WBEZ | jazz http://www.wbez.org/tags/jazz Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The making of Marquis Hill http://www.wbez.org/news/music/making-marquis-hill-113657 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/marquishill2.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title=" Marquis Hill studied Music at Northern Illinois University, and Jazz Pedagogy at DePaul University. (Christopher Baliwas)" /></p><p>About a year ago, trumpeter <a href="http://www.marquishill.com">Marquis Hill</a>, now 28, traveled to Los Angeles, played five tunes for a panel of judges, and won the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ablogsupreme/2014/11/19/365063889/a-jazz-institution-moves-back-home-to-los-angeles" target="_blank">Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition</a>. You can think of it as a sort of Heisman Trophy for young jazz artists, meaning that a lot more people discovered his talent in a hurry.</p><p>Hill&#39;s profile may have risen suddenly, but talent like that doesn&#39;t spontaneously emerge from nowhere. It takes a village of mentors, peers, opportunities and other educational infrastructure to enable a musician to grow. That&#39;s especially true with jazz, an inherently social music historically conveyed through the oral tradition. Besides, in his hometown of Chicago, folks had already known about Hill for some time: That&#39;s the &quot;village&quot; that raised him, after all.</p><p>Marquis Hill now splits his time between the Windy City and New York City, but still maintains a snappy working band full of catchy melodic ideas &mdash; a five-piece outfit he calls the Marquis Hill Blacktet. On one of his trips back home this summer, we asked him to show us &quot;his&quot; Chicago, culminating in a Blacktet performance downtown at one of the city&#39;s premier clubs: the Jazz Showcase.</p><p>Jazz Night In America&nbsp;travels to one of the great jazz cities to meet some of the people and places which transformed a young trumpeter from the South Side of Chicago into Marquis Hill.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="338" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/templates/event/embeddedVideo.php?storyId=454861342&amp;mediaId=454875349" width="620"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.marquishill.com/" target="_blank"><em>The </em></a><em><a href="http://www.marquishill.com/" target="_blank">Blacktet</a></em><em><a href="http://www.marquishill.com/" target="_blank"> </a>features Marquis Hill, trumpet; Christopher McBride, alto saxophone; Justefan (Justin Thomas), vibraphone; Joshua Ramos, bass; and Makaya McCraven, drums.</em></p></p> Thu, 05 Nov 2015 14:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/music/making-marquis-hill-113657 'Tomeka Reid Quartet' offers a tightly synchronized mix of cello and guitar http://www.wbez.org/fresh-air/2015-10-13/tomeka-reid-quartet-offers-tightly-synchronized-mix-cello-and-guitar-113326 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/6127321393_660a3a0730_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cellist Tomeka Reid was headed toward a career as a classical musician, but was drawn to jazz. Critic Kevin Whitehead says her band&#39;s new album,&nbsp;<em>The Tomeka Reid Quartet</em>,&nbsp;has good chemistry all around.</p><hr /><p><strong>TERRY GROSS, HOST</strong>:</p><p>This is FRESH AIR. Chicago cellist Tomeka Reid was headed toward a career as a classical musician when she got drawn into playing jazz and improvised music. But she still loves the intimacy of chamber ensembles. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says Tomeka Reid&#39;s new Chicago-New York quartet is tightly synchronized.</p><p><strong>(SOUNDBITE OF ERIC DOLPHY SONG, &quot;17 WEST&quot; PERFORMED BY TOMEKA REID QUARTET)</strong></p><p><strong>KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE</strong>: Cellist Tomeka Reid on &quot;17 West&quot; by Eric Dolphy, which he recorded in 1960 with Ron Carter on cello. I have to laugh when some publicist, journalist or even cellist maintains playing jazz on cello as some bold new idea. There have been literally dozens of improvising cello players since the 1950s. Tomeka Reid embraces that tradition, the better to build on it. The lineup on her new album, &quot;Tomeka Reid Quartet,&quot; which mixes cello and guitar, draws a connection to Chico Hamilton&#39;s chamber jazz quintet from the &#39;50s. But Reid&#39;s foursome gets more low-down.</p><p><strong>(SOUNDBITE OF TOMEKA REID QUARTET SONG)</strong></p><p><strong>WHITEHEAD</strong>: Chicago&#39;s Tomeka Reid on cello with New York&#39;s Mary Halvorson on guitar. There have been string players in jazz from the beginning, with cello becoming almost common after the &#39;70s. And Tomeka Reid likes to honor her string heroes. &quot;Billy Bang&#39;s Bounce&quot; catches the flavor of that late violinist&#39;s sweetly woody sound. Bassist Jason Roebke gets them started with a chunky, early Sun Ra Chicago beat.