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What would you say if I told you that drums can sing? The best jazz drummers have always understood this as fact. Allison Miller has even made it a core part of her artistic mission — as drummer, a composer and a bandleader, notably with her ensemble Boom Tic Boom.

Aretha Franklin was about a month shy of her 20th birthday when she appeared for a week at The Village Gate in late February of 1962. She shared a bill there with pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, who like her was an indescribable talent — a genius, in the fullest sense of the word — recently signed to the roster of Columbia Records.

It's easy to throw the word legend around when you talk to musicians who regularly appear on World Cafe. So when a real legend shows up, you've run out of superlatives.

Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, a leading figure in mid-1960s European avant-garde jazz who enjoyed a major career resurgence over the past 20 years, died on Sunday in Warsaw. His death was confirmed by his daughter, Anna Stanko, who said that her father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in April of this year, and had been suffering with pneumonia since June. He was 76 years old.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Kamasi Washington's idea of heaven is the world he creates and retreats to in his mind. The jazz torchbearer's double album Heaven and Earth, out today, represents that inward heaven versus his outward reality on Earth.

New York's Village Vanguard may come closer than any other club to embodying the spirit of jazz. For nearly 30 years, the guardian of that spirit has been the Vanguard's formidable impresaria, Lorraine Gordon. Gordon, a jazz champion since her teen years and one of the music's female pioneers, died Saturday at the age of 95.

The cause of death was complications from a stroke she suffered on Memorial Day, said Jed Eisenman, the longtime manager of the jazz nightclub.

Last Call Rotation

Apr 28, 2018

Cecil Taylor, whose stunning and bravely unorthodox piano language made him one of the most important postwar American avant-gardists in any artistic medium, leaves more than a legacy of musical provocation after his death yesterday evening.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released.


A continuity and a break: That's the history of The Bad Plus in a nutshell. An acoustic piano trio with the combustion properties of a post-punk band, it emerged in the early 2000s to an uproar — its surging attack and shrewd repertoire were framed as a radical split from the jazz tradition. Gradually a more perceptive view emerged, one that acknowledged where the band was really coming from.

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