Jazz and Blues

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 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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Jazz Appreciation Month
1:48 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Song Of The Day: Charles Mingus' 'Better Get It In Your Soul'

smithsonianjazz.org

"Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple." - Charles Mingus

Bassist and composer Charles Mingus was a true original. Everything he did was from his heart and was remarkably fresh while still respecting the tradition of jazz. He led his own bands of various sizes from the '50s until his death in the late '70s. His best known bands were medium-sized ensembles of eight to 12 musicians, which is fairly uncommon but allowed him to sound both like a big band and a smaller ensemble as he saw fit.

His compositions are remarkable in that they are both highly-structured and very free at the same time. He was a big fan of collective improvisation, which dates back to the early jazz from New Orleans that we talked about when discussing Louis Armstrong.

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Jazz Appreciation Month
11:00 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Song Of The Day: Darcy James Argue's Secret Society 'Transit'

smithsonianjazz.org

“Jazz isn’t dead, it just smells funny” – Frank Zappa

Since the 1980s, there has been much talk about the “death” of jazz. Some people claim that since that time jazz music has become a kind of museum piece, with current musicians just trying to recreate what has happened in the past.

This view came about because in the early '80s there was a big crop of young musicians who were reacting to the fusion and electrified jazz of the' 70s, and in so doing they were trying to bring jazz back to where it was in the '60s before fusion hit. For better or for worse, these musicians got a lot of press and attention and their brand of retro-jazz became the predominant model. While all this is undisputed, those who say jazz is dead just aren’t paying attention!

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Jazz Appreciation Month
10:38 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Song Of The Day: Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers 'Moanin''

smithsonianjazz.org

Today we turn our attention to drummer and band leader Art Blakey. Blakey was one of the most powerful and gregarious drummers in jazz, and not many can match his sheer exuberance and communication. However, he is most known for his band, The Jazz Messengers, which he led from the early '50s until his death in 1990.

In that nearly 40-year span, almost every great young jazz musician went through the band. Blakey would hire the best young cats he could find, make them all compose for the band, teach them all he could, and then kick them out to become their own leaders, only to start the process over again. "Jazz University" was what they called the band.

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Jazz Appreciation Month
11:00 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Song Of The Day: Freddie Hubbard's 'Birdlike'

Freddie Hubbard was one of the most powerful and expressive trumpet players in the history of jazz. He started playing professionally in his teens, moved to New York at 20, and immediately began playing with the top jazz musicians of the day, including Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones, Eric Dolphy and others.

He is primarily associated with what's called "hard-bop,” a sub-genre that came after bebop and focused more on soul and blues and less on complicated chord changes. But he was at home in almost any setting, from the free jazz of Dolphy to the the big band of Jones and more.

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Jazz Appreciation Month
8:00 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Song Of The Day: On Her Birthday, Billie Holiday's 'Strange Fruit'

smithsonianjazz.org

"No two people on earth are alike, and it's got to be that way in music or it isn't music. If I'm going to sing like someone else, then I don't need to sing at all." - Billie Holiday

Today would have been the 98th birthday of Billie Holiday, so I can't think of a better person to feature.

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Jazz Appreciation Month
8:00 am
Sun April 6, 2014

Song Of The Day: Perhaps The Most Famous 12 Seconds In All Of Jazz

smithsonianjazz.org

"What we play is life. You blows what you is" - Louis Armstrong

While Louis Armstrong wasn't the first jazz musician, he is considered the father of us all musically. Like Charlie Parker, his importance to the music — to all music — cannot be overstated. He is one of the few people who changed the music forever, and he was the first true soloist in jazz.

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Jazz Appreciation Month
8:00 am
Sat April 5, 2014

Song Of The Day: Parker's 'Ornithology' And Goodman's 'How High The Moon'

smithsonianjazz.org

"Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art. I kept thinking there’s bound to be something else? I could hear it sometimes, but I couldn’t play it." - Charlie Parker

Bebop. This subgenre of jazz has become the defining style for the last 70 years. Over the years, other subgenres have come and gone, but bebop is still the yardstick by which jazz musicians are measured.

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Jazz Appreciation Month
11:18 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Song Of The Day: Coleman Hawkins And The Birth Of Bebop

smithsonianjazz.org

"The language of jazz is built on small phrases — riffs that pass like coveted currency from one musician and one generation to the next. But every now and then, there comes a moment when that tried-and-true vocabulary no longer serves, and by rejecting it, an artist arrives at a statement that nudges or catapults the music in new directions." - Tom Moon, NPR

In order to talk about bebop, we need some historical perspective. So we'll start a few years before the beginnings of the bebop era, in 1939. 

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Jazz Appreciation Month
11:30 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Song Of The Day: Two Versions Of 'Take The 'A' Train' By Two Jazz Greats

smithsonianjazz.org

Today I have a little bonus for you, as I'm presenting for your listening pleasure TWO versions of the classic tune "Take the 'A' Train,” written by Billy Strayhorn for the Duke Ellington Orchestra. 

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Jazz Appreciation Month
10:37 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Song Of The Day: Dave Brubeck's 'Take Five'

smithsonianjazz.org

Welcome to Day 2 of Jazz Appreciation Month! Today we turn our ears to Dave Brubeck, another one of the towering figures in jazz.

Brubeck had a 60-year career and played into his 80s before he passed away last year. Loved by many, he is one of the few jazz artists to cross over to a non-jazz audience. He released an album called “Time Out” in 1959 with his quartet that was the first jazz album to be certified platinum (1,000,000 copies sold).

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