Jazz 91.1 Program Highlights

I'm Talkin' Jazz

Sunday at 9am


Mulgrew Miller with Lee Thomas
Influential composer and pianist Mulgrew Miller from Greenwood, Mississippi was an important member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and the Tony Williams' Quintet contributing a slew of modern compositions that encompassed everything from Church and Blues strains to driving Hard Bop. His impressive creative output includes producing 15 albums as a leader and playing on over 400 albums as a sideman.


Dorthaan Kirk with Jesse "Chuy" Varela
Jazz Advocate and radio host, Dorthaan Kirk has been a major force at Newark Public Radio, WBGO for over four decades and has curated and produced countless jazz events supporting musicians and jazz education for children. When her husband Rahsaan Roland Kirk died unexpectedly in 1977 she dedicated her life to honoring his legacy through her works in jazz. Dorthaan is one of the NEA Jazz Master Award recipients of 2020.


Max Roach with Dick Conte
Considered among the most important drummers in history, bandleader and civil rights activist, Max Roach worked with the brightest stars in jazz who included Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins and Dinah Washigton among many others. Most notably he co-led the pioneering quintet with trumpeter Clifford Brown and later led his own percussion ensemble M'Boom. He was inducted into Downbeat Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1992.


Wayne Wallace with Jesse "Chuy" Varela
Five-time Grammy nominee, trombonist and bandleader Wayne Wallace is one of the more respected exponents of African American-Latin music in the world today well-known for his use of traditional forms in combination with contemporary music. His extensive works have earned him numerous honorable mentions and grants from the NEA, Zellerbach Foundation and the Down Beat Critics Poll. In addition to running his own record label (Patois Records) he is currently faculty at the University of Indiana in Bloomington, Indiana.


Jazz Night in America with Christian McBride

Monday at 9pm


Crosscurrents: East Meets West
Virtuosity - of a dazzling, ebullient, yet altogether generous sort - might be the most obvious bridge between David Holland and Zakir Hussain. But there's also a deep cultural foundation behind their musical dialogue, which forms the beating heart of a project called Crosscurrents.


'The Black Messiah' And The Legacy Of Cannonball Adderley
Cannonball Adderley was a mere 46 when he died, of a brain hemorrhage, in 1975. An alto saxophonist of robust intellect and irrefutable soul, he left a monumental legacy during his two decades in the spotlight - as a member of the Miles Davis Sextet, an exemplar of 1960s soul jazz and the leading avatar of a brand of post-bop modernism with popular appeal.

This episode of Jazz Night in America takes a fond look at that legacy, illuminating it from multiple angles. Guided by our host, self-avowed Cannonball fanatic Christian McBride, we'll hear from some of Adderley's former bandmates, like drummer Roy McCurdy and tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts. We'll spend quality time with Patrick Bartley Jr., a young alto saxophonist who has taken Cannonball Adderley's music and message to heart. And we'll pull the curtain back on The Black Messiah, a 1971 album that has come to be seen as a classic.


Wilco Guitarist Nels Cline Reclaims Mood Music In The City Of Brotherly Love
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. And lately, Cline has been focusing his efforts, without pause or irony, on the romantic part of that equation.

Lovers, released on Blue Note in 2016, was Cline's fond reclamation of "mood music" albums from midcentury, with his guitar in an earnest melodic role. It's a suave collaboration with trumpeter Michael Leonhart, who wrote the orchestrations for a handful of versatile players like cellist Erik Friedlander and bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck. As Cline put it at the time in a conversation with NPR's Fresh Air, Lovers was a project he'd been dreaming about for more than 25 years.

The first and only performance of Lovers (for Philadelphia) took place at Union Transfer on June 2, and Jazz Night in America was there. Get insight on just how Cline and Leonhart made new tapestries of sound out of classic tunes like Benny Golson's Whisper Not, McCoy Tyner's Aisha, and The Delfonics' La-La (Means I Love You). "I wanted it to be sweet but I didn't want it to be sugary," Cline says of the Lovers project at large. He strikes that balance on this love letter to a musical city - which has now enfolded Cline in a reciprocal embrace.


Electric Miles: Behind the Brew
Electric Miles. Few word pairings in the jazz lexicon are apt to inspire so much contention and challenge and ferment. What the phrase refers to, of course, is a period in the career of trumpeter Miles Davis, spanning the last third of his life. And while there are other important antecedents, the big bang of this period is an album recorded 50 years ago by the name of Bitches Brew.

This episode of Jazz Night in America takes us behind the furious mystique of that album, illuminating the musical and cultural forces Miles was metabolizing at the time. We'll hear from an array of authorities on the subject - notably his second wife, funk heroine and fashion icon Betty Davis, who inspired his outrageous transformation in the Age of Aquarius. ("Whatever I would wear, he would wear," says Betty with a laugh, in this rare, can't-miss interview.)

Among the other essential voices in the show is electric bassist Marcus Miller, who served as musical director and record producer for a later edition of Davis' band. We'll hear highlights from an Electric Miles concert that Miller put together for Jazz at Lincoln Center - featuring not one but two blazing trumpeters, Russell Gunn and Marquis Hill, along with stone killers like guitarist Vernon Reid. "When you create music," Miller asserts, "your primary responsibility is to reflect the times that you live in." That's one of many explanations for the current that flows through Electric Miles - and the charge that it can still deliver.