</p><p><strong>(SOUNDBITE OF TOMEKA REID QUARTET SONG, &quot;BILL BANG&#39;S BOUNCE&quot;)</strong></p><p><strong>WHITEHEAD</strong>: Ace guitarist Mary Halvorson plays in a lot of bands, including some very good ones. But Tomeka Reid&#39;s quartet fits her especially well. Halvorson starts out with a spiky, old-fashioned jazz guitar tone, then cuts it with spider-walking lines and electronic squiggles. Here, she swings a little more overtly than elsewhere. But Halvorson&#39;s not one to play it safe. The drummer is a frequent collaborator from back east, Tomas Fujiwara.</p><p><strong>(SOUNDBITE OF TOMEKA REID QUARTET SONG)</strong></p><p><strong>WHITEHEAD</strong>: Mary Halvorson on guitar. Cellist Tomeka Reid writes atmospheric pieces too. But her heavy groove numbers really put the players in the mood to play. Reid gives them plenty of room, sometimes more than she gives herself. She&#39;s more exposed on her other new album, called &quot;Artifacts,&quot; for a co-op trio with flutist Nicole Mitchell and drummer Mike Reed playing music by fellow Chicagoans. But in Reid&#39;s own quartet, she&#39;s apt to bow or pluck cello within the ensemble, the better to blend with guitar and bass. The strings bind together nicely, and the drums give them a propulsive kick. There&#39;s good chemistry all around.</p><p><strong>(SOUNDBITE OF TOMEKA REID QUARTET SONG)</strong></p><p><strong>GROSS</strong>: Kevin Whitehead writes for Point of Departure and is the author of &quot;Why Jazz?&quot; He reviewed the new recording by the Tomeka Reid Quartet on the Thirsty Ear label. Tomorrow on FRESH AIR, I&#39;ll talk with Justin Theroux, who stars in the HBO series &quot;The Leftovers,&quot; about the people who remain on Earth after 2 percent of the world&#39;s population mysteriously vanishes in a split second. Is it the rapture, an act of God? Are the people on Earth spared or condemned? Season two is underway. Theroux co-wrote the comedy &quot;Tropic Thunder&quot; with Ben Stiller and wrote the screenplay for the forthcoming &quot;Zoolander&quot; sequel. I hope you&#39;ll join us.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/13/448297104/tomeka-reid-quartet-offers-a-tightly-synchronized-mix-of-cello-and-guitar" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 13 Oct 2015 16:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/fresh-air/2015-10-13/tomeka-reid-quartet-offers-tightly-synchronized-mix-cello-and-guitar-113326 Songs We Love: Natural Information Society & Bitchin Bajas, 'Sign Spinners' http://www.wbez.org/news/songs-we-love-natural-information-society-bitchin-bajas-sign-spinners-113072 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/bajas1.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Bitchin Bajas (pictured) join Natural Information Society on Automaginary." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/24/bajas1_wide-4ac16221161d4fbdf72d61ff399140bf8f361050-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 337px; width: 600px;" title="Bitchin Bajas, left, join Natural Information Society on Automaginary.(Jeremiah Chiu/Courtesy of the artist)" /></div></div><div><div><p>Over the past five years, the groups&nbsp;<a href="http://naturalinformationsociety.com/">Natural Information Society</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://bitchinbajas.tumblr.com/">Bitchin Bajas</a>&nbsp;have become staples of Chicago underground music, but from opposite ends. NIS leader Joshua Abrams has one foot in the city&#39;s improvisational jazz scene, a communal tradition that extends back 50 years to the heyday of the&nbsp;<a href="http://aacmchicago.org/">AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians)</a>. Cooper Crain of Bitchin Bajas moves in more avant-rock circles, primarily as guitarist for the psych-leaning quartet Cave.</p></div></div><p>But NIS and Bitchin Bajas have something else in common: they both make repetition-based, meditative music that can be therapeutic, calming the mind through the ears. NIS centers this effect via the instrument Abrams plays called the&nbsp;<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sintir">guembri</a>, a three-string Moroccan lute on which he plucks out patterns that his band-mates augment with drums, guitars, and the harmonium.</p><p><img alt="Natural Information Society &amp; Bitchin Bajas, Automaginary (Drag City)" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/24/bitchinbajasnaturalinformationsociety_automaginary_mini_sq-e6818ff51b7fd248a628a9d0ed6231415cedfb20-s300-c85.