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Jazz of the past, present and future.

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


Jazz of the past, present and future.




(413) 585-5100


Podcast 641: A Conversation with Aaron Parks

Aaron Parks seems to be destined to be one of those pianists who chooses projects (or has projects choose him) that become great sessions or performances. Whether we listen to him with the bands led by Terence Blanchard or Kurt Rosenwinkel; as a member of James Farm with Joshua Redman, Matt Penman and Eric Harland; on his great quartet album Invisible Cinema; or playing classic trio or solo piano (Arborescence), Parks always seems in the middle of something particularly notable. Aaron Parks...


Podcast 640: A Conversation with Luciana Souza

By her own admission, Luciana Souza records very slowly, with multiple years passing between her albums. We last spoke in 2012, when she had released two new CDs, The Book of Chet and a continuation of her collaborative series, Duos III. She is one of our finest singers, particularly in interpreting lyrics in both her native Portuguese and English. A lover of poetry, she has written lyrics from a number of poets’ work and put them to music, including Elizabeth Bishop in 2000, Pablo Neruda in...


Podcast 639: Randy Weston (1926-2018)

It was almost ten years ago that I got the chance to spend some time talking with Randy Weston prior to an appearance at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. It was a delightful conversation, as Weston spoke candidly about his travels across Africa and the many great musicians with whom he had the pleasure to play piano. When Weston passed away last weekend at the ripe old age of 92, jazz lost one of its greatest musical ambassadors. Weston was one of many jazz musicians who came out...


Podcast 638: A Conversation with Russell Ferrante of the Yellowjackets

Few groups still working on the jazz scene can boast of the longevity of the Yellowjackets. Their first recording sessions were backing guitarist Robben Ford in 1977. Their first CD as a group was released in 1981, and 17 Grammy nominations (2 wins), 26 albums and almost 40 years later, they are still going strong. The cornerstone of the band remains its keyboard player Russell Ferrante, the sole member left form that 1981 release. However, for the past 25 years or so, his main man has been...


Podcast 637: A Conversation with Steve Turre

The thought of Steve Turre inevitably conjures the image of a master of at least two instruments – the trombone, and sea shells (most notably the conch). It’s the former that takes center stage on his latest release, The Very Thought of You (Smoke Sessions Records). A collection primarily of ballads, the CD allows Turre to put together a great band to showcase his abilities on the gentler side of his expression. Turre is joined on The Very Thought of You by pianist Kenny Barron, bassist...


Podcast 636: A Conversation with Bob James

The amazingly versatile Bob James has taken on – and succeeded admirably with – most of the jazz genres of the past fifty years. During that time, James recorded has free jazz (Bold Conceptions), arranged for and accompanied Sarah Vaughn, and then was a key participant in the jazz-soul fusion that was CTI Records. As a writer, producer, arranger, and finally, recording artist, he made a major contribution to the label’s funky sound. His recordings of “Nautilus” and his version of “Take Me to...


Podcast 635: A Conversation with Davell Crawford

Before he was twelve years old, Davell Crawford had been crowned “the Piano Price of New Orleans,” for his ability to seamlessly incorporate the sounds of the church, the streets and the New Orleans songbook. The godson of the iconic Roberta Flack and the grandson of the great vocalist/pianist/composer James “Sugar Boy” Crawford (of “Jock-A-Mo” a.k.a “Iko Iko” fame), that heritage and his innate love of performing made him an heir apparent to New Orleans pianists Fats Domino, Professor...


Podcast 634: Leonard Bernstein Centennial

"Jazz is the ultimate common denominator of the American musical style." –Leonard Bernstein Today would have been the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), a towering figure in American musical history. If he had only been the master of one area of music – the stage, the screen, the concert hall, television – his legend would have been assured. Instead, he mastered them all. Much of his fame derived from his long tenure as the music director of the New York Philharmonic, from...


Podcast 633: A Conversation with James Austin Jr.

Is Stevie Wonder the most covered popular artist in the jazz world? From the singers to the pianists, with a hefty number of Flutes, Saxes and Clarinets thrown in, it seems as if his tunes are the backbone of what we might call the New Standards. And why not? Not only are they well known, but almost always highly melodic, with insightful lyrics. Throw in that Stevie’s been known to use some interesting changes in his harmonies – he favors the black keys on the piano, so there are a lot of...


Podcast 632: Jazz for the Dog Days 2018

It's past the midpoint in summer in New England, so why not some summer themed music for what we can only hope will be lazy, hot days? Today is August 16th, the feast day of Saint Roch, the patron saint of Dogs, so why not celebrate the "Dog Days"? The Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the "Dog Star" because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog), as well as the...


