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Grammy-winning trumpeter who played with Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman dies in New Jersey hospital after being admitted last week

Wallace Roney, a Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter celebrated for his interpretations of Miles Davis, has died aged 59 after contracting Covid-19.

He died in hospital in Paterson, New Jersey, where he had been admitted last week, according to his fiancee, Dawn Felice Jones.

Roney, born in 1960, trained at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Howard University and Berklee College of Music. After playing clubs in New York, he was invited into the storied hard bop band led by Art Blakey, the Jazz Messengers. He was then hired by Tony Williams, the drummer who had played alongside Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter in Miles Daviss second great quintet, and recorded a number of albums with him during the 1980s. Roney also recorded 22 albums as leader in a post-bop or fusion style, beginning with 1987s Verses.

Aged 23, he met his hero Miles Davis, after playing in an ensemble for a retrospective concert as Davis collected an honorary degree. Davis became his mentor, and Roneys style would be frequently compared to Daviss. I never get tired of the comparisons to Miles I get tired of the critics trying to make it into a negative, he said last year. Because to me, its no comparison. Miles Davis is the greatest ever. What Im trying to do is continue and push forward from the lessons I learned from him and try to play this music.

In 1991, he was hired to play in rehearsals for orchestral reworkings of Daviss albums Sketches of Spain and Porgy and Bess, to be performed at that years Montreux jazz festival. He ended up being invited by Davis to perform alongside him in the concerts themselves. Davis died later that year Roney would win a Grammy in 1994 for the album A Tribute to Miles, playing Daviss parts alongside the remaining members of the quintet.

Over the years, he played alongside Ornette Coleman, Chick Corea, Elvin Jones, Pharoah Sanders and other jazz luminaries. In 2014, he premiered music composed by saxophonist Shorter during his time with Miles Daviss quintet.

He is survived by two children from his marriage to late pianist Geri Allen, Barbara and Wallace Jr.

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South African jazz great Hugh Masekela performs at Westminster Abbey in London in 2012.
Image: Leon Neal-WPA Pool/Getty Images

On what would have been his 80th birthday, South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela was honored with a Google Doodle, hopefully exposing the musician to fans who may have never heard him play. 

Born April 4, 1939, Masekela picked up the trumpet as teenager and quickly became ensconced in the jazz scene of Johannesburg, South Africa. Masekela became part of the group Jazz Epistles who, as Google notes, were “the first all-black jazz band to record an album in South African history.” 

But in 1960, following the Sharpeville Massacre in which police fired upon apartheid protesters and killed 69 people, government crackdowns would lead to Masekela going into exile. The musician wound up in New York where he enrolled in the Manhattan School of Music. Masekela would also learn from jazz legends like Miles Davis who played across New York City. 

By the end of the 1960s, Masekela moved to Los Angeles where he would become part of the music scene and, in 1968, he had a number one hit with “Grazing in the Grass.” 

Over the years he would collaborate with a number of music legends, including Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley, and perform as part of the touring band on Paul Simon’s Graceland tour. 

His home, South Africa, was never far from his mind, though, as he wrote and performed several songs about the struggles happening there. As his stature grew, his activism took on a global scope, his music drawing more and more attention to the fight against apartheid. In the mid-1980s, he wrote the song “Bring Him Back Home” for the jailed leader Nelson Mandela. 

Following Mandela’s release in 1990 and the end of apartheid in South Africa, Masekela finally returned to his home country where he continued his music career, recording a number of albums and continuing to tour. He received the Order of Ikhamanga in 2010, a South African honor.

Masekela passed away in January 2018 but, as the Google Doodle proves, his legacy will live on for years and decades to come. And if the Doodle has you interested in learning more, be sure to check out his 2004 autobiography, Still Grazing, and his lengthy discography which is available across streaming services, including Spotify.

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Father of South African jazz, who had career spanning more than five decades, dies aged 78

Tributes paid to South African musician and activist Hugh Masekela

Father of South African jazz, who had career spanning more than five decades, dies aged 78

South Africans have paid tribute to Hugh Masekela, the legendary jazz musician and activist, who died on Tuesday aged 78.

The South African president, Jacob Zuma, said the nation would mourn a man who kept the torch of freedom alive. The arts and culture minister, Nathi Mthethwa, described Masekela as one of the great architects of Afro-Jazz. A baobab tree has fallen, Mthethwa wrote on Twitter.

A statement from the trumpeters family said Masekela passed peacefully in Johannesburg, where he lived and worked for much of his life, on Tuesday morning.

A loving father, brother, grandfather and friend, our hearts beat with a profound loss. Hughs global and activist contribution to and participation in the areas of music, theatre and the arts in general is contained in the minds and memories of millions across six continents, the statement read.

Relatives described Masekelas ebullient and joyous life.

Masekela had been suffering from prostate cancer for almost a decade. He last performed in 2010 in Johannesburg when he gave two concerts that were seen as an epitaph to his long career.

South African social media was flooded with tributes to brother Hugh, whose career and work was closely intertwined with the troubled politics of his homeland.

The singer Johnny Clegg described Masekela as immensely bright and articulate an outstanding musical pioneer and a robust debater, always holding to his South African roots.

Masekela was born in Witbank, a mining town in eastern South Africa, and was given his first trumpet by the anti-apartheid activist archbishop Trevor Huddleston, who formed a pioneering jazz band in Soweto in the 1950s that became a launchpad for many of South Africas most famous jazz musicians.

Masekela went on to study in the UK and the US, where he had significant success.

Hugh Masekela with ex-wife Miriam Makeba and Paul Simon in 1987. Photograph: Phil Dent/Redferns

As well as forming close friendships with jazz legends such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charles Mingus, Masekela performed alongside Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s.

He returned to Africa where he played with icons such as Nigerias Fela Kuti, and in 1974 he helped organise a three-day festival before the Rumble in the Jungle boxing clash in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

In 1976, the man who became known as the father of South African jazz composed Soweto Blues in response to the uprising in the vast township. He toured with Paul Simon in the 1980s while continuing his political engagement, writing Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela) in 1987. The song became an anthem of the anti-apartheid struggle.


