WASHINGTON, D.C. — Some of the leading jazz, blues, swing, fusion and world music artists are showcased in the dynamic new Voice of America TV program: Beyond Category with Eric Felten.
“The great Duke Ellington described the best music as being ‘beyond category,’ and we hope to capture the essence of what he was talking about,” says host Eric Felten.
“We’re presenting performances by stellar musicians such as saxophone star Joshua Redman, the sophisticated singer Karrin Allyson, lyrical baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan, and piano phenomenon Eldar Djangirov,” Felten says. “We also sit down to talk with them about their music and their lives.”
Felten, who is himself an accomplished musician, takes viewers on an unpredictable musical adventure, as he sits in with his guests, diving into their musical idioms, tackling everything from solid swing to the avant garde.
The newest episode, which premieres this week, features one of the most celebrated groups working in jazz today – the Joshua Redman Trio with bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. They perform a riffing, rollicking Mack the Knife and also Joshua’s original composition Soul Dance.
Eric talks with Joshua about his artistic debt to Sonny Rollins, the essential musical lessons he learned from his father (the great saxophonist Dewey Redman), and how he’s grown on his own journey as a jazz artist. Eric joins the fun by sitting in with Joshua and the band on Thelonious Monk’s Misterioso (a classic, famously recorded by Sonny Rollins and trombonist J.J. Johnson).
Beyond Category aims to grow the international audience for jazz by presenting exciting performances and relaxed conversations with artists to help viewers understand and appreciate how the music gets made.
The show also builds on VOA’s storied tradition as a voice for great American music. The half-hour program airs internationally on VOA satellite streams, and can also be viewed on the Internet at www.voanews.com/beyondcategory.
Eldar Djangirov Larry Willis
Gary Smulyan Howard Alden
Tim Green Bill Mays
Tia Fuller Donny McCaslin
Amina Figarova Sachal Vasandani
About Eric Felten: JazzTimes calls Beyond Category host Eric Felten a “formidable trombonist.” Eric has recorded five CDs as a leader, featuring many of the top artists in jazz, including Joe Lovano, Randy Brecker, Jimmy Knepper, Joshua Redman, Kenny Barron, and Jimmy Cobb.
Eric began studying trombone at age nine with his grandfather, a veteran of East Coast bands from the Swing Era. In 1993 he released his first album, “T-Bop” for the respected European jazz label Soul Note. The result was a critically acclaimed debut: The Penguin Guide to Jazz declared that Eric “has the music in his genes…a more than promising talent, he’s a man we’re going to hear a lot more about.”
With his big band, The Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra, Eric starred in the 2001 PBS concert special, “The Big Band Sound of WWII.” The broadcast featured Eric not only as trombonist, but as a singer. As All About Jazz, puts it, Eric “is a crooner who also plays a mean trombone, and does both equally well.”