Many music lovers know Juan de Marcos González as the man who teamed up with guitarist Ry Cooder to create Buena Vista Social Club. But González was busy celebrating the history of Cuban music long before Cooder arrived on the scene.
Concurrently with the Buena Vista project, González was recording an album with his own band, The Afro-Cuban All Stars. The orchestra now contains expatriate Cuban musicians, young and old alike, from around the world.
It's no wonder that pianist Bill Charlap loves the music that has come to be called The Great American Songbook — the songs of great Tin Pan Alley composers such as Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. He grew up with it. Charlap was born and raised in New York, the son of Moose Charlap (a Broadway composer) and Sandy Stern, a self-described "popular singer with jazz overtones."
If we were to make a list of all the recording and composing credits of the members of The Cookers, it would go on for many pages. The band is an amazing collection of veteran jazz musicians: Billy Hart (drums), Cecil McBee (bass), Eddie Henderson (trumpet), David Weiss (trumpet), Billy Harper (sax) and George Cables (piano).
In the first generation of bebop musicians, Ray Brown was king of the jazz bass. Today, the "go-to" jazz bassist is Christian McBride, so we were delighted to have McBride stop by the KPLU studios for a performance with pianist Peter Martin.
It's turning out to be a great year for jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette.
In January, he was named an NEA Jazz Master for lifetime achievement. He began celebrating his 70th birthday early — it's August 9 — by going on a short performance tour this month with his old friends, Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke. The celebration continues this summer, as he tours Europe with the Keith Jarrett trio. As if that's not enough, he also released one of the best albums of the year in any genre, Sound Travels.
Drummer Jack DeJohnette was 23 when he made his first recording with The Charles Lloyd Quartet in 1966. Since that time, he's been a driving force in the world of jazz. This year, DeJohnette will celebrate his birthday all year long — the big day is actually August 9 — with special events, including his current tour with his old friends Chick Corea (piano) and Stanley Clarke (bass).
When pianist Lynne Arriale released her first album, The Eyes Have It, in 1994, KPLU started playing music from it right away. It was clear to us that Arriale had that "something extra" that separates good musicians from great ones. Over the course of her career, she's continued to build on that quality, so we were especially pleased to finally welcome her as a guest artist in our Seattle performance studio.
During his 84 years on the planet, Yip Harburg contributed brilliant lyrics to some of the finest melodies of the American popular song canon.
Most of his songs were originally written for Broadway shows or Hollywood musicals. Finian's Rainbow is probably his most popular stage work, but he's best known for working with composer Harold Arlen on music for The Wizard of Oz, a collaboration which won them an Oscar for "Over the Rainbow."
What follows is the work of five singers, each putting his or her own stamp on the lyrics of Yip Harburg.