Hugh Masekela timeline

Hugh Masekela is born in KwaGuqa Township, South Africa

Masekela is born near Johannesburg to a health inspector father and social worker mother. He sings and plays the piano as a child. At 14, he sees the Kirk Douglas film Young Man With A Horn and is inspired to take up the trumpet.

King Kong

At school, Masekela played in South Africas first youth orchestra,Huddleston Jazz Band. In 1959, he recorded the first album by a South African jazz band alongside Abdullah Ibrahim and Jonas Gwangwa. In the same year, he played in the orchestra of hit musical King Kong.

Masekela leaves South Africa

The ANC are banned, and after supporting the organisation for many years, Masekela leaves South Africa for London. He then moves to New York, where he meets Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie.

Grazing in the Grass

By the late 60s, Masekela was living in California. In 1967, he played at Monterey festival alongside Janis Joplin and Otis Redding. In 1968, his single Grazing in the Grass reached no 1 in the US.

Zaire 74

Masekela returns to Africa in the early 70s, spending time with musicians including Fela Kuti. He organises the Zaire 74 concerts with US record producer Stewart Levine to coincide with the Muhammad Ali/George Foreman Rumble in the Jungle boxing title fight. In 1980, he moves to Botswana.

Graceland tour

Masekela joins Paul Simon for hisGracelandtour. Simons album was partly recorded in South Africa, and the tour incites protests in London due to the cultural boycott against the country.

Return to South Africa

Masekela returns to South Africa following the end of apartheid and the release from jail ofNelson Mandela. In 1996, he plays for the Queen and Mandela by then elected the countrys first black president during the latters state visit to Britain.

World Cup

Masekela performs at the opening concert of the world cup in South Africa. In 2012, he rejoins Paul Simon for a tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of Graceland.

James Hall, a writer and broadcaster who spent time with Masekela in the 1990s, said he could have prickly personality at times due to the tension and frustration of being away from his own country for so long.

Masekela was briefly married to Miriam Makeba in the 1960s and remained on good terms with the South African singer after their divorce. They had a wonderful friendship and were very, very close, said Hall, who co-wrote Makebas autobiography.

Masekela refused to take citizenship anywhere outside South Africa despite the open arms of many countries, said his son, Selema Mabena Masekela, on Tuesday.

My fathers life was the definition of activism and resistance. His belief [was] that the pure evil of a systematic racist oppression could and would be crushed. Instead he would continue to fight.

After more than 30 years in exile, Masekela returned to South Africa in the early 90s after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and the end of apartheid.

In 2010 he performed at the opening ceremony of the football World Cup in Johannesburg.

Masekela had many fans overseas. Hugh Masekela was a titan of jazz and of the anti-apartheid struggle. His courage, words and music inspired me and strengthened the resolve of those fighting for justice in South Africa, said Jeremy Corbyn on Twitter.

Hugh Masekela photographed for the Guardian in 2011. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

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St Vincent tops our countdown of this years most outstanding sounds, from complex rap to moody rock, alt-R&B, inventive grime and more


St Vincent Masseduction

A kind of teasing irony is detectable on Masseduction, a musical striptease on which Annie Clark who performs as St Vincent exposes herself on her own terms. The results are spectacular: full of drama and gratifyingly bizarre sonic choices. Clark makes a rock-star power play by embracing thrilling glam traditions while producing something strange, new and unequivocally moving. Read the full review


Kendrick Lamar Damn

Damn is a hit in every sense, earning hundreds of millions of streams and seven Grammy nominations, but its true success is the complexity of its vision. With an incendiary beginning and deeply personal social commentary, Lamars fourth album reveals an artist at his real and metaphorical peak. Read the full review


SZA Ctrl

Honesty is often seen as the holy grail in pop, but when its served up as nakedly as it was on Ctrl, Solna Imani Rowes debut album, it can stop you in your tracks. This is the perfect year for a record with such a defiantly female point of view, from decisions over leg-shaving to stark admissions that she cant open up emotionally. It seemed intimate but never one-note, and signalled an artist in complete ctrl. Read the full review

SZA. Photograph: Victoria Will/Invision/AP


Lorde Melodrama

If Melodrama looked on paper like the work of an artist whod had her head turned by success, it turned out to be anything but. The songs on Melodrama that depict the messy entanglements of early 20s life are as incisive, perceptive and shudder-inducingly familiar as the sketches of teenage suburbia on its predecessor. Read the full review


Perfume Genius No Shape

On his most sumptuously realised work, Mike Hadreas merely wants to be unbound, to hover with no shape in part, as a consequence of living with Crohns disease and the binary that exists around gender. Magnificently, his inventive score and dramatic arrangements more than live up to the challenge, as Hadreas swaps forms, time and again. Read the full review


LCD Soundsystem American Dream

American Dream, for all its declarative intent, didnt so much chronicle the state of the nation as James Murphys place in it now; the middle-aged cool guy in a middle-aged cool band, lamenting relationships and heroes, love and ageing. It is exquisite. A moody, pulsating epic that wears its references Berlin-era Bowie, 80s Talking Heads, the entire first decade of DFA Records output without being wearying. Read the full review

Moody and epic James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for FYF


The War on Drugs A Deeper Understanding

A Deeper Understanding contains an air of overwhelming but vague melancholy, yet for all Granduciels well-documented problems with anxiety and depression, it never threatened to tip over into anything more disturbing. Instead, the War on Drugs summoned that most delicious of moods: autumnal, slightly hungover, just a little sorry for oneself. Read the full review


Thundercat Drunk

When the world outside is weird, lets hear it for an album that processes it with absurdist humour and George Clinton-shaped surrealism. Drunk is the third release by LA jazz dude Steve Bruner, AKA Thundercat, and has finally taken him from being a kooky bass-playing Robin to super-producer Flying Lotuss Batman all the way to headline solo artist and one of this years breakthrough names. Read the full review


