Frank Stewart/Jazz at Lincoln Center
Frank Stewart/Jazz at Lincoln Center
New episodes of Jazz Night In America are released on Thursdays. Every week, a one-hour program is sent to public radio stations throughout the U.S. (and archived online). When available, concert films and documentary shorts are also released online as companion pieces to radio episodes. Check your local listings to hear the radio program, and visit npr.org/jazznight to watch the video products.
Jazz Night In America will begin a new season in October. Check back here for more listings.
Oct. 6: Wynton Marsalis' Spaces (radio + video). Wynton Marsalis presents a new work for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with dancers, where each movement corresponds to a different member of the animal kingdom. We explore Marsalis' process of composition, which draws on mythology and origin stories. He also chose to include movement artists Jared Grimes and Lil Buck in the performances, introducing another interpretation to the animals and the "spaces" around the Orchestra. In doing so, he drew from a long history of jazz and dance.
Oct. 13: Oliver Jones at The Montreal Jazz Festival (radio). Oliver Jones is among the most famous living jazz musicians you've probably never heard of. The celebrated Canadian pianist was the protege of Oscar Peterson, and he's done much to spread the gospel of Canadian jazz in his 81 years. He marked his retirement this year with a special trio performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival and Jazz Night was there. We feature his final trio performance in Montreal, interview Cecile Peterson — the daughter of Oscar Peterson — and learn about some of Montreal's rich jazz history.
Oct. 20: Herbie Hancock in Brooklyn (radio + video). Herbie Hancock always seems to be on some kind of voyage, whether sitting in a eleven-keyboard cockpit or forming new bands that push his possibilities. Jazz Night in America host Christian McBride sits down with Herbie to discuss his journey in technology through the years. His current band, core to a forthcoming album, features Lionel Loueke on guitar, James Genus on bass, Trevor Lawrence Jr. on drums and Terrace Martin on keyboards and alto saxophone. It performs live in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Oct. 27: John Boutte and Shannon Powell in New Orleans (radio + video). There's no better place than New Orleans to explore the ties of family and tradition in jazz. This episode of Jazz Night in America visits the Crescent City to get inside two of the city's favorite musicians: singer John Boutte and drummer Shannon Powell. With music from their twin bill at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz and Heritage Center, this episode spends time with each of them at their homes, tracing their NOLA familial roots and exploring why they've chosen stay local.
Nov. 3: Billy Strayhorn (radio). The fruitful collaboration between Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington brought us such classics as "Take The 'A' Train," "Chelsea Bridge," and "Isfahan." But behind the music, Billy Strayhorn led a complex and often difficult life. While composing some of the most harmonically-rich jazz of all time, Strayhorn was an openly gay black man in the homophobic 1940s. This episode of Jazz Night in America features interviews with family Strayhorn family members and Strayhorn's biographer, and rare archival tape of Strayhorn himself, peering inside his journey from working-class Pittsburgh to New York City and the world of elegance and "twelve o'clock tales." Pianist and vocalist Johnny O'Neal joins the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra to present the music of Billy Strayhorn.
Nov. 10: Cyro Baptista (radio + video). In the world of Brazilian percussion, few players have shared the stage with Herbie Hancock, Yo-Yo-Ma, Trey Anastasio (Phish), and Sting. Cyro Baptista transcends borders and style, and he brings more than three decades of wizardry and ingenuity. Our concert showcases Cyro's wild take on traditional Brazilian grooves like forró and samba with jazz, experimental and funk undertones, and our story follows Cyro to Home Depot and into the woods, as he creates a new percussion instrument for his arsenal.
Nov. 17: Darcy James Argue in Brooklyn (radio + video). Jazz Night in America presents Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, an 18-piece big band, as it celebrates the release of its new album Real Enemies at National Sawdust in Brooklyn. Composer and bandleader Argue describes the piece a "an exploration of real world beliefs, of the present day folklore that we call conspiracy theories." Musically, Real Enemies draws from 12-tone compositional techniques along with a collage of found text and media from dozens of sources, tracing the historical roots, iconography, ideology, rhetoric, and psychology of these conspiracies.
