WFIUThe songs were a byproduct of slavery in the U.S. But after being passed along by generations of African-American musicians, they were later embraced by a variety of improvisers, including Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Grant Green and John Coltrane.
Take Five: A Weekly Jazz Sampler
Get to know jazz, five songs at a time.
Professing love for Bob James' music can yield a side-eye in some circles, as his 1970s work is seen as a progenitor to smooth jazz. But he certainly knew his way around a catchy melody and an infectious riff — as legions of rap and house producers have discovered through sampling.
WBGOAs a fledgling classical soprano in New York, Norman went to hear singers like Mabel Mercer perform. She tells WBGO's Rhonda Hamilton that her study of jazz vocalists influenced the way she interprets songs — including operatic arias.
KMHDIn the '50s, Jamaican musicians combined Caribbean calypso and American jazz and R&B to create ska — the foundation of future developments like reggae. Now, jazz musicians are closing the circle of influence. For late summer, here are five songs inspired by the island's characteristic riddims.
The jazz trumpeter who made his first recordings 50 years ago this summer might be his instrument's least appreciated giant. Perhaps the trumpeter of the 1970s, Shaw was an icon for the generation that followed, as well as an innovator on his horn.
Whether career sidemen, appealing experimentalists or critically acclaimed bands finally getting a look, new names are getting invited to the granddaddy of jazz festivals with greater frequency. Hear music from some of this year's crop, including Jonathan Batiste, David Gilmore and Dee Alexander.
Jazz has become a point of pride for Americans: a homegrown art form forged from folk traditions. Still, the black jazz pioneers who lived through eras of discrimination have a complicated sense of pride in the U.S. Hear five improvised takes on American patriotic songs, from the reverent to the ironic.
WBGOMontreal is a city of two cultures: French and English, usually commingling, sometimes colliding. The Montreal International Jazz Festival — Canada's grandest music event of the year — props up the city's elite Francophones. Here are five French or Quebecois artists featured this year.
WFIUThe great composer and bandleader was distraught over the 1967 death of Billy Strayhorn, his songwriting and arranging partner of 28 years. But Ellington took Strayhorn's passing as an impetus, born of necessity, to increase his own productivity. Here are five examples.
He was a soulful reedman, an amazing talent scout for decades and a bandleader of one of the country's most popular acts. Born in 1913, Herman led "Thundering Herds" that were both big draws and well-respected by the likes of Igor Stravinsky. Here are five recordings which still sound fresh today.
Clarinetist and composer Ben Goldberg says his is an "instrument that at times responds better to the oblique glance than direct confrontation." He picks five players who have worked with the difficult horn, yielding unique and personal beauty in the process.
WBGOBremen may be best known for its love of soccer and Beck's beer. But in April, more than 20,000 jazz fans and industry professionals descend upon the German port city for a festival designed specifically to showcase new acts from across Europe.
Jazz24The advent of bebop added a fresh sound to American music. It also added new voices to some metropolitan radio stations: the late-night jazz DJs who specialized in presenting this new music to their fellow hipster nightflies. Appreciative musicians often wrote them tributes like these.
WBGOFor centuries, the country turned its back on black musicians — including the jazz artists whose creations embodied freedom and empowerment. Today, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is one of Africa's largest musical gatherings. Here are five musicians who played the festival this year.
WFIUMusicians like Lil Hardin Armstrong, Carla Bley and Mary Lou Williams didn't just make it in the historically male-dominated field of jazz: They were the driving forces behind their own bands. Hear five pioneering examples of women who composed for and directed their own groups.