What I Like About Jazz

Wednesday 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM

What I Like About Jazz is a one-hour jazz program with an emphasis on small groups, ranging from the 1950's to today. 

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Jazz pianist Benny Green
John Dugan (CC-BY-2)

Benny Green has been playing jazz piano for decades, and has recorded with everyone from Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers to the Ray Brown trio, as well as being part of George Wein's Jazz Futures band in the early 90s.

Trumpeter Jim Rotondi has been a major figure in the world of jazz for over 20 years, both in New York and on the international scene.
Courtesy jimrotondi.com

Join us this week on "What I Like About Jazz" for a return visit with Butte native Jim Rotondi. Jim is a world class musician and educator, with nearly a hundred albums to his credit, appearances in clubs all over the world, and past associations include Ray Charles, Charles Earland, Harold Mabern, and Cecil Payne, among many others.

Lee Konitz has been playing and recording since the late 1940s, and at age 87, is still going strong. Lee got his start in recordings of Lennie Tristano and Miles Davis in the late 1940s, and has played with many of the all-time greats, from Charlie Parker to Bill Evans, and modern players including the group Minsara, pianist Brad Mehldau and many more.

Konitz was just voted into the Downbeat Hall of Fame, and is a 2009 NEA Jazz Master. Tune in to "What I Like About Jazz" on MTPR for a tribute to the music of Lee Konitz. Wednesday July 22 at 8:00 p.m. on your radio or live online.

Jazz from Montana

Apr 2, 2014

Tune in tonight for a special (pre) Public Radio Week look at some of Montana's great jazz artists. From Bozeman to Helena, Billings to Missoula, and even some folks from the Highline: Chester, Miles City and more, Montana has spawned some amazing artists over the last 40 years. We'll hear from Phillip Aaberg, Jack Walrath, Wilbur Rehmann, the Big Sky Mudflaps, Cheap Cologne, MJ Williams, Jenny Fleming, Eden Atwood, David Morgenroth, and Josh Farmer. There's so much great music right here in Montana, one show could hardly contain it.

Drummer Al Harewood anchored a slew of classic albums in the 50's and 60's, including a number of Blue Note records. Albums by the likes of Dexter Gordon, Stanley Turrentine, Horace Parlan, Lou Donaldson, Grant Green, Cutis Fuller, J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding, Ike Quebec, Dizzy Reece and Bobby Hutcherson featured the drumming of this under-appreciated titan and future music educator. Tune in this Wednesday night for a sample of  classic cuts with many of these great players. What I like About Jazz, Wednesday, March 19, at 8:30 Mountain.

As one of the premiere jazz record labels, beginning in 1939, Blue Note Records set the tone for jazz to come, especially capitalizing on the rise of Be-Bop with artists like Fats Navarro, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Lou Donaldson and Art Blakey. After decades of success, the label underwent radical changes beginning with its' sale to Liberty Records. The 1970's did no favours, and the label eventually folded. However, it's popularity in Japan and other parts of the world, and a resurgence in traditional jazz, allowed a re-birth of the label.

Tune in for a special program dedicated to the memory of the late Donald Byrd. Byrd's classic trumpet graced albums by many of the modern greats of the 1950's '60's, from Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, Horace Silver, George Wallington, Jackie McLean, two-trum pet albums with both Art Farmer and Lee Morgan, as well as being one of the few trumpet players that John Coltrane chose to record with in his own sessions as a leader.

Looking back on 2013, some great jazz music came out, but we also lost some amazing performers. Tune in tonight to hear a collage of music from some of those we lost, including Donald Byrd, Frank Wess, Mulgrew Miller, Marian McPartland, Jim Hall and Yusef Lateef. In the coming weeks, we'll take a closer look at several of these artists we've missed along the way, with full specials dedicated to Donald Byrd, Frank Wess and Yusef Lateef.

We'll hear tonight from some of the great artists with roots in Europe, with countries including Poland, The Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Azerbaijan and more. Amina Figarova, Tord Gustavsen, Bobo Stenson, Tomasz Stanko and the mutlicultural trio Minsrah will all be represented.  The beautiful music and blend of European classical music and jazz wields an influence on both artists and on labels such as ECM, and even Sony. What I Like About Jazz focuses on the European connection tonight at 8:30, the first show of 2014.

A Tribute to Jim Hall

Dec 10, 2013

I was deeply saddened to hear today of the passing of one of the great guitar players of modern jazz, Jim Hall, who passed away in his sleep last night at 83. What I Like About Jazz will pay special Tribute to Jim on Wednesday night, featuring cuts asa  leader and sideman with people like longtime friend Art Farmer, and modern legends like John Lewis, Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Giuffre, Ron Carter, Tom Harrell and more.

Michael Marsolek

Saxophonist Wayne Escoffery has been recording music for more than a decade, has played with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, The Mingus Big Band, Ron Carter, Ben Riley and many others. Escoffery has also been a member of Tom Harrell's longest continuous group, playing and recording six albums over the last nine years.

Wayne has also recorded several collaboration albums with his wife, vocalist Carolyn Leonhart. (In addition to her own albums and projects, Carolyn has been a featured singer with Steely Dan for more than a decade).

More new Jazz

Dec 3, 2013

More new jazz from the last year or so. There are so many great things out this year, one show wasn't nearly enough. Tune in Wednesday evening at 8:30 for another set of great new jazz, with artists like John Abercrombie, Tim Warfield, David Chesky, Harvie S. with Kenny Barron, Eliane Elias, Terence Blanchard and a peek at the brand new Tom Harrell featuring Esperanza Spalding.

Jazz is something I am so thankful for, something I cherish, something meditative and peaceful, even when it swings hard. The State of Modern Jazz is not just good, it's great. Tonight we'll hear a host of newer jazz, mostly from the last 5 years. Artists include Jimmy Cobb, Jim Rotondi, David Chesky, Ron Carter, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride and more. 8:30 tonight on "What I Like About Jazz."


This week, we'll take a look at jazz artists takes on classic Soul and R&B, with covers of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and more. Artists include Organists Charles Earland and Leon Spencer, Stanley Turrentine, One for All (with Erci Alexander, Jim Rotondi, Steve Davis, and David Hazeltine), Guitarists Paul Bollenback and Phil Upchurch and much more. 8:30 Wednesday on What I Like About Jazz.

Mark Memmot

Tonight on WHAT I LIKE ABOUT JAZZ , it's part two of a tribute to the late Cedar Walton. We'll hear a selection of "later" recordings from the last 30 years; solo piano, duets with Ron Carter, the Sweet Basil trio, Eric Alexander and more,  including one of his latest recordings with Houston Person.  8:30 pm Wednesday, October 2.

Tribute to Cedar Walton

Sep 24, 2013
jazzwax by Marc Meyers

Tune in Part to What I like About Jazz for a special two-part tribute to the late Cedar Walton, groundbreaking pianist who played with John Coltrane, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, led Eastern Rebellion and the Sweet Basil trio and so much more. Credits over the years have also included several stints with Clifford Jordan, Art Farmer, Vincent Herring, Houston Person and David 'Fathead' Newman among others. 

Sax player Wayne Escoffery, pianist Xavier Davis, bassist Ugonna Okegwo, keyboard player Rachel Z. and drummer Justin Brown are playing in Missoula, Sept.21 & 22,  at Daly Jazz. Tune in to "What I Like About Jazz," 8:30-9:30pm on September 18th to hear clips featuring these great modern jazz artists in their formative years, as well as current recordings.