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Content from KIOS staff relating to jazz, blues, and all kinds of music.

The rules of musical gravity don't apply for the spirited saxophonist, composer and producer Kamasi Washington. Washington's roots are in jazz, but he can turn his saxophone into a soaring bird or a spaceship, a howling wolf or a karate kick.

Two deaths in early January, of percussionist Alvin Fielder and multi-instrumentalist/poet/dramaturge Joseph Jarman, help remind us that artists' lives shouldn't be summarized by their documented works alone. Both men made signature contributions to the freedoms and complications that have enriched what we know as jazz, starting more than 50 years ago as founding members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).

Roy Hargrove, an incisive trumpeter who embodied the brightest promise of his jazz generation, both as a young steward of the bebop tradition and a savvy bridge to hip-hop and R&B, died on Friday night in New York City. He was 49.

The cause was cardiac arrest, according to his longtime manager, Larry Clothier. Hargrove had been admitted to the hospital for reasons related to kidney function.

He should have been exhausted, but instead played the Tiny Desk with incredible stamina, holding a single trumpet note that lasted longer than most people can hold their breath. In the days just before this performance, Nicholas Payton played at the Joy of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, then Santiago, Chile and, finally, New York City. A member of his team drove them the four hours from NYC so he could nap in the car and be ready to play.

For more than four decades, Hamiet Bluiett found a way to combine the avant-garde with traditional jazz. Along the way, he redefined the role of the baritone saxophone, and co-founded one of the most successful groups in modern jazz: The World Saxophone Quartet.

Bluiett died Thursday due to complications from a series of strokes he suffered over the past several years, his sister Karen Ratliff told NPR. He was 78 years old.

His granddaughter, Anaya Bluiett, announced on social media that his funeral will be held next Friday in Brooklyn, Ill.

GoGo Penguin: Tiny Desk Concert

Sep 29, 2018

During his setup, GoGo Penguin's pianist Chris Illingworth asked if he could remove our piano cover to "access the inside" and, after a few rotations of a screwdriver, he soon handed me a long plank of black painted maple, which has no convenient place to rest in the NPR Music office. If you look closely at the piano innards during "Bardo," you can see a strip of black tape stretched over a few strings, opposite Illingworth's bobbing head. It mutes a group of strings, turning them into percussive jabs and dividing the instrument into more explicit rhythmic and melodic sections.

Nels Cline has earned his place as a guitar hero for our times, with a track record stretching back four decades and a marquee gig with Wilco. But if you mainly associate him with squalls of feedback, you're missing a big part of the picture. "The Avant Romantic" is how Rolling Stone pegged him about a decade ago, in its list of Top 20 New Guitar Gods.

Remembering Jazz Pianist Randy Weston

Sep 4, 2018

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

(SOUNDBITE OF RANDY WESTON COMPOSITION)

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right, this morning we are remembering the jazz pianist Randy Weston.

(SOUNDBITE OF RANDY WESTON COMPOSITION)

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This story originally aired on Feb. 28, 2017 on All Things Considered.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Finally today, jazz pianist and composer Randy Weston died this weekend. He was 92 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF RANDY WESTON'S "HI-FLY")

"It used to be: 'Nashville — that's where you come to play country music.'"

Joe Spivey is voicing a prevailing view of his adopted hometown, one that has endured for the better part of a century. But Spivey — a fiddler in The Time Jumpers, the swingingest band in Music City — knows better. He definitely plays his share of country music, but he's also one of a burgeoning number of musicians who make up the robust and soulful Nashville jazz scene.

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.

Billy McGuigan’s big band sound is back and opens tonight at the Omaha Community Playhouse!  Billy stops by the KIOS studios and chats with Mike Hogan about the show, the music, and how this project came together.  The show runs from August 1st through the 12th.  More information can be found at https://ticketomaha.com/Productions/billy-mcguigan's-rock-twist_2018  

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.

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