Airs Monday, July 28 at 8 p.m. Vijay Iyer might be a genius. He has a master's degree in physics, an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Technology and the Arts from Berkeley. He's also a largely self-taught pianist — and a powerhouse player at that — and composer for string quartet, theatre, film, orchestra, spoken-word multimedia, free improvisation, ESPN commercials, etc. And as a jazz bandleader, his quartets and trios translate his post-idiomatic artistic outlook into spiky, supercharged songs.
Airs Thursday, July 10 at 8:00 p.m. He's an artist influenced by classical, jazz and the diverse musical traditions of the Mediterranean rim. When double bass player and composer Renaud Garcia-Fons arrived backstage in the van with his custom five-stringed bass, we expected to see yet another huge bass case. Instead, he unloaded a much smaller box from which emerged a wooden body, out of which came the neck, followed by some strings that were quickly attached.
Airs Monday, June 23 at 8 p.m. One of the finest guitar players in jazz history — who made all those classic records with Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Ron Carter and so on — is still at it at age 82. Fittingly, Jim Hall's rhythm section at Newport is top-shelf international caliber: Scott Colley (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums). And Julian Lage, a much younger guitar phenom, joined in a cross-generational confab of guitar heroes.
Jim Hall, guitar Scott Colley, bass Lewis Nash, drums Julian Lage, guitar
Airs Thursday, June 12 at 8 p.m. The many songs that came from the Broadway theatre, Hollywood movies, and Tin Pan Alley have always been a vital part of the repertoire of jazz musicians, who turned many of them into jazz standards. In this episode, we listen to more swingin' standards performed by Bucky Pizzarelli, Howard Alden, Wycliffe Gordon, and the Marcus Roberts trio, among others in this 2007 SMF recording.
Airs Monday, June 9 at 8 p.m. A 20-something singing pianist of the New Orleans virtuoso tradition, Jonathan Batiste has a natural entertainer's charisma and chops to match. He now lives in New York — he met his band in school at Juilliard — and can do "modern jazz" with a metropolitan attitude. But Stay Human is named for its dedication to live music magic, which results in second-line-style parades in the subways and through the Lower East Side. It's perfect for Newport's festive ssetting — and yes, there's a tuba.