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Dorothy Ashby is one of those undersold luminaries who has brought such a profound voice to the world of music that though her name may be unknown to some, her sound is unmistakeable both on her own records as well as on recordings for other artists (Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Bobby Womack, Bobbi Humphrey, Freddie Hubbard) and within samples of even more (J Dilla, Jay Z, Kanye West, Pete Rock, The GZA, Phife Dawg, Flying Lotus, Madlib, Jurassic 5, Angie Stone and Ghostface Killah).

You may have heard her first on Stevie Wonder’s album Songs in the Key of Life, accompanying Stevie Wonder on his song “If It’s Magic.” Or, maybe you heard her groove on some of Bill Withers’ soulful albums. If you’re a jazz fan, you may have heard her swinging accompaniment with Frank Wess’ lyrical soloing or with Freddie Hubbard playing “Portrait of Jenny.” However, if you are of the hip-hop generation, she may have been brought to your consciousness on Pete Rock’s “Fakin Jax,” Common’s “Start the Show,” or on the remix to Jay Z’s “A Million and one Questions,” to name just a few.

Be sure to wish Kenneth Whalum III a very Happy Birthday today! The Memphis native has toured and recorded with countless artists from Jay-Z to Al Green and his longtime collaborator Maxwell. He’s won Grammys, comes from a dynasty of musicians, has had platinum-selling records, he’s been written up for his sense of style in the Washington Post, but most of all he is an incredible artist and a nice guy to boot.

Leading up to the February 26th release of ‘Cover Art,’ we will be bringing you interviews with the musicians and previews of the songs each one arranged for the record, so check back with us often! Christian Scott brought one of the heaviest tunes to ‘Cover Art’ in arranging “No Church In The Wild” off of Jay-Z & Kanye’s ‘Watch the Throne.’ As a special guest and “quasi-producer,” Scott brought us some insight and storytelling from the process in a style very much his own. Check out what he had to say.

The term blue note is defined as “a minor interval where a major would be expected, used especially in jazz.” Having said that, consider the following sample list to be the “blue notes” of Blue Note, so to speak. This is a list of several Blue Note samples that were either used in an atypical manner, or were found on lesser-known tracks by largely popular artists.

Aside from the obvious influence of Fela on modern music, you don’t want to miss Antibalas interpreting his music in the Broadway format. In celebration of this music, we are offering a special promo code for $49 tickets!

Transitioning from life as a child prodigy to that of a musical revolutionary may not be the easiest sounding task, but it may be the only road that Tony Royster Jr. is comfortable with taking. Beginning life as a drummer at the age of 3, Tony literally sprang from his father’s guitar case, where he had made a regular habit of napping during his dad’s band rehearsals, to suddenly and inexplicably begin playing the drums with an innate sense of rhythm and timing. What may have been his first moment of brilliance occurred before his feet could even reach the pedals of a drum set.

What is wrong with jazz today? This is a broad question that, in the coming weeks, will be hit upon numerous time as a form of self-reflection for improvement. It is not to say there are not amazing things happening in the jazz world every day, yet the scene today differs vastly from the times of Dizzy and Bird, or Miles and Trane.

Jazz pianist and writer Hal Galper once wrote about the gaping hole in jazz education, “A historically valid “jazz methodology” based upon African oral teaching concepts has never developed.” Jazz took off in the academic settings because it began to adopt an attitude based on the western model of education, which values analytical thinking, and devalues intuition. The biggest complaint about academic jazz is that it squanders intuitive playing, and what passes as improvisation is sometimes awkward, and other times disingenuous grouping of chords and notes.

We have to have an audience. People have to be like, “I can understand where that person’s coming from. I can understand that person’s music.” I’m not just wigging out on stage. I want you to feel me, but I want you to think that I sound good at the same time. I don’t want to be up there, just some weird person playing notes. I want you be like, “Oh—what you just played came from somewhere, and I’m attached to it.” I want you to feel that I’m coming from the black experience, I want you to feel that I’m coming from a European experience, I want you to know that I’m coming theoretically from somewhere, I want you to understand and feel all of that, but that ultimately, you’re feeling good that you heard some good music come from Keyon Harrold.