Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

A blog with interviews, reviews, features and podcasts on jazz of the past, present and future. Two time winner of the JazzTimes Readers' Poll...
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It’s the time of the year when all the “Best Of” lists start to appear, and Straight No Chaser is no exception. Well, maybe a little exception, since I prefer to call this Podcast “A Few of My Favorite Things 2018.” I decided a few years back that it wasn’t prudent to compare a new release by sa...
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As promised, this is the second Christmas Jazz podcast of 2018. As I began choosing tunes, I realized that if you poke around enough, you can find some lesser known Christmas songs, whether they are from artists writing an original tune for their Christmas album;  perhaps something from the gosp...
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Christmas jazz, Christmas jazz. You love it, you hate it. But this time of year it’s ubiquitous, and we at Straight No Chaser embrace it as a seasonal joy. This year we bring you two different Christmas Jazz podcasts to give you uninterrupted holiday music as you go about your fa-la-la-ing and d...
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The story of Hanukkah is one of revolution and miracles: Greek influence over the Jews in the Land of Israel was getting out of hand. Hellenism was spreading, an affront to Jewish culture and religious practice. When the Greek ruler of the time, Antiochus, forbade Jewish religious practice, a s...
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Jazz musicians are always looking for new and different ways to create sounds and textures to create music. One way is to use a non-traditional musical lineup – think Gerry Mulligan’s drummer-less quartet or recent groups sans bass like the Paul Motion-Joe Lovano-Bill Frisell or Vijay Iyer-Steve...
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“Voodoo” as a term brings to mind New Orleans witches, animal sacrifices to raise the dead and other bogus representations of a serious spiritual following. With Spiritwalker, a wonderful mix of jazz, Haitian folk, hip-hop and dance music, Haitian-American singer-songwriter Malou Beauvoir goes a...
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One of today’s masters of the vibraphone, Joe Locke continues to record albums that go beyond mere technical artistry. Sure, he can play the vibes with the best of them, but his last two albums, 2015’s Love is a Pendulum and the just released Subtle Disguise, allow him to find new and interestin...
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Today is the 75th birthday anniversary of Joni Mitchell, one of my musical idols. I’ve done several podcasts of jazz versions of Joni’s music in the past, most notably on her 70th birthday (see Podcasts  389, 390, 391). Well, here’s one more. What is it about her music that lends itself to jaz...
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The passing of Roy Hargrove this past weekend at the age of 49 comes as an unwelcome shock. Hargrove, who died of cardiac arrest brought on by kidney disease, had carved out a spot for himself in the jazz world with music that was particularly important to me. His loss to the music world is virt...
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It’s that time of year – the leaves are falling, the wind is picking up, and sweaters are coming out of the closet. Hallowe’en is upon us, and trick or treat will come on Wednesday of this week. Nancy and I have been cutting down on candy for ourselves, which means more for the costumed creature...
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Although he was born in Texas, Rudy Royston was raised and educated in Denver, Colorado, and it was there that he was mentored by trumpeter Ron Miles, and made a name for himself in the area’s fertile jazz, gospel and alternative rock scenes. After supporting himself as a public school music tea...
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I don’t mind letting you know that Ben Allison is one of my favorite people in the jazz universe these days. He is a top notch composer, a first-call bassist, and an experienced producer with his own label, Sonic Camera. He maintains a busy schedule as an educator at the New School of Jazz and C...
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Aaron Parks seems to be destined to be one of those pianists who chooses projects (or has projects choose him) that become great sessions or performances. Whether we listen to him with the bands led by Terence Blanchard or Kurt Rosenwinkel; as a member of James Farm with Joshua Redman, Matt Penm...
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By her own admission, Luciana Souza records very slowly, with multiple years passing between her albums. We last spoke in 2012, when she had released two new CDs, The Book of Chet and a continuation of her collaborative series, Duos III. She is one of our finest singers, particularly in interpre...
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It was almost ten years ago that I got the chance to spend some time talking with Randy Weston prior to an appearance at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. It was a delightful conversation, as Weston spoke candidly about his travels across Africa and the many great musicians with whom h...
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Few groups still working on the jazz scene can boast of the longevity of the Yellowjackets. Their first recording sessions were backing guitarist Robben Ford in 1977. Their first CD as a group was released in 1981, and 17 Grammy nominations (2 wins), 26 albums and almost 40 years later, they are...
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The thought of Steve Turre inevitably conjures the image of a master of at least two instruments – the trombone, and sea shells (most notably the conch). It’s the former that takes center stage on his latest release, The Very Thought of You (Smoke Sessions Records). A collection primarily of bal...
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The amazingly versatile Bob James has taken on – and succeeded admirably with – most of the jazz genres of the past fifty years. During that time, James recorded has free jazz (Bold Conceptions), arranged for and accompanied Sarah Vaughn, and then was a key participant in the jazz-soul fusion th...
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Before he was twelve years old, Davell Crawford had been crowned “the Piano Price of New Orleans,” for his ability to seamlessly incorporate the sounds of the church, the streets and the New Orleans songbook. The godson of the iconic Roberta Flack and the grandson of the great vocalist/pianist/c...
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