Podcast 631: Previewing the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival

If summer begins with the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival, then it reaches its apex with the Newport Jazz Festival. Year after year, for three days at Fort Adams State Park in lovely Newport, Rhode Island, three stages (and more!) are constantly filled with the best performers the world of jazz has to offer. This year is no exception. Artistic Director Christian McBride has helped provide us with an exception lineup, topped each day with Charles Lloyd...


Podcast 630: Hank Jones Centennial

One of the most influential – and yet to my mind, underrated – jazz pianists of our time would have been 100 years old today. Hank Jones is constantly named by some of our finest jazz musicians as a key influence, and today in honor of the Centennial of his birth, you get an hour plus of his music. One of seven children, Jones was raised in a musical family. His mother Olivia Jones sang; his two older sisters studied piano; and his two younger brothers—Thad, a trumpeter, and Elvin, a...


Podcast 629: Previewing the Newport Jazz Festival with José James

One of the highlights of the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival was the performance of singer José James, who led his band in Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers. I suspect he will also bring the house down at the Newport Jazz Festival on Saturday August 4, when he’ll be one of the headliners. Click here for more info on the Festival, brought to us by presenting sponsor Natixis Investment Managers. In addition to his set on Saturday afternoon, fans can catch him opening for Pat...


Podcast 628: A Conversation with Kait Dunton

I’m a big fan of piano trios – the interplay between three rhythm instruments, the resulting melodies and dissonances, the way soloists weave within one another to create something greater than themselves. trioKAIT does all of that, and does it well - but this is a different kind of piano trio. The same has been said about the Bad Plus, E.S.T. and other groups that came before them, but the group made up of piano and keyboardist Kait Dunton, electric bassist Cooper Appelt, and drummer Jake...


Podcast 627: A Conversation with Brian Bromberg

I last spoke to bassist Brian Bromberg two years ago, when his first album in almost four years, Full Circle, marked a strong return to the scene. Since then Brian has been busy on the touring front, as well as lending his talents to CDs from among others, his long-time collaborator Gary Meek (see Podcast 599). His latest CD, Thicker Than Water, is a throwback of sorts to his large ensemble CDs It Is What It Is and Compared to That, full of funky grooves and up-tempo tunes. Made up of...


Podcast 626: A Conversation about Erroll Garner and "Nightconcert"

History may show that we are living in the golden age of the jazz archival release. During the past ten years, advances in technology, and the desire of a few dedicated individuals (think Zev Feldman at Resonance) have brought listeners “new” recordings from legends like Bill Evans, Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, Thelonious Monk, and especially John Coltrane and Miles Davis. The Erroll Garner Jazz Project at the Erroll Garner archive at the University of Pittsburgh has played an important...


Podcast 625: A Conversation with Edward Simon

When I last spoke with Edward Simon, he was on the road with the SFJazz Collective, and was stopping near me in Amherst, Massachusetts. Simon, a native of Venezuela who has become a first call pianist and a bandleader in his own right, has gone on since then to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an NAACP Image Award for his Latin American Songbook. His growth as a composer, performer and leader is clear in his latest release, Sorrows & Triumphs. The new CD allows Simon to make a number...


Podcast 624: A Conversation with Mike Clark

When we talk about the top jazz drummers of the past fifty years, particularly in the area of jazz-funk and fusion, the short list of real greats has to include Mike Clark. Already a veteran jazz drummer by the time Herbie Hancock picked him for his immortal Headhunters band, Clark wrote the book on jazz-funk, and went on to play in almost all genres of jazz, blues and funk. His credits range from Hancock, Vince Guaraldi, Woody Shaw, Albert King, Eddie and Joe Henderson and Larry Coryell to...


Podcast 623: Previewing the 2018 Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival with Danny Melnick

Summer can officially begin! The 2018 Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival will take place on Saturday June 23rd and Sunday June 24th, 2018 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY. As always there is a stellar lineup, and this year a few scheduling changes have made the festival even more fan-friendly. For the first time in the Festival’s 41-year history, performances will begin at 11 a.m. on the newly built Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” stage. Performances on the...


Podcast 622: A Conversation with Ron Skinner

Riddle me this… What do these recordings all have in common, besides classic recording artists: “Boogie Chillun” by John Lee Hooker; “Back in the USA” by the MC5; “Mothership Connection” by Parliament; “Theme from Shaft” by Isaac Hayes; and “What’s Goin’ On” by Marvin Gaye. The answer? They were all recorded in United Sound Systems Recording Studios Established in Detroit, Michigan in 1933 by Jimmy Siracuse, it became the first independent and full service major recording studio in the...