DC at Night

DC at Night

Monday, December 9, 2013

NPR Jazz Piano Christmas @The Kennedy Center

For the 24th year in a row, National Public Radio hosted its annual A Jazz Piano Christmas at the Kennedy Center this past weekend.

The program, hosted by NPR Latin jazz host Felix Contreas, featured performances by Stanley Cowell, Sullivan Fortner, Michelle Rosewoman, and Andy Bey.

Stanley Cowell
Cowell, whom Contreas described as a living bridge between bebop and modern free-form jazz, has played with many jazz legends including Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, and Max Roach. Currently, he serves as professor emeritus of jazz piano at Rutgers-Mason Gross School of the Arts. A high point of his performance was his rendition of "Our Little Town," a bebop-influenced take on the holiday classic "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem."

At 26, Fortner, a native of New Orleans, was making his solo Kennedy Center debut. Fortner has already toured with Stefon Harris and Blackout, the Christian Scott Quintet, and the Roy Hargrove Quintet. He has also played with New Orleans greats such as The Marsalis Family, Donald Harrison, and Irvin Mayfield. One of his more intriging pieces was a jazzy take on "Winter Wonderland."

Rosewoman, originally from Oakland, mixes accoustic modern jazz and elements of Cuban folkloric music in her playing. The Blue Note Records artist serves on the faculty of The Jazz House Kids in Montclair, New Jersey. In addition to 2 Cuban-tinged original holiday compositions, she played an intriguing version of Stevie Wonder's "Someday at Christmas."

Grammy-nominated Andy Bey
Closing the show, which will be broadcast in its entirety on NPR stations later this month, was Bey, with his deft keyboard work and silky baritone. His performance came just days after he was nominated for a 2014 Grammy for his CD The World According to Andy Bey. Bey mesmerized the sold-out crowd with his interpretations of such holiday standards as "Let It Snow" and "A Few of My Favorite Things."

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