music news

Amiri Baraka’s Legacy Both Controversial And Achingly Beautiful

One of America’s most important — and controversial — literary figures, Amiri Baraka, died on Thursday from complications after surgery following a long illness, according to his oldest son. Baraka was 79. Baraka co-founded the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. His literary legacy is as complicated as the times he lived through, from his […]

The Drummer Who Invented Jazz’s Basic Beat

It doesn’t take an expert to identify this sound as a jazz rhythm: Musicians call it “spang-a-lang,” for obvious phonetic reasons, and it’s so synonymous with jazz, it no longer occurs to us that someone had to invent it. But someone did: a drummer named Kenny Clarke, who would have turned 100 today. Spang-a-lang was […]

Sax Great Jimmy Heath ‘Walked With Giants,’ And He’s Still Here

In the room he uses as a practice space and office in his apartment in Corona, Queens, Jimmy Heath recalls a hit record from long ago. “It’s a song Bill Farrell, a popular singer, had years ago,” he says, and then sings: “You’ve changed, you’re not the angel I once knew / No need to […]

Yusef Lateef Is Dead at 93

Few jazz musicians balanced intellect and instinct, head and heart, as effectively or seamlessly as Yusef Lateef, who died at 93 on Monday, at home in Massachusetts. His prescience and influence as a player and composer were mighty, and often go overlooked, maybe because his innovations resulted in such likable, lucid music, based often in […]

Robert J. Appel Pledges Unprecedented $20 Million Gift to Jazz at Lincoln Center

Jazz at Lincoln Center announced an unprecedented gift of $20 million from Robert J. Appel, the organizations Chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. Appels gift is the largest single private philanthropic contribution to date in support of jazz, and will benefit the thousands of performance, education and broadcast events Jazz at Lincoln Center produces […]

Wade In The Water: 5 Jazz Takes On Spirituals

By David Brent Johnson The African-American religious folk songs known as spirituals grew out of the slavery experience and the introduction of Christianity into slaves’ lives. Though rooted in African musical tradition, they reflected life in a strange and terribly oppressive new world. Often improvisations upon older hymns, they became entirely new songs — songs […]

William Parker’s Abstract Grooves Collected In Box Set

By Kevin Whitehead Steve Lacy used to say that the right partner can help you make music you couldn’t get to by yourself. Take the quartet William Parker founded in 2000, for example. Parker’s bass tone was always sturdy as a tree trunk, but power drummer Hamid Drake gives him lift. The upshot is that […]

27 Years Ago, Keith Jarrett Was A One-Man Band

By Banning Eyre Keith Jarrett is a jazz legend. His catalog of recordings includes solo piano improvisations, trio and quartet works, classical performances, early sessions with Charles Lloyd and late ones with Miles Davis. But there’s nothing quite like Jarrett’s new double-CD set No End: It was recorded in his home studio in 1986, and […]

Ben Allison: Leading A Stellar Band Far Beyond The World

By NPR Staff Most music fans will recognize the title of Ben Allison’s new album, The Stars Look Very Different Today, as a reference to the song “Space Oddity,” itself a reference to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The era that birthed David Bowie and Stanley Kubrick’s respective masterpieces had a lasting effect on […]

Bringing Jazz On Walkabout: Jon Batiste And Stay Human

By NPR Staff Pianist Jonathan Batiste was born and raised in New Orleans as part of the Batiste jazz family dynasty there. He was playing with the family band by age 8. Eventually he took his talents to Julliard, and that’s where he met the rest of Stay Human: Joe Saylor on the drums, Ibanda […]

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