Kelela Take Me Apart

In revealing vulnerability, Kelela shows she is no longer interested in the cool pose of alternative R&B. She continues to work with avant-garde collaborators, but her main musical touchstone for Take Me Apart was Janet Jackson. Yes, the sub bass remains, as do the icy synths, but these future sounds are put to the service of classic structures, and powerful pop songs are the result. Read the full review

Future sounds Kelela. Photograph: Alice Chiche/AFP/Getty Images


Richard Dawson Peasant

There was something in Peasants detailed vignettes of dark ages beggars, weavers and prostitutes that felt unexpectedly resonant in 2017, a timely work from another time. Read a full review


Jane Weaver Modern Kosmology

Icily clear vocals provide a satisfying foil to the spacey psych-revivalism of Liverpool-born singers newest album the latest chapter in a three-decade career that has taken in Britpop and folktronica. Modern Kosmology is at once earthbound and otherworldly, with mesmerising vocals balancing on a whirring undercurrent of steadily throbbing synths. Read a full review


Wolf Alice Visions of a Life

Nobody has disrupted the death of indie narrative quite like Wolf Alice. The London foursome released an accomplished debut in 2015; now their second album proves their ability to fashion thrillingly modern music from the sonic customs of shoegaze and noisy 80s alt-rock was no fluke. Frontwoman Ellie Rowsell skips between sotto voce spoken word and a feral screech, while the bands tinkering with the indie-rock formula means theres never a dull moment. Read a full review

Never a dull moment Wolf Alice. Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi for the Guardian


Tyler, the Creator Flower Boy

The enfant terrible of hip-hop returned this year with a surprisingly gentle record, on which mellifluous melodies and gently piping synths along with the dulcet tones of Frank Ocean, Kali Uchis and Anna of the North softened Tylers abrasive flow. Whether or not this was in fact the rappers coming out album (something its lyrics hinted at), it was undoubtedly a lovelier one than anybody expected. Read a full review


J Hus Common Sense

This was a bumper year for J Hus, who reached the Top 10 thanks to an irresistible blend of grime and Afrobeats. As Common Sense proves, its not just his infectious take on African sounds that have propelled the London rapper into the big league its also his witty, inventive and refreshingly self-deprecating lyrics. Read a full review


The Horrors V

Southend outfit the Horrors were never an average indie band: instead of meat-and-potatoes guitar-pop, their 2007 debut bristled with nightmarish garage and goth rock. A decade later, theyve produced their most celebrated record yet. V swings from busy post-punk to languid electronica, with the morose new wave of closer Something to Remember Me By providing a gratifying climax. Read a full review

Not your average indie band Faris Badwan of the Horrors. Photograph: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage


Father John Misty Pure Comedy

Ever since his 2015 album I Love You, Honeybear, Josh Tillmans wry surveys of contemporary America have felt increasingly indispensable. Clever, funny and usually despairing, his scabrous social commentary takes on a less arch and more heartfelt tone here, with acidic lyrics cushioned by gorgeous strings and calmly plodding piano. Read a full review


Drake More Life

Very much not an album, according to Drake instead this playlist gave him an opportunity to show off his taste by teaming up with his favourite artists. Baritone London rapper Giggs makes multiple appearances, as does silky-voiced Brum singer Jorja Smith. Thanks to solo tracks like Passionfruit, More Life is also proof that Drakes tropical-tinged blend of rap and R&B is as seductive as ever. Read a full review


Stormzy Gang Signs and Prayer

Effervescent grime meets an unexpected digression into R&B and gospel on Stormzys debut. While songs like Cigarettes & Cush showcase an impressive British spin on rap/R&B fusion, the grime-centric tracks lift the record into another league. With infectious production by the likes of Sir Spyro, songs such as Bad Boys and Big for Your Boots rival the master lyricists beloved previous singles. Read a full review

In another league Stormzy. Photograph: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images


Laura Marling Semper Femina

The Brits sixth album is a gorgeous collection of lightly folky fare – more pop friendly than her recent records, but as characteristically poised and lush. The title, based on a poem by Virgil, roughly translates as always woman, and the record pairs lyrics about femininity, friendship and sexuality with heady, sensual production. Read a full review


Sampha Process

After years spent lending his vocals to tracks by Kanye, Drake and Frank Ocean, this years Mercury winner created a stunning debut. A collection of heart-rending ballads and sublime electronica, Process puts Samphas velvety voice front and centre, the beauty of its tone belying the albums heavy themes, including the fallout from the death of his mother. Read a full review


Cigarettes After Sex Cigarettes After Sex

This Texas band was propelled into millions of living rooms across the world earlier this year when their spellbinding 2012 song Nothings Gonna Hurt You Baby was used in the TV adaptation of The Handmaids Tale. Their debut album, released in June, proved just as haunting and hypnotic. Backed by gently foreboding dreampop, frontman Greg Gonzaless delicate voice is reminiscent of Belle and Sebastians Stuart Murdoch. Read a full review

Gently foreboding dreampop Cigarettes After Sex. Photograph: Ebru Yildiz


King Krule The Ooz

Few contemporary artists sound as much like themselves as Archy Marshall, who seems to have bagsied a whole set of sadly chiming chords to go with his jarring baritone. His sonic sphere is so overwhelming that it often feels like another planet the space-age desolation of Czech One and serotonin-depleted jazz of Lonely Blue float in a hinterland between this world and another, while the monochrome punk of Dum Surfer takes rock tropes to a parallel universe. Read a full review


Vince Staples Big Fish Theory

Big Fish, the almost-title track of Staples second record, seethes at injustice over amusingly bouncy synths that blend old-school rap with bleeding-edge electronica. Staples takes this kind of combination to great heights on the album, which climaxes with the staggeringly brilliant Yeah Right, on which tinny trap entwines with bizarre pop parody by producer Sophie (listen for a guest spot by Kendrick Lamar). Read a full review

