Patrick Jarenwattananon

You know how some older "legacy" artists program their concerts like a greatest-hits collection? Duke Ellington did some of that as he was getting older — people wanted to hear the Maestro lead "Satin Doll" and "Mood Indigo," after all — but he never stopped writing new music, either. And his late works didn't stop pushing his own boundaries.

"Gingerbread Boy" is a fetching blues head by Jimmy Heath that became a jazz standard pretty much immediately after it was first recorded. Usually, its melody is played in call-and-response: the horns play a line, the piano or guitar replies with a specific riff, repeat.

Even if you don't know anything about jazz, it's quite possible you've heard the music of saxophonist Kamasi Washington: That's him on the latest albums by Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus. But that's only the very tip of his iceberg.

Bruce Lundvall, the longtime President of Blue Note Records who supported many top jazz artists over the last four decades, died yesterday, May 19. The cause was complications of Parkinson's Disease, according to a Blue Note statement. He was 79.

It begins with meandering clarinet and clipped, four-on-the-floor percussion. A little bit later comes a countermelody, and the image that comes to mind is something from early New Orleans, or perhaps a Mediterranean folk song. It's even called "Putty Boy Strut" — that could be an obscure Jelly Roll Morton tune, right?

Vijay Iyer is probably best known as a pianist and bandleader in the African-American creative improvisational tradition — most say "jazz" for short — though he's also several other things in music. He's a composer of chamber, large-ensemble and mixed-media works; a Harvard professor; a student of Indian classical music; a father and New York City resident. Committed as he is to multiplicity, there's one place where you can see many of his interests distilled at once: in the trio he's led for nearly a dozen years.

The word "epic" sits cheerily amid the most overused hyperbole of our age. Teenage bros proclaim their recent "pretty epic" mild successes; sports commentators call anything which ends dramatically an "epic game"; the Internet-literate are quick to point out an "epic FAIL." But what else do you call a three-CD, nearly three-hour album anchored by a 10-piece jazz band, featuring a 32-piece orchestra and 20-member choir, and driven by the daydream of an imaginary martial arts grandmaster?

The late, distinctively melodic jazz composer Kenny Wheeler was also a great trumpet player, though, being famously self-effacing, often declined to toot his own horn about his talents. Many musicians sang his praises, though, and when he died in 2014, saxophonist Steve Treseler and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen were inspired to revisit his music. As they traded notes and arrangements, they realized they had to record these tunes which had been so influential to their growth as musicians.

In our first 19 Jazz Night In America webcasts, we've presented over 150 musicians from 13 venues in six cities — with many more musicians and locations on the way. Whether in huge concert auditoriums like Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Hall to tiny basement salons like Mezzrow in New York, we've heard from living legends, rising stars and very, very talented artists somewhere in between.

Every year, each of the eight members of the SFJAZZ Collective is tasked with two writing assignments. The first: Compose a new piece specifically for the band, which gathers some of the most outstanding performers on the modern jazz scene. The second: Rearrange a composition by the elder artist that the Collective has chosen to feature that year. For the 2014-15 season, SFJAZZ is paying tribute to a tenor saxophone titan, a composer of classic tunes and a long-time San Francisco resident: the late Joe Henderson.

When trumpeter and composer/arranger Steven Bernstein first met the virtuoso pianist Henry Butler, he says he was floored. "This is it," he recalls thinking. "This is like the music that I always imagined. Everything you ever loved about music, all being in one place, but now it's all coming from one person." Decades later, when they two finally began to work together, Bernstein started to study Butler's playing — and realized there were more than a few licks that set Butler apart.

The jazz clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen comes from Israel, studied and lives in the Northeastern U.S., and maintains a deep affinity for Brazilian music. Specifically, she's a specialist in the Afro-Western, improvisatory, instrumental music known as choro — an analogue of early jazz in the U.S. — where her clarinet is a lead instrument. She now helms a group called Choro Aventuroso, a quartet whose other members hail from Brazil, which takes the style as a launching pad for further adventures.

The pianist Marcus Roberts rose to prominence as a gifted performer — first with the Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center bands for years, then with his own trio and as a classical soloist. Along the way, he's become a mentor to many younger musicians, training many on the bandstand and from his professorship at Florida State University. That's given rise to a new group called The Modern Jazz Generation, which recently released a suite of original work called Romance, Swing, and the Blues.

