Kevin Whitehead

Kevin Whitehead is the jazz critic for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

Whitehead's articles on jazz and improvised music have appeared in such publications as Point of Departure, the Chicago Sun-Times, Village Voice, Down Beat, and the Dutch daily de Volkskrant.

He is the author of Why Jazz: A Concise Guide (2010), New Dutch Swing (1998), and (with photographer Ton Mijs) Instant Composers Pool Orchestra: You Have to See It (2011).

His essays have appeared in numerous anthologies including Da Capo Best Music Writing 2006, Discover Jazz and Traveling the Spaceways: Sun Ra, the Astro-Black and Other Solar Myths.

Whitehead has taught at Towson University, the University of Kansas and Goucher College. He lives near Baltimore.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Jazz drummer and composer Harris Eisenstadt is originally from Toronto but now lives in Brooklyn. Eight years ago, he put together a quintet called Canada Day. Four of the original members are still around for their fourth album. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says it shows the wisdom of sticking together. (SOUNDBITE OF HARRIS EISENSTADT SONG, "AFTER SEVERAL SNOWSTORMS") KEVIN WHITEHEAD,...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Bay Area jazz vocalist Tiffany Austin spent five and a half years singing in Japan then returned to the States to go to law school. But once she had her diploma, she went back to singing. Her debut album features many songs by the great songwriter Hoagy Carmichael who, by the way, also had a law degree. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has a review. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SKYLARK")...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Composer Maria Schneider has been leading her own big band in New York since the early 1990s, and more recently has written for classical ensembles and soprano Dawn Upshaw. Schneider is originally from rural Minnesota. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says her new album takes her back home. (SOUNDBITE OF MARIA SCHNEIDER ORCHESTRA SONG, "HOME") KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Trombonist Marshall...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript DAVE DAVIES, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Off and on for two decades, trombonist Ku-umba Frank Lacy has played in New York's Mingus Big Band, dedicated to the music of the late Charles Mingus. On the band's new album, Lacy steps out front, singing a batch of Mingus songs. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says it's weirdly right. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PORTRAIT") KU-UMBA FRANK LACY: (Singing) I've seen a lot of pictures, most of the...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has a review of a reissue by flute player Sam Most, who died in 2013. Kevin says Most was never very well-known, despite his influence on other jazz flute players like Rahsaan Roland Kirk. (SOUNDBITE OF SAM MOST SONG, "WHAT IT IS") KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Sam Most on his 1978 album "From The Attic Of My Mind." It's in a new batch of reissues drawn from...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. An acclaimed 1980s box set of "The Complete Riverside Recordings" of pianist Thelonious Monk has been reissued for the second time. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says it's really the story of two men - Monk, and record producer Orrin Keepnews who died in March. Here's Kevin's review. (SOUNDBITE THELONIOUS MONK SONG, "BRILLIANT CORNERS") KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Thelonious Monk's ...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. When bandleader Duke Ellington was on tour, he had a habit of booking studio time to record new music. It was one of the perks of keeping an expensive band together. In Cologne on July 9, 1970, Ellington recorded two tunes engineered by Conny Plank. A few years before, Plank became known for recording such rock musicians as Brian Eno. That brief recording session is now on CD. And...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has a review of a new album by trumpet player Terell Stafford. Stafford leads his own groups and has recorded with Bobby Watson, Matt Wilson and The Clayton Brothers, among others, and runs the jazz program at Temple University in Philadelphia. Stafford's new album honors another Philadelphia trumpeter, the late Lee Morgan. (SOUNDBITE OF TERELL STAFFORD...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript DAVE DAVIES, HOST: Jazz composer and arranger Michael Gibbs was born in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and has lived mostly in England, with time out for stints as a student and teacher in Massachusetts. One of his students at Boston's Berklee College in the 1970s was guitarist Bill Frisell. Now Gibbs and Frisell team up on a new big band record. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says it's the album some Frisell fans have been wishing...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Bassist Gary Peacock has been playing in pianist Keith Jarrett's "Standards" trio for 30 years. Peacock also leads a trio of his own, which has a new album out. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says the tunes are good, but the playing is even better. (SOUNDBITE OF JAZZ ALBUM, "NOW THIS") KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Bassist Gary Peacock, pianist Marc Copland and drummer Joey Baron on Peacock's...

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