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Ted Dunbar: Teacher Man to Nile Rodgers, Kevin Eubanks, and Many Others

The full legacy of some musicians can be gauged as much by tracing their impact on those they trained as by their own performances. Guitarist Ted Dunbar (1937-1998) is the perfect example, remembered today with reverence by the numerous guitarists who studied with him. Their collective résumé is an impressive swath of experiences and success: … Read More “Ted Dunbar: Teacher Man to Nile Rodgers, Kevin Eubanks, and Many Others”

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Nile Rodgers: From Jazz Roots

There’s a story Nile Rodgers likes to share, an early career lesson. It was at the onset of the 1970s; the precocious guitarist—still a teenager yet already with years of classical and jazz training under his belt—was starting to get calls for gigs. “$15 was the going rate for pickup gigs back then,” he relates. … Read More “Nile Rodgers: From Jazz Roots”

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Before & After: Dayna Stephens

There’s a tune called “Clouds” on Gratitude—saxophonist Dayna Stephens’ ninth and latest album, from 2017—that captures his personality well. Serene on the surface, it opens with a breathy tenor line that soon digs deeper, achieving a high level of complexity with juxtaposed layers of synthesizer as Eric Harland’s brushes chatter and comment. When the tune … Read More “Before & After: Dayna Stephens”

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Before & After: Lewis Porter

Hanging with Lewis Porter brings an exciting promise of discovery—some unknown fact about a jazz hero or some new insight into an historic recording. It should be that way, given his reputation as a researcher with few equals: author of the definitive John Coltrane biography (John Coltrane: His Life and Music, 1998) as well as … Read More “Before & After: Lewis Porter”

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Adam Nussbaum: Groove Waves, Lead Belly, and a Plethora of Puns

One of the most impressive things about Adam Nussbaum is the stylistic range of the music he’s made. He played with James Moody for many years, with George Gruntz and Michael Brecker each for a few, and continues to work in various different groups led by Dave Liebman. He’s been with Gil Evans, John Scofield … Read More “Adam Nussbaum: Groove Waves, Lead Belly, and a Plethora of Puns”

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Robin Eubanks: Representing the Trombone Community

Just back from touring summertime Europe with the Mingus Big Band, Robin Eubanks has driven in from his home in northern New Jersey to meet for his first Before & After. We’re in a studio at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute for Recorded Music, and for a man whose schedule book is full to … Read More “Robin Eubanks: Representing the Trombone Community”

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A Conversation with Michael League and Terrace Martin

Every now and then at Holland’s annual North Sea Jazz Festival, the Jazz Café—the small room that hosts the festival’s talk events—fills to capacity. People spill out into the hall, even while 12 other venues in the Rotterdam Ahoy complex are pumping out live music. During the fest’s most recent edition, in July 2017, at … Read More “A Conversation with Michael League and Terrace Martin”

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Johnny O’Neal: Pianist, Singer, Storyteller

If you haven’t caught Johnny O’Neal lately, you really should. The Detroit-born pianist and vocalist, whose fabled history includes a stint as a Jazz Messenger in the ’80s and an appearance as Art Tatum in the 2004 movie Ray, and whose personal health battles appear to be mostly behind him, is hale and confident. Onstage, … Read More “Johnny O’Neal: Pianist, Singer, Storyteller”

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Mark Guiliana: Searching for a Special Feeling

For audiences, a jazz festival “artist-in-residence” gig offers a special chance to hear a leading musician stretch out in various contexts, over the course of a few days. One set will usually show off the player’s more traditional, straight-ahead side; the next might demonstrate a more challenging, newer aspect; and then, perhaps, there will be … Read More “Mark Guiliana: Searching for a Special Feeling”

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Review: Oslo Jazz Festival 2017

To the jaundiced American eye, downtown Oslo—particularly along the walking street Karl Johans gate—is refreshingly neat and clean, with a healthy balance of older and modern architecture, and unfortunately, too many familiar retail outlets. Walk just a block or two away from this central path however and the more traditional Norwegian feel of the city … Read More “Review: Oslo Jazz Festival 2017”

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Alice Coltrane: “The Gifts God Gave Him”

Twenty-seventeen marks a number of anniversaries of solemn significance for the Coltrane family. It’s been 50 years since John died and 10 since Alice Coltrane left her body, as members of her spiritual flock in Agoura Hills, Calif., refer to her passing. Were she alive, she’d be celebrating her 80th birthday this year, and this … Read More “Alice Coltrane: “The Gifts God Gave Him””

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After Hours: New York’s Jazz Joints

Many of the legendary Manhattan nightspots where jazz musicians got their start are long gone but certainly not forgotten. It’s hard to imagine the careers of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis or Dizzy Gillespie without the Cotton Club, the Royal Roost or the Five Spot. Ashley Kahn makes a decade-by-decade selection of the city’s defining clubs.

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