional. The singer-songwriter's primary instrument is the cello, and his work ranges from traditional classical music to Asian folk tunes. Even his preferred method of transportation on tour deviates from the norm; he's been known to travel from one show to the next on a bicycle with his cello strapped to the back.
2012 will go down as a year of orchestral turmoil in the U.S.: Strikes, lockouts and bankruptcies erupted time and again as once seemingly untouchable institutions struggled financially.
There's been particularly little seasonal cheer in Minnesota's orchestral community. Protests erupted after management at the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra each locked out their musicians, after the musicians had rejected contracts that cut their salaries by tens of thousands of dollars and reduced the size of the orchestras.
For some, bringing in the new year means praying for good things to come. Kristina Olsen ponders the reasons for prayer in her song, "Prayer Flags." She tells the story behind it in the latest edition of What's in a Song, a series from the Western Folklife Center.
The Robert Glasper Experiment makes a unique mix of jazz, soul and R&B. It's impossible to classify as one particular genre, but as a sound, it's as eclectic and different as it is cohesive and round. Watch the group (with Robert Glasper on keys) perform "Lift Off" from Black Radio, released earlier this year.