Originally published on Thu November 22, 2012 9:54 pm
When tenor saxophonist John Coltrane recorded his composition "Giant Steps" in 1959, he created something that changed the way musicians thought about improvisation and harmony. Decades earlier, the man who took the first leaps and bounds with the tenor sax in jazz was Coleman Hawkins.
It's no wonder that pianist Bill Charlap loves the music that has come to be called The Great American Songbook — the songs of great Tin Pan Alley composers such as Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. He grew up with it. Charlap was born and raised in New York, the son of Moose Charlap (a Broadway composer) and Sandy Stern, a self-described "popular singer with jazz overtones."
Originally published on Sun October 7, 2012 4:05 pm
Django Reinhardt has achieved an almost godlike status among those who love jazz guitar. When he and violinist Stephane Grappelli formed the Quintet of the Hot Club of France in 1934, they created a new sound in jazz: The guitar and violin served as the lead instrumental voices, propelled by two hard-swinging rhythm guitars and a bass.
Pianist Cyrus Chestnut took his time making a name for himself on the jazz scene: For a decade starting in the mid-1980s, he apprenticed as pianist for Jon Hendricks, Betty Carter, Donald Harrison and Wynton Marsalis. But since then, he's toured the world and recorded 15 albums as a bandleader.
In this performance and interview, Cyrus describes his gospel roots and his discovery of jazz, and discusses how he approaches interpreting other composers' music.