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Natural Information Society &amp; Bitchin Bajas,Automaginary (Drag City)" /></p><p>Crain&#39;s trio creates their sonic oasis using synths, organs, and wind instruments, building beatific drifts out of rising tones. These tools turn out to be remarkably compatible on the groups&#39; first collaborative album <em>Autoimaginary</em>. The insistent, hypnotic pulses of NIS meld with Bitchin Bajas&#39; drone-tinted layers like gentle rain falling from dense clouds.</p><p>&quot;Sign Spinners&quot; hits the ground with Abrams&#39; running bass, then quickly ascends, as sparkly keyboard figures and shimmering guitar accents mirror each other. Things gradually intensify, cresting when a plaintive flute perches atop the bubbling mix. This airy, spacious music grows and grows without ever sounding cluttered. On the surface, &quot;Sign Spinners&quot; seems to barely move from where it began. Abrams&#39; loop churns along throughout, and no sudden left turns come up along the way. Yet by the time the song ends, you&#39;ll likely feel mentally transported &ndash; perhaps to the same blissful place where Natural Information Society &amp; Bitchin Bajas seem very happy to spend their time together.</p><p><em>Autoimaginary</em><em>&nbsp;</em>is out now on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dragcity.com/">Drag City</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/09/25/443202778/songs-we-love-natural-information-society-bitchin-bajas-sign-spinners?ft=nprml&amp;f=443202778"><em>via NPR&#39;s Songs We Love</em></a></p></p> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 16:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/songs-we-love-natural-information-society-bitchin-bajas-sign-spinners-113072 Pianist Fred Hersch inspired by early jazz mentors http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/pianist-fred-hersch-inspired-early-jazz-mentors-113068 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Fred Hersch_ by John Abbott.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Fred Hersch was in town recently to perform at the Chicago Jazz Festival. Hersch started playing piano when he was very young and grew popular over a decades-long career. Hersch says he benefitted musically from having mentors. When he stopped by StoryCorps, he talked about his career and the role of formal education in jazz music.</p><p>This story was recorded in partnership with <a href="http://www.cct.org/about/partnerships_initiatives/ada-25-chicago/">ADA 25 Chicago</a>, part of the Chicago Community Trust.</p><p><em>StoryCorps&rsquo; mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. These excerpts, edited by WBEZ, present some of our favorites from the current visit, as well as from previous trips.</em></p></p> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 13:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/pianist-fred-hersch-inspired-early-jazz-mentors-113068 Cellist and composer Tomeka Reid releases her first album as leader http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-21/cellist-and-composer-tomeka-reid-releases-her-first-album-leader <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/tomeka.jpeg" alt="" /><p><p>There aren&rsquo;t a lot of cellos in jazz. But then again, there aren&rsquo;t a lot of musicians like <a href="http://www.tomekareid.net/#home-section">Tomeka Reid</a>. Classically trained, Reid didn&rsquo;t consider jazz as her main bag until flutist Nicole Mitchell pulled her into Mitchell&rsquo;s Black Earth Ensemble 15 years ago. Since then she&rsquo;s taught kids, lent her talents to a wide variety of ensembles and genres, has worked with just about everyone in Chicago&rsquo;s world-renowned improvisation scene and played in world capitals. Now she&rsquo;s got an album of her own, the Tomeka Reid Quartet. She played selections from it for us.</p></p> Mon, 21 Sep 2015 11:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-21/cellist-and-composer-tomeka-reid-releases-her-first-album-leader Englewood Jazz Festival nurtures, celebrates local talent http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-18/englewood-jazz-festival-nurtures-celebrates-local-talent-112976 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/trumpeter Corey Wilkes Bryan Thompson.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s music festival season continues Saturday with an event that&rsquo;s entering its 16th year &mdash; The <a href="http://englewoodjazzfest.org/">Englewood Jazz Festival</a>.</p><p>The Englewood Jazz Fest was founded by saxophone player Ernest Dawkins, who&#39;s also a composer, bandleader and educator. Part of his mission is to get people to recognize that there are other things going on in Englewood beyond, as he says, &ldquo;what you hear in the news.&rdquo;</p><p>Dawkins has put an emphasis on nurturing young talent, and the list of players in his big band that have gone on to have stellar careers is pretty impressive. Ernest Dawkins is in studio with a preview of the lineup.