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Music

Sax Player Rudresh Mahanthappa Channels Charlie Parker's Super Powers

On the release of his latest, Hero Trio, saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa records his first session of covers, playing jazz standards and hip-pop with a fabulous trio featuring bassist François Moutin and drummer Rudy Royston.

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Music

Jazz Today: Young Women Are Sounding the Horns

The story of 11th grade trumpeter and composer Summer Camargo and her inspiring success at the elite Essentially Ellington festival shows that the future of jazz will, finally, be more female.

Music

The Future (of Jazz) Is Female: Interview with Saxophonist and Composer Roxy Coss

Roxy Coss has just released a new album of all-original music, and she has recently founded the Women in Jazz Organization, a community and activist group. She can improvise and she can organize.

Music

Is a Different Kind of Paradigm Driving Jazz These Days?

Jazz musicians are releasing their music in smaller batches. An interview with rising saxophonist Jonathan Greenstein and Mack Avenue Records President Denny Stilwell about how EPs fit into jazz creativity and jazz economy.

Music

The Musical Atmosphere in BigYuki's 'Reaching for Chiron'

The jazz/hip-hop/electronica of keyboardist BigYuki—featured on the last Tribe Called Quest album—is a true hybrid that, surprisingly, contains more Louis Armstrong that you might think.

Music

Jazz Today: To Sing or Not to Sing?

"...It's ridiculous if the rule is that, to be a jazz musician, you can only play from this book of 500 standards and modern jazz tunes and if you play a pop tune you're a crossover sellout," says newcomer Ariel Pocock.

Music

Ella Fitzgerald's Centennial: Is It Possible to Reinvent This Artist?

The First Lady of Song was a seeker, and it's been all too easy to just imitate her: the scatting, the silky melodies. On her 100th, there's a better way to do it.

Music

Passing Masters of Jazz: Arthur Blythe and Larry Coryell

Jazz long ago lost its early geniuses of swing and bebop. Now masters from the '70s and onward are starting to pass, too. Remembering Arthur Blythe and Larry Coryell.

Interviews

The Microscopic Septet: Pioneers Across Jazz Boundaries

In the '80s, "The Micros" mixed tradition and avant-garde jazz with impunity and almost got famous doing it. Today they're just playing the blues.

Music

Overlooked Jazz Gems of 2016

No matter how much music I listen to every year, I miss some great records, somehow. Here are a half-dozen albums from 2016 that deserve our attention.

Music

Finding the Sublime in Jazz, an Argument for Abstraction

Jazz columnist Will Layman presents seven pieces of music as evidence of the beauty and urgency of pure sound in instrumental jazz.

Music

No Piano, Please!

Four recent releases demonstrate the stylistic range and power of jazz that isn't hemmed in by chords.

Interviews

Becca Stevens on Popping Jazz Boundaries

Becca Stevens, a perfect exemplar musician of boundary-less "jazz" in 2016, makes the case for the power and difficulty of art-pop in our age.

Music

Ralph Alessi: A Trumpet King for 2016

Quietly, brilliantly, Brooklyn-based jazz trumpeter Ralph Alessi is everywhere at once, defining the music with flexibility and freedom.

Music

The Triumphant Emptiness of Snarky Puppy

If an iTunes library on shuffle needed a house band, Snarky Puppy would be it.

Music

The Kamasi Washington Phenomenon

PopMatters' jazz critics didn't include Kamasi Washington's The Epic on their "Best of 2015" list, despite its huge acclaim by mainstream critics. Here's why.

Music

Yesterday and Today—Jazz Trumpets Across the Divide

Avant garde trumpeter Nate Wooley has chosen to interpret the music of his childhood hero, the conservative Wynton Marsalis. Why not?

Music

Darius Jones, Jazz Bohemian

With his new collaboration with French singer Emilie Lesbros, Darius Jones cements his position as a brilliant, model jazz musician in the new century.

Music

What's So Smooth About the New Smooth Jazz?

Recent work from a group of young musicians, beautifully represented by the new Supreme Sonacy from Revive Music, makes it cool again to put out jazz that wants to be popular.

Music

The Resurgent Power of Miles Davis' Late Music

A new box set of Miles Davis' appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival remind us of his restless need to evolve -- and several new records remind us of how his later styles live on.

Music

Steve Coleman's Analogies in Various Places

The music constantly shifts and moves in Steve Coleman and the Council of Balance's Synovial Joints, flexing one set of instruments against another in a creative tension.

Music

Billie Holiday at 100: Still an Inspiration

On Billie Holiday's centennial, her influence remains everywhere in music. Jazz singers Cassandra Wilson and Jose James, have new tributes out on Blue Note.

Music

What's Not to Love About the Trombone?

There was a time when jazz trombonists like Glenn Miller were mega-stars. Not so today, but talents like those of Ryan Keberle and Joe Fiedler make the case that they should be.

Film

The '80s Jazz Fads Return!

Two unique jazz phenoms of the Reagan '80s -- tapping guitarist Stanley Jordan and falsetto scatting legend Bobby "Don't Worry, Be Happy" McFerrin -- are back.

Media

The 2015 Grammys Get Jazz Mostly Wrong, a Little Right

Grammy nominations in jazz are rarely adventurous and usually confusing. Yet this year's slate is intriguing.

Music

Six Shots in Ferguson, One Night in New York

Trumpeter Igmar Thomas and his haunting tune, "The Hunted", sums up the most difficult lesson of 2014.

Music

New Riffs From Jazz Lips: From Eminem to Sun Ra

There's an unending flow of vocal jazz these days, which is a blessing and a curse. Beyond the glut of rehashed standards from 50 years ago, some original work shines.

Music

Jazz May Be Reeling in Terms of Record Sales, But It's Thriving As an Art Form

What if today’s jazz is a little bit Bill Frisell and a little bit Ornette Coleman?

Music

Singing Across Continents: An Interview with Somi

Somi is a not-exactly jazz singer with roots in Africa and the American midwest, and she has made the year's most amazing record, evoking the spirit of Lagos, Nigeria.

Music

Smokin' Modernism Is Alive and Well in the Upper West Side

Smoke Sessions Records is doing it old-school: recording the best musicians in New York playing mainstream jazz that cooks.

Music

On the Upswing: Craig Handy and Second Line Smith

Saxophonist Craig Handy has a killer new band that combines the jazz-funk of Jimmy Smith with a New Orleans second line groove.

Music

Is Blue Note Records on the Rise, Again?

One of the great treasures of jazz's past, the Blue Note record label, seems to be enjoying a new golden age. Here are two reasons why.

Music

How Can a Listener Ignore the Influence of the Market on the Beautiful Art of Jazz?

Some will tar a record with being “commercial” due to preset notions of what one might think an artist should be doing, rather than listening for what he actually is doing.

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