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Straight No Chaser

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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 596: Monk 100 - Playing Monk

Yesterday was Podcast 595, a celebration of the music of Thelonious Monk, as played by Monk solo, and in various groups. Today, it’s Podcast 596, where some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time tackle some of the greatest jazz compositions of all time. Enjoy! Musical selections include: Paul Motian - “Ruby My Dear” from Monk in Motian Danilo Perez - “Bright Mississippi” from PanaMonk John Beasley - “Criss Cross” from MONKestra, Vol. 2 Steve Lacey - “Four in One” from Steve...

Duration: 01:07:25

Podcast 595: Monk 100 - Thelonious, My Old Friend

One hundred years ago today, the man who would forever change the way jazz piano was played was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Thelonious Sphere Monk would go on to be that rare artist whose career spanned almost all of the important historical genres, and who earned the right to be called the “Genius of Modern Music.” But it took a long time for the world to catch up with him. Monk’s family moved to Manhattan when he was four years old, and by his early teens, he was playing stride...

Duration: 01:16:34

Podcast 592: Introducing Jazz Press

New and innovative ways to distribute music has been utilized by any number of jazz entrepreneurs over the past few years. Think of new and exciting models like SmallsLIVE, a repository of live club performances that can be accessed live or from archives through streaming, or Newvelle Records, with its limited vinyl-only releases by subscription. Add to the list The new venture is a subscription service that releases albums curated exclusively for them by jazz musicians,...

Duration: 00:34:58

Podcast 591: A Conversation with Uri Gurvich

The music of Israeli-born saxophonist Uri Gurvich weaves a wonderful tapestry of world-wide sounds. Sure, the music in distinctly jazz, but Uri and his quartet, which has been performing together for the past decade, features some of the most prominent voices on the international jazz scene. Besides the Tel Aviv native Gurvich, he has played for more than a decade with Argentinian pianist Leo Genovese, known for his work with Esperanza Spalding; Bulgarian bassist Peter Slavov, a member of...

Duration: 00:44:44

Podcast 589: A Conversation with Joe Policastro

Jazz musicians have drawn on a myriad of sources for tunes with which they can hone their craft. Whether its Broadway shows, the Great American Songbook, or European Art music, inspiration can stroke from any source. Chicago-based bassist Joe Policastro and his Trio (guitarist Dave Miller, and drummer Mikel Avery) have made current pop songs and the entire score of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story the basis of their last two albums. With the release of Screen Sounds, they have expanded...

Duration: 00:44:06

Podcast 590: A Conversation with John Beasley

One of last year’s finest releases was John Beasley’s Big Band album Monk’estra, Volume One. A master arranger, Beasley put together a who’s who of musicians to turn the Thelonius Monk library of tunes into something more innovative and thought provoking than they had been in years. A pair of Grammy nominations followed, so it was hoped that an encore set would soon appear. Wait no longer. Monk’estra, Volume Two is here, and it was well worth the wait. Digging deeper into the Monk...

Duration: 00:42:01

Podcast 588: Jazz for the Dog Days 2017

It's past the midpoint in summer in New England, so why not some summer themed music for these 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 brightest star in the...

Duration: 01:04:15

Podcast 586: JackDeJohnette @ 75

Seventy-five years ago today, one of the great drummers and percussionists of the modern jazz era was born in Chicago, Illinois. Jack DeJohnette has gone on to play with most of the important jazz musicians who lean toward the genres of the avant-garde and fusion, syncopating the wildest electric music and most controlled acoustic sounds of our time. DeJohnette cut his teeth in the Chicago Avant-Garde, playing with musicians who would form the Association for the Advancement of Creative...

Duration: 01:11:34

Podcast 585: A Conversation with Ariel Pocock

It was about 18 months ago that I spoke with pianist-singer Ariel Pocock (check Podcast 505) about her long-delayed first album, Touchstone. A graduate of the prestigious University of Miami Frost School of Music and a double-award winner at the Essentially Ellington Competition at Lincoln Center for Outstanding Pianist and Outstanding Vocalist, Ariel and her first album showed real promise, and I was pleased when Living in Twilight (Justin Time Records) came across my desk. The album...

Duration: 00:18:38

Podcast 584: Previewing the Newport Jazz Festival with Danny Melnick

The Summer Jazz Festival season is in full swing, and the first weekend in August will bring us the Newport Jazz Festival (presented by Natixis) August 4-6 at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island. One of the oldest and most important Jazz Festivals in the US, this year’s festival seems to be building on the injections of young talent and new ways of presenting music that marked the past few year’s triumphs. Newport has three stages (four if you count the intimate Storyville for...

Duration: 00:54:39

Podcast 583: England Swings

There will be no podcasts posted for the next few weeks, as Nancy and I head “across the pond” to England for a much needed change of scene. The British jazz scene has more than its share of history and current artists of note. Some may be obvious to you, while others less so. So, what better way to kick off my vacation than giving you an hour plus of music from jazz artists hailing from the UK? The sound varies wildly from the straight ahead of Marian McPartland to the traditional of...

