Folk singer John Fullbright got his start at the age of 16, playing at small venues in his native Oklahoma for tips and the occasional free meal. "I'd stand up there and play until my voice was gone, which sometimes would take three hours. Sometimes it'd take longer," Fullbright says. "But that's where I really learned to scream."
Dave Douglas has been an important player in the jazz world for more than two decades, producing a broad body of work as both a trumpet player and a composer. His newest album, Be Still, has a bittersweet backstory: It contains his arrangements of several hymns that his dying mother asked him to perform at her funeral service.
On a list of the world's highest-grossing tours of last year, you'll find a lot of familiar names: U2, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga. And then, at No. 9, is an outlier: Andre Rieu, Dutch violinist and conductor of the Johann Strauss Orchestra.
You know the old joke: "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice." Myrlie Evers-Williams took a different route.
Her late husband, Medgar Evers, was the Mississippi head of the NAACP; he was assassinated for his work in 1963. Evers-Williams wound up moving to Southern California, where she became an educational, corporate and political leader and, in the 1990s, chairwoman of the NAACP.
Join us for the next edition of All This Jazz, which will set sail at 10pm Central on Public Radio 89.5-1 on Saturday the 15th. We'll hear music from Tom Harrell, Keith Jarrett, Terry Gibbs, Charles Mingus, Nels Cline, Lee Konitz, and many others.
Plus we'll listen to a cut from the cult-classic album, "Jazz Raga," recorded in the mid-1960s for Impulse by Gabor Szabo, the Hungarian guitar wizard; specifically, in tribute to the late Ravi Shankar, we'll hear a tune from this album called "Ravi" (a piece on which Szabo strums both the guitar and the sitar).
The world mourned the death this week of Indian maestro Ravi Shankar, whose name became synonymous with the sitar. Tributes eulogized Shankar as the great connector of the East and West who'd hobnobbed with The Beatles and collaborated with violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin. Less has been said about the roots of the music he spent a lifetime perfecting and innovating.
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.