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.

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Music Reviews
12:10 pm
Mon May 18, 2015

In 'Take Off,' Ramon Valle Makes The Piano Sing

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 3:36 pm

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Music Reviews
1:00 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

'The In Crowd': An Audience-Fueled Jazz-Pop Crossover Hit

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This is FRESH AIR. Fifty years ago today in a Washington nightclub, Chicago's Ramsey Lewis Trio recorded "The 'In' Crowd," the rare jazz single that landed on the pop charts. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says the audience was half the show.

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Music Reviews
12:16 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

Saxophonist Tony Malaby's New Quartet Brings Out His Rowdy Side

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Music Reviews
11:34 am
Fri February 20, 2015

Ornette Coleman Returns With His Unmistakable Sound

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 2:58 pm

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Music
11:56 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Eric Hofbauer Takes On Stravinsky, Messiaen

Boston jazz guitarist Eric Hofbauer's quintet has two new CDs out, playing 20th-century classics. One is the year's second jazz version of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, following the Bad Plus' trio version. The other is Olivier Messiaen's very unjazzy Quartet for the End of Time. Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead likes them a lot.

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Music
2:50 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Oliver Lake: New Music Grounded In Old Truths

Saxophonist Oliver Lake was one of the founders of the World Saxophone Quartet in the 1970s, and plays in the co-op Trio 3. Lake has led numerous bands of his own, including an occasional big band, and an organ quartet. Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says that organ group is one to watch in a review for What I Heard.

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Music Reviews
11:31 am
Tue October 14, 2014

An Unofficial Memorial For Jazz Greats Jim Hall And Charlie Haden

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Music
1:13 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

One Final Offering From John Coltrane

Originally published on Tue October 7, 2014 1:35 pm

In November 1966, eight months before he died of cancer, John Coltrane played a concert at Temple University in Philadelphia. It was not a financial success --only 700 people showed up — and the band's high-energy music proved too much for some listeners. That concert recording is now officially out for the first time. It got Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead thinking about what Coltrane was up to.

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Music
12:18 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

Jason Moran Modernizes Fats Waller, With Uneven Results

Originally published on Mon September 22, 2014 12:39 pm

Jazz pianist Jason Moran's new album All Rise began in 2011, when he staged a dance-party salute to pianist Fats Waller in Harlem, featuring singer Meshell Ndegeocello. Now that party has become a touring project, and a new album. Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead admits to mixed feelings.

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Music Reviews
11:56 am
Thu September 4, 2014

In Tenor Saxophonist Mark Turner's New Album, The Music Unfolds Like A Narrative

Mark Turner.
Paolo Soriani ECM Records

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 5:38 pm

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