Jazz

Pianist David Virelles and percussionist Roman Diaz teach a class at the Charleston Jazz Academy
Victoria Hansen

Scribbling notes on a dry erase board just won't do.  So David Virelles plays them instead, on a piano.  The Cuban composer and pianist is teaching a masters class at the Charleston Jazz Academy in North Charleston, as part of the Spoleto arts festival's community outreach program.

In just a couple of hours, he's performing too.

"I hope the students walk away with what it takes to play music," Virelles says.  "It takes a lot of discipline, perseverance and love.  You have to be passionate about it and really spend time to be any good."

Diana Krall was one of the many guests Marian McPartland welcomed to Piano Jazz over its long run.
SCETV

For many years, jazz great Marian McPartland welcomed some of the biggest names in - and out of - jazz to her NPR program, Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz.  March 20, on the 101st anniversary of her  birth, an evening of McPartland's music inaugurated a new music series, Live in the Lobby, offered by Columbia's Koger Center for the Arts.  

Wynton Marsalis Jazzes Up the Holidays

Nov 28, 2018
Wynton Marsalis plays holiday songs with the jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
Frank Stewart for Jazz at Lincoln Center

Ask Wynton Marsalis to name his favorite holiday song and he might tell you, “The Christmas Song” by Mel Torme.  Then he’ll likely explain it’s personal.  When Marsalis first moved to New York, he played in a show with Torme.  He was 18 years-old.

“The contractor thought I was only a classical trumpet player,” Marsalis recalled.  “He said this boy can’t play.  I don’t know why he’s playing this gig, and Mel heard me play and said, this boy can play.  Leave him alone.”

Fud Livingston
Discogs

Charleston’s Fud Livingston, 'Jazz Age' arranger, composer, and musician, made memorable music.

(Originally broadcast 05/18/18) - Joseph Anthony “Fud” Livingston, born in Charleston, SC, in 1906, was an American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, arranger, and composer who played with some of the most renowned musicians of the Jazz Age, including Bix Beiderbecke, Red Nichols, Joe Venuti, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and the Dorsey brothers, Tommy and Jimmy. He arranged for Broadway and wrote songs, the most famous of which is “I’m Through with Love.”

Pat Metheny on Piano Jazz

Sep 17, 2018
Pat Metheny
Jim Katz/Nonesuch

Guitarist Pat Metheny is one of the brightest stars in the jazz firmament. The only person to win a Grammy in ten different categories, the ever-evolving artist is constantly experimenting with new technology and honing his improvisational skills and unique style. On this 2006 Piano Jazz, The Pat Metheny Trio, which includes bassist Christian McBride and drummer Antonia Sanchez, performs an exclusive version of “Go Get It” and “Bright Size Life.

News & Talk Stations: Sat, Sep 22, 8 pm | News & Music Stations: Sep 23, 7 pm

Michel Camilo on Piano Jazz

Sep 10, 2018
Michel Camilo
michelcamilo.com

Grammy Award-winning pianist, composer, and bandleader Michel Camilo is one of the most fascinating jazz artists working today. A prodigy from the Dominican Republic, he began his professional career at sixteen, the youngest member of the National Symphony Orchestra. In his twenties he moved to New York City, where he took the jazz scene by storm with his whirlwind approach to music, technical brilliance, and post-bop Latin rhythms. In this 1989 Piano Jazz session, Camilo plays his own composition “Nostalgia.”

Gene Harris on Piano Jazz

Aug 27, 2018

Pianist Gene Harris (1933 – 2000) was an integral part of the well-known group The Three Sounds trio, with bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Bill Dowdy. After a brief hiatus in the 1970s, he teamed up with bassist Ray Brown to form a new group and also made his way as a solo act. An accomplished leader and sideman, Harris played with such greats as Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls, and B.B. King. On this 1988 Piano Jazz, Harris opens with a slow and easy “Black and Blue,” then McPartland joins him on “Bag’s Groove.”

Marlene VerPlanck on Piano Jazz

Aug 20, 2018

This week, Piano Jazz remembers Marlene VerPlanck (1933 – January 14, 2018), who died from cancer this year at age 84. One of the finest interpreters of American Popular Song, VerPlanck’s artistic sensitivity made her a favorite of songwriters and listeners alike. As a studio singer, she was sought out by everyone from Frank Sinatra to KISS, and she also had a dynamic career as a solo performer. She was McPartland’s guest in 1999. In this session, VerPlanck joins McPartland to sing “Skylark” and “Our Love is Here to Stay.”

