Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 12:27 pm
In the aftermath of Marvin Hamlisch's death, Michael Feinstein is taking the reins at the Pasadena Pops in California as the group's lead conductor. Here's the twist: Feinstein has never conducted before. "He's a musician's musician, and that's what our orchestra responds to and respects," says Paul Jan Zdunek, the CEO of the Pasadena Symphony Association.
He was the tenor saxophonist and main composer for Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers --- and then for the Miles Davis Quintet --- in the Sixties. Later in that decade, he took up the soprano sax while participating in the landmark Davis recording sessions that would produce "Bitches Brew" (and he's now a master on both horns).
He co-led Weather Report, the internationally popular jazz-rock fusion supergroup, in the Seventies and Eighties.
Grammy-winning Latin-music producer Aaron Levinson joins WXPN's David Dye for this, the 17th segment of World Cafe's Latin Roots series. Levinson, a Philadelphia native, started his music career at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. With a background as a musician and composer, he's a former governor of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Levinson has gone on to start his own record label, Range Recording Studios, and has produced and released more than a dozen albums along the way.
Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 2:59 pm
Colombian superstar Juanes has been dominating music charts in the Spanish-speaking world for years. Now, the award-winning musician has decided to crossover to English-language music. Guest host Viviana Hurtado sits down with Juanes about his music and his social activism.
Kevin Eubanks (briefly) and saxophonist Bill Pierce (in the mid 1980s) both played in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, the two-generation-spanning band that is so very important in jazz from 1950s through the '80s. Now Pierce chairs the Woodwinds Department at Berklee College.
Eubanks and Marvin Smith were in TheTonight Show band together for 15 years, with guitar riffs and rim shots for Jay Leno Monday through Friday. "Smitty" brought Los Angeles bassist Rene Camacho into this group.
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 2:54 pm
Earlier this month the pioneering contemporary music label New Albion shut its doors after 25 indispensible years. Although in retrospect it seems obvious — the label hasn't offered a new release since 2008 — the announcement from Foster Reed, the label's founder and creative visionary, was still shocking. All of New Albion's remaining physical stock is being shipped off to its artists, while some (though apparently, only a few) of its releases are available through a digital storefront.
Drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath, 77, has certainly played thousands of gigs like this one, where he's hired to bring his casual brilliance to the extended songbook of jazz standards. After all, he played on John Coltrane's first album as a leader, and with every other name in hard bop from the late 1950s onward. In contrast, pianist Ethan Iverson's schedule currently revolves around touring with The Bad Plus, a band whose repertoire almost entirely omits common-practice jazz.
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 2:55 pm
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In the western suburbs of Paris 150 years ago today, a boy was born to an unassuming couple, proprietors of a china shop who had no great taste for music. But that little boy felt otherwise, and grew up to write music of bold color, timbre and harmonic daring.
Claude Debussy ignored the old rules about how to write music and in the process created a brave new world of sonic possibilities.