Genre-blending Vince Staples. Photograph: Alicia Canter for the Guardian


Protomartyr Relatives in Descent

Gothic post-punk is fuelled by a blast of fury on the Detroit rock bands latest. Vocalist Joe Casey airs his disgust at contemporary life I dont want to hear those vile trumpets anymore backed by a heavy, unyielding rhythm section that is satisfyingly cathartic. Read a full review


The National Sleep Well Beast

Music designed to soundtrack a midlife crisis was injected with unexpected exuberance on the Ohio bands seventh record. From Turtlenecks gnarly guitar-shredding to the breakneck tapestry of beats backing Ill Still Destroy You, Matt Berninger and co transformed the sorrows of middle age into something strangely rapturous. Read a full review

Strangely rapturous Matt Berninger of the National. Photograph: Mat Hayward/WireImage


Paramore After Laughter

The perpetually feuding emo band returned last spring with a surprisingly jovial collection of tropical house-tinted powerpop. Revelling in the funky guitars and frantic synths of the 80s, the trio channelled their emo roots into the lyrics, which retain the raw drama of their previous work and share stories of romantic tension and torturous experiences with depression. Read a full review


Marika Hackman Im Not Your Man

Opening with the frisky but superbly droll Boyfriend, the second record by the Londoner saw her expand on the bewitching folk of her first album and journey into more startling and direct territory. As its arty cover suggested, Im Not Your Man offered a compelling self-portrait, with Hackman frankly discussing her sexuality and her flaws. Read a full review


Slowdive Slowdive

The Reading shoegazers last released an album in the mid-90s, when the genre was blighted by backlash and mockery. But the music world is again embracing spacey guitars and wispy vocals. Not that the band are resting on past glories: their fourth album unexpectedly ups the game, feeling more accomplished and engaging than anything theyve done before. Read a full review


Alvvays Antisocialites

This Canadian crew channel the spirit of C86 with their jangly tunes yet on their second record they embrace the slickness eschewed by their predecessors. Antisocialites might be a paean to indies formative years In Undertow features Teenage Fanclubs Norman Blake; Lollipop (Ode to Jim) is directed towards the Jesus & Mary Chains Jim Reid but it is also a blast of fresh air. Read a full review

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In the year the albums power eroded, we collate the 100 best songs of 2017 as voted for by Guardian critics and put them in a giant playlist

Many listeners are still in love with the album: a piece of work that allows a musician to fully sketch out their current worldview. And well be counting down our favourite 50 albums of the year over the next three weeks.

But others have made a decisive shift away from albums and towards playlists on streaming services often curated by Spotify or Apple themselves. We explored the phenomenon here as well as how albums are mutating in response and started our own monthly playlist.

Now, after culling votes from more than 50 Guardian writers and critics, weve collated our top 100 tracks of the year in a single giant playlist, featuring everything from rap to pop, vocal jazz and shoegaze. Use the widget below to subscribe to it in either Spotify or Apple Music its been sequenced so that it runs smoothly from style to style, rather than in order of popularity. The actual top 10, ranked after we collated all of our critics votes, is below.

You may have your own particular beef to air with the selection personally Im outraged that Migoss Get Right Witcha is in there but T-Shirt isnt so comment below with songs you think have been overlooked.


10. Paramore Hard Times

Paramores passage from tortured emo teens to tortured soft-rock grownups continued with this irrepressible single from their album After Laughter. The gulf between the perkiness of the backing and the torpor of the lyrics is impressively vast Hayley Williams sings of emotional cruelty and breakdown over Chic-style guitar licks.

9. Drake Passionfruit

Adding to Drakes growing canon of anti-commitment R&B jams was this lithe, nimble number powered by beautifully melancholy production by Londoner Nana Rogues (and a nice cameo from house legend Moodymann). It was also a great illustration of the democracy of the streaming age after his More Life album (OK, playlist) dropped on to Spotify, it was Passionfruit that was sent up the singles charts by the publics sheer love for it.

8. Stormzy Big for Your Boots

After wooing the entire nations youth, Stormzys debut album was hugely anticipated and discussed. Would he dilute his scornful flow and go for poppy choruses? Lead-off single Big for Your Boots showed that he didnt need to do either: he was as withering as ever, and the quotable bars and musicality of his delivery meant that big top lines werent even needed.

7. The Horrors Something to Remember Me By

The years best breakup song seemed to blend every bit of a failed relationship: the regret, the resignation and, in the Ibiza-level backing, the raging bacchanalia. Lesser bands would have produced it in a much more basic, immediate way, but the Horrors aided by Paul Epworth folded it into a psychedelic, whirling world of multitracked synths.

6. Perfume Genius Slip Away

Mike Hadreas gets more ambitious, robust and clear-headed with every album, and Slip Away is gigantic the chorus arrives like a wrecking ball, with stabbing bass and crashing cymbals leaving sonic mess everywhere. But the melody twirls through it unperturbed, creating a huge pop statement and a rough-edged sibling to our number one pick.

5. Future Mask Off

That Mask Off pairs a sample from Selma, a musical about Martin Luther King, with a lyric that celebrates drug use, gun violence and bland materialism, arguably highlights the moral gulf at the heart of rap in 2017. But Futures track is also intensely beautiful in its very emptiness, the sound of someone endlessly chasing thrills without knowing why.

4. Selena Gomez Bad Liar

With just a few fingerclicks and drums, and the bassline from Talking Heads Psycho Killer strutting beneath her, Selena Gomez rejects the maximalism of so much modern pop. Just as David Byrne used the basslines tripping gait to suggest dangerously unpredictability, Gomez is similarly troubled, unable to duck her romantic feelings. Idiosyncratic and fresh, it earned 200m views on YouTube.

3. Kendrick Lamar HUMBLE.

Kendrick trades on his generally agreed-upon greatest alive status by boasting about money, expensive booze and getting paged by Obama. But even amid what is essentially a track about how great he is, he still finds space for a little social commentary, rejecting Photoshop in favour of something natural like ass with some stretch marks.

