Podcasts

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Jnennifer Pickering

Photo courtesy of LEAF

Founder and director of LEAF Community Arts

For Jennifer Pickering, all art is both local and global and LEAF is that philosophy in action.

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Photo by Marina Umari

Pianist and 2019 NEA Jazz Master

Pianist and 2019 NEA Jazz Master Abdullah Ibrahim combines the musical influences of his childhood in Cape Town, South Africa, which include traditional South African songs, gospels and spirituals, and Indian ragas, with the improvisation of jazz to create a sound that is distinctly his. Born Adolph Johannes Brand in 1934, he was known professionally as Dollar Brand before changing his name when he converted to Islam in 1968. Ibrahim, along with Hugh Masekela and Kippi Moketsi, formed the short-lived but impactful septet The Jazz Epistles who recorded the first South African jazz album, Jazz Epistles, Verse 1. Because of the limits imposed on black South Africans by the repressive apartheid government, Ibrahim left the country. He traveled first to Zurich, where he met Duke Ellington who recorded him, and then to New York City, where he met everyone else and played in Carnegie Hall. He returned to South Africa briefly and in the mid-1970s composed what became the people’s national anthem, “Mannenberg.” Exiled once more, he returned to South Africa at the invitation of Nelson Mandela and performed at Mandela’s presidential inauguration. In this podcast episode, Abdullah talks about his many diverse musical influences, his deep love of jazz (which he calls “the highest form of music”), living and performing under apartheid, exile, and the musician as healer. We pack a lot into this podcast, but Ibrahim has had a long, rich life.

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Photo courtesy of Christian McBride

Jazz Bassist

Jazz bassist Christian McBride takes us through his own musical journey--from his early days in Philadelphia to playing with some of the great jazz legends like NEA Jazz Masters Sonny Rollins and Chick Corea. He also talks about fronting a group and walks us through composing one of his signature songs "Brother Mister." Christian also reflects on his long friendship with 2019 NEA Jazz Master Stanley Crouch and Stanley's importance to jazz criticism and advocacy.

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Credit Jimmy and Dena Katz photo

Composer, conductor and 2019 NEA Jazz Master

2019 NEA Jazz Master composer, conductor, and arranger Maria Schneider creates highly original and evocative compositions for her jazz orchestra, which she formed in 1992. Much of her music is autobiographical, evoking the Minnesota plains where she was born and raised. She returns to the theme of her childhood in a prairie town again and again; in fact, she’s come to realize that the foundation of her music is her hometown. She finds parts of it magical, and we certainly hear it in her music. Although she’s composed classical work and collaborated with David Bowie, Maria’s musical center remains in jazz. In this podcast, we talk about her connection to jazz (especially to the music of NEA Jazz Master Gil Evans), the ways in which she and the musicians in her band inspire one another, her collaboration with Bowie, and how her deep ties to Windom, Minnesota, translates into mesmerizing music.

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Photo by Peter Serling

Composer

Composer Julia Wolfe recently premiered her third oratorio that is centered on American labor history—this latest piece is based on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that occurred in New York City in 1911. 146 workers—most of them immigrant women—died. Julia was determined not show these women as victims, but rather as resourceful people who had the courage to travel to a new country and band together to struggle for better working conditions. Fire in my mouth, a multi-media work, opened with the New York Philharmonic as its orchestra, a chorus of 146 women, a sold-out house and a cheering standing ovation. It was a good night.

Julia Wolfe, who has won a Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur fellowship, has a large and varied body of work. A composer that is hard to classify, she not only embraces all musical genres, she hears sound itself as a music which is helpful when you want to recreate the particular roar of a factory floor. In this week’s podcast, Julia talks about her deep interest in history, her wide embrace of music and her methods for translating the sounds of work into music.

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Eddie Bond

Photo by Pat Jarrett

In Part 1 of my conversation with 2018 National Heritage Fellow and old-time fiddler Eddie Bond, we learned about his deep musical roots and the family and friends that nurtured them. Eddie said that the music has taken him to so many places, and in part 2, we follow him on these travels as Eddie brings his old-time fiddling across the country and around the world—beginning in an unlikely spot: Iraq during the Gulf War where Eddie served as a young soldier.

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Eddie Bond

Photo by Susi Lawson Photography

2018 National Heritage Fellow

Old-time fiddler Eddie Bond was born and bred in Grayson County, Virginia, which many consider the musical heart of Appalachian old-time music. Eddie himself comes from a rich musical heritage: he learned the guitar and flat-foot dancing from his grandmother, the banjo from his grandfather, and the fiddle from neighbors. He’s a stunning musical talent picking up all three instruments very quickly and excelling at each. But Eddie gave his heart to the fiddle—winning competitions and playing across the country and throughout the world. Because old-time music is so deeply rooted in place and because Eddie Bond is a great storyteller, this is a two-part podcast. In part 1, we’ll learn about Eddie’s upbringing, the place music had in his family’s life, his own playing, and talk about the roots of old-time music.

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Photo by Molly Haley

2018 NEA National Heritage Fellows

2018 NEA National Heritage Fellows Don and Cindy Roy are the embodiment of Franco-American musical tradition.  He is an outstanding fiddler and she backs him up with her wonderfully rhythmic piano playing and her pretty fabulous step-dancing.  They have been married and playing together for 38 years—giving audiences across the country a flavor of the Franco-American traditions they both grew up with—the music their grandparents played in the kitchen while family and friends gathered.  Their love for this music and the joy they take in it –and each other--is immediately apparent.   Meet the Roys and their music in this tuneful podcast.

Composer, Conductor, Commentator

Let’s celebrate Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday with a trip to Broadway! Bernstein only composed a handful of shows on Broadway, but he was a game-changer. From On the Town to West Side Story, Bernstein mixed genres and styles of music—incorporating jazz, blues, ragtime, Latin sounds-- mixing them with popular song traditions and the rhythms of the streets and then filtering it all through a classical voice. He was fluent in all languages of music and so created a music distinctly his own. Composer, conductor, and commentator Rob Kapilow takes us on a musical journey through Bernstein’s Broadway career. You may know Rob from the public radio program “What Makes It Great?” in which he takes listeners inside of music to explore that very question. Explore Bernstein’s Broadway music with Rob Kapilow (and me) in this week’s podcast!

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Sunni Fass and LuAnne Holladay

Executive director and former staff of The Lotus World Music and Arts Festival

The Lotus World Music and Arts Festival is turning 25 this year. So it seemed like a good time to talk with its executive director Sunni Fass and long-time staff member LuAnne Holladay about this one-of-a-kind festival.

Lotus is an urban event—turning streets in downtown Bloomington Indiana into a center for music, dance and visual arts for one weekend each September. The musicians come from all over the world—over the course of the festival’s history it has welcomed artists from over 120 countries-- and they reflect the great diversity of these cultures as well as appreciation and respect for their fellow-artists. In another music-filled podcast, Sunni and LuAnne talk about what it takes to put the festival together and the deep impact the festival has had on Bloomington and Southern Indiana.

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