Stefon Harris on Piano Jazz

Aug 13, 2018
Stefon Harris at the North Sea Jazz Festival 2007.
Siebe van Ineveld [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Vibraphonist Stefon Harris is one of the most innovative and impressive artists in jazz, blazing new trails on vibraphone and marimba. While much of his music is on the cutting edge, he has a strong sense of tradition and his technical facility knows no bounds. On this 2002 Piano Jazz, Harris shows off his fresh, clear sound on a number of duets with McPartland, including “Whisper Not,” “Blue Monk,” and “Bemsha Swing.” McPartland solos on her own “Twilight World.”

News & Talk Stations: Sat, Aug 18, 8 pm | News & Music Stations: Aug 19, 7 pm

Jess Stacy, New York, N.Y.(?), ca. Jan. 1947.
The Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commons

This week’s Piano Jazz presents an episode from the early years of the program with guest Jess Stacy (1904 – 1995), who came out of retirement to appear on the show in 1982. One of the leading pianists of the swing era, Stacy was best known for his work with the Benny Goodman Orchestra and had a prolific career before stepping back from the music world in the 1950s. In this classic session from the archives, Stacy needs no introduction as he starts the show with a solo performance of “Dancing Fool.” McPartland joins to end the hour with “St. Louis Blues.”

Rachel Z on Piano Jazz

Jul 30, 2018
Rachel Z
Courtesy of the artist

Pianist and composer Rachel Z grew up in Manhattan in a musical family. Her mother taught her classical voice and opera from a young age, but she found her own sound in the jazz and rock worlds. On the keys, she is lightning-quick and her percussive yet lyrical approach enhances her technique. In 2010, she formed a group called The Trio of Oz with her husband, Omar Hakim. On this 1999 Piano Jazz, Rachel Z performs her original “Gently Sleeps the Pear Tree.” She and McPartland switch gears with “All the Things You Are.”

Tony Bennett on Piano Jazz

Jul 23, 2018
Tony Bennett and Marian McPartland, Manhattan Beach Studios, New York City, 2004.
RJ Capak

Ever-popular song stylist Tony Bennett was McPartland’s guest for the first time in 1990. Bennett vocalizes American popular songs like nobody else can. When he was starting out, a voice teacher, Miriam Spier, famously told him: “Don’t imitate singers, imitate musicians.” So, Bennett decided to emulate Art Tatum. He also credits his relaxed delivery to the inspiration of Mildred Bailey. On this edition of Piano Jazz, Bennett sings “Stay as Sweet as You Are” and “Imagination.” There’s no need to guess who’s playing the accompaniment.

Dr. Billy Taylor and Nancy Wilson with Marian McPartland

Jul 19, 2018
Marian McPartland with Billy Taylor and Nancy Wilson, New York, 1998
RJ Capak

Dr. Billy Taylor (1921–2010) was a pianist, composer and educator. He dedicated his life to teaching jazz history and was a regular voice heard on NPR, making jazz accessible to a large audience and putting public radio on the cultural map. Brilliant song stylist Nancy Wilson also worked for NPR as host of Jazz Profiles, a companion series to Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz. This special edition commemorates the 20th anniversary of Piano Jazz in 1999.

Wynton Marsalis and Marian McPartland

Jul 19, 2018
Marian McPartland and Wynton Marsalis, New York, 1990
RJ Capak

Wynton Marsalis is a trumpeter, composer, and educator. He is the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and is an active promotor of music to young audiences. Since Marsalis’ debut album in 1982, he has released more than 60 jazz and classical recordings and has earned nine Grammy Awards. In 1997 his oratorio, Blood on the Fields, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music, the first jazz composition ever to do so. In this 1990 Piano Jazz session, Marsalis and McPartland delve into their standard repertoires with “I Cover the Waterfront.”

Peter Cincotti and Marian McPartland

Jul 19, 2018
Marian McPartland and Peter Cincotti, Washington, D.C., 2004
SCETV

Peter Cincotti is a pianist, composer, and vocalist who broke onto the music scene at a notably young age. He started learning the piano when he was just a toddler and at seven was invited to play with Harry Connick Jr, after impressing the singer through an impromptu performance during a live concert. At age 18 Cincotti released his eponymous debut album, which reached Number 1 on the Billboard jazz charts, making him the youngest artist ever to do so.

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