The artists featured on this week's Jazz Night In America Wednesday Night Webcast are, by a fair margin, the least-known performers we've had on the program. Their names don't travel far outside the underrated musicians' community of the mid-Atlantic — specifically, Washington, D.C. — but not for lack of talent. They're among the premier musicians in the region, some being bandleaders themselves, and they all have strong individual sound identities.

The Washington, D.C. area trombonist Reginald Cyntje speaks English with an accent — it's a patois from the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he grew up. He also plays jazz with a Caribbean accent, where hard bop vocabulary meets reggae and calypso rhythms. His group draws from a rich regional talent pool of undersung talent, including two men — childhood friend and drummer Amin Gumbs and steel drum bebop master Victor Provost — who also hail from the Islands.

For decades, David Murray was known as one of New York's most monstrously talented and astoundingly prolific artists — a tenor saxophonist who played and wrote for just about every imaginable context. He's still these things, but he lives in Europe now. So this year's Winter Jazzfest — already jam-packed with over 100 acts in two nights — saw fit to give New York audiences a proper saturation of what they'd been missing, presenting David Murray in three completely different sets.

Blue Note Records celebrated its 75th anniversary last year, marking three-quarters of a century issuing music by the biggest names in jazz history. The company continues to aspire to that standard, with a contemporary roster ever on the lookout for today's movers and shakers. The supergroup Our Point Of View — the name references a 1963 Herbie Hancock album — combines six of those Blue Note artists for a program of originals and classics heard on Blue Note Records alike.

Henry Butler comes from a line of New Orleans piano geniuses, virtuosi who command any style under the syncopated sun. Steven Bernstein comes from a career of collaboration, blowing a slide trumpet all over downtown New York and writing arrangements for just about any medium and context. Both share a love for Jelly Roll Morton and Bessie Smith — Butler grew up in New Orleans, and Bernstein leads the pre-war Millennial Territory Orchestra — and for injecting personal, modern twists into anything they do. And when they met on stage recently, they knew they had to collaborate deeper.

If you've ever gone to the NYC Winter Jazzfest — specifically, the marathon of overlapping sets in roughly adjacent venues that sometimes lasts more than eight hours per night — you know that you're bombarded with choices. Stay in one theater where it's warm, or graze for three songs and move on? Stand in that slow-moving line, or find a new plan? See one of your favorite musicians, or take a risk on something you've never heard of before? Experimental, deep in-the-pocket, or somewhere in between?

As a pianist and bandleader, Marian McPartland was a decorated jazz artist, recording and performing for well over half a century. At the same time, she was one of the music's great champions, as host of NPR's Piano Jazz for 33 years.

In the dead of January in the Northeast, New York City's Winter Jazzfest manages a minor miracle. Over the course of two marathon nights, it brings crowds in the thousands out to jam-packed theaters and clubs to see dozens of varied and sundry bands.

Every year, NPR Music invites a handful of the world's top keyboard players to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. We ask them to play some of their favorite holiday music for the audience — solo — and the recording becomes the public radio special A Jazz Piano Christmas.

Ellis Marsalis is a father figure of modern jazz — in quite a few ways. As a pianist, he was among the first generation of musicians to bring bebop to New Orleans, and even worked with Ornette Coleman before the saxophonist recorded his landmarks of free jazz. As an educator, many great musicians came through Marsalis' tutelage, whether in New Orleans' arts high school or at various university programs. And of course, he is also the actual father of several exceptional musicians named Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis.

Jon Batiste is from New Orleans, where a street parade might assemble around the corner on any given day. Evidently, he likes a good walkabout: He's liable to lead his band at a guerrilla concert in the New York City subway, or out of a venue, or — as he did at the Newport Jazz Festival — off stage and into the audience.

When Miles Davis returned to performing in the early 1980s, he asked his former bandmate and master composer, Wayne Shorter, to write something for him. What came out was a large ensemble work too unwieldy for Davis, and Shorter put it back on his shelf. "I asked him for a tune, and he gives me a [expletive deleted] symphony," Davis reportedly said at the time.

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