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.

James Cotton’s 80th

Happy Birthday to the Blues Harp Master

Few harmonica players announce themselves by tone alone quite like James Cotton. The great bluesman, born 80 years ago today in Tunica, Mississippi, has a huge, vibrato-laden sound that’s instantly recognizable, and while he’s influenced many harp players, no one else sounds like him.

Gunther Schuller, R.I.P., 1925-2015

Gunther Schuller died on Sunday, June 21, in Boston. He was 89. Schuller was a Renaissance man of the Space Age. He began playing French horn with the New York Philharmonic when he was 16, became principal horn of the Cincinnati Symphony at 17, and for the better part of the next 75 years excelled at more endeavors than virtually anyone else in modern music.

Charles Lloyd interview

I spoke with Charles Lloyd on June 19. The great saxophonist and flutist’s quartet (Gerald Clayton, piano; Joe Sanders, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums) will be in concert at the Solid Sound Festival at MassMoCA on Sunday, June 28.

Steve Davis interview

I spoke with Steve Davis on June 17. I’ve known Steve for about 20 years and first heard him at the 880 Club in Hartford […]

Eli Newberger interview

Eli & the Hot Six is led by the tuba player and pianist Eli Newberger, a legendary figure in traditional jazz circles. Newberger, a world-renowned pediatrician and Harvard Medical School professor, was a co-founder of the New Black Eagle Jazz Band in 1971. On Monday, June 22, Eli & the Hot Six will perform Swingin’ Gershwin at…

Ornette Coleman, 1930-2015

I didn’t see Ornette Coleman until 1971 when he headlined the Saturday afternoon program of the Newport Jazz Festival with a quartet that included his old friends Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, and Ed Blackwell. It was fortuitous that he was on the afternoon bill…

Bill Frisell – Interview with Tom Reney

Bill Frisell, the musical polymath whose wide-ranging soundscape readily qualifies him for membership in my personal pantheon of artists who are, to borrow Duke Ellington’s encomium, “beyond category,” will be at MASS MoCA later this month for Solid Sound: Wilco’s Music and Arts Festival.

Bob Belden and Gary Smulyan

Bob Belden, who died on May 20 (click here for the New York Times obituary), worked in a wide variety of settings as a saxophonist, arranger, producer, and a&r executive over the course of his 35 year-long career. His orchestral work, Black Dahlia, earned him a Grammy, and as a producer he oversaw the reissue of many of Miles Davis’s recordings of the ’60s and ’70s.