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Jazz Legends

Author: Jazz Legends

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Conversations about the all-time jazz legends from local jazz legends Gunnar Biggs, Keith Bishop, Joey Carano, Leonard Thompson, and Bob Weller. Soak in their stories and expertise as they prep for their Sunday night shows at St. Michael’s-by-the-Sea in Carlsbad, California.
23 Episodes
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Frank Loesser

Frank Loesser

2024-07-1728:59

Composer and lyricist Frank Loesser (born June 29, 1910) worked for years as a lyricist for a series of different songwriters, always telling them he could actually write both words and music himself, and he proved it in 1950 with the Broadway Premiere of Guys and Dolls. Over the course of his career he won a Pulitzer Prize for his show, How to Succeed in Business, Tony awards for Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business and an Academy Award for the song "Baby it’s Cold Outside." Jazz musicians have embraced his tunes for years, his melodies and harmonies are a continuing source of inspiration.
Hank Mobley

Hank Mobley

2024-07-1035:31

Tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley (born July 7, 1930) was described as the “Middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone” by critic Leonard Feather, but most musicians think he punched well above that weight class. His career included stints with Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Max Roach and Miles Davis as well as over thirty recordings as a bandleader in his own right. Many of his compositions have become jazz standards, and his soulful and lyrical solos stood out every time he played his horn.
Richard Rodgers

Richard Rodgers

2024-06-2626:05

Throughout songwriter Richard Rodgers' (born June 28, 1902) long career, with 43 Broadway shows and over 900 songs to his credit, he wrote primarily with only two lyricists, Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein. Much of his output with both men have become standards, but jazz musicians are particularly enamored with his earlier work, with Lorenz Hart. Some theorize that even though he was often at odds with Hart due to the latter’s unreliable work ethic, the fact that Hart set lyrics to Rodger’s music after it was composed allowed freer range to Rodger’s imagination than the work he composed with Hammerstein, who insisted on writing the lyric beforehand and having Rodgers set it to music.
Chick Corea

Chick Corea

2024-06-1916:45

Pianist, bandleader, composer Chick Corea (born June 12, 1941) is one of the most influential jazz musicians of his generation. After serving his apprenticeship with Miles Davis, Corea started a group called Return to Forever, that featured singer Flora Purim, reedman Joe Farrell and drummer/ percussionist Airto Moreira. Many of the compositions Corea penned for this band have become jazz standards. He had numerous trend setting groups of varying sizes throughout his career, featuring cutting edge sidemen and premiering new compositions on a regular basis, in addition to displaying his prodigious keyboard abilities.
Tom Harrell

Tom Harrell

2024-06-1221:15

Trumpeter/composer Tom Harrell, born June 16, 1946, is one of most creative players of his instrument, and a prolific and fresh compositional voice as well. His achievements are all the more remarkable when you consider he suffers from symptoms of schizophrenia, and has only one lung! Early in his career he toured with the big bands of Stan Kenton and Woody Herman, followed by sideman stints with Horace Silver and Phil Woods. For the past three decades he has carved out his place as a leader in his own right, and composes wonderful original music in abundance.
Cole Porter

Cole Porter

2024-06-0527:20

Composer/lyricist Cole Porter, born June 9, 1891, was a rarity among composers of American popular songs. Besides being among only a handful of songwriters who penned their own lyrics, he was unique in that he was born into a wealthy Indiana family. He produced a staggering number of songs that have been embraced by jazz musicians over the years, in a remarkable career that spanned four decades.
Antônio Carlos Jobim

Antônio Carlos Jobim

2024-05-2927:11

Brazilian songwriter Antônio Carlos Jobim (also called Tom Jobim), born January 25, 1927, is the best known and most prolific of the composers who originated the bossa nova. His compositions have captured the imaginations of jazz musicians from the outset. His lyricism and harmonic imagination have made his tunes popular worldwide, and he is so revered in Brazil, that the Rio de Janero airport is named in his honor, a singular recognition for a popular song writer.
Miles Davis