2. Charli XCX Boys

With its witty video that reclaimed objectification for a hipster female gaze, salivating over diverse internet-famous cuties with Charli herself in the directors chair, Boys is a modest and perfectly written pop classic. Every element, from the Mario coin sound to the resolution after the middle eight, is a songwriting bullseye.

1. Lorde Green Light

With this barnstorming anthem dispelling any remnants of her one-hit-wonder reputation, Lorde showed again that she is as adept at savage detail (She thinks you love the beach, youre such a damn liar) as she is at the unifying power of a simple chorus. The desperation for a green light that will let her speed off from heartbreak is horribly, powerfully tangible in her utterly unselfconscious delivery. Shes a star who can do one of the most valuable things in pop articulate and clarify the feelings of millions and the most exciting thing is that, as she is 21, there is likely so much more of it to come.

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Pianist plays Gershwin at the New York concert hall with a 14-year-old protege literally his left-hand man

Pianist Lang Lang, nursing an injured arm, found an innovative solution to avoid missing Carnegie Halls annual gala on Wednesday a young protege literally lent a hand.

The Chinese-born pianist, one of the worlds most recognizable classical musicians, was opening the prestigious New York concert halls season by playing George Gershwins classic Rhapsody in Blue.

But Lang Lang is recovering from an inflammation in his left arm that forced him to cancel several months of concerts. The solution: Maxim Lando, a 14-year-old US pianist, who studied in a music scholarship backed by Lang Lang, was asked to join him and play the left hand.

He was also joined on a second piano by 76-year-old jazz great Chick Corea.

With the artistry of the legendary Chick Corea and the exciting young talent Maxim Lando, we hope to delight the audience and take a little pressure off my left arm while it continues to heal, Lang Lang said.

The unusual three-person, five-hand arrangement was accompanied by the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Yannick Nezet-Seguin, the French Canadian conductor who in 2020 will become the music director of the Metropolitan Opera.

Rhapsody in Blue, which premiered in 1924, is one of the most popular 20th-century US compositions and infuses jazz into Western classical music.

Gershwin, who composed for concert halls, theaters and early movies, wrote Rhapsody in Blue in versions both for one and two pianos.

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Son says longtime Village Voice columnist died of natural causes, after long career in which he wrote more than 25 books and collaborated with Bob Dylan

Nat Hentoff, an eclectic columnist, critic, novelist and agitator dedicated to music, free expression and defying the party line, died on Saturday at age 91.

His son, Tom Hentoff, said his father died from natural causes at his Manhattan apartment.

Schooled in the classics and the stories he heard from Duke Ellington and other jazz greats, Nat Hentoff enjoyed a diverse and iconoclastic career, basking in the freedom to be infuriating on a myriad of subjects.

He was a bearded, scholarly figure, a kind of secular rabbi, as likely to write a column about fiddler Bob Wills as a dissection of the Patriot Act, to have his name appear in the liberal Village Voice as the far-right, where his column last appeared in August 2016.

Ellington, Charlie Parker, Malcolm X and IF Stone were among his friends and acquaintances. He wrote liner notes for records by Aretha Franklin, Max Roach and Ray Charles and was the first non-musician named a jazz master by the National Endowment of the Arts.

He also received honors from the American Bar Association, the National Press Foundation, and, because of his opposition to abortion, the Human Life Foundation.

Hentoffs steadiest job was with the Voice, where he worked for 50 years and wrote a popular column. He wrote for years about jazz for DownBeat and had a music column for the Wall Street Journal. His more than 25 books included works on jazz and the first amendment, the novels Call the Keeper and Blues for Charles Darwin and the memoirs Boston Boy and Speaking Freely.

The documentary The Pleasures of Being Out of Step: Notes on the Life of Nat Hentoff was released in 2014.

Jazz was his first love, but Hentoff was an early admirer of Bob Dylan, first hearing the then-unknown singer at a Greenwich Village club in 1961 and getting on well enough with him to write liner notes two years later for Dylans landmark second album, The Freewheelin Bob Dylan.

The irrepressible reality of Bob Dylan is a compound of spontaneity, candor, slicing wit and an uncommonly perceptive eye and ear for the way many of us constrict our capacity for living while a few of us dont, Hentoff wrote.

At a time when the media alternately treated Dylan like a prophet or the latest teen fad, Hentoff asked well-informed questions that were (usually) answered in kind by the cryptic star. Hentoff also was willing to be Dylans partner in improvisation. A 1966 Playboy interview, he later revealed, had been made up from scratch after Dylan rejected the first conversation that was supposed to be published by the magazine.

As a columnist, Hentoff focused tirelessly on the constitution and what he saw as a bipartisan mission to undermine it. He tallied the crimes of Richard Nixon and labeled President Bill Clintons anti-terrorism legislation an all-out assault on the bill of rights.

He even parted from other first amendment advocates, quitting the American Civil Liberties Union because of the ACLUs support for speech codes in schools and workplaces.

Leftwing enough to merit an FBI file, an activist from age 15 when he organized a union at a Boston candy chain, Hentoff was deeply opposed to abortion, angering many of his colleagues at the Village Voice and elsewhere. In 2008, he turned against the campaign of Barack Obama over what he regarded as the candidates extreme views, including rejection of legislation that would have banned partial birth abortions.

Hentoff was born in 1925, the son of a Russian-Jewish haberdasher. Thrown out of Hebrew school, he flaunted his unbelief, even eating a salami sandwich in front of his house on Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of fasting and atonement. In 1982, his opposition to Israels invasion of Lebanon led to a trio of rabbis declaring he had been excommunicated.

I only wished the three rabbis really had the authority to hold that court, Hentoff later wrote. I would have told them about my life as a heretic, a tradition I keep precisely because I am a Jew.

