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Jazz of the past, present and future.

Jazz of the past, present and future.
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Jazz of the past, present and future.




(413) 585-5100


Podcast 619: A Conversation with Andrew Rathbun

The genesis of musical composition comes from so many sources and muses, books have been written on the topic. For Toronto native Andrew Rathbun, a talented saxophonist, composer and educator, that source has routinely been poetry. In 1998, his recording Jade set to music the verse of Cathy Song, while his 2000 follow-up True Stories focused on the work of fellow Canadian Margaret Atwood. The Atwood Suites returns to the poetry of Ms. Atwood, but with the music written and performed by...


Podcast 618: Cecil Taylor (1929-2018)

I can’t say that I often turned to the music of Cecil Taylor when I wanted something to listen to. To me, Taylor, one of the three great avant-garde pioneers (along with Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane) did not make music that was in any way welcoming or accessible. But what he did do, often playing his piano as anything other than an instrument capable of melody, opened up worlds of possibilities for two generations of jazz musicians. I wandered through the retrospective “Open Plan:...


Podcast 617: Spirituality 2018

The start of Holy Week for the Christian faith is my cue to put together a podcast of Spiritual Jazz. Whether it has specific religious overtones, as songs in this year's podcast do when referencing the Muslim or Jewish faith; or are built on Spirituals from the African-American lexicon, this is some of the most thrilling and moving music around, It can also be among the most challenging, as traditional melody or harmony can go out the window as the jazz musician searches for meaning or...


Podcast 616: A Conversation with Mark Murphy

Mark Murphy’s latest CD, Pocketful of Rainbows, continues a trend of merging the singer-songwriter sense with jazz sensibilities. On one level, there is Mark’s smooth voice and lilting acoustic guitar performing songs written by Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan and Hank Williams. On another there is the richness and subtlety that the finest jazz musicians – like drummer Jeff Ballard, keyboardist Jon Cowherd, and electric guitarist Gilad Hekselman - bring to the arrangements and execution of the...


Podcast 615: Jazzin' Into Spring

While Winter may officially be dead today, it sure doesn't seem like Spring in my neck of the woods. Here in Western Massachusetts we're bracing for another heavy winter storm tomorrow, the fourth in the past month. It seems like the song of the day will be "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year". Or maybe "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most"? I think it's Michael Franks' recording of "Why It Ain't Spring" that fits my mood best. But here is an hour of jazz with Spring themes to...


Podcast 614: A Conversation with Kurt Elling

A new album from vocalist Kurt Elling always gives his listeners a chance to follow him further on his unique musical journey. The 13-time Grammy nominee (he won in 2009 for his tribute to the classic album John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, entitled Dedicated to You) never fails to go deeper into the musical canon in search of tunes to interpret, as well as instrumentals for which he can add lyrics. A student of poetry, philosophy and religion, as well as of jazz history, Elling’s latest...


Podcast 613: A Conversation with Bill Frisell

You don’t pass up and opportunity to speak with Bill Frisell. The legendary guitar player has been among the most talented and versatile musicians of the past twenty years, performing in almost any jazz idiom, his trademark telecaster creating a sound that is uniquely his. Most of Frisell’s recorded output for the past few years has been composed of albums written by others (All We Are Saying, Guitar in the Space Age!) or larger scope pieces like the string-laden Big Sur or The Mockingbird...


Podcast 612: A Jazzy Valentine's Day

Whether you think its a commercial enterprise or a day for the expression of true love, you have to admit - Valentine's Day is everywhere. So on a day like this - and it's mid-week this year, making celebration just a tad harder than usual - how about an hour of jazz guaranteed to bring out the lover in you and your partner(s)? Then Podcast 612 is for you - and the musical selections include: Steve Tyrell - "A Song for You" Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra - "Lover Man (O Where Can You...


Podcast 611: Mardi Gras 2018

It feels earlier than ever, but Mardi Gras is sweeping New Orleans with the greatest party in America once again. The great food, great crowds, parades, costumes, liquor... and the music! Oh that music! Which brings once again to the time to bring you an hour plus of New Orleans' finest in Podcast 611. Bon Ton Roulez! Musical selections include: Jambalaya Brass Band - "Congo Square" Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah - "New Orleanian Love Song" Donald Harrison - "Cissy Strut" Dirty Dozen...


Podcast 610: A Conversation with Kate McGarry & Keith Ganz

With six critically acclaimed CDs and a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal CD Kate McGarry has become recognized as a jazz artist who brings authenticity and vitality to every song regardless of genre. Downbeat Magazine cited McGarry as 'Rising Star' vocalist for the past 9 years, including a recent #1 Rising Star Female Vocalist. In addition to her own work, her 2013 collaboration with John Hollenbeck’s Large Ensemble, Songs I Like A Lot, was lauded as a milestone in contemporary...


