Jazz à la Mode

NEPR: Weekdays, 8 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Welcome to Jazz à la Mode, which airs weeknights between 8-11 p.m. on 88.5FM.  Jazz à la Mode draws on the rich and varied traditions of jazz from the 1920’s to the present.  Whether it’s a classic recording by Louis Armstrong or Billie Holiday, a great standard by Harold Arlen or Duke Ellington, modern jazz landmarks by Miles Davis or John Coltrane, or the latest by Gregory Porter or Wynton Marsalis, Jazz à la Mode has plenty to satisfy your tastes.

Find Jazz à la Mode archived blog posts.

Listen to Jazz à la Mode on demand

Count Basie called Joe Williams his "Number One son." The great singer first worked with Basie's Octet in 1950, and when he re-joined Basie in 1955 the success he'd long sought-- he was 37 by then-- was suddenly his with Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings. The Verve Records album was bookended by distinctly different songs that shared similar titles, "Every Day (I Have the Blues)," and "Ev'ry Day," and everything in between its covers was hard-swinging, deeply expressive, brilliantly arranged and perfectly played.

Jaki Byard
South Carolina Public Radio

For Worcester-born acolytes like me and Chet Williamson, the devoted author of Falling Rains of Lifea new on-line biography of Jaki Byard, it was inevitable that as teenaged converts to jazz in the late 1960s, John A. Byard, Jr. would become an intriguing figure for us, and in time even heroic.

Jimmy Johnson
Chicago Sun Times Media

Today is the great bluesman Jimmy Johnson's 90th birthday. I last saw him just over a year ago in Chicago, where he was the musical highlight of the trip, and at 88, still equally compelling as a singer and guitarist. Johnson's repertoire includes classics by B.B. King and T-Bone Walker, but the primary influences on his tough, minor key-driven blues were his West Side Chicago peers Magic Sam, Buddy Guy, and the recently deceased Otis Rush.

Dave McKenna
Christopher Lydon / Radio Open Source

The grandest joy I've experienced since the Red Sox won the World Series last month was opening a mailer this week from Arbors Records and discovering a new Dave McKenna album. Dave McKenna in Madison was recorded in 1991, and it sounds as good as anything I've ever heard by the pianist, which is to say it's consistent with the brilliance of everything I ever heard him play. 

Coleman Hawkins
William Gottlieb / Library of Congress

Coleman Hawkins was the subject of a beautifully filmed studio session taped in Brussels in 1962. The film was made following Hawk's appearance at a festival in Dinant, Belgium, the birthplace of saxophone inventor Adolphe Sax. The festival honored Sax, who'd patented the instrument in 1846, but who knows if it would have enjoyed its immense stature had Hawkins not invented a style for it in jazz, the idiom where it's found its most complete expressive identity.

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