Jazz

Grant Holub-Moorman / WUNC

Thomas Taylor Jr. is fostering an appreciation of jazz legends like John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk among the state’s underground hip-hop scene.

The professor of percussion at North Carolina Central University sees North Carolina’s long history in blues and jazz as a natural foundation for today’s emcees. In his classes, Taylor invites aspiring rappers to improvise with him in front of the class — him on the drums, them with their words. Two students from that course now freestyle with him regularly.

Headshot of Rhiannon Giddens
photo by Ebru Yildiz

Grammy Award-winning artist Rhiannon Giddens is a North Carolina gem. Though she splits her time between the U.S and Ireland, her commitment to the music, culture, and stories of the South is still the driving force behind her work.

Le'Andra McPhatten is a musician and the director of Le'Andra's Music Studio in Durham.
Denise Allen / Courtesy of the North Carolina Arts Council

North Carolina’s strong cultural traditions in music, crafts, dance and food have been evolving for generations. Millennials are now taking the helm and putting their own spin on various folk and traditional art forms.

Courtesy of Juan Alamo

For Juan Álamo, rhythm just comes naturally. He has a passion for percussion that surfaced when he was a little boy growing up in Puerto Rico. Juan parlayed that passion into serious classical study of the marimba, an instrument similar to a xylophone but bigger and with a deeper tone. In his recently-released album “Ruta Panoramica,” Álamo marries the Latin rhythms of his hometown with his classical training and a love of jazz to create a unique fusion sound not typically heard from a marimba. 

photo of Shana Tucker
Chris Ubik

  

Shana Tucker remembers the day the Uptown String Quartet came to Howard University. There had been many jazz musicians who came to play and mentor students while she attended the school, but this was different.

 

A photo of Ernest Turner
Courtesy of Ernest Turner

Pianist Ernest Turner’s latest album is an ode to black American music. “My Americana” came out earlier this month, and it features jazz compositions by Stevie Wonder, Fats Waller, Kenny Kirkland and other African-American artists. Instead of playing classic jazz standards, Turner chose to highlight black composers. 

It is not uncommon for police officers to have side jobs as security guards. But for former Raleigh police officer Joe Winters, his side job was more like a passion. From the early 1940s to the mid ‘70s, Winters was both a full-time cop and a concert promoter. 

The Onyx Club Boys approach Django Reinhardt's music with a joie de vivre that would make the jazz legend proud.
Courtesy of Gabriel Pelli

Guitarist and composer Django Reinhardt is regarded as one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. The Romani-French composer gave birth to a new form of music in the 1930s known as gypsy jazz or Django music. The genre calls on classical and jazz traditions and is deeply influenced by the musette bands of Paris. 

A jazzy twist on a classic, Marcus Anderson blends music, coffee and entrepreneurship with his brand.
Courtesy of Marcus Anderson

Marcus Anderson is a fusion jazz artist whose performances include not only playing the saxophone, but also singing and choreography. But Anderson is more than an artist — he is also an entrepreneur. In 2015 he started a coffee line called AND Coffee. And he is in the process of organizing a jazz festival in Asheville for August, 2019 called “Jazz AND Coffee Escape.” 

Shambling their way through the Triangle and into your heart this December.
Courtesy of Ellis Dyson & The Shambles

Growing up, Ellis Dyson loved listening to music on the radio until many of the songs started to sound the same. They had similar beats and were often formulaic. This epiphany led him to old-time jazz and artists like Jelly Roll Morton, and eventually to playing his own music. He began on the fiddle, moved on to the banjo, and started his own band as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

While walking a mall in New Jersey, a teenaged Jim Henderson heard the sound of a group of saxophonists. He rushed to see who these musicians were and found one man playing three saxophones and a nose flute at the same time.

Courtesy of Sidecar Social Club

The sound of Sidecar Social Club is rooted in the grit and authenticity of old jazz, but their performances are not stuck in the past. The band incorporates elements of rhythm and blues, Latin music and even rock. 

Courtesy of Eric Hirsh

Eric Hirsh’s parents met at a conservatory, so music was a staple in their home. Like many children, he began music lessons at a young age. But how many take jazz piano at the tender age of eight? Jazz would become his love. 

