Jazz and Blues

Jazz Appreciation Month
10:11 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Song Of The Day: Blue Mitchell's 'I'll Close My Eyes'

smithsonianjazz.org

In the liner notes to the album "Blues' Moods," where you'll find today's song, trumpeter Blue Mitchell is referred to as the "middleweight champion of the trumpet." This was actually stolen from a line someone used about the tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, but I think it suits both men well. The gist of the comment is that while neither of these players were necessarily innovative or boundary-pushing, they could each play the heck out of their respective instruments!

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Jazz Appreciation Month
3:10 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Song Of The Day: Ingrid Jensen's 'At Sea'

smithsonianjazz.org

Ingrid Jensen, one of my favorite trumpet players, has one of the most distinctive sounds on the instrument today. I've described her approach to the horn as "vocal," and she's said she's just trying to sing her ideas through the instrument. This is not a new concept, but when I listen to her playing, I hear it in action.

Her technical command of trumpet is matched by her creative and emotional depth in ways that are thrilling to hear. Her compositions and improvisations take this listener on a journey, and any record with Ingrid on it is going to have moments of brilliance for sure.

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Jazz Appreciation Month
2:44 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Song Of The Day: One Of The Most Beautiful And Heartbreaking Tunes I Know

smithsonianjazz.org

Sarah Vaughan, or "Sassy" as she was known, is one of the great singers of the last century. She got an early start as both a piano player and singer, and was discovered in a talent show at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem in 1942 at 18 years old. This led to stints in the big bands of Earl Hines and Billy Ecksten where she met and played with so many of the greats of the music, including Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham, Art Blakey, Lucky Thompson, Gene Ammons and Dexter Gordon, among others.

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Jazz Appreciation Month
1:30 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Song Of The Day: Brian Blade And The Fellowship Band's 'Landmarks'

smithsonianjazz.org

Today we don't just have a song of the day, but a whole album! I was going to feature drummer Brian Blade and his Fellowship Band anyway, then noticed that NPR has his forthcoming album on its "First Listen" series today. So buckle in and prepare to be transported to another world. 

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Jazz Appreciation Month
3:38 pm
Sun April 20, 2014

Song Of The Day: Lionel Hampton's 'I Got A Heartful Of Music'

smithsonianjazz.org

Lionel Hampton is a towering figure in the world of jazz. He was one of the first people to play the vibraphone and make that instrument popular, he played in one of the first racially integrated bands in the world, and the list of people he played and recorded with reads like a who's who of jazz: Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, Wes Montgomery, Art Tatum, Stan Getz and on and on. It's also his birthday today, so I thought we'd fire up some of his best.

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Jazz Northwest
1:00 pm
Sun April 20, 2014

Kendra Shank And John Stowell Performing At SAM

Kendra Shank and John Stowell in concert at Seattle Art Museum.
Jim Levitt

Former Seattle resident Kendra Shank now lives in New York, and John Stowell resides in Portland when he's not touring. They first performed together in Portland over twenty years ago but when they re-discovered how much they liked making music together, it resulted in a new CD "New York Conversations."

The duo is currently on a West Coast tour with 13 dates which began in Seattle with a concert at The Seattle Art Museum.

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Jazz Appreciation Month
1:26 pm
Sat April 19, 2014

Song Of The Day: Vijay Iyer's 'Galang,' Trio Riot Version

smithsonianjazz.org

Pianist Vijay Iyer is one of the most celebrated and talked-about musicians of his generation. His list of accomplishments and accolades is impressive, including Grammy Nominations, Jazz Musician of the Year awards, and even a MacArthur Genius Award. His body of work is as broad as it is creative, and he's a powerful piano player and a skillful composer. He was recently added to the music faculty at Harvard, so he must be a pretty good teacher, too!

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Jazz Appreciation Month
9:42 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Song Of The Day: Sonny Rollins' 'Without A Song'

smithsonianjazz.org

“I want to be connecting with the subconscious, if I can call it that, because there are not to many words to describe the real deep inner part of a human being…I want to be at that place where everything is blotted out and where creativity happens, and to get there I practice, you know I’m a prolific practicer, I still practice every day…You have to have the skills, then you want to not think when you’re playing, that’s when you let whatever deep level of creativity, spirituality, I mean, you know these words are so inadequate these days but you want to get to this place where they exi

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Jazz Appreciation Month
2:15 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Song Of The Day: Roy Hargrove's 'Strasbourg-St. Denis'

smithsonianjazz.org

A "jazz standard" is defined as "a musical composition which is an important part of the musical repertoire of jazz musicians, in that they are widely known, performed, and recorded by jazz musicians, and widely known by listeners" (forgive me for quoting Wikipedia, but I think that's a pretty good description).

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Jazz Appreciation Month
2:41 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Song Of The Day: Joe Henderson's 'Ishfahan'

smithsonianjazz.org

Joe Henderson is one of those musicians that didn't gain huge recognition from the casual jazz lover, but every jazz musician and fanatic will sing his praises for days. He had awesome command of the tenor saxophone, a unique sound and harmonic conception, and composed some classics of the jazz idiom, including "Recorda Me" (which he wrote at 14 years old!), "Inner Urge" and "The Kicker." He was equally at home playing hard bop and more avant garde music, and had a real way with a ballad.

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Jazz Appreciation Month
2:36 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Song Of The Day, Lunar Eclipse Edition: Lee Morgan's 'Desert Moonlight'

smithsonianjazz.org

"There are no natural barriers. It's all music. It's either hip or it ain't." - Lee Morgan

Lee Morgan is one of the most recorded and celebrated trumpeters in jazz, and one of my personal favorites. His playing is brash, assured, big-toned and has a swagger not matched by many other trumpeters of his day or since.

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Jazz Appreciation Month
3:05 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Song Of The Day: Coltrane's Classics, Including A Beautiful Ballad For His Daughter

smithsonianjazz.org

“My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being. When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups...I want to speak to their souls.” ― John Coltrane

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Jazz Northwest
1:07 pm
Sun April 13, 2014

12th Annual Ballard Jazz Festival Preview

Mimi Fox, appearing at this year's Ballard Jazz Festival.
David Belove

Jazz artists from around the US will join resident musicians April 16-19 for the 12th annual Ballard Jazz Festival, and Jazz Northwest samples some of the music to be heard over the four-day event.   Festival artists featured this week on Jazz Northwest include Corey Christiansen, Jay Thomas, George Colligan, Thomas Marriott, Mimi Fox, and Sonny Fortune.

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Jazz Appreciation Month
8:00 am
Sun April 13, 2014

Song Of The Day: Thelonious Monk's 'Epistrophy'

smithsonianjazz.org

"A genius is the one most like himself." - Thelonious Monk

Pianist and composer Thelonious Sphere Monk is another true original. He did what very few other people have done, which is to develop a distinctive, unique sound on the piano. It's much harder to sound different on the piano because so many of the variables are out of your control, but through his heavy touch, his concept of the music and his unique harmonic sensibilities Monk really stands out.

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Jazz Appreciation Month
1:30 pm
Sat April 12, 2014

Song Of The Day: Ella Fitzgerald Takes Scatting To New Level With ‘Airmail Special’

smithsonianjazz.org

“Just don't give up on trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong.” - Ella Fitzgerald

Yesterday I mentioned that we'd talk about Thelonious Monk today, but I realized that it's Ella Fitzgerald's birthday, so I'd be remiss if I didn't feature her.

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