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jazz

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. On cable this month, Turner Classic Movies is presenting a series of movies with jazz connections. As it happens, our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has a new book about movies that tell jazz stories. Here's his defense of a much maligned film genre - the jazz biopic, screened biographies of jazz musicians.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE BENNY GOODMAN STORY")

STEVE ALLEN: (As Benny Goodman) All right. Let's get to work.

SHEP MENKEN: (As Harry Goodman) I got only one suggestion to make, Benny.

Last time on Play It Forward, our musical chain of gratitude, R&B singer and producer Georgia Anne Muldrow raved about the saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin. They share a few things in common: Both studied together at The New School's School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, both tap a similar spiritual vein in their music and as Muldrow sees it, both are "sangin' " even if it's through different mediums.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. On cable this month, Turner Classics is presenting a series of movies with jazz connections. As it happens, our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has a new book about movies that tell jazz stories. So we invited him to talk a little about the subject. In the first of two segments, he looks at what he calls the stock jazz movie ending - a basic plot element subject to many variations. Here's Kevin.

Jimmy Cobb, whose subtle and steady drumming formed the pulse of some of jazz's most beloved recordings, died at his home in Manhattan on Sunday. He was 91.

The cause was lung cancer, says his wife, Eleana Tee Cobb.

Cobb was the last surviving member of what's often called Miles Davis' First Great Sextet. He held that title for almost three decades, serving as a conduit for many generations of jazz fans into the band that recorded the music's most iconic and enduring album, Kind of Blue.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Lee Konitz, Bucky Pizzarelli, Ellis Marsalis, Wallace Roney and Henry Grimes are just a few of the jazz greats who have died in recent months from complications due to the coronavirus. Hear WBGO and Jazz Night in America's Christian McBride talk to about the toll the pandemic has taken on the jazz community, and read WBGO's Nate Chinen on the pain of grieving lost musicians during Jazz Appreciation Month in April.

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, one of this country's greatest musical gatherings, would have celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. But instead the stages at Jazz Fest, as it is more commonly known, will be empty for the first time since 1970 after the organizers were forced to cancel due to the coronavirus pandemic. But there is still music coming from New Orleans.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

In an alternate timeline, I know precisely how I would have spent the evening of April 17. The dynamic South African pianist Nduduzo Makhathini had been booked for an album-release engagement at Dizzy's Club, the in-house nightclub at Jazz at Lincoln Center. I was looking forward to hearing his band in that room — not only because Makhathini's stateside appearances are few and far between, but also because the urgent, questing spirit of his music is something best experienced in person and in close quarters, as a form of communion.

While the world has gone relatively quiet amid the coronavirus pandemic, International Jazz Day plans on bringing some joyful sounds from across the globe together in celebration of the music.

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