Art Pepper

The Jazz Casual Session

Art Pepper was born 90 years ago today. The saxophonist’s life was scarred by violence, ravaged by drug addiction, confined by prisons, and restricted by parole requirements that prevented him from leaving California for decades. Pepper came to prominence in the early fifties, but he didn’t play New York as a leader until 1977.

Jack Teagarden

Steady Rockin' with Satchmo

My favorite version of the Louis Armstrong-Jack Teagarden staple “Rockin’ Chair” is from a 1957 television special seen below. Armstrong had first recorded this homespun lament by Hoagy Carmichael on December 13, 1929, with the composer in the voice of the aging father and Armstrong as the dutiful son.

Evan Christopher at Satchmo Fest

Harrison, Neville, and Butler in Springfield

I’m still buzzing from the double dose of New Orleans-in-New England that highlighted Saturday’s Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival. Performances by Donald Harrison and Henry Butler brought the one-day, twelve-hour festival to a rousing conclusion at Court Square, where an estimated 5000 people from every walk of life gathered downtown for the second annual festival.

Louis Armstrong

Hailed in Copenhagen and Celebrated in New Orleans

“If you don’t love him, I don’t think you really know how to love.” Mahalia Jackson on Louis Armstrong I assume the Danes who filmed […]

Paul Butterfield Plugs In and Dylan Follows Suit

Phenomena at Newport: the White Blues Hero and the Folk Rock Anti-Hero

Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan going electric at the Newport Folk Festival. The milestone is being widely commemorated, and it follows the sale two years ago of the Fender Stratocaster he played that Sunday night, July 25, 1965.

Sheila Jordan

Truth Telling at the Northampton Jazz Workshop

What a pleasure it was hearing Sheila Jordan this week at the Northampton Jazz Workshop. She’s nearly 87, which she makes no secret of, and why should she? Sheila’s a bonafide survivor: of a harsh, Depression-era childhood shuttled between her teenage mother’s digs in Detroit and her grandparents’ home…

Jazz at Lincoln Center at Tanglewood

Shaking the Rafters of Ozawa Hall

I enjoyed a conversation about the recently deceased Gunther Schuller over lunch with my former NEPR colleague John Montanari on Tuesday. (Click here for my memorial to Gunther.) A few hours later, I heard the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s concert at Tanglewood, which Wynton Marsalis dedicated to Schuller’s memory.

Hampton Hawes and the Pardon from JFK

Sometimes even a glimmer of open-mindedness can spell good fortune.  For a preternatural cool cat like Hampton Hawes, it took the form of allowing himself to think that the man he watched deliver the Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961, had “soul and might listen.”

Hank Mobley

Leonard Feather, one of the most powerful critics in jazz history, declared Hank Mobley “the middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone” in his liner note essay for Hank’s 1961 release…

Remembering B.B. King

Before it slides deep into the archives of NEPR News, here’s the commentary I voiced in memory of B.B. King on May 21.