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.

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Alas, Aretha Franklin died on Thursday, August 16, three days after I posted the tribute below to the Queen of Soul.  We listened to Ree for our three-hour drive to Cape Cod on Wednesday night and I could hardly contain myself. Hers is simply the most powerful and versatile voice of my lifetime. The line that's resonated most this week is "If you walk in that door, I can get up off my knees," from "Since You've Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby)." It reminds me of a to-the-point reflection sent by a 70-year-old female friend, "Boy, did she ever get me through some tough times." 

I found impeccable footage of T-Bone Walker two weeks ago and have been on the search for more ever since. T-Bone's performance of "Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong" was filmed in 1962 for a West German TV special, "Jazz Heard and Seen." He's accompanied by pianist Memphis Slim, bassist Willie Dixon, and drummer Jump Jackson, who were all part of that year's American Folk Blues Festival tour in Europe.

Charles Neville
Steven Sussman

Charles Neville died on Wednesday, April 25, aged 79, at his home in Huntington, Massachusetts. He'd been ill for several months with pancreatic cancer.

April 6 was the bluesman Walter Horton's birthday. When I first read of him, his birth year was given as 1918, but now I see it listed as 1921, which if accurate means he was 51 when I first saw him at Joe's Place in 1972. He was touring with Chicago bluesmen Eddie Taylor (one of his earliest and longest colleagues) and Carey Bell (a young protege), both of whom were on his new Alligator album, Big Walter Horton with Carey Bell.

Steve Kuhn
Steven Sussman

I spoke with Steve Kuhn in 2004. The pianist had just released the album, Promises Kept, which fulfilled his goal of recording a program of original compositions with a string ensemble. The record was a posthumous tribute to his parents Stella and Carl Kuhn. Bob Blumenthal, a close observer of Kuhn’s career for several decades, said that “in giving full reign to his emotions, Kuhn has created both his most personal and his most beautiful recording.”

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