JazzWatch #46 | J.D. Allen

Born in Detroit, saxophonist and composer JD Allen has risen to prominence through a string of critically acclaimed recordings featuring various ensembles. He’s also been featured as a dynamic sideman with acclaimed bandleaders such as George Cables, Cindy Blackman, Winard Harper, Lester Bowie and Betty Carter among others. His current trio with drummer Rudy Royston and bassist Gregg August displays their unique concept of songs within songs on their latest project, “Graffiti” for Savant Records. It was great to speak with JD Allen who’s an exciting improviser and is is a force for good in the continuing cause of advancing creative music.

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JazzWatch #41 | Cassandra Wilson

Grammy Award Winning vocalist Cassandra Wilson continues to inspire audiences in live performance and on her latest CD, “Coming Forth By Day.” Wilson’s distinctive aura,  the synergy of her band and producer Nick Launay guide listeners through a moving devotion to the great Billie Holiday. The genre-less approach to noted Great American Songbook (GAS) classics that Holiday favored is firmly in the tradition of Wilson’s conception. She’s broken numerous barriers for the current generation of artists with regard to the types of tunes that can be covered beyond the standards, but when the material steers toward the classics found on “Coming Forth”, Wilson and company shape the arrangements in the moment and keep their ears in the present with an eye toward the future. In our conversation, Cassandra shares some insight into the making of the record, reflects on key members of her touring band and shares some wisdom with us that she gained along the way.

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JazzWatch #14 | Cyrus Chestnut

Pianist Cyrus Chestnut has played with everyone from Aretha Franklin to Kathleen Battle to Betty Carter to James Moody. His blend of soul and swing has elevated him to become one of the most reliable pianists of his generation. His recent CD, Midnight Melodies from the newly-formed label, The Smoke Sessions, spent a month at the top of the JazzWeek chart.

On this week’s episode, we talk about his new professorship at Howard University – a long-held dream of his. He also has a new project in the works with David Williams and Victor Lewis. We talk about his ideas about passing the lineage of the music down to up and coming players.

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