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There are many Black female jazz vocalists held in special regard for their commitment to civil rights and activism, including the support expressed through their songs and lyrics that directly address racism. Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit, Lena Horne’s Stormy Weather, and numerous songs by Nina Simone, most notably Mississippi Goddam, Backlash Blues, Four Women and […]

The limelight for the Big Band Era of Swing is often dominated by the familiarity of names such as Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Artie Shaw. Yet Fletcher Henderson was a pivotal bandleader, leading possibly the most dynamic early big band of the ‘20s and ‘30s and having been an enormous draw and popularity both […]

Experimental jazz guitarist, composer, and ensemble bandleader Mary Halvorson has evolved her individual style and pushed an incredibly varied direction in musical expression over the course of numerous projects since 2005. Finding significant critical attention in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and most recently 2022 by virtue of consecutive wins in DownBeat’s International Critics Poll as […]

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of Duke Ellington’s influence: as seminal orchestral band leader; compositional genius; and his depth of musical contribution to jazz, modernizing without precedent, and his extensive legacy of recordings. In his own words, Ellington expressed that jazz was “beyond category” and renowned music critic, novelist, and literary scholar Albert Murray […]

The voice as an instrument, particularly in jazz, is a fascinating vehicle for musical expression. In the category of female vocalists there are the established legends – think Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Billie Holiday. They each have a different style and treatment of their personal interpretations of a jazz standard, original composition, or covering […]

The image of a Spanish flamenco dancer with intensive emotion, swirling with castanets clicking and boots stomping, driving a rhythm against a dance floor, is hard to separate from the accompanying band that delivers the syncopation. The flamenco dancer is intertwined with the fast strumming on Toque (guitar) and the spirited Cantaor (flamenco vocalist) telling […]

As the driving rhythm and dance-based sound of Afro-Cuban music was being introduced to the U.S. in the late ‘40s by Cuban bandleaders, most notably Machito and his Latin orchestra, a refinement of musical genre was evolving. With styles incorporating Afro-Cuban, Cubop, (a form of Latin jazz), and salsa music, (a dance-based genre with heavy […]

The voice, tone, phrasing–in effect, the signature sound of the sax has distinguished a number of artists. Wayne Shorter, now 89 years old, has been a profound force of interpretation on the tenor saxophone; on the soprano saxophone, there is no greater master. He has remained at the forefront of influence with his instrument and […]

As many musically divergent roads can lead to a professional career in jazz, veteran vocalist, pianist, multi-instrumentalist, Grammy-award nominee, and winner Catherine Russell, has followed her own path. With an established bloodline of famed musicianship from both parents, Luis Russell and Carline Ray, she was surrounded and influenced by a wide range of music, from […]

Watching live performances of featured artists in jazz, certain musicians command your attention with their physical presence, effortlessly able to exude enormous energy. Grace Kelly, saxophonist, singer, and bandleader, has been sharing that sustained personal intensity on stage since her teens. Kelly has a unique combination of passionate energy and infectious enthusiasm, all directed towards […]