He was educated as a boy at Bostons Latin School, alma mater to Ralph Waldo Emerson among others. But his best lessons were received at a local jazz joint, where Ben Webster and Rex Stewart were among those who took a liking to the teenage fan and became, Hentoff recalled, my itinerant foster fathers. Back in the classroom, Hentoff would hide jazz magazines inside his textbooks.

In college at Northeastern University, Hentoff found a home at the Savoy Cafe and befriended Ellington, drummer Jo Jones and others. Ellington not only lectured him on music, but enlightened young Hentoff (who eventually married three times) on the loopholes in monogamy. Nobody likes to be owned, Ellington told him.

After graduating, Hentoff worked as a disc jockey and moved to New York to edit DownBeat, from which he was fired in 1957 because, he alleged, he had attempted to employ an African American writer. A year later, he joined the Village Voice and remained until he was laid off in December 2008.

I came here in 1958 because I wanted a place where I could write freely on anything I cared about, Hentoff wrote in his final Voice column, published in January 2009.

Over the years, my advice to new and aspiring reporters is to remember what Tom Wicker, a first-class professional spelunker, then at The New York Times, said in a tribute to Izzy Stone: He never lost his sense of rage. Neither have I.

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The Grammy-nominated prodigy, who played for Obama at the White House, talks about his musical process and attracting a younger audience to the genre

Joey Alexander might be the most accomplished 13-year-old in the world.

He is a jazz pianist who has appeared on 60 Minutes, has played for President Obama at the White House, was one of the youngest Grammy nominees in history, and has just released his second studio album, Countdown, which features three original compositions.

But despite those achievements, he still enjoys the same sort of things that young boys do everywhere.

I like the Transformers, he tells me when we meet in New York City. I like the leader Optimus Prime. I like the leader. Maybe because Im a leader myself I dont know.

Hes talking about leading a jazz band, although in October, Time magazine added an extra interpretation when it named him as one of its Next Generation Leaders. True to form, he was the youngest on the list.

Weve arranged to meet in a steak restaurant in New York City, where Alexander has been living with his parents for the past two years. The three of them moved here from their home country of Indonesia two years ago, and have settled in SoHo, a trendy Manhattan neighbourhood.

Alexander looks the part. Hes wearing a navy blue peacoat, skinny jeans and black sneakers, and has a Beatles-style haircut looming above thick framed glasses. He looks like he could be in a very young boyband.

He declines coffee or tea, although his agent promises him a post-interview tiramisu, and starts to tell me about his songwriting process. Its quite lo-fi.

I just explore chords and melodies and then suddenly these ideas come out to me, Alexander says.

And my dad will record it so I can remember it.

After his dad records his explorations Alexander listens back and refines his work, spending about a month on each song. Soul Dreamer, the last track on Countdown, was the first song he wrote, when he was 10 years old.

Alexander had taught himself to play the piano using a mini electric keyboard four years earlier. His dad, Denny, was an amateur musician, and soon started taking his young son to jam sessions in Bali. The family realised Alexanders talent, and by the time he was eight they had uprooted to Jakarta so he could accelerate his learning closer to Indonesias jazz scene.

It worked. At nine he won the inaugural Master-Jam jazz festival, and when he was 10 one of his YouTube videos was spotted by Wynton Marsalis, the nine-time Grammy winner and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, who invited him to play in New York.

Its Gods calling, Alexander says. Thats how I really started my career as a musician, I think. It was amazing. I still cant put it into words.

He and his family are Christian, and Alexander repeatedly refers to his talent as a gift. At times he seems to be in awe of his own ability. He has no interest in fame when I tell him he has 100,000 fans on Facebook it seems like the first time hes heard that but seems most excited about growing interest in jazz as a genre.

Some people say: I really love your music, I havent really listened to jazz yet, now Im starting.

Im really just thankful that people want to listen to jazz. Because you know this music can be hip, I believe. Because its for all ages. Anyone can listen to it, and I hope people will play more and listen more to this music.

In the immediate future, Alexander is focused on touring. Hes got six gigs in November, including in London and Paris, and his website lists shows booked all the way up to June 2017.

Hes home-schooled and is still working on improving his English, and in the longer term, he doesnt know if he wants to go to university. Playing music and being on the road is like a school for me, he says.

With any child star there is a risk of them being overexposed, of having too much too young, of some sort of dramatic fall from grace, and with constantly being on the road I did wonder about how much time Alexander spends with other children.

He says he loves touring, though, and seems to have plenty of hobbies. Aside from Transformers, he likes swimming, tennis and watching the news, particularly CNN, and especially world news. Hes currently on a Rocky kick he plays the video game on his iPad, and loves the film.

For Alexander though, everything comes back to his love of jazz. Just as he explained his enthusiasm for Transformers, he uses music to explain his fondness for Rocky.

I love the spirit of it, you know. Its this underdog who people didnt care, but he kept going.

I like those stories, it reminds me of Thelonious Monk who people thought of as an underground musician but he became influential. I like those stories.

If Alexander can succeed in getting more people to listen to jazz music, in making it hip, then he might become one of those stories himself.

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History has defined the New Jersey city as a hub for a host of jazz musicians from Sarah Vaughan to Christian McBride, and it remains a vibrant destination for fans of the genre

A year before he died in 1977, the blind jazz genius Rahsaan Roland Kirk inspired an impromptu parade in Newark, New Jersey. One minute he was playing the downtown club Sparky Js. The next he was leading his band, pied-piper-like, across the street to the Key Club, a different nightspot, while still making music on one of the three saxes he was known to play in unison and in harmony.

It was legendary, said Junius Williams, a Newark author and educator who also saw Dizzy Gillespie at Sparky Js back in the day.

