1. 
[Jazz violinist]  Jean-Luc Ponty’s long rococo lines helped set the style for jazz rock fusion, via his work with Frank Zappa, who wrote him the album “King Kong,” and then the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Ponty drew inspiration from horn players, but he shares one failing with some other jazz violinists: he rarely pauses to take a breath. Even Groucho put the cigar down/took the cigar out once in awhile.
- Kevin Whitehead


Photo: Jean-Luc Ponty in 1971  View in High-Res

    [Jazz violinist]  Jean-Luc Ponty’s long rococo lines helped set the style for jazz rock fusion, via his work with Frank Zappa, who wrote him the album “King Kong,” and then the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Ponty drew inspiration from horn players, but he shares one failing with some other jazz violinists: he rarely pauses to take a breath. Even Groucho put the cigar down/took the cigar out once in awhile.

    - Kevin Whitehead

    Photo: Jean-Luc Ponty in 1971 

  2. jean-luc ponty

    jazz

    kevin whitehead

    frank zappa

    violin

  1. Two new trio albums by tenor saxophonists who won the Thelonious Monk jazz competition share a conspicuous influence — vintage Sonny Rollins. Fresh Air critic Kevin Whitehead reviews  Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio by last year’s winner, 25-year old Chile-born New Yorker Melissa Aldana, and Trios Live by Joshua Redman, who took the prize in 1991.

It can be tricky, paying tribute to a grand master; you don’t want to invite a direct comparison. Melissa Aldana heads that off by not trying to sound too much like her hero. Her tone has body, but it’s a bit lighter and smoother than vintage Sonny Rollins, more alto-like in the upper register. Aldana was mentored by saxophonists Greg Osby and George Coleman, and you can also hear traces of Osby’s floating sense of time and Coleman’s smeary blues abstractions. That’s one way to transcend your key influences—mix ’em together, along with what you’ve figured out for yourself.

    Two new trio albums by tenor saxophonists who won the Thelonious Monk jazz competition share a conspicuous influence — vintage Sonny Rollins. Fresh Air critic Kevin Whitehead reviews  Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio by last year’s winner, 25-year old Chile-born New Yorker Melissa Aldana, and Trios Live by Joshua Redman, who took the prize in 1991.

    It can be tricky, paying tribute to a grand master; you don’t want to invite a direct comparison. Melissa Aldana heads that off by not trying to sound too much like her hero. Her tone has body, but it’s a bit lighter and smoother than vintage Sonny Rollins, more alto-like in the upper register. Aldana was mentored by saxophonists Greg Osby and George Coleman, and you can also hear traces of Osby’s floating sense of time and Coleman’s smeary blues abstractions. That’s one way to transcend your key influences—mix ’em together, along with what you’ve figured out for yourself.

  2. jazz

    saxophone

    melissa aldana

    kevin whitehead

  1. Jazz pianist Jaki Byard played in the bands of Charles Mingus, Rahsaan,  Roland Kirk and Booker Ervin. Then he began making solo and small-band records under his own name. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says, Byard had a rare ability to sound archaic and ahead of his time.

    Jazz pianist Jaki Byard played in the bands of Charles Mingus, Rahsaan,  Roland Kirk and Booker Ervin. Then he began making solo and small-band records under his own name. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says, Byard had a rare ability to sound archaic and ahead of his time.

  2. jazz

    jaki byard

    kevin whitehead

    piano

    review

  1. Dave Douglas and Uri Caine's new album of jazz duets, Present Joys, features songs known for their simplicity.  It includes several hymns from the Sacred Harp Songbook, a collection of songs notated for congregations and other gatherings of people who don’t read music. The songs are meant to be sung in harmony, a capella.  This tradition, also known as a shape note singing, dates back to the early 1800s.  
Caine and Douglas are known for their versatility, playing jazz that ranges from avant garde, to music derived from folk traditions.  Caine has also re-interpreted the works of several classical composers.  He composed a piece for orchestra and gospel choir that was given its world premiere this earlier summer by the Philadelphia Orchestra. 
Photo by John Cronin View in High-Res

    Dave Douglas and Uri Caine's new album of jazz duets, Present Joys, features songs known for their simplicity.  It includes several hymns from the Sacred Harp Songbook, a collection of songs notated for congregations and other gatherings of people who don’t read music. The songs are meant to be sung in harmony, a capella.  This tradition, also known as a shape note singing, dates back to the early 1800s. 