Nov. 24: Snarky Puppy in Dallas (repeat).
Archived shows from Season 2:
- Sept. 24: Wayne's World (radio + video). Wayne Shorter, 82, is widely acknowledged as of jazz's most important composers, as well as one of its premier saxophonists. He's also one of its most original thinkers, whose inspirations can be short as one sentence or as broad as a musing about the nature of the universe. Jazz Night catches him as a featured soloist with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, where band members devised special arrangements from his extensive catalog. And we travel to his home to hear more about his musical inspirations.
- Oct. 1: Wein's World (radio + video short). Impresario, producer, musician, jazz fanatic: Such are the many titles of George Wein. The man who started the Newport Jazz Festival — and changed concertgoing forever — turns 90 this month, and Jazz Night visited him for a career-spanning interview. On air, we hear his handpicked selections from the 2015 Newport Jazz Festival, featuring Tom Harrell, Bria Skonberg and Scott Robinson. And online, see a short documentary about his legacy.
- Oct. 8: Jason Moran's 'In My Mind: Monk At Town Hall, 1959' (radio + video). "Thelonious Monk is the most important musician. Period!" That's pianist Jason Moran on "the first pianist who made me want to be a pianist." So Moran decided to present a personal reflection on Monk's music, reconfiguring the 1959 large ensemble concert that Monk presented at Town Hall in New York City. Ever the interdisciplinary thinker, Moran also gathered photographs and archival audio recordings to present a visual companion piece to his new arrangements. In time for Monk's birthday anniversary, Jazz Night takes in the full multimedia presentation that is 'In My Mind' from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
- Oct. 22: Cuba: The Conversation Continued (radio + video). In the last 12 months, composer and bandleader Arturo O'Farrill has been to Havana twice: once to witness the reopening of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, and once to record a new album. Cuba: The Conversation Continued, continues his Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra's mission to expand what it means to be "Latin jazz" with bold new ideas. It also continues the work of his father, the composer-arranger Chico O'Farrill, who left Havana for New York City and helped to pioneer Afro-Cuban jazz in the first place. Jazz Night speaks with Arturo after he presented music from The Conversation Continued live at Symphony Space in New York.
- Nov. 5: The Marquis Hill Blacktet In Chicago (radio + video). Trumpeter Marquis Hill has shot to international renown recently, especially after winning the Thelonious Monk Competition — a sort of international Heisman Trophy for young jazz artists. But it takes a village to raise a musician. Jazz Night caught up with Hill when he returned to his native Chicago for a string of shows, touring his old South Side haunts, interviewing his old teachers and catching a rehearsal. Then we got to see it all come together at the Jazz Showcase downtown in a performance by Hill's tight working band, the Blacktet.
- Nov. 12: A Late Night Jazz Family (radio)(video published Dec. 17). There's a scene and community that's developed around after hours at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, the club environment that's part of Jazz at Lincoln Center. It's driven by the programming of Michael Mwenso, a vocalist and natural ringleader, but also by listening sessions and hangs late into the night off-campus, and by the mutual experience of being young and eager (and talented). Jazz Night in America poses as a fly on the wall as they listen to records, and catches this "family" as it gets an opportunity to present its own music at Dizzy's.
- Nov. 19: Sabertooth Saturday Night (radio + video). For the last 23 years, one group has held down a midnight to 5 a.m. gig on Saturday nights (or Sunday mornings). It's a quirky band, co-led by saxophonist Pat Mallinger and Cameron Pfiffner, which swings hard (and a little off-kilter) for hardcore fans, rowdy drunks and musicians coming off their own gigs. And it happens in the jazz haven of Chicago, in a club called the Green Mill which doesn't look to have changed much since its days as a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Jazz Night follows Pat and Cameron to the gig, then stays up all night with the Sabertooth organ quartet.