It was also kind of prescient. In 2016, Newark is one nonstop, ongoing, jazz parade: Wynton Marsalis, the Robert Glasper Experiment, Dianne Reeves, Phil Perry, David Sanborn and Anjelique Kidjo have been in and out town for shows. Dorthaan Kirk, the widow of Rahsaan who goes by the nickname Newarks first lady of jazz, has hosted longtime greats including Freddy Cole, Jon Faddis and Rufus Reid at a pair of local series she organizes (both of them running through 2017, one of them free). And by the end of the year, a new, intimate club called Clements Place connected to the citys renowned Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark will have attracted the TS Monk Sextet and the soul-threaded and Eubie Blake Award-winning Houston Person Quartet.

Behind all the action is a celebration of the citys birthday 2016 marks Newarks 350th year that, together with the TD James Moody jazz festival, an annual celebration of jazz running through the end of November, has revived its reputation as a serious jazz town.

The Grammy-winning bassist and bandleader Christian McBride, who is performing at Moody Fest on 18 November alongside Sharon Jones, Bettye LaVette and the James Brown Alumni Band at the citys most thriving jazz venue, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, saw it coming.

Newarks place in jazz history includes Sarah Vaughan, Wayne Shorter, James Moody, Woody Shaw and Larry Young, among others. That coupled with its modern-day vibrancy makes Newark one of the greatest jazz cities in the world, McBride said in early November from Europe, where he was touring.

He is especially qualified to say so. McBride first played in Newark as a young performer 26 years ago and, since 2012, has been NJPACs jazz adviser; he also hosts the NPR show Jazz Night in America, a co-production with Lincoln Center and WBGO-FM, the only full-time jazz format station broadcast in New York and New Jersey. On 20 November he will be among the judges of what John Schreiber, founder of the Moody festival and NJPACs president and CEO, called one of the centerpieces of a monthlong event: the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition.

Jazz singing is bred in the bone. And Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald were kind of No 1 and No 2 in terms of the great individual voices of jazz singing, Schreiber said. Sarah Vaughan was an authentic Newark girl she went to high school here and lived a lot of her life here. And so I said, OK, what can we do to honor Sarah?

That was five years ago, when Schreiber signed on with NJPAC after decades of producing and curating festivals including Newport Jazz and JVC Jazz.

Sharon Jones will play the TD James Moody jazz festival in Newark later in November. Photograph: New Jersey Performing Arts Center

The result is the upcoming competition in which five finalists, whittled from a pool of hundreds around the world who sent online auditions to Newark this spring, perform before McBride and four fellow jazz-luminary judges Dianne Reeves among them plus a packed NJPAC house.

The winner is announced at the end of the night and walks away with a recording contract, a $5,000 prize and a slot to perform at the Montreal Jazz Fest next summer.

She also has a right to say she won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition. And then all of a sudden she has some stature with the public, Schreiber said.

Jazz stature comes in a couple of shapes around Newark. There is the kind earned through sheer chops, like winning the vocal competition or commanding a massive audience during one of the organ jams held sporadically at Symphony Hall, a historic jazz venue not far from NJPAC. There is the kind Dorthaan Kirk has acquired through knowing everyone from Jimmy Heath to Gregory Porter and attracting them to town for her jazz series. (One is Dorthaans Place, a jazz brunch at NJPAC; the other is Jazz Vespers at Bethany Baptist church. Both are monthly, Bethany is free.)

There is also a kind of stature bestowed through scholarship. The night before the Sarah Vaughan competition, for example, McBrides Trio will play The Divine One, a concert at NJPAC honoring Vaughan that includes a film about her life and a panel discussion hosted by the longtime jazz producer Todd Barkan, also artistic director at Jazz at Lincoln Centers Dizzys Club Coca-Cola.

Like a lot of the smartest jazz events around town, its being sponsored by the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark.

The jazz institute, founded in 1952, is the most extensive jazz archive and library in the US. It includes more than 150,000 recordings and 6,000 books, and treasures such as Miles Daviss trumpet and Curly Russells bass. Before Ken Burns made his 10-part, Emmy-nominated mini-series Jazz in 2000, he spent a year exploring the institutes trove of recordings. Forest Whitaker visited the archives in 2011 for research on a film about Louis Armstrong, And Michael K Smith spent some time browsing there after his role as Chalky White on HBOs Boardwalk Empire got him interested 20s- and 30s-era jazz.

Carrie Jackson performing at Clements Place. Photograph: Ed Berger

Earlier this year, the Jazz Institute entered the club business with Clements Place, a 75-seat venue done up in jazz memorabilia on the ground floor of a historical neoclassical Newark skyscraper. Minus the whiffs of cigar smoke and seal-fresh whiskey (Clements pours beer and wine only), its a throwback to the tight-knit jazz communities documented in the archives.

I didnt expect it, but I love running the bar, said Wayne Winbourne, the institutes executive director. Clements is named for Dr Clement A Price, a beloved Rutgers-Newark professor and devoted jazz fan who died suddenly in 2014. Were open to the community, so were seeing a cross-section of folks from Newark who are bringing real energy and dynamism.

Theyre bringing it to monthly jam sessions organized in cooperation with NJPAC as part of the 350th birthday celebration, and theyre bringing it to more subdued events such as a series of curated listening sessions Winbourne says he is sprinkling in at Clements once or twice a month, between shows and jams. Theres already been listening sessions on very early Louis Armstrong and Harry Sweets Edison.

Weve got incredible experts on staff who are just extremely knowledgeable, said Winbourne. Sometimes we get 10 people, sometimes we get 30. But well have a drink, then well play a cut. Then well have another drink, and play another cut. Its another way for us to bring the archives to the public, to draw upon the expertise of our staff and to engage the community. Were tapping into an opportunity there.

Theres also an opportunity, because of the institutes reputation and because I know folks, said Winbourne, to draw artists who might otherwise skip Newark when playing across the river in New York.

We have the Lance Bryant Quartet coming in later this year he played with Lionel Hampton and a concert coming up with the flutist Elise Wood. And Im hoping to get Steve Wilson and Luis Bonilla in here, said Winbourne.

He may not have to try too hard: Theres a jazz atmosphere now thats so intimate, where we all feel so connected, Winbourne said. I think all of us here in Newark are looking at the rise of something special, something people are going to be talking about a long time.

