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Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz

Sidney Bechet

Reed master Sidney Bechet can claim to be the first great jazz soloist, winning international acclaim before his fellow New Orleans giant, Louis Armstrong. Geoffrey Smith salutes a genius who inspired saxophonists from Johnny Hodges to John Coltrane.

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Harlem Stride Pianists

Jazz piano doesn’t come more exciting that the stride masters of Harlem. The likes of James P. Johnson, Fats Waller and Willie the Lion Smith set a standard for keyboard heroics that reached its peak in the breathtaking virtuosity of Art Tatum. Especially for Radio 3’s piano season, Geoffrey Smith salutes the giants of stride.

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Pat Metheny

A fusion super-star, guitarist Pat Metheny has won huge audiences with a style that blends pulsating rhythm, gorgeous colours and sweeping melodies. Combining the energy of rock with a virtuoso jazz technique, he’s produced a string of hits adored by both fans and fellow musicians. Geoffrey Smith selects highlights from an epic career.

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Jimmy Witherspoon

A classic blues-shouter, Jimmy Witherspoon (1921-97), began with Kansas City swing, crossed over to rhythm and blues, but truly came into his own with such jazz giants as Gerry Mulligan and Ben Webster. Geoffrey Smith salutes a blues master at once earthy and modern.

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Red Norvo

Red Norvo (1908-99) was a xylophone virtuoso who led a hit band and became “Mr. and Mrs. Swing” with vocal star Mildred Bailey. A featured soloist with Benny Goodman and Woody Herman, he later formed a ground-breaking trio with bassist Charles Mingus. Geoffrey Smith surveys a remarkable career.

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Gary Burton

To mark his retirement, vibraphone superstar Gary Burton has compiled a retrospective set of discs covering the whole of his extraordinary sixty-year career. Geoffrey Smith picks highlights from one of the leaders of contemporary jazz, featuring the likes of Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny and Chick Corea.

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Jimmy Giuffre

Crossing over from big band swing to country folk to cool abstraction, reedman-composer Jimmy Giuffre (1921-2008) was a fusion pioneer. Geoffrey Smith highlights such Giuffre classics as ‘The Train and River’.

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Time

As the clocks go forward today, Geoffrey Smith presents a sequence of songs about time, as measured by the clock, the calendar and the heart. Reflections range from Tony Bennett and Billie Holiday to Woody Herman and Miles Davis.

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Carmen McRae

Tough, tender, sassy, sardonic, Carmen McRae (1920-94) made every song she sang her own. Influenced by her friend Billie Holiday, her poise and musicality made her a musician’s favourite. Geoffrey Smith surveys a rare vocal artist.

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