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Overdue Ovation: A Bossa Nova Pioneer Celebrates His Latest Rebirth

Many tourists who land in Brazil think that bossa nova, the country’s most renowned musical export, is still wafting through the palm trees and pulsing from oceanside boîtes. The truth is that by the time bossa had made its American splash in the ’60s, its six-year Brazilian heyday had begun to fade. The music’s blithe, … Read More “Overdue Ovation: A Bossa Nova Pioneer Celebrates His Latest Rebirth”

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Sweet Charity: Herb Alpert Award in the Arts Celebrates 25th Anniversary

It was in the 1980s that trumpeter Herb Alpert—creator of a ’60s pop phenomenon, the Tijuana Brass, and cofounder of A&M Records—began to ponder what to do with “some extra money” he’d accumulated. “I didn’t want to buy a Monet or a Van Gogh and hang it on my wall,” he says. “I thought I … Read More “Sweet Charity: Herb Alpert Award in the Arts Celebrates 25th Anniversary”

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Lani Hall: Never Say Never Again

With Sérgio Mendes and Brasil ’66, the vocalist helped define an era. Chronic illness and disillusion with the industry derailed her for years, but now—to her own amazement—she’s back on track.

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Morgana King Remembered

Long before she died on March 22 at the age of 87, Morgana King had known which credit would top her obituaries. It wasn’t her decades-long career as one of the most exotic, ethereal vocal stylists in jazz; nor was it her famous 1964 recording of “A Taste of Honey,” which has the lushness and … Read More “Morgana King Remembered”

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Singer Rebecca Parris Dies at 66

In Carmen McRae’s suitcase throughout her last year of touring was a tape of Rebecca Parris’ 1990 album, Love Comes and Goes. McRae told Parris that the recording was among her prized selection of “travel music.” Now Parris’ traveling, like McRae’s, is over. “Boston’s First Lady of Jazz,” as she was known, died on June … Read More “Singer Rebecca Parris Dies at 66”

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Terry Gibbs: Tales of a True Bebopper

“I am the oldest bebopper alive!” proclaims 93-year-old Terry Gibbs. This forefather of the jazz vibraphone may well be right; age-wise he beats out his closest competitors, including Roy Haynes (92), Jimmy Heath (91), Lee Konitz (90) and Sheila Jordan (89). Certainly few musicians of any age can top his ability to whip up a … Read More “Terry Gibbs: Tales of a True Bebopper”

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Helen Merrill: Big in Japan

In April, Japan’s favorite jazz singer for more than 50 years returned for what she called her “sayonara” engagement. As Helen Merrill stepped onstage at the Blue Note Tokyo, her 1954 recording of “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To”—the standout of her now-iconic debut album with trumpeter Clifford Brown—filled the club to a … Read More “Helen Merrill: Big in Japan”

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Ann Richards: Dreams Have a Way of Fading

As a teenager of the 1950s, singer Ann Richards fell in love from afar with the Toscanini of big-band jazz, Stan Kenton. He was 6-foot-4, silver-haired and old enough to be her father; she was a raven-haired bombshell, voluptuously endowed both physically and vocally. Her goal of meeting him paid off spectacularly. He hired her … Read More “Ann Richards: Dreams Have a Way of Fading”

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Homophobia in Jazz

A few years back, I visited a jazz pianist who had made his mark in the ’70s with a reflective series of albums on the ECM label. This was one of my first interviews for a now-finished biography of his former employer, Chet Baker. As the recorder ran, my host—known for his fierce intelligence and … Read More “Homophobia in Jazz”

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