Courtesy of The Historic Magnolia House

The Magnolia House has a rich history in Greensboro. In the 1950s, it was one of the few places that welcomed African-Americans traveling between Richmond and Atlanta. Its guest list includes stars from Duke Ellington and Ike and Tina Turner to James Brown and heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles.

photo of three men playing horns for a huge crowd
Courtesy of the Louis Armstrong House Museum

During the Cold War, the U.S. Department of State sent jazz musicians around the world to sell the American way of life. This initiative took place in the 1950s, during segregation and the beginning of the civil rights movement. Jazz was gaining popularity on the international stage partly because of a Voice of America program hosted by Willis Conover, and partly because jazz musicians, like Louis Armstrong, played international tours.

photo of Versace, McGarry, and Ganz
Kerry Kehoe

In the past few years, Grammy-nominated jazz musicians Kate McGarry, Keith Ganz and Gary Versace all wanted a break from the chaos of modern American politics and world events. As the Durham-based trio headed into the studio to record new songs, they quickly noticed an emerging theme in their music: love.

John Coltrane
Nakadaira

John Coltrane is widely recognized as one of the most iconic and influential jazz musicians of all time. His work as a saxophonist and composer is known to the world, and it all started in North Carolina.

Chris Charles / Creative Silence

Triangle-based jazz singer Yolanda Rabun wears many hats. She is a musician, actor and corporate lawyer. She says that each role allows her to channel her creativity in different ways.

Ellis Dyson and the Shambles

  Note: This segment originally aired on Friday, February 19, 2016.

For Ellis Dyson, there is something alluring about the music from the 1920s. He sees it as dirty, raw and mysterious.

With the help of fellow musicians at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dyson has blended the sounds of Dixieland jazz with themes of standard folk ballads to create a "whiskey folk" ensemble.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Dyson about the band's origins and influences as a young group channeling another era.

Image of Second Line Stompers
Gregg Gelb

Note: this program is a rebroadcast. 

photo of Lake Street Dive
Danny Clinch

The Brooklyn quartet Lake Street Dive met as students at the New England Conservatory of Music, but the group's musical roots date back decades to the vintage sounds of Motown and The Beatles. The band members channel their jazz training through soul pop arrangements to create a harmonious mix of influences on their latest album, "Side Pony."

Durham trumpeter Al Strong has released his debut solo album, 'LoveStrong Vol. 1.'
Chris Charles / Creative Silence

This is a rebroadcast.

Al Strong started playing music when he was seven years old after his dad got him a drum set for Christmas.

He bounced from the drums to piano, and eventually landed on the trumpet. Throughout high school and college, he studied jazz. Now, he teaches the next generation of trumpeters at N.C. Central University in Durham.

Alexandrea Lassiter

Mint Julep Jazz Band transports its audience back to jazz clubs of the ‘20s, ‘30s and early ‘40s. The bang gets inspiration and musical creativity from the toe tapping and head nodding of swing dance, something inextricably linked to the jazz of this time period.

Earlier this year, Mint Julep Jazz Band released its second album, “Battle Axe,” an amalgam of original pieces inspired by that era as well as modern arrangements of old songs.

Marcus Anderson, Blending Music And Coffee

Nov 13, 2015
Marcus Anderson combines his passions of music and coffee in his new venture, 'AND Coffee,' an album and coffee line with four flavors.
JAG Entertainment

Marcus Anderson plays the saxophone, and while his work is rooted in jazz, he incorporates other musical influences, especially pop.

For the past three years, Anderson has been working with one of the world’s biggest pop artists: Prince. Anderson plays saxophone in The New Power Generation, the backing band for Prince.

An image of blues musician Albert White
Tim Duffy / Music Maker Relief Foundation

American music can be traced back to the blues, jazz, and many more roots music. The legacy of these roots comes alive this Thursday, June 13, with a roundup of Southern roots musicians from the Music Maker Relief Foundation.

The Epic

Aug 7, 2015
Jazz musician Kamasi Washington
Mike Park

Kamasi Washington has long been known in the world of musical performers, but he is becoming a more popular name in mainstream music in 2015.

He performed on one of the most well-known and well-received hip-hop records this year, Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly. The album increased attention to the intersection of jazz and hip-hop.

An image of jazz musician Kamasi Washington
Mike Park

Kamasi Washington is putting his mark on jazz this year in a big way, venturing outside the world of backup saxophonist to an explorative and evocative bandleader.  

The Be Loud! Sophie Foundation

The Red Clay Ramblers are a decades-old and world-famous string band whose music brings together traditions ranging from old-time mountain music to New Orleans jazz.

Mad Satta is a Neo-Jazz band out of New York City.
madsatta.com

The New York band Mad Satta is part of a new generation of jazz and soul musicians.

The genre is often referred to as neo-jazz, a genre that, perhaps like the origins of jazz, does not have a clear definition. It mixes classic jazz with soul, funk, rock and blues. The eight-member Mad Satta came up with their own definition of neo-jazz, and they are on tour to spread the "cool" at festivals across the country. 

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