Tonight, we're live at the Village Vanguard with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. The VJO plays every Monday night and generally packs the joint. Show starts at 9 p.m. ET; we'll have chat and live video tonight, and a recording tomorrow. Join us?
Tonight is also our 50th edition of the Live at the Village Vanguard series (npr.org/villagevanguard), produced by WBGO and hosted here at NPR Music. I've heard all 50, which hasn't been too hard; I've sat at my desk at NPR headquarters web-monkeying for the overwhelming majority of them. I'm biased, but I don't hear a dud in the bunch.
Here's the full archive and a brief guide to all of them:
- Our very first live broadcast was a May 2008 soft launch with a quartet led by Al Foster, the great drummer. (We also host a concert from guitarist Adam Rogers, though we didn't broadcast that live online.) Just this morning, I heard word that we'll begin our next 50 broadcasts, knock on wood, with Al Foster's new band. Reserve Wednesday, March 7 for that.
- We "officially" started the series with two beloved and long-running bands in June 2008: Guillermo Klein's Los Guachos and the Brian Blade Fellowship.
- Only twice have we featured the same bandleader, and on both occasions they led completely different bands. Violinist Jenny Scheinman will soon issue a(n excellent) new album called Mischief and Mayhem, and that band played in August last year; when she issued her previous (and also excellent) record Crossing The Field, she was in the club with a quartet featuring Jason Moran. And saxophonist Bill McHenry had a great quintet of mostly peers in the club in the summer of 2009, with the late Paul Motian in the drum chair; last fall, he had a great quartet of mostly peers with Andrew Cyrille on the throne.
- In addition to the performance mentioned above, the late Paul Motian performed two other times in our series. The latest, from May 2011, was with Mark Turner's quartet. (The second set of that evening was recorded for JazzSet.) The first was with his long-running trio of Bill Frisell on guitar and Joe Lovano on tenor sax. I'm glad we were able to document the man who was so central to the place's past and present in his element.
- Piano trios have long captivated Vanguard audiences — who doesn't like the Bill Evans June 1961 recordings? — and we've captured a lot of them: Fabian Almazan (with strings), Geri Allen, Robert Glasper, Jason Moran, Barry Harris, Sam Yahel, Gerald Clayton, The Bad Plus, Fred Hersch, Cedar Walton, Bill Charlap, Uri Caine. Want more pianists? Kenny Barron with a quartet, Allen Toussaint's Bright Mississippi band, Ed Simon with a quartet, Renee Rosnes with a quartet, Aaron Goldberg's trio + 1, Martial Solal dueting with Francois Moutin.
- Happy birthdays were wished to Greg Osby, who celebrated his 50th at the club with us; Lou Donaldson, who turned 84 not long before he played; and John Coltrane, who was overtly saluted by the Billy Hart quartet on Sept. 23, 2009.
- Every single trumpeter who has led a band for one of our broadcasts has brought in a quintet. That includes the Terence Blanchard quintet, the Tom Harrell quintet, the Dave Douglas quintet, the Nicholas Payton quintet, the Terell Stafford quintet and the Roy Hargrove quintet. Heavyweights, all of them.
- So far, I count 37 shows, plus tonight. That leaves 12 more. Don't sleep on these! Among those 12 are some huge names: the Chris Potter Underground, the Anat Cohen quartet, the Ravi Coltrane quartet, the Kurt Rosenwinkel quartet, the David Sanchez quartet, the JD Allen trio, Christian McBride's Inside Straight, Lee Konitz with Matt Wilson and Dan Tepfer, Steve Wilson and Wilsonian's Grain, the Wayne Escoffery Quartet, the Joe Lovano Us Five and the Heath Brothers. Again, our full archive is here.
Finally: If you've been with us for a while, you'll notice that the way that these concerts look on your screen has changed. We've redesigned the page to better accommodate video, live chat and compatibility with iPhones and iPads. We're still working out all the bugs in our archives, but we think you'll like what you see and hear.