1. 50 years ago today, pianist and composer Andrew Hill recorded Point of Departure, a jazz record that still feels vital and futuristic. 
Two years before Hill passed away, he appeared on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz in 2005. In many ways it’s a miraculous piece of radio not for the least of which his colorful, angular playing but also because Hill spoke with a sometimes debilitating stutter. But here Hill sounds so relaxed at the piano and with McPartland on the other side of the microphone — NPR arts editor Tom Cole once told me it was the most clear conversation had ever heard with the pianist. After 7 years of producing Piano Jazz for NPR.org, it remains my favorite episode. — Lars
Listen: Andrew Hill on Piano Jazz
Photo: Jimmy Katz

    50 years ago today, pianist and composer Andrew Hill recorded Point of Departure, a jazz record that still feels vital and futuristic. 

    Two years before Hill passed away, he appeared on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz in 2005. In many ways it’s a miraculous piece of radio not for the least of which his colorful, angular playing but also because Hill spoke with a sometimes debilitating stutter. But here Hill sounds so relaxed at the piano and with McPartland on the other side of the microphone — NPR arts editor Tom Cole once told me it was the most clear conversation had ever heard with the pianist. After 7 years of producing Piano Jazz for NPR.org, it remains my favorite episode. — Lars

    Listen: Andrew Hill on Piano Jazz

    Photo: Jimmy Katz

  2. Eric Dolphy’s landmark LP Out to Lunch! was released recorded 50 years ago today. 

    Eric Dolphy’s landmark LP Out to Lunch! was released recorded 50 years ago today

  3. Almost by accident, Kenny Clarke devised the “spang-a-lang” ride-cymbal rhythm, transforming swing and changing modern jazz drumming forever. Kenny Clarke would have been 100 today. 

  4. Ring in the New Year with NPR’s annual Toast of the Nation with live sets by Cecile McLorin Savant, Bobby McFerrin, the Donald Harrison Quintet and more.

  5. We asked 136 journalists to pick their favorite new jazz albums. Find the results in the 2013 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll

  6. The African-American religious folk songs known as spirituals grew out of the slavery experience and the introduction of Christianity into slaves’ lives. Though rooted in African musical tradition, they reflected life in a strange and terribly oppressive new world. Often improvisations upon older hymns, they became entirely new songs — songs like “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” “Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho” and “Steal Away.” In some ways, spirituals foreshadow the birth of American jazz.
Photo: Chris Ware/Getty Images

    The African-American religious folk songs known as spirituals grew out of the slavery experience and the introduction of Christianity into slaves’ lives. Though rooted in African musical tradition, they reflected life in a strange and terribly oppressive new world. Often improvisations upon older hymns, they became entirely new songs — songs like “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” “Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho” and “Steal Away.” In some ways, spirituals foreshadow the birth of American jazz.

    Photo: Chris Ware/Getty Images

  7. Gary Burton’s flying four-mallet technique is on point. Watch the jazz vibes legend play NPR’s Tiny Desk with guitarist Julian Lage. 

    Gary Burton’s flying four-mallet technique is on point. Watch the jazz vibes legend play NPR’s Tiny Desk with guitarist Julian Lage

  8. The late South African vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin is remembered as her country’s greatest jazz singer, who brought deliberation and questions of identity to her music. But she only launched her own career, from the shadow of her famous husband Abdullah Ibrahim, after several false starts.

  9. The late author and cultural theorist’s career was dedicated to proving that American culture wasn’t black and white, but both at once. In doing so, he called upon jazz as his chief example, devising many of the ways the music is now commonly perceived.

  10. Woody Shaw, who made his first recordings 50 years ago this summer, might be the jazz trumpet’s least appreciated giant. Get to know the icon for the “Young Lion” generation in 5 tracks.
Photo: Tom Copi/San Francisco

    Woody Shaw, who made his first recordings 50 years ago this summer, might be the jazz trumpet’s least appreciated giant. Get to know the icon for the “Young Lion” generation in 5 tracks.

    Photo: Tom Copi/San Francisco