Podcast 608: A Conversation with Bobo Stenson

One of the oft-overlooked stars of the ECM roster is pianist Bobo Stenson. The Swedish composer-performer has been the anchor of a series of outstanding piano trios over the past forty years, and his latest band has produced one of his finest recordings yet, Contra la Indecision mixes originals with 20th century classical music re-imaginings, all with that distinctive ECM sound. Stenson has been working with Anders Jormin (Double Bass) and Jon Fält (Drums) for more than a decade, and they...


Podcast 609: A Conversation with James Weidman

We kick off Black History Month with a conversation with pianist-organist-composer James Weidman, who plumbs the depth of the Negro Spiritual, the "sorrow songs" of slavery on his new album Spiritual Impressions. "Impressions" is an important word, as he and his band, featuring vocalist Ruth Naomi Floyd, spin new and different arrangements for familiar tunes. In the hands of this group, even a classic like "Wade in the Water" comes off as something new. Weidman has a long history of...


Podcast 607: A Conversation with Jimmy Katz

Renowned photographer and recording engineer Jimmy Katz is launching Giant Step Arts, an innovative, artist-focused non-profit organization with a very simple goal - to help jazz musicians get the support they need for their most creative work. Giant Step Arts will launch with two nights at New York City’s Jazz Gallery on January 21-22, presenting four sets by The Johnathan Blake Trio featuring saxophonist Chris Potter and bassist Linda Oh Giant Step Arts will present unique live...


Podcast 606: A Few of My Favorite Things 2017

It’s time once again for me to close out the year with my annual “A Few of My Favorite Things” podcast. This is the chance I get to go back through the music I have had the privilege to listen to during the year, and present some of my favorites to you. I prefer not to think of this as a true “Best of” list, but rather a way of commenting and making recommendations to you on those that caught my fancy and earned repeat playings on my stereo in 2017. I created five somewhat arbitrary...


Podcast 605: The Annual Nuthin' But Christmas Podcast - 2017 Edition

Straight No Chaser is getting into the holiday spirit with this Podcast post! I don’t call it “Nuthin’ But Christmas” for nuthin ‘ – here’s an hour of Christmas themed jazz for you to enjoy while running those holiday errands, decorating the house, or best of all, sitting before a fire and sipping a cocktail with a loved one. This year’s mix includes tracks from some new Holiday releases like Champian Fulton’s Christmas with Champian and Leslie Odom Jr.’s Simply Christmas; a pair from...


Podcast 604: A Conversation with Jane Ira Bloom

The use of poetry by jazz artists as inspiration or collaboration is one of the most welcome trends of the past few years. There is often a great link between the poet and the musician, as they play with shaded tones and meanings, textures and allusions, following or breaking rules as suits their artistic goals. Jane Ira Bloom’s Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson matches one of our great soprano sax players with the timeless poetry of one of America’s greatest – and most enigmatic –...


Podcast 603: A Conversation with Adam Rudolph

Adam Rudolph continues to create new and wonderful soundscapes with every project in which he gets involved. This year has seen him finish his trilogy that began with U: Vibrational presents The Epic Botanical Beat Suite, by releasing Morphic Resonances and The Glare of the Tiger. While each of these three albums has a different vibe, and is performed by different musicians, there is a commonality in the music’s spirit, yearning quality and intellect. This is modern music written and...


Podcast 602: A Conversation with Roswell Rudd

Roswell Rudd is an undisputed master of the trombone. For me, he is that rare musician who can simultaneously straddle two wildly different musical worlds. He can keep one foot firmly in the musical school where he started, playing Dixieland and Standards; while at the same time being able to play Free Jazz with the wildest cats out there today. As he moves through his Eighties, he is still a force to be reckoned with. Now with the RareNoise label, and recording at Avant-wizard Jamie...


Podcast 601: A Conversation with Dave Bennett

Dave Bennett’s first album for the Mack Avenue label, Don’t Be That Way, established the clarinetist as a talented throwback, the kind of player who could still get you excited to hear “Sing. Sing, Sing” for the umpteenth time. A great entertainer, where he shows his prowess on guitar and piano, Bennett still had to show me that he could do more than bring swing into the 21st century. Blood Moon, his latest release, does just that, and more. More than half of the CD is made up of Bennett...


Podcast 600: A Conversation with Rudresh Mahanthappa

I can’t think of a musician with whom I’d rather celebrate Podcast 600 than Rudresh Mahanthappa. Long one of jazz’s top saxophone players, he has helped build a jazz program at Princeton University, while helping raise a young family. He’s also extremely articulate, and a delightful person with whom to have a give and take conversation. Rudresh toured steadily behind his last CD, Bird Calls, which was universally praised. I chose it as one of the best releases of 2015, and have been...


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