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American Routes

  • Baby Washington grew up in Harlem and became a noted R&B solo singer for Neptune Records with hits like “The Time” and then “That’s How Heartaches are Made” for Sue Records. But she started her career as a girl group singer, with the Hearts and the Jaynetts. Baby shared with me stories from the road and the stage including a pivotal moment that occurred backstage with the Hearts.
  • Our guest is jazz pianist, Herbie Hancock. Hancock began in the early ‘60s with acoustic piano jazz like Takin' Off, featuring the now famous "Watermelon Man," followed by concept albums animated by water spirits like Empyrean Isles and Maiden Voyage in 1964 and ‘65. His band included emerging jazz heroes like Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Herbie Hancock was a classically trained child prodigy from Chicago who later majored in music and electrical engineering. He went on to play keyboards for Miles Davis on definitive recordings: Sorcerer, In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Herbie Hancock integrated electronic funk into the music and had pop success with Headhunters and the MTV hit, "Rockit." I asked the enduring composer, arranger, producer, and player how his jazz education began.
  • This is American Routes Live from Esplanade Studios with Jason Marsalis and his quintet. Jason is the sixth son of Dolores and Ellis Marsalis Jr. Three of his siblings are jazz musicians: trumpeter Wynton, saxophonist Branford, and trombonist Delfeayo. Jason is the timekeeper who played with his father and notable others: Joe Henderson, Lionel Hampton and Marcus Roberts. Pianist, composer, teacher and father, Ellis Marsalis Jr. passed on April 1st, 2020. I asked Jason Marsalis about his father, known as a modernist, about his relationship to New Orleans traditional jazz.
  • Aurora Nealand was recently praised as one of the top ten soprano saxophonists in America by Downbeat Magazine. She grew up in an eccentric family on the California coast and then Colorado, listening to Stravinsky, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Joan Baez and the Pixies. Her mom was a gardener who played classical piano, her dad an archivist who went to rock band practice between jobs. She received musical training at Oberlin College and Jacques Lecoq School of Physical Theatre in Paris, all before embarking on a bike trip across the US to chronicle the dreams of rural America. In 2004 Aurora ended up in New Orleans, where she learned to play traditional jazz in the streets. Now she leads her band, the Royal Roses, and sometimes has the persona of Rory Danger. Aurora attributes the interest in a broad range of styles to her travels and nontraditional upbringing.
  • It’s a Spring Awakening, and we’ve got songs about bunny hops, rockin’ robins, and fragrant flowers but also lonely hours, gospel prayers and post…
  • We’re delving deep into the words and music of Dan Penn, whose songs made the charts with so many great artists from Aretha Franklin to Conway Twitty and…
  • Aurelio Martinez grew up in the Garifuna village of Plaplaya on the Caribbean coast of Honduras. He’s a percussionist, singer and guitarist who’s played…
  • Meschiya Lake was named from Hebrew as “the anointed one.” Though Ms. Lake has yet to save the world, Meschiya has come a long way from Rapid City, South…
  • Raul Malo was born in Miami to Cuban parents. In 1989 he started The Mavericks. Named for going against the grain, the Mavericks began in the punk and…
  • This is American Routes, our program devoted to Sam Cooke. Sam’s ambitions in music were matched by his quest for knowledge. Longtime friend LeRoy Crume,…