    Caine and Douglas are known for their versatility, playing jazz that ranges from avant garde, to music derived from folk traditions.  Caine has also re-interpreted the works of several classical composers.  He composed a piece for orchestra and gospel choir that was given its world premiere this earlier summer by the Philadelphia Orchestra. 

    Photo by John Cronin

  2. jazz

    dave douglas

    uri caine

    present joys

    fresh air

    interview

  1. “I think it’s very important to live in the present. One of the great things that improvising teaches you is the magic of the moment that you’re in … because when you improvise you’re in right now. You’re not in yesterday or tomorrow—you’re right in the moment. Being in that moment really gives you a perspective of life that you never get at any other time as far as learning about your ego… You have to see your unimportance before you can see your importance and your significance to the world.”
-Charlie Haden, jazz bass player 1937 - 2014 

In remembrance of Haden we put together some of his best interview moments. He spoke to Terry five times, beginning in 1983. You can listen to the show and read more quotes here. 




Photo: Charlie Haden, bass, performs at the BIM Huis on May 18, 1989 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. by Frans Schellekens/Redferns View in High-Res

    I think it’s very important to live in the present. One of the great things that improvising teaches you is the magic of the moment that you’re in … because when you improvise you’re in right now. You’re not in yesterday or tomorrow—you’re right in the moment. Being in that moment really gives you a perspective of life that you never get at any other time as far as learning about your ego… You have to see your unimportance before you can see your importance and your significance to the world.

    -Charlie Haden, jazz bass player 1937 - 2014 

    In remembrance of Haden we put together some of his best interview moments. He spoke to Terry five times, beginning in 1983. You can listen to the show and read more quotes here

    Photo: Charlie Haden, bass, performs at the BIM Huis on May 18, 1989 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. by Frans Schellekens/Redferns

  2. music

    jazz

    charlie haden

    fresh air

    interview

    terry gross

  1. Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews ‘Wish The Children Would Come On Home' by The Westerlies, a quartet of young New York brass players playing the music of composer and improviser Wayne Horvitz: 

"There are a few such echoes here of riffing minimalism, another music built on the cumulative power of simple riffs. It’s part of the mix alongside jazz, chamber music, small-town brass bands and garage rock. The Westerlies represent a breed of musicians rare when [composer] Wayne Horvitz was coming up: skilled interpreters who are also adept improvisers. With such versatile and well-equipped performers around, composers can expand their reach—and they may all wind up in places they might not’ve found on their own."
View in High-Res

    Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews ‘Wish The Children Would Come On Home' by The Westerlies, a quartet of young New York brass players playing the music of composer and improviser Wayne Horvitz: 

    "There are a few such echoes here of riffing minimalism, another music built on the cumulative power of simple riffs. It’s part of the mix alongside jazz, chamber music, small-town brass bands and garage rock. The Westerlies represent a breed of musicians rare when [composer] Wayne Horvitz was coming up: skilled interpreters who are also adept improvisers. With such versatile and well-equipped performers around, composers can expand their reach—and they may all wind up in places they might not’ve found on their own."

  2. the westerlies

    jazz

    kevin whitehead

    review

    wayne horvitz

    brass

  1. Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead remembers jazz pianist Horace Silver, who passed away this week: 

"Horace Silver could handle bebop’s high-speed chases, but he favored more relaxed tempos and stronger echoes of blues and gospel—what came to be called hard bop. He started leading his own two-horn quintets featuring no end of original tunes with infectious, built-in grooves—and maybe little extensions or riffing interludes to spur the players on. On his mid-’50s hit “The Preacher,” adapted from an old drinking song, you can practically see the congregation swaying in the pews. Whole bands, whole movements would take off from that sound.”

    Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead remembers jazz pianist Horace Silver, who passed away this week: 

    "Horace Silver could handle bebop’s high-speed chases, but he favored more relaxed tempos and stronger echoes of blues and gospel—what came to be called hard bop. He started leading his own two-horn quintets featuring no end of original tunes with infectious, built-in grooves—and maybe little extensions or riffing interludes to spur the players on. On his mid-’50s hit “The Preacher,” adapted from an old drinking song, you can practically see the congregation swaying in the pews. Whole bands, whole movements would take off from that sound.”

  2. horace silver

    jazz

    bop

    review

    kevin whitehead

  1. Today Fresh Air remembers jazz singer Jimmy Scott, who died Thursday at the age of 88.  He was popular in the 1950’s and influenced both  male and female singers, including Nancy Wilson and Frankie Lyman.   Early in his career, some of his listeners who knew him only from recordings, thought he was a woman.  That was a result of a rare genetic condition that prevented his body from undergoing the complete process of puberty. Contractual problems helped stall his career, and he didn’t make any records between 1975 and 1992.  But that 1992 album started a comeback, which included  singing at President Clinton’s 1993 inaugural ball and being named a Living Jazz Legend by the Kennedy Center.  When Terry spoke with him in 1992, they started with the title track from the album he’d just released, All the Way, which led to his comeback.   
Listen to the interview 

Photo via itvs  View in High-Res

    Today Fresh Air remembers jazz singer Jimmy Scott, who died Thursday at the age of 88.  He was popular in the 1950’s and influenced both  male and female singers, including Nancy Wilson and Frankie Lyman.   Early in his career, some of his listeners who knew him only from recordings, thought he was a woman.  That was a result of a rare genetic condition that prevented his body from undergoing the complete process of puberty. Contractual problems helped stall his career, and he didn’t make any records between 1975 and 1992.  But that 1992 album started a comeback, which included  singing at President Clinton’s 1993 inaugural ball and being named a Living Jazz Legend by the Kennedy Center.  When Terry spoke with him in 1992, they started with the title track from the album he’d just released, All the Way, which led to his comeback.   

    Listen to the interview 

    Photo via itvs 

  2. jazz

    jimmy scott

    nancy wilson

    frankie lyman

    music

    fresh air

    obit

  1. Ted Rosenthal, an early winner of the Thelonious Monk jazz piano competition, has played George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” solo and with symphonic and jazz orchestras. Now he’s recorded a version for jazz trio, as part of an all-Gershwin album. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says, Rosenthal has a feel for the material.

As familiar as “Rhapsody in Blue” is, you can overlook how radical it sounded—this slick symphonic jazz laced with blues feeling—back in 1924 when jazz rhythm could still be rickety. “Rhapsody”’s riffing themes are readymade for improvised variations, and many jazz bands have recorded abridgements that zoom in on the best bits. Bucking that trend, Ted Rosenthal’s trio plays the whole 17-minute thing. It’s a showcase for the pianist and bassist Martin Wind, who divvy up the melodies. Drummer Tim Horner sometimes sounds hemmed in by his written parts.
View in High-Res

    Ted Rosenthal, an early winner of the Thelonious Monk jazz piano competition, has played George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” solo and with symphonic and jazz orchestras. Now he’s recorded a version for jazz trio, as part of an all-Gershwin album. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says, Rosenthal has a feel for the material.

    As familiar as “Rhapsody in Blue” is, you can overlook how radical it sounded—this slick symphonic jazz laced with blues feeling—back in 1924 when jazz rhythm could still be rickety. “Rhapsody”’s riffing themes are readymade for improvised variations, and many jazz bands have recorded abridgements that zoom in on the best bits. Bucking that trend, Ted Rosenthal’s trio plays the whole 17-minute thing. It’s a showcase for the pianist and bassist Martin Wind, who divvy up the melodies. Drummer Tim Horner sometimes sounds hemmed in by his written parts.