&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 11:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-18/englewood-jazz-festival-nurtures-celebrates-local-talent-112976 Freeman family reunites for album and series of Chicago shows http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-16/freeman-family-reunites-album-and-series-chicago-shows-112946 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/georgefreemanchicofreeman_allinthefamily_db crop.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Sonny Stitt...it&rsquo;s a rare thing today to come across someone who played with those stalwarts of jazz &mdash; but we were joined by such a person &nbsp;in the Jim and Kay Mabie Performance Studio.</p><p>At 88 years old, Chicago jazzman George Freeman is still laying down some great licks on his guitar. He&rsquo;s got a new release that includes another member of the Freeman family &mdash; his nephew <a href="http://v2.chicofreeman.com/">Chico</a>, son of the late tenor-great Von Freeman. Chico himself has an equally impressive list of names he&rsquo;s collaborated with: Dizzy, McCoy Tyner and Charles Mingus to name a few.</p><p>Their record is called <a href="https://www.presskit.to/thechicagoprojectallinthefamily"><em>All In the Family</em></a> and they&rsquo;re here to play some tunes before they play shows all weekend at the <a href="http://www.jazzshowcase.com/">Jazz Showcase</a>, including a CD release show tomorrow.</p></p> Wed, 16 Sep 2015 11:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-16/freeman-family-reunites-album-and-series-chicago-shows-112946 What to look and listen for at this year’s Chicago Jazz Festival http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-02/what-look-and-listen-year%E2%80%99s-chicago-jazz-festival-112804 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/jazz fest Joan.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>You know fall is right around the corner when the Chicago Jazz Festival makes its annual appearance. The music begins tomorrow and lasts through Sunday and boy, what a varied line-up. Here with some of his festival picks is a man who many years ago used to spin jazz records here at WBEZ: Jazz journalist and author Howard Mandel.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 11:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-02/what-look-and-listen-year%E2%80%99s-chicago-jazz-festival-112804 Jazz singer Lucy Smith previews her set at the Chicago Jazz Festival http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-02/jazz-singer-lucy-smith-previews-her-set-chicago-jazz-festival <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/lucy smith.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Born and raised on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side, singer/songwriter/bandleader Lucy Smith is deeply ingrained in the city&rsquo;s jazz scene. Her most recent project, Autumn in Augusta, is a tribute to her mother and the music her mother loved-everything from Trini Lopez to Nina Simone to Josh White to Mariam Makeba. Lucy Smith performs Thursday at 1:45 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of this year&rsquo;s Chicago Jazz Fest. It&rsquo;s Free Admission.</p></p> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 11:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-02/jazz-singer-lucy-smith-previews-her-set-chicago-jazz-festival Famed Charles Mingus piece inspires new jazz and dance http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-14/famed-charles-mingus-piece-inspires-new-jazz-and-dance-112647 <p><p>Charles Mingus was a musical genius. His work defies definition &mdash; it contains elements of swing, bop, hard bop, free jazz, and what&rsquo;s known as &ldquo;third stream&rdquo; (blending elements of jazz and orchestral music). Widespread recognition of his talent as a composer started coming his way in the late &lsquo;50s with albums like &ldquo;Mingus Ah Um,&rdquo; which featured his band of rotating musicians known as the Jazz Workshop. In 1963 Mingus released &ldquo;The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s one long composition, written as a ballet-in six movements, and it&rsquo;s widely regarded as one of the great achievements in orchestration by any composer in jazz history. Now, the &ldquo;Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz&rdquo; series has teamed up with composer Greg Ward and choreographer Onye Ozuzu to create new pieces of music and dance inspired by the Mingus work. It&rsquo;s a co-production of Constellation and Links Hall, and it takes flight Thursday night at Millennium Park. The musicians stopped by our studio for a preview.&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 10:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-14/famed-charles-mingus-piece-inspires-new-jazz-and-dance-112647