Clark Terry: Master Jazz Trumpeter and Educator

The day before J.K. Simmons won an Oscar (best supporting actor) for his portrayal of a sadistic jazz teacher in Damien Chazelle’s pulsating, fictional movie Whiplash, legendary jazz trumpeter and educator Clark Terry died Feb. 21 at age 94 after a long battle with diabetes. Terry — known for his affable nature as much as his musical brilliance — was one of the main figures in another 2014 breakout film, Alan Hicks’ touching documentary Keep On Keepin’ On. That film …

Tito Puente, entre el Caribe y el jazz

  Existen pocos videos de Tito Puente durante las primeras décadas de su trayectoria. Esta versión de El cumbanchero de Rafael Hernández es particularmente conmovedora: La imagen de Tito con sus timbales es un sí­mbolo tan inmenso de la música afrocaribeña, que es fácil olvidar la versatilidad de este extraordinario músico. Aquí­ está Tito tocando el vibráfono en un tributo a Noro Morales y su hermosa composición A Marí­a Cervantes: En todas sus grabaciones, Tito expresó su fascinación hacia dos …

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.: The Actor Who Went From Private Eye to Mr. FBI

Back in late 1950s and early 1960s, one of the coolest series on the tube was 77 Sunset Strip, a stylish variation on hard-boiled detective noir infused with wise-cracking hipster humor – sort of Raymond Chandler meets the Rat Pack, set in what TV historian Horace Newcomb describes as “a sun-drenched world of cocktails, cool jazz and convertibles.” The show’s star was Efrem Zimbalist Jr., who, as suave detective Stuart “Stu” Bailey, deftly tangled with tough guys, charmed beautiful dames and unraveled mysteries …

Marian McPartland: From Jazz Virtuoso to Radio Host

Marian McPartland had not just one, but two stellar careers. As a pianist during the halcyon days of modern jazz, she became enough of a star that photographer Art Kane included her in Esquire magazine’s famous 1958 group photograph in Harlem, alongside such immortals as Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Mingus. Here she is in 1974, performing “In A Mist.”   From 1978 to 2011, McPartland had a second act as host of National Public Radio’s popular show Piano Jazz. She …

At 85, Barbara Cook Joins the Supremes

Where to hear some great music in the nation’s capital? If you’re a fan of orchestral music, opera, jazz or musical theater, there’s The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Should you prefer a more intimate venue, there’s Blues Alley. But would you ever think of the U.S. Supreme Court? Highly doubtful, to say the least. As it turns out, however, the court’s nine justices aren’t so completely consumed with weighty matters that they can’t take an occasional …

Dave Brubeck: 5 Little-Known Facts About the ‘Take Five’ Jazz Pianist

A 1954 cover story in Time magazine described Dave Brubeck as “a wigging cat with a far-out wail,” in a cringe-worthy attempt to approximate the hep lingo of the jazz aficionados who crowded into his performances in the smoky bohemian nightclubs of the day. But audiences flocked to see Brubeck at Carnegie Hall and other highbrow settings, too. Brubeck, who died at age 92 on Dec. 4 in Connecticut, was one of the biggest stars in the history of jazz. His Dave …