  2. jazz

    ted rosenthal

    gershwin

    piano

    thelonious monk

  1. In June 1970, Miles Davis played four nights at New York’s rock palace Fillmore East—following earlier appearances that year, there and at San Francisco’s Fillmore West. Four sets of that June music are now out in full for the first time. Jazz Critic Kevin Whitehead says, the jazz trumpeter had gone to the Fillmore in search of a new audience: 

It messed jazz people up, the music Miles Davis made in 1970, like the four sets recorded that June now issued complete on “Miles at the Fillmore.” Two years earlier he’d been leading one of the most beloved jazz bands ever—the one with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. Then he went electric. Instead of playing jazz clubs, now he was playing tokids who came out to hear the rock bands he split bills with. As one of those rock kids who saw Miles at the Fillmore in 1970, I gotta admit, the music was too weird for me. But later I could not stop thinking about it.
View in High-Res

    In June 1970, Miles Davis played four nights at New York’s rock palace Fillmore East—following earlier appearances that year, there and at San Francisco’s Fillmore West. Four sets of that June music are now out in full for the first time. Jazz Critic Kevin Whitehead says, the jazz trumpeter had gone to the Fillmore in search of a new audience: 

    It messed jazz people up, the music Miles Davis made in 1970, like the four sets recorded that June now issued complete on “Miles at the Fillmore.” Two years earlier he’d been leading one of the most beloved jazz bands ever—the one with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. Then he went electric. Instead of playing jazz clubs, now he was playing tokids who came out to hear the rock bands he split bills with. As one of those rock kids who saw Miles at the Fillmore in 1970, I gotta admit, the music was too weird for me. But later I could not stop thinking about it.

  2. miles davis

    jazz

    kevin whitehead

    review

  1. 
Drummer Billy Hart has recorded hundreds of albums, backing, among many others, pianist Herbie Hancock. But he sometimes records under his own name too, especially now that he has a well-seasoned quartet. Our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has a review of Billy Hart’s new quartet CD, One is the Other: 

"On drummer Billy Hart’s new quartet CD One Is the Other, Hart’s tune “Yard” paraphrases Charlie Yardbird Parker’s line “Cheryl.” In a way that’s typical Hart; he knows his history but puts his own wobble on it. The band too: saxophonist Mark Turner’s “Lennie Groove” updates Lennie Tristano’s long snaky melodies. Pianist Ethan Iverson’s tune “Maraschino” owes something to Thelonious Monk’s halting ballads, and to the late drummer Paul Motian’s tunes built on catchy little phrases. 
 Hart’s band first assembled in 2003 as the Ethan Iverson/Mark Turner Quartet. But the drummer loved playing in it so much, his younger comrades handed him the keys: Now we’ll be your band.”

Photograph by Nathea Lee View in High-Res

    Drummer Billy Hart has recorded hundreds of albums, backing, among many others, pianist Herbie Hancock. But he sometimes records under his own name too, especially now that he has a well-seasoned quartet. Our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has a review of Billy Hart’s new quartet CD, One is the Other:

    "On drummer Billy Hart’s new quartet CD One Is the Other, Hart’s tune “Yard” paraphrases Charlie Yardbird Parker’s line “Cheryl.” In a way that’s typical Hart; he knows his history but puts his own wobble on it. The band too: saxophonist Mark Turner’s “Lennie Groove” updates Lennie Tristano’s long snaky melodies. Pianist Ethan Iverson’s tune “Maraschino” owes something to Thelonious Monk’s halting ballads, and to the late drummer Paul Motian’s tunes built on catchy little phrases.

     Hart’s band first assembled in 2003 as the Ethan Iverson/Mark Turner Quartet. But the drummer loved playing in it so much, his younger comrades handed him the keys: Now we’ll be your band.

    Photograph by Nathea Lee

  2. Billy Hart

    Jazz

    Kevin Whitehead

    Fresh Air

  1. Kevin Whitehead reviews a new collection of performances by jazz pianist Bud Powell recorded at Birdland in 1953 — 


"Bud Powell had played Birdland before he opened there on Feb. 5, 1953, but this return engagement was a big deal. That very day, he’d been discharged from a state psychiatric hospital, after being committed for a year and a half following a drug bust. (Powell’s mental troubles stemmed partly from a 1945 police beating in Philadelphia.) He was painfully uncommunicative face to face. But when he sat at the keys, it was a whole other story."

