'Jazz Night In America' Remembers Artists We Lost In 2019 We are showing our deep appreciation for some of the greats who left us in 2019: Dr. John, Joseph Jarman, Ethel Ennis, Larry Willis, Ray Santos and Harold Mabern.

Dr. John performs onstage during Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival on Sept. 26, 2015 in Franklin, Tenn. Jason Davis/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Jason Davis/Getty Images

Dr. John performs onstage during Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival on Sept. 26, 2015 in Franklin, Tenn.

Jason Davis/Getty Images

Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program

'Jazz Night In America' Remembers Artists We Lost In 2019WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

'Jazz Night In America' Remembers Artists We Lost In 2019

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/791073108/791221476" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Just over 40 years ago, Joseph Jarman published a book of poetry that opens with a chant: "we pray o God / for the ego / death." Jarman, a visionary saxophonist and composer, was writing mainly about transcendence of the self. But he keenly understood the power of a collective, which presses each individual into the service of a greater whole.

That selfless state of being unites all of the artists on our In Memoriam show. In addition to Joseph Jarman — who is beautifully remembered by a longtime collaborator, pianist Myra Melford — we'll celebrate other brilliant musicians who lifted all around them.

It's a Jazz Night in America tradition to seek out stories from those who knew the artists best. So we'll hear about post-bop piano virtuoso Harold Mabern from a former student and longtime band mate, saxophonist Eric Alexander. Another brilliant pianist, Larry Willis, is remembered by NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a childhood friend. The radiant singer Ethel Ennis, known as Baltimore's First Lady of Jazz, gets a testimonial from pianist Cyrus Chestnut, one of many hometown musicians who moved through her orbit. And saxophonist / composer / arranger Ray Santos receives a glowing encomium from Latin jazz titan Eddie Palmieri.

You could characterize all of these artists as crucial behind-the-scenes types rather than natural headliners. You probably couldn't say the same about Dr. John, the New Orleans pianist and vocalist extraordinaire — but as Jon Batiste notes in his remembrance, he was "the manifestation of a cultural phenomenon." That's another way of saying: he was part of something bigger than himself.

Set List:

  • "I Walk On Guilded Splinters" (Dr. John)
  • "Old Time Southside Street Dance" (Joseph Jarman)
  • "Hey You" (Ethel Ennis)
  • "To Wisdom, The Prize" (Larry Willis)
  • "Hey There" (Jerry Ross, Richard Adler)
  • "Mi Congo" (Eddie Palmieri) arranged by Ray Santos

Credits:

Host: Christian McBride; Producer: Sarah Geledi; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Executive Producers: Anya Grundman, Gabrielle Armand and Amy Niles; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Jon Batiste performs during Tiny Desk on November, 8 2019. (Photo by Mhari Shaw/NPR) Mhari Shaw/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Mhari Shaw/NPR

Jon Batiste

Jon Batiste's Tiny Desk Concert was published prematurely. The new publication date is March 2020.

Spanglish Fly performs at a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 9, 2019. (Emily Bogle/NPR) Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Emily Bogle/NPR

Spanglish Fly

Spanglish Fly is one of the pioneers of the boogaloo revival scene happening on the East Coast. For about sixteen minutes, they turned the NPR Music offices into the hottest Latin dance club in D.C.

Herbie Tsoaeli Steve Gordon/Musicpics.co.za hide caption

toggle caption Steve Gordon/Musicpics.co.za

The South African Songbook: Jazz Musicians Who Stayed During Apartheid

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

We celebrate 25 Years of democracy in South Africa by focusing on the trailblazers that stayed during the brutal era of apartheid, featuring Herbie Tsoaeli and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

The South African Songbook: Jazz Musicians Who Stayed During Apartheid

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/789310873/789442955" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Moonchild performs during a Tiny Desk concert, on Oct. 17, 2019. (Catie Dull/NPR) Catie Dull/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Catie Dull/NPR

Moonchild

The LA-based trio makes an intricate blend of jazz, R&B and hip-hop. For their Tiny Desk set, they pulled out all the stops: flutes, flugelhorns, saxophones, keyboards, ukuleles and more.

The Comet Is Coming performs during a Tiny Desk concert, on Oct. 2, 2019. (Catie Dull/NPR) Catie Dull/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Catie Dull/NPR

The Comet Is Coming

The Comet is Coming is a force of nature. The British trio makes the kind of instrumental jazz that takes music lovers out of their comfort zone and into a musical realm they may never have explored.

Snarky Puppy performs during a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 12, 2019. Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Emily Bogle/NPR

Snarky Puppy

The jazz, funk and gospel improv group brought jams and joy to the Tiny Desk.

Leslie Odom Jr. plays a Tiny Desk Concert Ben de la Cruz/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ben de la Cruz/NPR

Leslie Odom Jr.

The Tony- and Grammy-winning singer, actor, author and Hamilton star performs three songs from Mr, his genre-bending new solo album.

From left to right: Quianna Lynell, Jeremy Bosch and trio Duchess. Eye Wander; Fer Casillas; Shervin Lainez/Courtesy of the Artists hide caption

toggle caption Eye Wander; Fer Casillas; Shervin Lainez/Courtesy of the Artists

Take Three: Three Different Styles of Jazz Vocalists

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Jazz Night in America offers a three-artist sampler of vocalists. Get introduced to the gospel roots of Quiana Lynell, the salsa stylings of Jeremy Bosch and the harmonizing trio Duchess.

Take Three: Three Different Styles of Jazz Vocalists

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/774836857/775129222" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Jonathan Chimene/Courtesy of the Artist

Andy Bey At 80: A Love Letter To A Jazz Legend

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

We revisit pianist, singer and composer Andy Bey throughout his life: growing up in Newark, N.J., working with Horace Silver, performing during his 1990s renaissance and now, looking back at 80.

Andy Bey At 80: A Love Letter To A Jazz Legend

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/773110485/773122402" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top