Miles Davis

2024-05-2231:50

Miles Davis (May 26, 1926 - Sept 28, 1991) unabashedly said that he revolutionized jazz music several times over his career. While an argument could be made for that statement, it is undeniable that the many musicians who passed through his bands over the years have definitely revolutionized the music.   The list is long, virtually every musician who passed through Miles’ many bands has had a lasting impact on the music, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Hank Mobley, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Joe Zawinul and the list goes on! Throughout his long career Miles retained his lyrical, introspective approach to soloing, regardless of the musicians he surrounded himself with.
Jackie McLean

Jackie McLean

2024-05-1531:22

Jackie McLean (May 17, 1931 - March 31, 2006) was one of the many jazz musicians to be deeply influenced in the generation coming up under the influence of Charlie Parker. He always had his own unique sound and approach though, recording with Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus and other leaders before leading his own groups, notably on Blue Note Records, for whom he recorded twenty-three sides. He was one of the early supporters of Ornette Coleman’s innovations, recording with Ornette on his New and Old Gospel LP. He was a revered teacher as well, turning out many students during his long tenure as a professor at Hart School of Music who have gone on to their own careers.
Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin

2024-05-0822:05

Irving Berlin (May 11, 1888 - September 22, 1989) was one of the most prolific and successful songwriters of all time. His accomplishments as a  composer and lyricist are even more remarkable when you consider that English wasn’t his native language (he grew up speaking Yiddish) and his piano skills were limited to playing in only one key (he famously had a custom built piano with a “gear shift” to transpose the instrument into other keys)! He was an astute businessman as well, one of the first songwriters to control his own publishing. Jazz musicians have embraced his tunes for their lyricism and harmonic twists since his earliest hit, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, which he wrote around the time he was still working as a singing waiter on New York City’s lower East side.
Miles Davis once said all musicians should set aside a day each year to honor Duke Ellington. This year, the Jazz Evensong Quintet has set aside two. It’s not hyperbole to state that this man contributed as much to jazz and American music as anyone living or dead, his legacy as a composer, performer, and band leader is undeniable. His band featured many of our greatest musicians as well, a great many staying with him for the bulk of their careers.
Joe Henderson

Joe Henderson

2024-04-2426:04

Saxophonist/composer Joe Henderson (born April 24, 1937) was an eclectic performer, recording over thirty albums on Blue Note records, raging from straight ahead sessions with Horace Silver to more avant-guard outings with Andrew Hill, always sounding like himself in every setting. He recorded with Herbie Hancock and even spent a period of time with Blood, Sweat and Tears. The bulk of the material we’ll play is drawn from the seminal recordings he made with trumpeter Kenny Dorham in the 1960s, many of the tunes this group recorded have become jazz standards.
Henry Mancini

Henry Mancini

2024-04-1720:30

Henry Mancini (born April 16, 1924) was one of the most prolific and successful songwriters of all time. His film scores won four Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, and twenty Grammy Awards, plus a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. He had a lifelong affinity for jazz and jazz musicians, hiring many of Hollywood’s greatest jazz players for his recordings and film scores, and his tunes have been embraced by jazz musicians worldwide for their melodic lyricism and intriguing harmonic structure. We’ll perform many of his best loved tunes, Days of Wine and Roses, Two for the Road, Moment to Moment, Dreamsville, and of course The Pink Panther.
Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus

2024-04-1027:361

Bassist/composer Charles Mingus (born April 22, 1922) was one of the most prolific composers the music has produced. Over his decades long career, he collaborated with many of our music’s greats, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Max Roach and Eric Dolphy to name a few. He was one of the first artists to attempt to control the recording and distribution of his own recordings, founding Debut Records in the 1950’s, and was a vocal proponent for equal rights, many of his compositions are social commentary on the injustices perpetrated on black people in America. On Sunday, April 14th, we'll be performing many of his tunes that have become jazz standards, including Goodbye, Porkpie Hat, Duke Ellington’s Sounds of Love, Better Get It In Your Soul and many others.
Thad Jones

