Jazz and Blues

Jazz Appreciation Month
9:46 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Song Of The Day: Miles Davis' 'So What'

smithsonianjazz.org

In honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, I’ll be posting a jazz song of the day each day in April. Some of these songs you’ll be very familiar with; some may be new to you. This is a completely subjective list of some of my favorites, and I’m sure your list would have some overlap and some differences. That’s one great thing about jazz: there’s something for everyone!

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Seattle's Jazz History
5:00 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Once Hub Of Seattle's Jazz Scene, 100-Year-Old Washington Hall Continuing Arts Tradition

Washington Hall as it looked like back in the day.
Puget Sound Regional Archives

Seattle had more than two dozen jazz clubs at the height of the jazz era. Only one of them is still catering to live music: the 100-year-old Washington Hall.

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Jazz and Blues
9:00 am
Sat March 15, 2014

Why Jazz Fans Shouldn't Be So Quick To Dismiss Pop Music

Cannonball Adderley
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

I belong to a Facebook group called “Jam Of The Week.” Each week, the group’s founder, a wonderful Portland trumpet player named Farnell Newton, picks a jazz tune, and any musician from anywhere in the world can post a video of himself or herself playing a one chorus solo over the tune.

In about a month the group had more than 10,000 members, and hundreds and hundreds of videos posted. (Check it out if you get a chance, even if you’re not a musician.)

The other day, one of the members posted the idea of using a pop song one week. The comments that ensued were varied, but many of the jazz snobs on the site reacted negatively to this idea, with many of them slamming pop music as a whole as vacuous and worthless to jazz musicians.

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Jazz and Blues
11:39 am
Sat March 1, 2014

I’ve Seen The Future Of Jazz, And It’s In Good Hands

Like many jazz musicians, I spend a considerable amount of time teaching young people about the music. In the jazz community there is a strong “pay-it-forward” ethic, and most of my peers feel an obligation to pass on what we’ve learned to the next generation. This is just one of the many things I love about jazz musicians.

Even so, sometimes I wonder if the lessons of the jazz giants who came before me will be lost as we move 40, 50, even 60 years past the days when these giants moved among us. Every year we get further removed from Duke, Miles, Trane, Sonny, Diz, Monk, Blakey, Ella and Evans, and those that played with them or knew them personally. There will soon come a day when all the stories of and lessons from these jazz greats will be at least third-hand.

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

The long flight of Muddy's 'Honey Bee'

Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters was born in rural Mississippi, and learned his blues at the feet of Son House and Robert Johnson.

By the 1940’s he took that delta blues to Chicago and led the gradual transition to electrified urban blues. He then recorded “Honey Bee” in 1951 with just bass and guitar accompaniment. The sound was closer to the delta, but you can hear the beginnings of the more aggressive modern sound starting to happen.

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Jazz and Blues
9:36 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Three Local Schools, Including First-Timer, Named Finalists In Essentially Ellington

Rooseveltjazz.org

Three western Washington high schools are among the 15 finalists in the annual Essentially Ellington competition and festival in New York.

Garfield High School, Roosevelt High School and first-timer Mount Si High School will compete against other finalists from around the country at the Lincoln Center in May. 

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Jazz Caliente
12:00 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Candido Camero Honored At Jazz Education Network Conference

Candido Camero
salsa.com

The Jazz Education Network (JEN) created a new award called  "Keepers of the Flame:  LeJENds of Latin Jazz." Presented at the annual JEN Conference in January, the award's first recipient was NEA Jazz Master Candido Camero.

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Jazz and Blues
11:44 am
Sun February 9, 2014

How A Stressful Night For Miles Davis Spawned Two Classic Albums

Detail from the cover of Miles Davis' Four & More. The album was one of two gleaned from a 1964 concert at Philharmonic Hall in New York.
Album cover

Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 8:44 am

Fifty years ago, on Feb. 12, 1964, Miles Davis led a band through one of the most exciting gigs to ever take place at New York's Philharmonic Hall. The show was a cultural event: a benefit for voter registration in Louisiana and Mississippi at the high point of the the civil rights movement, and an unofficial homage to John F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated a few months before.

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Hendrix inspired by Earl King's 'Come On'

Earl King

Earl King is one of the great songwriters and performers to come out of New Orleans, and his legacy continues to live on. Many of his compositions, including “Big Chief," “Trick Bag” and “These Lonely, Lonely Nights” have become an important part of the New Orleans “songbook."

His 1960 recording of “Come On Pts. 1 & 2” is punctuated with many starts and stops, featuring his expressive voice and aggressive and precise guitar work. If you look through Jimi Hendrix’s early releases, there are only a handful of songs among the dozens that he did not write. Earl King’s “Come On” is one of those.

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

'Black Rat' comes from the most powerful singer to walk the Earth

Big Mama Thornton

The urban blues of places like Detroit and Chicago came from country blues. Little Son Joe and his better known partner Memphis Minnie were among the players who brought the blues to the cities, paving the way for Muddy Waters and others who would follow.

Memphis Minnie is known as one of the best guitarists and singers in the blues, and had a prolific career lasting 40 years. She married Little Son Joe (Ernest Lawlars) in the late 1930’s and they recorded “Black Rat Swing” in 1941 with Joe on vocals.

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Jazz and Blues
10:00 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Join Nancy Leson And KPLU Listeners In San Francisco This March!

KPLU is excited to announce our first listener trip of the year, which you won't want to miss:A Taste of San Francisco”—a jazz, food and art lover’s trip to the City by the Bay (and home of Rice-a-Roni), March 20-23, 2014—with special guest, KPLU's Food for Thought commentator Nancy Leson.  The trip features Wynton Marsalis in concert at the new, state-of-the-art SFJAZZ Center, culinary tours, and a visit to the renowned de Young Museum

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Best Of 2013
1:00 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

10 Artists You Should Have Known In 2013

Trampled Under Foot
Courtesy of the artist

It's usually easy to keep up with your favorite artists. You can follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook and check them out when they come to your town.

Falling in love with unfamiliar bands? That's not quite as simple. There are so many aspiring musicians out there, you can't possibly listen to all of them.

But a few lucky people get to listen to random new artists for a living, including public radio hosts. So we asked NPR stations around the country to highlight their favorite musical discoveries of the year. The results ranged from a Pulitzer Prize winner to stars of the Kansas City BBQ circuit.

Read on for more about the 10 artists you should have known in 2013.

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Blues Time Machine
7:00 am
Sat December 14, 2013

'Cold Shot,' Stevie Ray Vaughan's real Texas Shuffle

Stevie Ray Vaughan
Scott Newton

Stevie Ray Vaughan almost single-handedly brought blues to the mainstream in the 1980’s and 90’s with over a dozen Billboard singles and four Grammy awards. He’ll always be considered one of the most original guitar players of all time.

Though musically untrained, he was an astute student of the blues, and much of what he popularized is built on the work of his fellow Texas bluesmen.

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Everybody's got the 'Fever,' but Peggy Lee's got it bad

Little WIllie John

Chances are you’ve heard Peggy Lee’s iconic version of “Fever”– it’s one of the steamiest love songs ever written. But the original recording was released two years earlier by Little Willie John in 1956.

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Blues Time Machine
12:00 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

'Kokomo Blues' Among the Roots of 'Sweet Home Chicago'

“Sweet Home Chicago” is one of the best known blues songs ever written. But historians seem to agree that when Robert Johnson recorded the song in 1936, he borrowed heavily to make his masterpiece.

“Kokomo Blues” is clearly one of the building blocks of that better known blues song. Scrapper Blackwell came out with it in 1928.

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