Friday, December 02, 2011

Vince Guaraldi

I can't let the holiday season pass without a nod to the musician who may have provided many people's first exposure to jazz: Vince Guaraldi ( ), who wrote and performed the whimsical jazz soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas (as well as 16 other Charlie Brown shows, and the hit tune Cast Your Fate To The Wind ). Vince split the scene far too early at age 47, but has influenced many pianists and composers.

Here's Vince with Bola Sete doing Star Song in 1963:

And here's a very rare film of Vince backing the incomparable Ben Webster:

Jazz Radio Stations

Don't forget the broadcast jazz radio stations (of which there are, sadly, fewer and fewer each year), starting with our own KMHD ( ).

New Jersey's oldest public radio station is WBGO ( ), with a full-time jazz format.  

WWOZ ( ) describes itself as "the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station," but don't expect non-stop Dixieland; they have a varied and exciting playlist.

Jamie Collum and Clare Teal on BBC2

BBC Radio 2 has a couple of weekly 1-hour jazz shows that are well worth checking out.

Young British singer/pianist Jamie Collum has a weekly show ( ) where he displays his awesome knowledge of jazz history as well as his own eclectic tastes. You'll hear the best of the past, present, and future of jazz on his show.

Singer Clare Teal has a terrific show focused on big-band jazz ( ). BBC tends to keep these shows available online for only about a week.

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Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Pianist Marian McPartland has been a force in jazz for more than 70 years. Her long-running weekly program on NPR, Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz ( ) has featured nearly every notable jazz musician, and quite a few talented newcomers on their way up. The show is about half chat and half live jamming, and is always a delight. At age 93, Marian can still "cut" most of the players who come on her show, but she is always generous and charming, and she makes sure her guests shine.

EJN Music Sampler

There is a story about Miles Davis – probably apocryphal, as many Miles stories are – that he once fired a sideman in the middle of a set, rasping into his ear, "Man, you played that same solo two weeks ago!" Jazz demands newness and continual rebirth, and one place to hear new jazz sounds is EJN Music Sampler ( ), About once a month they post new tracks by artists you may not have heard before. I'm always hearing something new and interesting there.


For those who think jazz is just that Kenny G tune you hear while you're on hold with your insurance agent, I recommend you spend some time sampling the offerings at JazzRadio ( ). There you will find 28 streaming channels, each devoted to a different sub-genre of jazz. You'll find channels for Bebop and Hard Bop; Latin Jazz and Bossa Nova, Big-Band, Avant-Garde, and Fusion. Like many free streaming services, they play commercials, which you can get rid of by subscribing.

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