Duration: 00:54:36

Podcast 582: Geri Allen (1957-2017)

The passing this week of pianist Geri Allen has taken the jazz world by surprise. Still at the top of her game as performer, composer and educator at the age of 60, it seemed that few knew of her illness, and even fewer of its severity. She will be sorely missed. Her legacy is substantial – 19 albums as a leader; dozens more as sideperson for the likes of Paul Motian, Steve Coleman, Oliver Lake, and Ornette Coleman; a thriving jazz department at the University of Pittsburgh. Musically,...

Duration: 00:58:06

Podcast 581: A Conversation with Sean Jones

I’ve wanted to have Sean Jones on the show for a long time. A talented trumpeter and composer, he was mentored by the greatest of all trumpet teachers, William “Prof” Fielder at Rutgers University. After graduating, he quickly became a fixture in New York big bands, most notably the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Based on a strong showing at a Gerald Wilson Orchestra recording session for Mack Avenue Records, Jones was inked to a solo contract with the label at the age of 26. Live at the...

Duration: 00:35:53

Podcast 579: A Conversation with Tedd Chubb

"Ted Chubb is a very talented trumpeter, composer, improviser, bandleader and educator. Ted is the total package, and most of all, he is just one great guy." - Christian McBride Ted Chubb’s Gratified Never Satisfied allows the seasoned New Jersey trumpeter a chance to broaden his horizons, and he makes the most of it. Backed by a band that can sound throwback at one moment and perfectly modern in another, Chubb’s collection of four original tunes and four well-chosen covers should allow...

Duration: 00:38:54

Podcast 580: A Conversation with Danny Melnick about the 40h Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival

If it’s June, then it must be time for the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, at the lovely SPAC in Saratoga Springs, New York. 2017 marks the 40 anniversary of the weekend-long event, and it promises to live up to past triumphs once again. The festival has two stages, the Amphitheatre for headliners, and the newly-renovated Gazebo Stage for up-and-coming and under the radar talent. Saturday June 24 features Chaka Khan (who had to bail from last year’s festival); Grammy darling Jacob...

Duration: 00:48:27

Podcast 578: A Conversation with Bill O'Connell on Dave Valentin

A Musical Celebration of Life for the renowned Latin jazz flautist Dave Valentin will take place Monday, June 12, beginning at 6 PM at Saint Peter’s Church, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street in Manhattan. The Grammy Award winning-artist passed on March 8 after a long illness at 64 years of age. In addition to remarks from family and friends, Valentin’s long time group will perform, led by pianist / musical director Bill O’Connell, with bassist Lincoln Goines, drummer Robby Ameen, and...

Duration: 00:32:28

Podcast 576: A Conversation with John Yao

I’ve pointed out before that we may be living through a golden age for trombone players in the world of jazz. Over the past few years rising stars like Ryan Keberle, Joel Yennior, Charlie Halloran and Michael Dease have joined the ranks of talents like Wycliffe Gordon, Conrad Herwig, Steve Turre and the legendary Roswell Rudd. These guys lead bands, not just hold down a chair in a big band horn section. Add another name to their ranks – John Yao. His latest small-group CD, Presence, is...

Duration: 00:36:40

Podcast 575: A Conversation with Kathleen Potton

Is Kathleen Potton’s new album a tribute to a tyrannical Roman emperor? She’s quick to laugh that off. NERO, her debut CD which is available this week, is intended to be a nod to the great female singer-songwriters she has learned to admire. The Australian born Potton became entranced with the music of Laura Nyro after hearing Billy Child’s CD Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro last year, and found some people pronounced the late singer-songwriter’s last name the American...

Duration: 00:27:29

Podcast 574: A Conversation with Cuong VU

Ever since I learned of the amazing breath of his talents with his stint in the Pat Metheny Group, I’ve been a fan of Cuong Vu. A trumpet player with a decidedly avant-garde style, Cuong is able to use his talents in any number of ways. Whether he is leading one of his groups, or serving as sideman for Metheny, Dave Douglas, and Myra Melford; or guesting on a David Bowie session, his presence seems to raise the game of all who are playing with him. Born in Saigon, Cuong Vu immigrated to...

Duration: 00:44:29

Podcast 572: A Conversation with Christian Sands

I’m saying it here and now – Reach is the album that makes Christian Sands a star. Those “in the know” in jazz are already familiar with the 28 year old pianist, who has been a key member of Christian McBride’s Inside Straight band for the past five years. With the release of his first album for Mack Records (also McBride’s home), he shows that he is ready to be a leader in his own right.\ It was inevitable, as Sands has been tapped by Ben Williams, McBride, Ulysses Owens and Latin Jazz...

Duration: 00:44:47

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