Thad Jones

2024-04-0324:17

Trumpeter, composer/arranger Thad Jones born March 28, 1923, was the middle son in a family that also produced younger brother Elvin Jones, perhaps best known as John Coltrane’s longtime drummer, and pianist Hank Jones, who performed and recorded with almost everyone in his long career, as one of the first black musicians to have a long and fruitful career in the New York studios. Thad first made his mark on the national scene as a soloist and arranger/composer for the Basie band in 1954. When he moved to New York City in the 1960’s, he founded a big band he co led with drummer Mel Lewis that still plays weekly at the Village Vanguard, still playing much of the music Thad wrote. In 1979 he moved to Copenhagen, Denmark where he lead the Danish Radio Big Band, and taught at the Royal Danish Conservatory. In 1985 he took over leadership of the Basie Band, but tragically passed way in 1986 of cancer.
Lennie Tristano

Lennie Tristano

2024-03-2023:14

In addition to being one of the denizens of the NYC 52nd St scene, pianist/composer Lennie Tristano was an influential and pioneering teacher of jazz improvisation. He had prodigious technical abilities as a player, and his pedagogical approach to teaching improvisation eschewed learning “licks” in favor of creating fresh original improvised music. His many compositions exhibit this somewhat stream of consciousness approach, uniquely original, often angular lines based on standard chord progressions. His linear approach to playing was championed by his best known students, saxophonists Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh, who utilized his concepts for their entire careers. 
Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman

2024-03-1320:26

Ornette Coleman set the jazz world ablaze with the release of his first recording “Something Else” in 1958. Ironically, so many of the innovations he introduced to the music have become so ingrained over the passing years, it’s difficult to believe his music was so controversial at the time. His conception of free jazz influenced mainstream jazz musicians like Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and Jackie McClean, to name just a few, who adopted parts of his so-called “harmolodic system” to their own music. We’ll play many of his compositions that have become jazz standards, including "Lonely Woman", "The Blessing", "Turnaround" and many others from this creative artist.
Alec Wilder and Harold Arlen are both composers in the great American Songbook tradition. Chances are good you've never heard of Alec Wilder, even if you’re familiar with some of his popular songs, like "I’ll Be Around" or "While We’re Young." He was also a prolific composer of chamber music, many of the best known virtuosos of the day were personal friends of his, and he wrote most of his chamber works with them in mind. Frank Sinatra was so enamored with Wilder’s chamber music that he released a recording of several of his instrumental works as “conducted” by Sinatra! Harold Arlen is perhaps best remembered for his score for The Wizard of Oz and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is one of the most recorded songs of all time. It’s easy to overlook the fact that he wrote over 500 songs during his career, a large number of which became standards, about which Irving Berlin said "He wasn't as well known as some of us, but he was a better songwriter than most of us, and he will be missed by all of us."
Dexter Gordon

Dexter Gordon

2024-02-2821:37

Tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon was one of the most quintessential performers on that instrument for over 40 years. Born in Los Angeles on February 27, 1923, he was initially heavily influenced by Lester Young, but soon developed his own bebop vocabulary and a room filling sound befitting his 6’6” frame, his playing heavily influenced Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. He was one of a number of American jazz musicians to become an expatriate, spending 14 years in Copenhagen and Paris. His bravura performance in the film Round Midnight earned him a best actor nomination, in 1986. On Sunday, the Jazz Evensong Quintet will perform a selection of his compositions from his over 90 recordings as a leader.
Tadd Dameron

Tadd Dameron

2024-02-2122:39

This week, the band talks composer, arranger, and pianist Tadd Dameron as they prepare a setlist in his honor for Sunday night.
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