The Parisian rock band Phoenix mixes '80s rock, '70s disco grooves, modern-day studio polish and endearing French accents to create jagged, danceable pop songs. Singer Thomas Mars and bassist Deck D'Arcy had been playing together for some time before being joined by guitarists Christian Mozzalai and Laurent Broncowitz; the quartet started out playing Hank Williams and Prince covers in local bars.

On this Piano Jazz, singer Sheila Jordan sits down with guest host Jon Weber to talk about her early career in Detroit, her bebop vocal group — Skeeter, Mitch and Jean (she was Jean) — and chasing Charlie Parker (whom she calls her "big brother") from gig to gig.

On this week's Piano Jazz, guest host and pianist Bill Charlap is joined by Randy Brecker and his band — Brecker's wife, Ada Rovatti, tenor saxophone; Jill McCarron, piano; Steve Laspina, bass; and Steve Johns, drums.

Critics and fans have used a host of words to describe the compositions of this week's guest, composer/pianist Matthew Shipp. The Wilmington, Del., native's music has been called inventive, free, challenging, rich, tapestry-like and playful. But the most common descriptor is "unique" — a great word to describe this session of Piano Jazz.

At the beginning of the session he tells Marian McPartland, "I like to be felt. If I'm successful ... it hits people on many different levels."

In the 1940s, Ohio native Bud Shank was drawn to the music of the big bands — he cut his teeth playing for Charlie Barnett and Stan Kenton. In the late 1950s and early '60s he began a successful career as a studio musician and a long tenure with his group called the LA Four.

Seventy years after Django Reinhardt's Quintette du Hot Club de France fused Gypsy guitar with the jazz of the day, a new "Hot Club" has emerged in the Motor City. The Hot Club of Detroit puts a modern spin on the Gypsy-jazz tradition, with Evan Perri on lead guitar, Julien Labro on accordion, Carl Cafagna on soprano and tenor sax, Paul Brady on rhythm guitar and Andrew Kratzat on bass.

This episode of Piano Jazz features guitarist Julian Lage, recorded in 2005 when the guitar prodigy was just 18. Lage joined host Marian McPartland for this set of standards from Hoagy Carmichael, Sammy Cahn, Rodgers and Hart, and more.

Drummer, music educator and band leader Sherrie Maricle is known for leading her all-female big band, the DIVA Jazz Orchestra. But their full, explosive sound does not require the entire orchestra, as Maricle demonstrates on Piano Jazz with a scaled-down, trio version of DIVA featuring Noriko Ueda on bass, Tomoko Ohno on piano and Maricle on drums.

The annual recording of Piano Jazz at the 2008 Tanglewood Jazz festival fell nearly halfway between two important milestones — Marian McPartland's 90th birthday, celebrated in March of 2008, and the 30th Anniversary of Piano Jazz, which we celebrate in 2009. It was truly an extravagant concert, as three wonderful performers took their turns on stage with McPartland.

Joanne Brackeen has been called the "Picasso of jazz piano," a nickname that encompasses her adventurous style and visionary approach.

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Ohio Valley ReSource

Sydney Boles/Ohio Valley ReSource

With just days left before a Congressional deadline, advocates for black lung treatment are still pushing Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell to secure funding for miners’ benefits.

About two dozen people demonstrated Wednesday near McConnell’s regional office in London, Kentucky, carrying placards reading “Black Lung Kills” and singing along with a banjo tune modified for the occasion.

Sydney Boles/Ohio Valley ReSource

On a cool but clear November day about a dozen residents from eastern Kentucky’s coal mining region crowded into the lobby of an office building in the small town of London, Kentucky. That’s where Kentucky’s powerful senior senator, Mitch McConnell, has his local field office.

McConnell’s staff let the local advocates for black lung treatment into the office a few at a time to make their case for funding the federal Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.

 

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