Acclaimed Jazz Pianist Josh Nelson Featured on NPR’s Jazz Night in America, Airing Nationwide Beginning February 23


Pianist Josh Nelson will be featured in NPR’s Jazz Night in America as they head to La La Land to get the real story of what it really takes to be a jazz musician in the City of Angels.

Jazz Night in America is a nationally syndicated weekly radio show and a weekly concert video webcast from venues across the country produced by WBGO. The web site (which is part of the NPR site) is a hub for video features, multi-platform journalism and on-demand access. Altogether, it’s a portrait of jazz music today, as seen through many of its exceptional live performances and performers.

The NPR team came to the Blue Whale jazz club, located in the heart of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, to film Nelson’s newest Discovery Project concert. Nelson is a widely respected jazz pianist, recording artist, composer, and educator who has performed with some of the biggest names in jazz. He has recorded for countless albums, films, and TV shows, as well as releasing seven CDs as a leader. The Discovery Project is an ongoing multi-disciplinary artistic collaboration and presentation. Using original music compositions and a variety of concrete and abstract moving images projected onto sculptural forms, each unique performance creates an immersive experience for the audience that entirely transforms the performance space.

Nelson created the first Discovery Project in 2011 as an extension of his Discoveries album. That show paired classic science fiction ephemera with new compositions for a brass and wind ensemble that also featured a live video projection and art installation component. His next show in 2015, Exploring Mars, featured musical themes on the Red Planet along with spectacular NASA/JPL Martian video footage. The eponymous CD received wide critical acclaim. All About Jazz said, “A fertile imagination and strong musical skills have given birth to a remarkable work of art here. Exploring Mars is a world unto itself.”

The latest manifestation of the Discovery Project is subtitled The Sky Remains: Exploring the Past, Present and Future of Los Angeles. Nelson’s newest multi-media project is a love letter to the city where he has spent most of his life. The NPR teamed filmed the second of the show’s two-night run, which featured Anthony Wilson on guitar, Alex Boneham on bass, Dan Schnelle on drums, Brian Walsh on clarinet, Josh Johnson on saxophone, Chris Lawrence on trumpet and Kathleen Grace and Lillian Sengpiehl on vocals. Historian Robert Peterson provided narration about Los Angeles history, and Travis Flournoy created the live video projections. The CD based on the show will be released in the Fall of 2017.

Besides showcasing the Discovery Project live performance, the Jazz Night in America program will also ask some L.A. musicians, including John Beasley, Angela Parrish, Peter Erskine and Carl Saunders, what the award-winning movie gets right… and wrong, about jazz.

The episode will air on WBGO on Thursday, February 23rd at 7 pm and on Saturday, February 25th at 11pm.  It will air on NPR member stations throughout that week and it will be posted to the NPR website by the end of the day on the 23rd where it will be available in perpetuity.

Watch Josh Nelson’s “Discovery Project,” Blue Whale, May 2014:


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