Jazz

Musical revolutionary

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What makes someone a great artist? Surely one of the criteria has to be to what extent they have revolutionised their art form. On that measure alone the trumpeter Miles Davis must be regarded as one of the most innovative and creative musicians of the 20th century.

At the age of 18 he played an important part in the musical revolution called bebop. Throughout his 50-year career he released many outstanding records but in 1959 he surpassed any of his previous work with the release of Kind of Blue. Modal jazz was born. Again in 1970 Davis released another era-defining and path-breaking album Bitches Brew (that Davis used the sexist word "bitch" in the title, as a term for excellence, clearly taints the album).

Standing on the shoulders of jazz giants

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New Orleans is often regarded as the birthplace of jazz. Martin Smith spoke to jazz musician Christian Scott about growing up in the city, the devastation after Katrina and making music to move the listener.


A young 27 year old black man found himself driving alone through New Orleans on his way back from the Mardi Gras at around 2am one night. As he looked in his rear view mirror, he saw a car tailing him with its lights off. For eight blocks the blacked out car followed him. His life flashed before him: was it a gang out to rob him, or, even worse, a lynch mob?

Terence Blanchard - full interview

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Terence Blanchard's latest album, A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina), is about the abandonment of the people of New Orleans by the Bush administration. Here the composer, saxophonist and film-score writer speaks to Martin Smith about his new music, the US government and working with Spike Lee.

What made you record the album?

'The People Need Jazz'

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Soweto Kinch is one of the most versatile and exciting musicians to hit the British jazz scene in recent years. He talked to Pete Jackson and Martin Smith about his latest album.

Last summer the MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Academy announced that it was going to drop its best jazz artist award. When the awards ceremony took place in September ten musicians held a musical protest outside the venue. One of them was 28 year old Soweto Kinch.

Born in London to parents from Barbados and Jamaica, Soweto is creating a unique sound, one which blends his two musical loves - jazz and hip-hop.

'Playing jazz is a form of resistance. It's about being independent and not conforming. But resistance can also mean standing up to authority'

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Composer and multi-instrumentalist Courtney Pine spoke to Martin Smith about how the battle against prejudice has been a backdrop to his musical career, and about his new album, Resistance.

In 1986 a 22 year old jazz musician from north London released his first solo album, Journey To The Urge Within. His name was Courtney Fitzgerald Pine. The album was a huge hit, breaking into the British Top 40, the first album by a British jazz artist to do so. It established Courtney Pine as a leading figure in the jazz scene. Twenty years later he has just released his 11th album, the critically acclaimed Resistance. He took time out from his 40-date tour to speak to SR about it.

Return of the Jazz Radicals

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Peter Segal welcomes new releases from old masters.

Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins released a series of outstanding LPs in the 1950s and 1960s that established him as one of the outstanding jazz musicians of the period. Born in Harlem in 1930, Rollins overcame drug problems and Imprisonment to develop one of the most distinctive saxophone sounds in jazz. While not generally perceived as radical (he rarely gets mentioned in the same bracket as John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Miles Davis, etc), he released The Freedom Suite in the 1950s, which was a landmark political statement by a jazz artist demanding black emancipation.

Freedom Music

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Martin Smith talks to Denys Baptiste about his new album, the civil rights movement and the struggle for freedom and justice today.

Denys Baptiste is a saxophone player from west London. His first album, Be Where You Are, was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize and won a Music of Black Origin (Mobo) award. His wonderful new album Let Freedom Ring! is a tribute to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement.

What were your musical influences when you were growing up?

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