NEA Jazz Masters

Podcasts

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Photo courtesy of SFJAZZ

Founder and Executive Artistic Director, SFJAZZ

Founder and executive artistic director of SFJAZZ Randall Kline takes us behind the scenes of Fridays at Five—a weekly digital series which offers hour-long concerts filmed at the SFJAZZ Center over the past six-plus years. It’s another example of performing artists and presenters stepping up during the pandemic in creative and innovative ways to share the art that keeps us all going. And—to no one’s surprise—SFJAZZ is leading the way. A national and international leader in jazz creation, presentation, and education, SFJAZZ is the biggest presenter of jazz on the West Coast—with over 200,000 customers and students going through the doors of the SFJAZZ Center each year. So, when the center had to close temporarily because of the pandemic, the organization went to work and quickly introduced Fridays at Five. For a nominal monthly fee, viewers can hear and see music performed by the likes of Terrance Blanchard, and NEA Jazz Masters Branford Marsalis and Dave Holland. Additionally, patrons still get to mingle with one another, as well as with SFJAZZ staff, board members, and musicians via a live chat. Back in April, I spoke with founder and the executive artistic director of SF Jazz Randall Kline about jazz, Fridays at Five, and the origins SFJAZZ itself, including the role the Arts Endowmen played in its growth.

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Photo Credit Toshi Sakurai, courtesy Chick Corea Prod.

Pianist, composer and 2006 NEA Jazz Master

Pianist, composer and 2006 NEA Jazz Master Chick Corea is a musical shape-shifter. Beginning a brilliant solo career in the mid-1960s, Chick has moved effortlessly from straight-up jazz to avant-garde, from bebop to fusion. In addition to his 23 Grammy Awards, Corea has also won 4 Latin Grammys. Aside from being a sensitive interpreter of Mozart, Chick has also composed contemporary classical music including concerti, string quartets and other symphonic works. Over his five-decade long career, Chick’s list of collaborators read like a veritable “Who’s Who” in jazz. They include Stan Getz, Mile Davis, Anthony Braxton, Bobby McFerrin, Gary Burton, Béla Fleck Christian McBride and Rubén Blades. We spoke with Chick last December to ask him for his thoughts about his long-time collaborator 2020 Jazz Master Bobby McFerrin—but of course, who would miss the opportunity to talk to Chick Corea about Chick Corea? In this music-filled podcast, Chick discusses his music, his many collaborations, his love of performing and composing classical music and the importance of play when he takes the stage. He’s deeply thoughtful—loaded with charm and generosity. Enjoy!

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Photo by Joseph Blough

Saxophonist, composer and 2020 NEA Jazz Master

Saxophonist, composer and 2020 NEA Jazz Master Roscoe Mitchell is a musical seeker. He’s interested in sound and its colors. He is one of the most influential (and prolific) jazz musicians around who nonetheless says he has never been as excited or inspired as when I spoke with him in December 2019. And this from one of the original members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and one of the founders of the Art Ensemble of Chicago! Our interview was on my birthday—and it was the best present I could have received. Roscoe Mitchell—aside from being a fabulous musician--is an eloquent philosopher about music. Speaking with him was a true pleasure and I hope you’ll feel the same listening to this podcast.

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Photo by Richard Kholer

Bassist and 2020 NEA Jazz Master

Bassist and 2020 NEA Jazz Master Reggie Workman is aptly named. The man might not have played with everyone in jazz, but he has come close. I don’t want this to turn into a list of Workman’s gigs, so I’ll just touch on some of the major ones: He was a member of both the John Coltrane Quartet playing in such legendary recordings as Live at the Village Vanguard, and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers during one of the band’s great line-ups. According to Reggie, Coltrane and Blakey were very different leaders: Coltrane gave his band a lot of freedom while Blakey knew exactly what he wanted. Because he could play any style of jazz from the American songbook to avant-garde, he became the go-to bassist for Blue Note Records backing folks from Abbey Lincoln to David Murray. He’s also led his own groups like the Reggie Workman Ensemble and performed in collaborative trios. In this wide-ranging conversation, Workman talks about what makes a good supporting artist and what he was looking for when he began his group. As professor at the New School for more than 30 years, Workman also talked about teaching and helping young musicians to understand “there are mistakes (in jazz),…but you have to be able to justify each note.” This music-filled podcast is a look at a fascinating artist.

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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 John Abbott

2018 NEA Jazz Master

2018 NEA Jazz Master Todd Barkan is a man of many talents: impresario, club owner, producer, artistic programmer. But he would count chief among them his deep and abiding love for jazz and the musicians who create. Owner of the legendary Keystone Korner, Todd created a club where musicians ruled and audiences felt at home. In this music-filled podcast, he talks about that great San Francisco club and shares stories about his many friend-- jazz greats like Miles Davis, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Bobby Hutcherson and Sonny Rollins.

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Photo by John Peden

Guitarist and 2018 NEA Jazz Master

Guitarist and 2018 NEA Jazz Master Pat Metheny creates music that challenges easy description: he can play free jazz (as he did with Ornette Coleman in Song X) as well as acoustic guitar and pretty much everything in-between. In this tune-filled podcast, we talk to Pat Metheny about the music he plays, the people he’s played with and making the music you want while making a career in music.

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Photo by Carol Friedman

Pianist and 2108 NEA Jazz Master

Uncovering new dimensions of music.

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