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Patrick Jarenwattananon

"Thelonious Monk is the most important musician, period," Jason Moran says. He laughs out loud. "In all the world. Period!"

There's no one person responsible for creating music festivals — or for making them such a huge part of how we witness live performances today. But starting in 1954, one person developed a recipe for their secret sauce.

Alto saxophonist Phil Woods, a leading jazz performer since the 1950s, died Tuesday afternoon. The cause was related to emphysema, his longtime agent, Joel Chriss, confirmed. Woods was 83.

New episodes of Jazz Night In America are released on Thursdays. Every week, a one-hour program is sent to public radio stations throughout the U.S. (and archived online). When available, concert films and documentary shorts are also released online as companion pieces to radio episodes. Check your local listings to hear the radio program, and visit npr.org/jazznight to watch the video products.

Wayne Shorter is a living legend — a saxophonist, composer and lifelong original thinker. He's never been afraid to be different, which is perhaps why he's accomplished so much. Among his accomplishments:

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For years, the trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah has been operating under a rubric he calls "stretch music": his own vision of a modern, genre-agnostic, hybrid j

It's 2015, and jazz singing is weird. Right? Its conventions seem almost antiquated: the smarmy stage presence thing, the scat improvisation thing, the singing 50-year-old songs from forgotten musicals thing. In an age when singing the blues has been so thoroughly subsumed and reconfigured within other American pop-music traditions, when a main stem has become an offshoot branch, how is a self-aware jazz vocalist supposed to sell out emotionally — and expect to sell it to a wide audience?

You know how some older "legacy" artists program their concerts like a greatest-hits collection? Duke Ellington did some of that as he was getting older — people wanted to hear the Maestro lead "Satin Doll" and "Mood Indigo," after all — but he never stopped writing new music, either. And his late works didn't stop pushing his own boundaries.

"Gingerbread Boy" is a fetching blues head by Jimmy Heath that became a jazz standard pretty much immediately after it was first recorded. Usually, its melody is played in call-and-response: the horns play a line, the piano or guitar replies with a specific riff, repeat.

Even if you don't know anything about jazz, it's quite possible you've heard the music of saxophonist Kamasi Washington: That's him on the latest albums by Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus. But that's only the very tip of his iceberg.

Bruce Lundvall, the longtime President of Blue Note Records who supported many top jazz artists over the last four decades, died yesterday, May 19. The cause was complications of Parkinson's Disease, according to a Blue Note statement. He was 79.

It begins with meandering clarinet and clipped, four-on-the-floor percussion. A little bit later comes a countermelody, and the image that comes to mind is something from early New Orleans, or perhaps a Mediterranean folk song. It's even called "Putty Boy Strut" — that could be an obscure Jelly Roll Morton tune, right?

Vijay Iyer is probably best known as a pianist and bandleader in the African-American creative improvisational tradition — most say "jazz" for short — though he's also several other things in music. He's a composer of chamber, large-ensemble and mixed-media works; a Harvard professor; a student of Indian classical music; a father and New York City resident. Committed as he is to multiplicity, there's one place where you can see many of his interests distilled at once: in the trio he's led for nearly a dozen years.

The word "epic" sits cheerily amid the most overused hyperbole of our age. Teenage bros proclaim their recent "pretty epic" mild successes; sports commentators call anything which ends dramatically an "epic game"; the Internet-literate are quick to point out an "epic FAIL." But what else do you call a three-CD, nearly three-hour album anchored by a 10-piece jazz band, featuring a 32-piece orchestra and 20-member choir, and driven by the daydream of an imaginary martial arts grandmaster?

The late, distinctively melodic jazz composer Kenny Wheeler was also a great trumpet player, though, being famously self-effacing, often declined to toot his own horn about his talents. Many musicians sang his praises, though, and when he died in 2014, saxophonist Steve Treseler and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen were inspired to revisit his music.

In our first 19 Jazz Night In America webcasts, we've presented over 150 musicians from 13 venues in six cities — with many more musicians and locations on the way. Whether in huge concert auditoriums like Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Hall to tiny basement salons like Mezzrow in New York, we've heard from living legends, rising stars and very, very talented artists somewhere in between.

Every year, each of the eight members of the SFJAZZ Collective is tasked with two writing assignments. The first: Compose a new piece specifically for the band, which gathers some of the most outstanding performers on the modern jazz scene. The second: Rearrange a composition by the elder artist that the Collective has chosen to feature that year.

When trumpeter and composer/arranger Steven Bernstein first met the virtuoso pianist Henry Butler, he says he was floored. "This is it," he recalls thinking. "This is like the music that I always imagined. Everything you ever loved about music, all being in one place, but now it's all coming from one person." Decades later, when they two finally began to work together, Bernstein started to study Butler's playing — and realized there were more than a few licks that set Butler apart.

The jazz clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen comes from Israel, studied and lives in the Northeastern U.S., and maintains a deep affinity for Brazilian music. Specifically, she's a specialist in the Afro-Western, improvisatory, instrumental music known as choro — an analogue of early jazz in the U.S. — where her clarinet is a lead instrument. She now helms a group called Choro Aventuroso, a quartet whose other members hail from Brazil, which takes the style as a launching pad for further adventures.

The pianist Marcus Roberts rose to prominence as a gifted performer — first with the Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center bands for years, then with his own trio and as a classical soloist. Along the way, he's become a mentor to many younger musicians, training many on the bandstand and from his professorship at Florida State University. That's given rise to a new group called The Modern Jazz Generation, which recently released a suite of original work called Romance, Swing, and the Blues.

The artists featured on this week's Jazz Night In America Wednesday Night Webcast are, by a fair margin, the least-known performers we've had on the program. Their names don't travel far outside the underrated musicians' community of the mid-Atlantic — specifically, Washington, D.C. — but not for lack of talent. They're among the premier musicians in the region, some being bandleaders themselves, and they all have strong individual sound identities.

The Washington, D.C. area trombonist Reginald Cyntje speaks English with an accent — it's a patois from the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he grew up. He also plays jazz with a Caribbean accent, where hard bop vocabulary meets reggae and calypso rhythms. His group draws from a rich regional talent pool of undersung talent, including two men — childhood friend and drummer Amin Gumbs and steel drum bebop master Victor Provost — who also hail from the Islands.

The full archive of this performance is no longer available.

Blue Note Records celebrated its 75th anniversary last year, marking three-quarters of a century issuing music by the biggest names in jazz history. The company continues to aspire to that standard, with a contemporary roster ever on the lookout for today's movers and shakers. The supergroup Our Point Of View — the name references a 1963 Herbie Hancock album — combines six of those Blue Note artists for a program of originals and classics heard on Blue Note Records alike.

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