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...
With the release of Intuition: Songs from the Minds of Women, Alicia Olatuja has raised the bar once again on what she might offer the music world. Since she caused a commotion as a featured vocalist at Barak Obama’s Second Inauguration in 2013, she has released two CDs, including the exceptiona...
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A brief history of the Mardi Gras celebration, courtesy of a hotel blog post: Mardi Gras was first brought to New Orleans by French settlers in 1699. The first party was recorded to been held at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Later accounts of celebrations in New Orleans in the 1700s includ...
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Performer! Producer! Musical Director! Arranger! Composer! Educator! Ulysses Owens Jr checks all the boxes as he continues to develop and grow his career in jazz.  Since his graduation from Juilliard as a member of its jazz inaugural class in 2001, he has been in demand as drummer and musical di...
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No album title in recent memory was more to the point than the Branford Marsalis Quartet’s 2012 release Four MFs Playin’ Tunes. That CD was filled with the kind of great give and take that only musicians steeped in tradition, and heady enough to work off and with each other could make. The core ...
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I first fell in love with the music of Joey DeFrancesco  twenty years ago, when I booked him on an epic Organ Summit triple bill with the late Charles Earland and Dr. Lonnie Smith for the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz.  What an evening that was! Significantly younger than the other greats sh...
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Almost exactly two years ago, I spoke with French singer Cyrille Aimee about her second album for Mack Avenue, Let’s Get Lost. It had been recorded with her long-time collaborators, the Surreal Band, and carved out a spot for her as a new voice to be reckoned with on the jazz scene. Fast forward...
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Fifty years ago today – February 18, 1969 - Miles Davis and a group of musicians entered Columbia Studio B in New York City for a three hour session that eventually became his first true “electric album”, In A Silent Way. It’s fair to say that the album remains one of the most startling and infl...
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If you make a list of the top bass players in the business today, Larry Grenadier needs to be at, or near, the never top. A consummate sideman, he has been an important member of a who’s who of bands over his more than three decade career. From early days as a prodigy playing with sax icons Joe ...
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This year, I’ve decided to post my annual Valentine’s Day podcast a few days early, so you can have time to get in the mood. Heaven knows it’s a little harder these days, with the state of the world seemingly going toward hate rather than love. Curious about the origins of Valentine’s Day as a d...
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The connections between guitarists Kurt Rosenwinkel and Pedro Martins is the stuff of movie scripts. Growing up in Brazil, Martins studied Rosenwinkel’ s recordings. A chance meeting with his idol shortly thereafter pushed Pedro to continue his jazz studies. In 2015, Martins participated in the ...
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Much like was said about Bruce Springsteen 15 years earlier, it sometimes seems that if Joshua Redman had not existed, the jazz press would have had to make him up. The story is too perfect – the son of noted African-American jazz saxophonist Dewey Redman and dancer/librarian Renee Shedroff  who...
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The story of The Seasons, Ben Wendel’s fine CD released late last year, is absolutely fascinating. It’s a story of artistic discovery and whimsy, and it ends with a top-notch band playing top-notch music. It begins in 2015, when saxophonist-bassoonist-composer Wendel heard a set of twelve piano ...
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After pianist Alfredo Rodriguez arranged to get percussion master Pedrito Martinez to appear on a few tracks of his 2014 Mack Avenue release The Invasion Parade, it seemed inevitable that they would collaborate further. Both born and raised in Cuba, Pedrito is a decade older than Alfredo, but th...
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For the past five years, we’ve had a rare chance to hear the music of a kinder, gentler Jamie Saft. The prolific keyboardist-composer-producer-entrepreneur is known for his long association with the downtown aesthetic of John Zorn and Tzadik Records, and for bringing the sound of everything from...
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I have always associated Joe Lovano with the Blue Note label. For 25+ years, he recorded as a leader with that august label, primarily due to his friendship with the late Bruce Lundvall. But at the same time, Lovano was a fixture at ECM, recording as sideman for John Abercrombie, Paul Motian, Ma...
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1959 has always been one of my favorite years. It gave us “Ben-Hur”, the Guggenheim Museum, Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” and “The Twilight Zone”.  John Kennedy started his campaign for President. Heck, I was BORN in 1959. It was an auspicious year for jazz recordings as well. Before the new decade...
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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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