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

Nancy Wilson, 1937-2018

Dec 14, 2018
Nancy Wilson in 2007
Wikipedia

The famed vocalist Nancy Wilson died on Thursday at her home near Los Angeles. She was 81. The Chillicothe, Ohio, native was an elegant beauty whom I first knew of through her early 1960s television appearances as both a singer and actress. I remember feeling somewhat mesmerized by her, and as I've reviewed clips of her on YouTube in recent years, I've concluded that it was her stillness and self-possession that initially drew me in; compared with the outsized figures I was accustomed to seeing on TV, she seemed perfectly calm and composed.

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. 

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