- Dec. 3: Wayne Horvitz And The Seattle Scene (radio + video). The keyboardist and composer Wayne Horvitz first made his name in New York, but for over 20 years, he's been synonymous with his adopted hometown of Seattle. He's one of the key players of the city's improvised music community — as a performer, a bandleader, a venue operator, and a teacher at several levels. Jazz Night returns to Seattle to track his influence on the city's jazz ecosystem through his students, his collaborators, and a concert he leads during the annual Earshot Jazz Festival of music inspired by late local poet Richard Hugo.
- Dec. 10: The Ladybugs Do Disney (radio). The Ladybugs are a young band who draw on elements of hot swing, American folk music and blues. But their most salient features, the voices of dual frontwomen Martina DaSilva and Kate Davis, immediately recall an era when intricate vocal harmonies were more common in jazz. Appropriately enough, the quintet recently took on a program drawn from classic Walt Disney films at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola within Jazz at Lincoln Center. Jazz Night in America dives into how the group developed on the New York "hot" jazz scene, and examines the relationship between jazz and cartoon music through the decades.
- Dec. 17: Jazz At Lincoln Center's Big Band Holidays (radio).To ring in the holiday season, Jazz Night in America spends the hour with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra as it performs highlights from its extensive holiday songbook. Recorded between 2012 and 2014, the music heard on this episode features appearances by guest vocalists Cécile McLorin Salvant, Gregory Porter and René Marie, and comes from the concerts that produced the new album Big Band Holidays. We chat with members of the band about their original arrangements and favorite holiday moments. As a bonus, host Christian McBride talks with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish about some of his favorite Christmas music, and we look back at some early blues Christmas tunes.
- Dec. 17: A Late Night Jazz Family (video). See Nov. 12.
- Jan. 28: At The Jazz Loft In DC (radio + video). Jazz has its capital cities: major gathering places like New York, Chicago and New Orleans. But the music manages to live plenty well in many other places too. What goes into those smaller ecosystems to enable jazz to thrive? How do talented musicians make it happen? In search of some answers, we sought out the DIY concert producers of Capitalbop in Washington, D.C. as they presented musicians from the Baltimore-Washington metropolis. Jazz Night In America presents highlights from CapitalBop's warehouse loft stage at the 2015 DC Jazz Festival, featuring trios led by vibraphonist Warren Wolf and bassist Kris Funn.
- Feb. 4: Christian McBride's The Movement Revisited (radio + video). Our host Christian McBride happens to be a rather talented bassist and composer, but he told us not to feature him unless it was something special. It so happens that he's written a special work: a bluesy and soulful oratorio for jazz big band, gospel choir and soloists, and four speakers representing great figures of the Civil Rights Movement. It's called The Movement Revisited, and is inspired by the words of Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King, Jr. Jazz Night In America follows McBride around his own hometown of Philadelphia, speaking with the people who raised him at home and in the music, and featuring a performance of The Movement Revisited from the Kimmel Center in downtown Philly.
- Feb. 11: ELEW Goes Trio (radio + video). Eric Lewis' career has circulated both in and out of jazz circles. Performing under his given name, he was an up-and-coming pianist who toured in the bands of Wynton Marsalis and Elvin Jones. As his career progressed — or didn't — he found that a lot of contemporary rock music also spoke him deeply. So performing under the name ELEW, he devised a new theatrical, high-energy method of solo piano he called rockjazz, and it took him to TED Conferences, national tours, America's Got Talent and the White House. Now he's set to return to the jazz trio format, planning a recording with some major players. Jazz Night In America follows ELEW to the studio, and to Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, where his burning band includes Reginald Veal on bass and Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums.
- Feb. 25: Snarky Puppy In Big D (radio + video). The jazz-fusion stars of Snarky Puppy have toured and recorded all over the world; they've won a Grammy Award and were just nominated again. But their spiritual home is still Dallas, Texas. It's where they'd take in gospel performances in area churches; it's near where they met at music school at the University of North Texas in Denton. As bassist and bandleader Michael League explains, you can hear all those collisions in the funk of their grooves. Jazz Night in America meets up with League for an exclusive conversation about his compositional process – and witnesses its execution in a live hometown concert at The Prophet Bar in Dallas.
