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Kevin Whitehead is the jazz critic for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Whitehead's articles on jazz and improvised music have appeared in such publications as Point of Departure , the Chicago Sun-Times , Village Voice , Down Beat , and the Dutch daily de Volkskrant . He is the author of Why Jazz: A Concise Guide (2010), New Dutch Swing (1998), and (with photographer Ton Mijs) Instant Composers Pool Orchestra: You Have to See It (2011). His essays have appeared in numerous anthologies including Da Capo Best Music Writing 2006 , Discover Jazz and Traveling the Spaceways: Sun Ra, the Astro-Black and Other Solar Myths . Whitehead has taught at Towson University, the University of Kansas and Goucher College. He lives near Baltimore.

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    Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Puerto Rican alto saxophonist and MacArthur fellow Miguel Zenon has recorded 10 albums of his own with various ensembles, including the acclaimed "Identities Are Changeable," which explored what it means to be Puerto Rican in the greater American context. The core of Zenon's larger groups is typically his long-running quartet, whose new album is called "Tipico." Kevin Whitehead has a review. (SOUNDBITE OF MIGUEL ZENON'S "CORTEZA") KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Miguel Zenon with Hans Glawischnig on bass. There are a lot of sides to Zenon's music that only begin with the complex insider-outsider status of the Puerto Rican jazz musician. He can write fiendishly intricate music, but he can also evoke old folkloric melodies as if such tunes poured out of his horn. (SOUNDBITE OF MIGUEL ZENON'S "SANGRE DE MI SANGRE") WHITEHEAD: Miguel Zenon's song for his young daughter, "Sangre De Mi Sangre," "Blood Of

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    Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Dutch pianist, composer and leader of the ICP Orchestra Misha Mengelberg died in Amsterdam last Friday. He was 81. Our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead spent four years in Amsterdam in the 1990s writing about Mengelberg and his circle of musicians and hearing him whenever he could. Kevin has an appreciation. (SOUNDBITE OF ERIC DOLPHY'S "HYPOCHRISTMUTREEFUZZ") KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet and Misha Mengelberg on piano, 1964, on Mengelberg's tune "Hypochristmutreefuzz." Misha Mengelberg was a bundle of paradoxes, a conservatory-trained composer who played oddball jazz piano and a seemingly disorganized man who helped Dutch improvisers get government support partly by rebranding improvisation as instant composing. He was a musical anarchist who taught classical counterpoint and wrote dozens of catchy melodies that rarely sounded like typical jazz tunes. (SOUNDBITE OF INSTANT

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    Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has a review of a new album of compositions inspired by Thelonious Monk, written by pianist Frank Carlberg. Even on Carlberg's first recordings back in the '90s, he played Monk compositions. Carlberg was born in Finland, educated in Boston and lives in New York. Kevin says Frank Carlberg's big band takes extended flights on familiar Monk themes. (SOUNDBITE OF FRANK CARLBERG COMPOSITION, "DRY BEAN STEW") KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: "Dry Bean Stew" by Frank Carlberg's large ensemble, Michael Sarin on drums. It's from the album "Monk Dreams, Hallucinations And Nightmares," a set of meditations on thelonious monk's odd but catchy melodies. "Dry Bean Stew," for instance, fixates on the opening of Monk's "I Mean You." Carlberg quotes and paraphrases so extensively from the Monk tunes that inspire him, you might fairly hear some of these pieces as elaborate arrangements

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    Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has a review of a new EP by trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. He was born in New Orleans' Upper Ninth Ward and grew up involved with Mardi Gras Indian culture, a family tradition. Early on, he toured with his cousin, saxophonist and Indian Chief Donald Harrison. Scott aTunde Adjuah also melds jazz and hip-hop beats. Kevin says his new EP ties all those threads together. (SOUNDBITE OF CHRISTIAN SCOTT ATUNDE ADJUAH SONG, "ENCRYPTION") KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah from his EP "Ruler Rebel." It's the first installment in his centennial trilogy commemorating the first jazz records a century ago. This is the sound of jazz, some jazz anyway, a hundred years on. "Ruler Rebel" is inflected with the looping rhythms and drum samples of contemporary hip-hop. But where some danceable bands get so deep in the groove, they neglect

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    Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Jazz and pop singer Ella Fitzgerald was born 100 years ago today. She started out winning Harlem talent shows as a teenager. She had her first hits with Chick Webb's big band before going out on her own in the 1940s. The composer songbook she recorded for Verve starting in the mid-1950s are definitive recordings of vocal standards. Fitzgerald toured the world for decades and died in 1996. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says Fitzgerald at her best is as good as it gets. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU SHOWED ME THE WAY") ELLA FITZGERALD: (Singing) You showed me the way when I was someone in distress, a heart in search of happiness. You showed me the way. My skies were so gray. I never knew I'd feel a thrill. I couldn't dream of dreaming until you showed me the way. KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Ella Fitzgerald at 19 singing with Chick Webb's big band. She'd started her career with the orchestra who backed

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    Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. South African pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim was known early in his career as Dollar Brand. He left South Africa in 1962 for Europe, where Duke Ellington heard and recorded him. Abdullah Ibrahim has recorded dozens of albums since on four continents with all kinds of lineups. His 1973 Toronto solo session has just been reissued. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has a review. (SOUNDBITE OF ABDULLAH IBRAHIM COMPOSITION) KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Abdullah Ibrahim, 1973, from the newly reissued "Ancient Africa." Abdullah has been playing his rollicking brand of piano for so long, we may take him for granted. You can hear why Duke Ellington liked him. Duke also knew about percussive rhythm piano and personalizing traditional materials. In fact, Ellington had been young Adolph Brand's first jazz hero when he was growing up in Cape Town. Later, he'd portray a particular love of Duke's ballads. This

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    Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . DAVE DAVIES, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. In Chicago in the 1960s, a group of black composers formed the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians dedicated to making original music that freely crossed genre lines. The AACM's flagship band was the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says a new book about the Art Ensemble explains how well they took care of business onstage and off. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GET IN LINE") THE ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO: Get in line (unintelligible). Get in line. KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: The Art Ensemble of Chicago was a freewheeling, anything goes kind of band. But as Paul Steinbeck stresses in his illuminating book "Message To Our Folks: The Art Ensemble Of Chicago," its four founding members were all ex-military and ran their low-budget, audience-building tours with military discipline. They crammed their heavy vehicles with equipment, did their own cooking and slept in tents.

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