Airs Wednesday, May 13, at 9 p.m. Blue Note Records turns 75 this year, and to celebrate, Washington, D.C.'s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts hosted a concert featuring some of the record label's living legends and rising stars. From the early years with co-founder Alfred Lion to the revitalization under Bruce Lundvall, Blue Note Records has become and remained one of the most iconic brands in jazz.
Airs Thursday, February 5 at 8 p.m. Many of the most notable achievements in jazz have come through its great composers. Giants such as Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus and many others always kept the music moving forward through the creation and performance of new compositions. In this episode, we listen to the premiere of new work commissioned by SMF by saxophonist Walter Blanding, Jr. entitled "Tick Tock". The ensemble features Blanding, Marcus Printup on trumpet, Lionel Loueke on guitar, Warren Wolf on vibraphone, Carlos Henriquez on bass and Herlin Riley on drums.
Airs Thursday, May 23 at 8 p.m. Tucked between Togo to the west and Nigeria on the east, the West African nation of Benin is one of the smallest on the continent, yet it has produced one of Africa's finest contemporary musicians. During the Spring of 2011, we premiered a special production featuring guitarist Lionel Loueke in a seven-piece ensemble under the direction of Robert Sadin. Working together, Sadin and Loueke crafted an extraordinary hour-long set built around original compositions and an array of stunning instrumentalists: Sadin conducted cellist Vincent Segal, violinist Mark Feldman, multi-reed and wind player Charles Pillow, along with Walter Blanding on bass clarinet, percussionists Cyro Baptista and Thioko Diagne, while Loueke sang and played guitar.