NPR's Piano Jazz Rising Stars
Vocalist Tammy McCann discovered jazz while she was an opera student in her native Chicago. She decided to apply her considerable vocal range to a broad palette of musical styles, touring as a backup singer for Ray Charles and with her own successful gospel ensemble. Host Jon Weber accompanies McCann on “Daydream,” “Why Was I Born,” and “Easy Living.”
Trumpeter Dominick Farinacci has emerged as a young man whose versatile horn ranges from the soft and seductive to the rough and bluesy. His skills have earned him a headline spot with festivals worldwide, as well as recording dates with a list of jazz legends; he's also a composer with nine albums under his belt. Farinacci's first loves in trumpet were Louis Armstrong and Charlie Shavers, and particularly Clifford Brown.
Kris Bowers began classical piano studies as a toddler in Los Angeles. In 2011, he walked away with the top honor at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition—a major career boost for the Juilliard student. He brings his award-winning chops to the Piano Jazzstudios for this set of tunes.
Hiromi is an in-demand jazz pianist capable of playing stride with blinding speed and deadly accuracy, but she's also a thoughtful, impressionistic composer. There's an absolute outpouring of energy to Hiromi's music, heard right from the get-go in this session with "Choux a la creme," her ode to cream puffs. Elements of Erroll Garner's piano swing, Stevie Wonder's funk and Lennie Tristano's dazzling compositions all add up to Hiromi's distinct sound.
Sachal Vasandani is already earning critical acclaim as the next great male jazz vocalist. And today’s listeners agree—his 2011 album, Hi-Fly, shot straight to the number one spot on the iTunes jazz chart. Vasandani also penned some of the tunes on the album. On this week’s program, he swings on a set of standards and originals with host Jon Weber.
Chris Dingman is one of the few elite musicians who keep the role of vibraphonist/leader alive in jazz today. He cut his teeth at the Thelonious Monk Institute, and his album Waking Dreams is a 14-piece suite based on music Dingman dreamed.
Vocalist Whitney James studied musical theater and opera before committing to jazz, and her theatrical background has served her well. She performs with an unscripted quality, never singing a song the same way twice.
"I think that's what I love about this music, the spontaneity of it," James says. "I've used my voice like an instrument — I hope I am. If you do it the same way, it tends to get stale and you stop discovering things about the song."
Her acclaimed 2010 debut album The Nature of Love revealed a fully formed voice on a confident set of beloved standards. With host Jon Weber as accompanist, James brings her rich, full alto tone to tunes including "Tenderly" and "If You Could See Me Now."
Dubbed "the Real Diehl" by Wynton Marsalis, pianist Aaron Diehl is bringing the music of keyboard giants like Scott Joplin, Art Tatum and Duke Ellington to a whole new generation. He's particularly enamored with the sacred works of Mary Lou Williams, and has even performed her Lenten pieces, but in a session with Rising Stars host Job Weber, Diehl plays an old Williams stride-piano piece called "Nightlife."