Journalist and blogger Marc Meyers is on quite a roll, interviewing jazz greats... starting with Sonny Rollins, who will celebrate his 80th birthday with a performance at the Beacon Theatre: (Excerpt) "Given the pending milestones, I had suggested to Mr. Rollins that we revisit the Harlem of his youth from the comfort of a Lincoln Town Car. The point was to see the turf that helped shape him as an artist. He agreed."
Myers also profiles the great singer and songwriter Mose Allison: (Excerpt) "Growing up, Mr. Allison listened hard to his cousin's Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines and Albert Ammons records. There also were formal piano lessons from a teacher who lived "right across the creek." In high school, he played trumpet and boogie-woogie piano."
NPR hosted a "Tiny Desk" concert from the Nels Cline Singers: (Excerpt) "Don't let the name fool you: His supporting players, bassist Devin Hoff and drummer Scott Amendola, do not sing. Instead, Cline creates spacious and highly textured, simultaneously beautiful and discordant instrumentals. They're also wholly original. To an untrained ear, these jazz-inflected songs could sound like formless improvisations and bursts of noise. But amidst the sharp single-note runs and occasional feedback, there's a lot of complexity and structure to these dynamic compositions."
NPR is also streaming the new album from The Bad Plus: (excerpt) "That Bad Plus "sound" offers little in the way of jazz as popularly imagined. The band's compositions, which come from all three members, have a sophisticated architecture; they also have an impish, understated glee that can be mistaken for irony ("Beryl Loves to Dance," "My Friend Metatron"). There are big, throbbing beats ("Never Stop"), free-improv spasms ("2 p.m."), non-bluesy but harmonically intriguing chord voicings (like, everything). It's an improvising piano-bass-drums group — a celebrated jazz layout, with musicians fluent in the standard tongues of jazz — which probably wouldn't mind if you called it a weirdo instrumental rock band."
Saxophonist Ellery Eskelin blogs about the intersection of art and music: (Excerpt) "So what if we had more situations in which this music were available during waking hours and made easier for the public to encounter? I gotta think it would be nothing if not completely positive. Sure, not everyone will like everything they hear. But there are few more deeply rewarding experiences for listeners and musicians alike as when someone is emotionally moved by music that they might otherwise never have even imagined. Just the act of attentive listening in and of itself seems almost a subversive act in our culture."
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