Seth Wenig / AP

Update: Marian McPartland died of natural causes Tuesday night at her home in Long Island, N.Y. As a remembrance, we are rerunning this piece, which first ran in October 2012. 

A new book chronicles the life and illustrious career of jazz piano legend Marian McPartland. She's known for her role as host of Piano Jazz on NPR for more than three decades, but her fans have known little else about Marian McPartland. Until now.

We are putting together a list of the 50 Quintessential Jazz Vocals of All Time. 

According to who? Well, according to you!  

This is your chance to cast your vote for the songs you think should be on a 'best-of'' jazz vocals list. Vote for up to three songs, and please include the song title and artist's name. 

After we compile the results, the quintessential 50 will be available for streaming on Jazz24.org and KPLU.org.


Justin Steyer / KPLU

KPLU’s much-anticipated free holiday concert, featured guest artists, Gypsy-Jazz masters Pearl Django live from Lagerquist Hall in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center on the Pacific Lutheran University campus. 

Pearl Django performed Christmas selections with the University Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Dr. David Deacon-Joyner. The event, hosted by Nick Morrison, can be listened to in its entirety above, and will also re-broadcast on KPLU Christmas Day from 2 p.m. - 3 p.m.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Graham Dechter is a 26-year-old jazz guitarist who is, indeed, currently living his dream. 

Graham was invited to join the world-famous Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra at age 19. Now, 7 years later, he is leading his own group and just released his second CD, “Takin' It There.”  

Here is a video of the quartet performing the title track, "Takin' It There" live in our studios: 

Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, responsible for the recording of the seminal album Time Out which still ranks as one of the best selling albums of all-time, and the first jazz musician to have a single sell 1 millions albums, died this morning of heart failure. He was 91.

In 1951, he formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet, and made a regular habit of touring and and performing at college campuses, bringing his musical approach to a younger audience. In 1954, Brubeck became only the second musician at that time to appear on the cover of Time Magazine.

The career that Brubeck sustained had an enormous impact on musicians and fans.

Read More on Groove Notes

To listen to Neda Ulaby's appreciation of Dave Brubeck's life and career, as heard on All Things Considered, click the audio link.

For millions of Americans who came of age in the 1950s, Dave Brubeck was jazz. His performances on college campuses, Top 40 radio play, his role as a jazz ambassador for the U.S., his picture on the cover of Time magazine — all made him one of the most recognized and recognizable musicians of the era.

He died Wednesday morning, the day before his 92nd birthday, in Norwalk, Conn. The cause was heart failure.

Wikimedia Commons

Jazz icon Dave Brubeck has died this morning in a Connecticut hospital one day short of his 92nd birthday. 

Long-time manager-producer-conductor Russell Gloyd told The Chicago Tribune that Brubeck died of heart failure en route to "a regular treatment with his cardiologist." 

Brubeck attained pop-star status over the course of his long career with songs such as "Blue Rondo a la Turk" and "Take Five" (which easily secured the #1 spot on our Jazz 100 list).

"Lorraine Feather was born in Manhattan. Her parents named her Billie Jane Lee Lorraine after godmother Billie Holiday, her mother Jane (formerly a big band singer), her mother's ex-roommate Peggy Lee, and the song "Sweet Lorraine." She is the daughter of the late jazz writer Leonard Feather."

Bob French, New Orleans drummer and bandleader, has died

Nov 13, 2012

Bob French, an iconic New Orleans drummer who led the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band for decades, died Monday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. He was 74.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

It’s no wonder that pianist, Bill Charlap, loves the music that has come to be called The Great American Songbook—the songs of great Tin Pan Alley composers such as Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin.  

He grew up with it. 

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Vocalist, Catherine Russell was raised in a musical family.  Her father, Luis, was Louis Armstrong’s band-leader and her mother, Carline Ray, was a member of the International Sweethearts Of Rhythm.

KPLU is now accepting applications for 2012/2013 (Volume 9) from schools that are new to the School of Jazz program. The goal is to work with diverse schools and jazz programs: those with award-winning jazz bands, those who crave mentoring, and/or those who want the experience of recording a CD.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Curtis Stigers is a singer, songwriter, saxophonist who loves the great Tin Pan Alley songs of George Gershwin and Cole Porter, but finds a greater creative challenge in doing jazz versions of songs by more contemporary songwriters. 

Justin Steyer / KPLU

In this studio session, hosted by Kevin Kniestedt, we’re pleased to introduce you to a woman who we believe is one of the finest up-and-coming international jazz talents to come along in years, Halie Loren. 

When listening to Diana Krall's fun, smart new recording Glad Rag Doll, it's helpful to consider a question recently posed by Gyp Rosetti, the sensitive psychopath lending sparks to this season of HBO's Prohibition-era series Boardwalk Empire.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

The Fall Fund Drive is already half way over, and will end at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday. If you enjoy our studio sessions, and all of the programming you hear each day on KPLU, please show your support today and help us reach our goal of $400,000 in 4 days before time runs out!