Photo via Metronome/Getty Images View in High-Res

    Kevin Whitehead reviews a new collection of performances by jazz pianist Bud Powell recorded at Birdland in 1953 —

    "Bud Powell had played Birdland before he opened there on Feb. 5, 1953, but this return engagement was a big deal. That very day, he’d been discharged from a state psychiatric hospital, after being committed for a year and a half following a drug bust. (Powell’s mental troubles stemmed partly from a 1945 police beating in Philadelphia.) He was painfully uncommunicative face to face. But when he sat at the keys, it was a whole other story."

    Photo via Metronome/Getty Images

  2. Bud Powell

    Jazz

    Kevin Whitehead

    Fresh Air

    Birdland

  1. Jazz composer Marty Ehrlich conducts his Large Ensemble for his first album devoted to orchestral music, A Trumpet in the Morning.
You can hear the interview with Ehrlich and previews of his album here.

photo by Bryan Murray

    Jazz composer Marty Ehrlich conducts his Large Ensemble for his first album devoted to orchestral music, A Trumpet in the Morning.

    You can hear the interview with Ehrlich and previews of his album here.

    photo by Bryan Murray

  2. jazz

    orchestra

    music

    marty ehrlich

  1. Starting in the late 1960s, jazz saxophonist Clifford Jordan produced a series of recordings mostly by other leaders, that were released on the musicians-owned Strata-East label. Those seven albums are now collected in a box set, The Complete Clifford Jordan Strata-East Sessions, on six CDs from Mosaic. The sound on these albums is just OK, but they all feature fiery playing, original material, and great and underappreciated players—especially rhythm players.

Kevin Whitehead reviews the box set The Complete Clifford Jordan Strata-East Sessions  

    Starting in the late 1960s, jazz saxophonist Clifford Jordan produced a series of recordings mostly by other leaders, that were released on the musicians-owned Strata-East label. Those seven albums are now collected in a box set, The Complete Clifford Jordan Strata-East Sessions, on six CDs from Mosaic. The sound on these albums is just OK, but they all feature fiery playing, original material, and great and underappreciated players—especially rhythm players.

    Kevin Whitehead reviews the box set The Complete Clifford Jordan Strata-East Sessions
     

  2. clifford jordan

    review

    jazz

    saxophone

    1960s

  1. 
1964 was a great year for cutting-edge jazz records like Albert Ayler’s Spiritual Unity, John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and Andrew Hill’s Point of Departure. But none sounds as far ahead of its time as Eric Dolphy's masterpiece Out to Lunch, recorded for Blue Note on Feb. 25, 1964. Half a century later it still sounds crazy in a good way. The organized mayhem starts with Dolphy’s tunes, often featuring wide, wide leaps in the melody and ratchet-gear rhythms. His composition “Straight Up and Down” was inspired by the careful walk of a drunk striving to stay upright. He improvised with that same kind of angular energy, and an excitable tone like a goosed goose.


Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead on Eric Dolphy’s album Out to Lunch View in High-Res

    1964 was a great year for cutting-edge jazz records like Albert Ayler’s Spiritual Unity, John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and Andrew Hill’s Point of Departure. But none sounds as far ahead of its time as Eric Dolphy's masterpiece Out to Lunch, recorded for Blue Note on Feb. 25, 1964. Half a century later it still sounds crazy in a good way. The organized mayhem starts with Dolphy’s tunes, often featuring wide, wide leaps in the melody and ratchet-gear rhythms. His composition “Straight Up and Down” was inspired by the careful walk of a drunk striving to stay upright. He improvised with that same kind of angular energy, and an excitable tone like a goosed goose.

    Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead on Eric Dolphy’s album Out to Lunch

  2. jazz

    eric dolphy

    review

    kevin whitehead