Jazz Night in America

Saturday at 10PM on WSCL 89.5 FM

Jazz Night in America NPR Music, Member Station WBGO, and Jazz at Lincoln Center unite to create the next generation of jazz programming from public radio. Hosted by multiple Grammy Award-winning musician Christian McBride, Jazz Night in America presents content on multiple platforms and from across the nation to share this uniquely American art form and reinvigorate public media jazz programming for audiences today. This radio program features storytelling with concert performances, connecting jazz enthusiasts and potential new fans with artists and venues -- and each other -- through weekly, one-hour broadcasts and an array of 26 live signature videocasts and on-demand video of jazz events from today's great artists and venues. It brings jazz fans together online via chat rooms during concerts and through social media, encouraging a deeper conversation with musicians, representatives of arts organizations and the major institutions of the jazz world, and arts educators in their community.

About a year ago, trumpeter Marquis Hill, now 28, traveled to Los Angeles, played five tunes for a panel of judges, and won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. 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.

The pianist and composer Arturo O'Farrill knows better than almost anyone that more than 50 years of a trade embargo between the U.S. and Cuba hasn't fully prevented the exchange of jazz between the two countries. He's known it since he first visited Cuba in 2002.

"The first thing that I encountered was great 'goo-gobs' of young jazz musicians who worked really hard to master this craft that we thought was our own," O'Farrill says.

"Thelonious Monk is the most important musician, period," Jason Moran says. He laughs out loud. "In all the world. Period!"

Moran is in a dressing room deep within the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., where he's the artistic director for jazz. He's not really wearing that hat at the moment, though. He's talking as a musician himself — and very personally, at that.

There's no one person responsible for creating music festivals — or for making them such a huge part of how we witness live performances today. But starting in 1954, one person developed a recipe for their secret sauce.

George Wein still goes to his signature event every year, checking out performances and greeting the artists. These days, he does it on a golf cart which drives him between stages — he's about to turn 90, after all — but he says he takes his job as producer very seriously.

Wayne Shorter is a living legend — a saxophonist, composer and lifelong original thinker. He's never been afraid to be different, which is perhaps why he's accomplished so much. Among his accomplishments:

Celebrating Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Sep 10, 2015

Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who would have been 80 this year, was a boundary-pushing virtuoso on multiple wind instruments (sometimes at once). It certainly rubbed off on Steve Turre, who apprenticed with Kirk in the 1970s. Turre has become a monster player himself, and also specializes in multiple horns — both the trombone and the conch shell.

Jazz Night In America follows Turre to Jazz at Lincoln Center, where he's assembled a monster lineup to celebrate one of his major influences.

Celebrating Betty Carter

Sep 10, 2015

For years, one of jazz's top institutions of higher education was "the school of Betty Carter," an esteemed collection of her band's alumni and singers bound together by the thrall of her titanic influence. Hers was, simply, one of the most powerful voices in American music.

Jazz Night In America celebrates her lasting influence at Jazz at Lincoln Center with a performance by vocalist Charenée Wade, accompanied by many former members of Carter's bands through the years.

Celebrating Max Roach

Sep 10, 2015

To say Max Roach was a bebop pioneer, or a paramount innovator of the drums, or a prominent social activist would be accurate. Yet these individual labels fall short of his totality. Ali Jackson had a chance to see a fuller picture — after crossing paths with Roach at age 12, Jackson was forever changed, and would go on to study with Roach. Today, he's the drummer for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and still deeply appreciative.

Tootie Heath's 80th Birthday

Sep 9, 2015

The iconic drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath turned 80 on May 31, and Jazz Night went to the celebration. Heath, who first recorded in the 1950s with John Coltrane, has been active for over 50 years, performing with such artists as Dexter Gordon, Nina Simone, Wes Montgomery, and countless others. Incredibly, popular opinion suggests that Tootie sounds as good as ever.

Jazz Night In America visits Jazz at Lincoln Center as Tootie Heath performs at his birthday parties — and host Christian McBride pops over to interview him personally.

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