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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 652: The Lesser Known Christmas Jazz Show

As promised, this is the second Christmas Jazz podcast of 2018. As I began choosing tunes, I realized that if you poke around enough, you can find some lesser known Christmas songs, whether they are from artists writing an original tune for their Christmas album; perhaps something from the gospel or liturgical canon; or a jazz version of an R&B or Pop classic. In any event, I kept looking until I found an hour plus of Christmas jazz that is unfamiliar to your ear. Who knows – they just might...


Podcast 651: Christmas Jazz Favorites For You

Christmas jazz, Christmas jazz. You love it, you hate it. But this time of year it’s ubiquitous, and we at Straight No Chaser embrace it as a seasonal joy. This year we bring you two different Christmas Jazz podcasts to give you uninterrupted holiday music as you go about your fa-la-la-ing and dashing through the snow. The first is a collection from some of my favorite Christmas jazz albums, including tracks from Diana Krall, Jimmy Smith, Kurt Elling, George Conerdy and Oscar Peterson. I...


Podcast 650: Jazz for Spinning the Dreidel

The story of Hanukkah is one of revolution and miracles: Greek influence over the Jews in the Land of Israel was getting out of hand. Hellenism was spreading, an affront to Jewish culture and religious practice. When the Greek ruler of the time, Antiochus, forbade Jewish religious practice, a small group of Jews, the Maccabees, revolted. The Maccabees were successful and, as a first order of business, restored the desecrated Holy Temple. The menorah in the Temple needed to be lit....


Podcast 649: A Conversation with Sound Underground

Jazz musicians are always looking for new and different ways to create sounds and textures to create music. One way is to use a non-traditional musical lineup – think Gerry Mulligan’s drummer-less quartet or recent groups sans bass like the Paul Motion-Joe Lovano-Bill Frisell or Vijay Iyer-Steve Lehman-Tyshawn Sorey trios. For six years, Sound Underground has used the unconventional lineup of saxophonist David Leon, trumpeter Alec Aldred and guitarist Jonah Udall to make intriguing chamber...


Podcast 648: A Conversation with Malou Beauvoir

“Voodoo” as a term brings to mind New Orleans witches, animal sacrifices to raise the dead and other bogus representations of a serious spiritual following. With Spiritwalker, a wonderful mix of jazz, Haitian folk, hip-hop and dance music, Haitian-American singer-songwriter Malou Beauvoir goes a long way to setting the record straight about “Vaudou”. And you can dance to it! First a businesswoman, then a singer-actor, Ms. Beauvoir came to the spiritual practice late in life, when she...


Podcast 647: A Conversation with Joe Locke

One of today’s masters of the vibraphone, Joe Locke continues to record albums that go beyond mere technical artistry. Sure, he can play the vibes with the best of them, but his last two albums, 2015’s Love is a Pendulum and the just released Subtle Disguise, allow him to find new and interesting ways to write, play and record his music. While Love is a Pendulum had a structured five-movement suite as it’s center, Subtle Disguise is more of a “band album”, as Locke leads an exciting quartet...


Podcast 646: Jazzin' on Joni @ 75

Today is the 75th birthday anniversary of Joni Mitchell, one of my musical idols. I’ve done several podcasts of jazz versions of Joni’s music in the past, most notably on her 70th birthday (see Podcasts 389, 390, 391). Well, here’s one more. What is it about her music that lends itself to jazz interpretation? Perhaps it’s her unusual (open) tunings and use of chords that attract jazz musicians. One author found that she has used at leasts 60 different tunings across her career, 80 if you...


Podcast 645: Roy Hargrove (1969-2018)

The passing of Roy Hargrove this past weekend at the age of 49 comes as an unwelcome shock. Hargrove, who died of cardiac arrest brought on by kidney disease, had carved out a spot for himself in the jazz world with music that was particularly important to me. His loss to the music world is virtually immeasurable. As one of the young lions that followed the arrival of Wynton Marsalis on the scene, Hargrove was a peer of Joshua Redman, Antonio Hart, Carl Allen, Stephen Scott and Christian...


Podcast 644: Spooky Songs 2018

It’s that time of year – the leaves are falling, the wind is picking up, and sweaters are coming out of the closet. Hallowe’en is upon us, and trick or treat will come on Wednesday of this week. Nancy and I have been cutting down on candy for ourselves, which means more for the costumed creatures who come to the door her in Western Massachusetts. It’s also time for the semi-annual Spooky Song Titles podcast. You can find previous year collections on the podcast website by searching the word...


Podcast 643: A Conversation with Rudy Royston

Although he was born in Texas, Rudy Royston was raised and educated in Denver, Colorado, and it was there that he was mentored by trumpeter Ron Miles, and made a name for himself in the area’s fertile jazz, gospel and alternative rock scenes. After supporting himself as a public school music teacher, Royston came east to study at the prestigious Rutgers University music programs, studying percussion with Victor Lewis (Woody Shaw, Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz). In just over a decade, Rudy has...


Podcast 642: A Conversation with Ben Allison

I don’t mind letting you know that Ben Allison is one of my favorite people in the jazz universe these days. He is a top notch composer, a first-call bassist, and an experienced producer with his own label, Sonic Camera. He maintains a busy schedule as an educator at the New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, as he has for more than twenty years. A founder and former artistic director of the Jazz Composer’s Collective, he has been a vocal supporter of artist’s rights. He now serves as...


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...