Jazz guitarist, composer and arranger Jim Halldied in his sleep Tuesday; he was 83. Hall was known for a subtle, lyrical playing style, a gift for innovation and collaborations with a host of talented musicians in a career that stretched more than seven decades.
Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:45 pm
Toward the end of every year, NPR Music invites some of the world's best jazz keyboard players to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. We ask them to take on some of their favorite Christmas tunes, solo, and the recording becomes the public radio special A Jazz Piano Christmas.
The Jazz Institute of Chicago and the city's Park District teamed up in December 2012 to present this free family concert with Dee Alexander. As we air it on JazzSet a year later,Alexander is just back from performing the show in Poland where, she writes, "everyone was on their feet."
Jennifer Holliday won fame by turning a Broadway show tune into an anthem. With her performance of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" in the musical Dreamgirls, she became a star on Broadway. But Holliday's life and career offstage slipped out of control as she battled obesity and depression. After years out of the recording studio, Holliday is back with the album The Song is You. It's due out in January.
Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 10:15 am
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Our friends in the public radio system are some of the most open-minded listeners we know. Each month, our Heavy Rotation series brings you free downloads of what our fellow programmers and producers are experiencing on repeat.
Originally published on Sat February 22, 2014 4:31 pm
What do you have to do, as a song, to win our hearts? You have to sink in. You have to stop someone dead in her tracks. You need to cause that man to act a fool. Scrunch a nose, tense a shoulder, drop an ass.
Drummer Chick Webb's 1930s orchestra terrorized competitors in band battles and sent dancers into orbit at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom. They could be similarly explosive on record, but only rarely. Early on, they did have some hot Edgar Sampson arrangements that Benny Goodman would soon turn into hits, like "Blue Lou" and "Don't Be That Way." But the Webb band also had an old-school crooner, Charles Linton, with pre-jazz-age enunciation.
Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 12:08 am
A couple of years back, I was trying to help a friend come up with some quick and easy dinner plans. She was swamped at work, her husband was out of town, and her two young kids needed the usual amount of attention. I asked what she'd been cooking lately. She listed a handful of dishes — nothing fancy but certainly nothing to sniff at. Also, she admitted with some level of embarrassment, they'd been having a lot of breakfast for dinner.