Some people are intimidated by the vastness of classical music. And while the prospect of more than 1,000 years of hits to consider may be daunting, just think instead of how many musical journeys of discovery can be made.
Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 2:12 pm
Drummer Lewis Nash is certainly no stranger to prestigious festival stages; he's served in bands led by Betty Carter, Branford Marsalis and Tommy Flanagan. (And that was relatively early in his career, too.) So it's a great move to give the supporting cast member, who truly innovates within jazz traditions, a share of the spotlight. One of the bands he leads features the front line of Jeremy Pelt (trumpet) and Jimmy Greene (tenor sax); it's a classic quintet lineup, and it's the first on stage on day two at the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival.
The drummer has had a busy year already, having accepted the NEA Jazz Masters award and having released a new album, Sound Travels. He continues his year-long 70th birthday celebration by assembling this ad hoc band of leading lights like guitarist Lionel Loueke and bassist Christian McBride, who are both leading their own gigs this year.
Since he came over from Cuba around the turn of the century, the phenomenally talented percussionist Pedrito Martinez has become the conguero of choice for scores of bands. And most weeks in New York City, you can see him with his own, gigging several nights a week at a Cuban restaurant south of Central Park. The Pedrito Martinez Group places him at the congas and behind a microphone, where he exhibits a certain natural charisma. And though we haven't yet heard a studio album from the band, we already know that it goes way beyond what you'd think of Afro-Cuban music and/or jazz.
After a sunny, warm afternoon on the Rhode Island shore, the first full day of the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival has come and gone. If you've got a free moment, you can already replay many of the sets we recorded online. But starting at 11:00 a.m. ET on Sunday, we'll be presenting eight more hours of live video from the festival at npr.org/newportjazz. Here's what's on tap:
Viola da gamba players are a special breed — a tiny subset in the already small world of early classical music. They rarely meet their own kind, but once a year they come together for a week in July at an annual jam session they call a conclave. Wendy Gillespie, who just finished her term as president of the Viola da Gamba Society of America, says attending the event is the highlight of her year.
The Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet has been serenading audiences in its native Washington, D.C., across the country and even as far as France for more than two decades. But its members are finding ways to bring something new to their performances. Bandleader and co-founder Ginny Carr says she wrote the words and music to all 10 songs on the quartet's new album, Hustlin' for a Gig — a relative rarity in a jazz world defined by time-tested standards.
Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 6:14 pm
James McMurtry's career started hot, thanks to a lucky series of circumstances in 1987. First, at a friend's behest, he entered and won a high-profile songwriting competition. Then, when John Mellencamp got involved in a project written by McMurtry's father (the novelist Larry McMurtry), it gave the young folk-rock musician a chance to get his demo tape into Mellencamp's hands.
Originally published on Sun December 2, 2012 11:07 am
Moya Brennan heads up this episode from the Mountain Stage archives, recorded live in West Virginia in December 2007. Brennan grew up in County Donegal, Ireland, as the eldest daughter in a musical family of nine children. Following the lead of their music-teacher mother and bandleader father, all 11 Brennans would often play together in the family pub.