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2020 looked mighty bright for Nduduzo Makhathini. In January, jazz fans and critics alike jammed themselves into the Zürcher Gallery at the NYC Winter Jazzfest to get a glimpse of the rising star pianist. The buzz was real for the first South African artist ever to be signed to Blue Note Records.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Steve Earle is a star of what's sometimes called Americana music or alt-country. He sings of Americans who often live on the edge. One of his hits tells of a grandson of Appalachian moonshiners who turns to drug dealer.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COPPERHEAD ROAD")

STEVE EARLE: (Singing) You better stay away from Copperhead Road.

INSKEEP: Another character is a lifelong criminal who is trapped in an alley and decides, for the first time, to pray.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TOM AMES' PRAYER")

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

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Jimmy Cobb, The Pulse Of 'Kind Of Blue,' Dies At 91

May 25, 2020

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.

On her latest EP, Noah Cyrus wants you to know that you're not alone in feeling alone. Blending the spirit of classic country music with the sensibilities of today's pop, it's called The End of Everything — which feels like a good title for this moment.

Noah comes from quite the musical family, but now, with songs like "July" and "I Got So High That I Saw Jesus," she's finding her own voice.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

The band Woods has always incorporated diffuse influences, taking inspiration from lo-fi rock, Ethiopian jazz and psychedelic folk sounds. Guitarist and vocalist Jeremy Earl, who recently became a father, says his group's latest album, Strange To Explain was influenced by something else — a lack of sleep.

"Those first few months or first year of having a newborn kind of put me in a dreamlike state," he says. "And that was my escape: to start writing."

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.

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

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