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The jazz saxophonists band helped make Bowies final album one of his most musically daring and now McCaslin is paying tribute to the late star with an album that includes a song riffing on one left off Blackstar

Nine months have passed since David Bowies death, but his last collaborator, Donny McCaslin, still has to pause when he talks about it. Theres so much emotion, McCaslin says, the words catching in his throat. Its devastating.

McCaslin speaks about his experience with Bowie sitting in 55 Bar, the micro Greenwich Village jazz club where Bowie first heard the musician perform back in 2014. Shortly after seeing that show, Bowie chose McCaslins band to back him on his final album, the acclaimed, jazz-fusion leaning Blackstar.

McCaslin vividly remembers the night Bowie came to the club to check him out. I was definitely nervous, the saxophonist said. I glanced up and saw where he was sitting. I just tried to keep myself grounded and not think about it. But the pressure was on.

Even so, McCaslin says his band were going for it. It wasnt a watered-down version of what we do. Afterwards Bowie said: Wow, that was really loud!

Clearly, he liked it that way, because a few days later, Bowie emailed the musician to ask if his band would work with him on what would be his last release, an album that turned out to be one of his most adventurous. The experience of creating music with Bowie proved so deep, and its aftermath so jarring, that McCaslin decided to turn his new album, Beyond Now, out 14 October, into a tribute. It includes several transformative covers of Bowie songs, including Warszawa from Low, and A Small Plot of Land from Outside, along with a song McCaslin wrote inspired by a piece Bowie left off Blackstar. (That track, plus two other cuts that didnt make that release, will come out on 21 October on the cast album from the musical Bowie wrote in his last year, Lazarus).

McCaslin knew his Bowie salute had to be special. I wanted the depth of my experience with him, and the impact on my life, to be reflected, he said. I was digging deep on every take to get the gravitas I felt it should have.

At the same time, Beyond Now shows growth in McCaslins own sound. The 40-year-old musician, born in northern California, has released a dozen albums, dating back to 1998. His father was a musician, a vibraphonist, whose band McCaslin performed with at the age of 12. By high school, McCaslin had a group of his own, one accomplished enough to play the Monterey jazz festival. His early albums mined acoustic jazz, but on 2010s Perpetual Motion he sifted in elements of electronica. I had started listening to albums by Squarepusher, Skrillex, Boards of Canada, he said. Theres this vibe with electronica, this busy rhythmic activity. The framework of it speaks to me.

The new sound brought McCaslin fresh acclaim. In the last few years, he has been nominated for three Grammys. Two of those nominations came from contributions he made to recordings by Maria Schneider, an acclaimed jazz composer and band leader who, over the years, earned Bowies respect and friendship. It was she who suggested Bowie use McCaslin on a recording in 2014, the fierce song Sue (or In a Season of Crime), which Bowie later released as a limited-edition single, and which later turned up on Blackstar. The next month, Schneider brought Bowie down to see what McCaslin could do live at 55 Bar, sealing his interest.

In early 2015, formal work on Blackstar began, with longtime Bowie ally Tony Visconti acting as producer. Working with Donnys band in the studio was a dream, said Visconti. What I like about Donny and his musicians is that they are very cultured jazz musicians but young enough to embrace the extremes of pop and rock. They are one-take players. There are no mistakes, just expert playing.

At the time, McCaslin had limited knowledge of Bowies full catalogue of songs. While he calls Lets Dance the soundtrack of my youth, he knew few of his other hits or deep album tracks. To prepare for Blackstar, McCaslin started to check them out, but Bowie quickly dissuaded him. He sent me an email saying, essentially, Thats old stuff. Im into different things now, McCaslin said. At age 68, Bowie was moving forward.

For Blackstar, that meant giving McCaslins band nearly free rein. He set the tone from the beginning, the saxophonist said. He told us: Whatever you hear, I want you to go with it. He said great to everything.

At the same time, McCaslin couldnt tell anyone outside of his immediate family about the project. Bowie had the band sign non-disclosure agreements, the better to keep the album a secret until he was ready to release it. At the same time, Bowie was aware he had cancer, which was an even more closely guarded secret. McCaslin politely demurs when asked if he knew the star was sick during the recording process. He was so private, he said. I want to honor his wishes that we not talk about it.

At the time, McCaslin wasnt even sure the music he cut with Bowie would come out or, if it did, how much of his bands efforts would make the ultimate cut. It wasnt until late last fall, when a British journalist asked to interview the musician for a story about a new Bowie album, that he found out about its impending release and heard its final form.

On 8 January, Blackstar finally appeared. Two days later came news of Bowies death and, suddenly, everyone wanted to talk to McCaslin. I wasnt prepped, he said. I didnt know what to say.

He gave a few interviews, talking only about the music. Then, journalists started to get nosier about the details of Bowies illness and demise, and McCaslin shut down. He also began to fully experience his grief. We had this amazing connection, he said, and then he was gone.

Part of the healing process involved channeling his feelings into the music on his new album. Besides the Bowie influence, McCaslin drew again on electronica, covering songs by Mutemath and Deadmau5. The music also shows the influence of 70s fusion, a style which McCaslin calls part of the musical DNA I grew up with.

Two weeks after Bowies death, McCaslins band paid tribute to him at The Village Vanguard by performing his moody, 70s song Warszawa. There was so much grief; we talked about the best way to pay tribute, he said. That song has a sense of wonder to me. Its such a beautiful melody. It felt cathartic to play it.

McCaslin says the experience of working with Bowie the year before brought a new intimacy to all the players in his group. It got us to a deeper level of expression, he said.

When discussing the fact that his band will forever be linked with Bowie, McCaslin chokes up again. For me to be associated with him is really special, he says. I dont think that negates anything Ive done prior, or what comes in the future.

With this album, I feel like Ive done what I needed to do, he says. Now I can start thinking about whats next.

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