- March 17: Panama Jazz Festival (radio + video). Stateside, Danilo Pérez is a highly respected pianist in the jazz world. In his homeland of Panama, he's a national icon, and not just for his artistry. He sees jazz as a vehicle for social change, and has spent much of his time off-stage seeding youth music education programs in his homeland to enact this vision. The Panama Jazz Festival he founded, for instance, doesn't just feature major international acts — it brings students from all sorts of backgrounds to share the stage. Jazz Night In America goes to Panama City to take in festival performances by Pérez, John Patitucci and a rising star violinist named Joshue Ashby, and finds out how music can change lives in Panama.
- March 31: Ibrahim Maalouf (radio + video short). The trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf was born in Lebanon, and grew up in Paris; like his father, he studied both Western classical music, and also microtonal Arabic music using a custom-built instrument. His latest venture in a career of cross-pollinating ventures was inspired by Umm Kulthum, one of the Arab world's greatest vocalists; with the help of pianist Frank Woeste and some major American talent, he constructed a jazz take on one of her greatest performances, "Alf Leila Wa Leila" ("1001 Nights"). Jazz Night In America features a performance of this music from Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola inside Jazz at Lincoln Center, and takes a closer look into the intersecting worlds of Kulthum and Maalouf.
- April 4: NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert live video webcast, 8 p.m. ET. Not a Jazz Night In America program — just cool!
- April 7: Jymie Merritt, The Forerunner (radio + video). Bassist Jymie Merritt's place on the historical register of jazz has been cemented by his work with major players like Art Blakey, Max Roach and Lee Morgan. But there's much more music that he hasn't received due credit for: his own. Starting in the 1960s, he began developing a personal polyrhythmic concept and a working ensemble called the Forerunners in his hometown of Philadelphia. It's rich in progressive complexity, but left a mark on many Philadelphians like saxophonist Odean Pope and his son, Mike Merritt (now the bassist on Conan O'Brien's late-night show band). Now, Mike has taken up the mantle and reassembled the band to finally record his father's music. Jazz Night In America goes to Philly and World Cafe Live to witness The Forerunners live in concert.
- April 21: Benny Goodman's Moonglow (radio + video). In the late 1930s, a bespectacled white man who played the clarinet was a teen idol. That was Benny Goodman, and he got to be that way from leading a quartet with Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa — which happened to be jazz's first major mixed-race band. In a special stage show written by Geoffrey Ward and narrated by Wendell Pierce, a young band with a rotating cast of clarinetists tells the whole story at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Jazz Night In America dives closer into the history of the quartet, and visits The Appel Room to see Moonglow: The Magic of Benny Goodman.
- May 5: 50 Years At The Vanguard (radio + video): In the middle of their careers, the trumpeter and composer/arranger Thad Jones and the drummer Mel Lewis found themselves with a book of big band music — and no band to perform it. So they made their own, handpicking some of New York's top talent across age and color lines. They rehearsed on Monday nights, when guys could actually make rehearsal. And by the time they debuted on a Monday in February 1966 at the famed Village Vanguard, they were already a force to be reckoned with, soon to become the most influential big band of the last 50 years. The Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, now the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, still plays every Monday night. Jazz Night In America heads to the basement jazz shrine to see the band's 50th anniversary show, full of cuts from Thad's songbook, and tells the story of how the band came to be.
- May 19: Leroy Jones At The Dew Drop Hall (radio + video). Trumpeter Leroy Jones was playing in New Orleans back when Bourbon Street was lined with jazz clubs. The city has changed since then — Bourbon Street is a prime example — and Jones has evolved with it. From second lines with the Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band and the Hurricane Brass Band, club gigs with modern combos and tours with Harry Connick, Jr., he's been a part of many jazz scenes. Jazz Night In America takes in a set with Jones' sextet at the Dew Drop Social & Benevolent Jazz Hall in Mandeville, La., across the lake from New Orleans. We hear the story of the venue, a small wooden room which has hosted jazz performances for more than a century, and the stories of Jones, a well-loved presence in his hometown.