Speaking of studio sessions, let's take a look back at the five most popular in-studio performances from the past year:

Justin Steyer / KPLU

On a tour to promote their first collaboration, Crossing The Imaginary Divide, Bela Fleck and the Marcus Roberts Trio stopped by the KPLU Seattle studios for a live performance and interview, hosted by Mary McCann.  If you’re looking for music that will lift your heart, this is the session for you!

For conservatory-trained jazz musicians, it's a scary job market out there. Saxophonist Dave Liebman, an NEA Jazz Master and veteran statesman, paints a bleak picture:

In the current world of jazz education, the situation vis a vis graduating more and more of the most equipped musicians in history (every year more so) in stark contrast to the scarcity of paid performance and recording opportunities has assumed epic disproportion. To deny this would be like ignoring global warming. Serious educators are and should be concerned.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Pianist Cyrus Chestnut came onto the jazz scene slowly. From the mid-1980’s to mid-1990’s, he apprenticed as pianist for Jon Hendricks, Better Carter, Donald Harrison and Wynton Marsalis. Since then he has toured the world numerous times and recorded 15 albums as a leader.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Bellingham jazz singer, Cheryl Jewell, was raised in Oak Harbor, Washington.  When she went to college in Bellingham, she fell in love with that city.  She left only to pursue her singing career in Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles. 

After working for several years as a rock and country singer, Cheryl decided to move back to Bellingham and pursue her first musical love—jazz.  With the release of her first jazz CD, My Blue Heaven, Cheryl has placed herself on the top shelf of West Coast jazz singers. 

Last week, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz announced the 12 semi-finalists for its annual competition for young musicians, often seen as the most prestigious in jazz today.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Over the past 20 years, vocalist, Karrin Allyson, has recorded 13 albums that cover a vast musical territory. She’s explored The Great American Songbook, the musical styles of Brazil and France, the blues and the work of more contemporary songwriters. She’s recorded a tribute to John Coltrane, a CD of late-night ballads and earned 4 Grammy nominations.

Despite being so busy, every time her tour schedule brings her to Seattle, she visits her friend, jazz host Dick Stein, in the KPLU/Jazz24 performance studio to give us a sample of the music she currently exploring ... and there’s no telling what that might be.

photo by Jim Wilke

Carlos Cascante and Tumbao played this month’s Seattle Art Museum Art of Jazz concert outdoors at the Olympic Sculpture Park by Elliott Bay.  A large crowd and lots of dancers joined the celebration in the Seattle sunshine.  Highlights from the concert will air on Jazz Northwest on 88.5, KPLU on Sunday, August 19 at 1 PM PDT.   

Johnny Mandel playing at Jazz Port Townsend
Jim Levitt

Johnny Mandel has enjoyed a seven-decade musical career that began in the 40s as a trombonist and arranger in big bands of Woody Herman, Count Basie and others.  He went on to greater fame as a film composer after settling in LA in the 50s, where he penned scores for “I Want To Live,” “The Sandpiper,” “The Americanization of Emily,” “Mash” and many others including popular songs “Close Enough for Love” and “A Time for Love”.  

Andrea Corniel Photography

Latin Jazz is rich with percussion and compelling sounds.  Most of the percussion instruments originate from Africa, and are tied to spiritual and religious ceremonies.  Here are a couple of favorites:

Sonny Watson's Streetswing.com

According to Rebeca Mauleon's indispensable "Salsa Guidebook for Piano and Ensemble,"  the Mambo is:

An up-tempo dance style, developed through the 1940s and 1950s, which blended several elements of North American instrumentation and harmony with the Cuban son (a style of popular dance music that combined Spanish and African elements).

I know. I know. It is widely assumed and believed that smell is the strongest sense tied to memory. But for me (and a handful of musicians that I spoke to), music – in some cases even just a few bars of a song -  can draw upon some of the most powerful memories in a persons life.

Read more on Groove Notes.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Just in case you haven’t noticed, pianist Ramsey Lewis is having a great career. 

He’s won Grammy awards, hosted successful television and radio jazz programs and even had cross-over hit records on the pop music charts (quite by accident, he assures us).  He’s been playing professionally since about 1950 and has released more than 80 albums so far. 

One of the great things about jazz is that it bridges generations. Because it relies on interactive improvisation and live performance, and thus can't be completely taught in a classroom or with a book, aspiring younger musicians seek the direct guidance of older, wiser ones. And more experienced musicians have plenty of reasons to take fresh talent under their wings, like gaining new bandmates with fresh skill sets, or helping future torch-bearers to thrive.