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45 Segments




A Forgotten Pioneer of Rhythm and Blues

Rock historian Ed Ward takes a look at the influence of saxophonist Louis Jordan, who laid the groundwork for rocking Black artists of the 1950s like Chuck Berry.


Gospel Saxophonist Vernard Johnson.

Alto Saxophonist Vernard Johnson. He's best known for his Gospel playing, performing with preachers like, E.V. Hill, Billy Graham, and Bishop L. H. Ford. His saxophone was considered too raucous for the Gospel circuit when he began playing there in the mid-60's, but eventually he became a favorite on the evangelical circuit.


The Godfather of Soul's Sax Player

Maceo Parker was a member of James Brown's horn section. Parker was hired along with his brother, but soon made a name for himself. His new album is a straightforward jazz record, called Roots Revisited.


The Career of Saxophonist and Composer Manu Dibango

World music commentator Milo Miles reviews the career of the Afropop pioneer. Dibango grew up in Cameroon, played jazz in Paris, and later returned to his home country. He performs in a wide range of styles, from soul to smooth jazz.


Composer and Saxophonist Marty Ehrlich

The jazz musician is an in-demand sideman, and is also known for his composed pieces. In discussing his career, Ehrlich says that improvisation and composition are part of the same musical gesture. His new quartet album is called The Traveller's Tale.


A Big Sound from the Microscopic Septet

Joel Forrester and Phillip Johnston founded the NYC-based jazz combo. The group had trouble finding an audience early on, in part because of their unique blending of styles. Forrester and Johnston join Fresh Air to talk about their influences, and the logistics of keeping such a large group together.


Tenor Saxophonist Kurt Hoffman

Hoffman is one of the primary composers for the unusual ensemble The Ordinaires, which features rock instrumentation along with reeds and strings. The band formed in 1982 in New York City.


Jazz Musician Loren Schoenberg

The thirty-year-old saxophonist leads a new big band that performs pieces from the classic swing era. He formed a professional and personal relationship with Benny Goodman, and now stewards the archive of the jazz legends' recordings.


Soprano Saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom

The critically-acclaimed jazz artist is known for her use of electronics in her performances. She joins Fresh Air to discuss musical development and her experience as a woman in a male-dominated scene.


Erasing Charlie Parker's Contradictions

Clint Eastwood's biopic Bird delves deep into the personal life and legend of Charlie Parker. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says the story fails to connect these often tumultuous moments with the genius of Parker's music.


Saxophonist Frank Morgan

The jazz musician served time for crimes related to his heroin addiction. He left prison with his chops intact--he was often able to practice sax and perform for his fellow inmates.


Tenor Saxophonist Benny Golson

The jazz musician and arranger grew up in Philadelphia and developed his chops early on during jam sessions with John Coltrane and Percy Keith, among others who would grow up to become jazz legends. After getting his big break in Art Blakey's band, Golson spent years writing and arranging music for several television shows.


Embracing the Life of an Artist

Larry Rivers began his career as a jazz saxophonist before becoming a painter at twenty-three. He says he was drawn to the solitary nature of making art and how art could draw from a broader range of experiences than jazz.


Alto Saxophonist Lee Konitz

The jazz musician studied with pianist Lennie Tristano before seeking out work in big bands. Konitz joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross to talk about the personal and financial hardships that accompanied the dogged pursuit of his career.


Jazz Saxophonist and Composer Frank Foster

The accomplished musician made his mark as a member of Count Basie's band. Foster later earned his Ph.D. in music and worked as an educator. He now leads his own big band, an endeavor he admits is difficult to sustain financially.


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