Here are a few indisputable truths about Andy Bey. First things first: as he approaches 80, Bey occupies the first rank of living jazz singers. He has led a circuitous career — starting out as a prodigy, slipping into obscurity, experiencing a late renaissance. And he's an original: nobody else has ever sounded quite like him and it's almost certain nobody else ever will.
"I've always been a loner, and I was looking for nobody's approval," Bey reflects. "I never tried to follow anybody, musically or otherwise." And in this episode of Jazz Night in America, we're celebrating his unique artistry and telling his story.
We'll listen in on an illuminating conversation between Bey and his producer, Herb Jordan. We'll hear tributes from collaborators, like guitarist Paul Meyers, and longtime admirers, like jazz-vocal guru Dominique Eade. And of course, we'll hear plenty of music — an exquisite, previously unissued concert recorded at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse in New York in 2002.
Andy Bey, voice and piano; Paul Meyers, guitar; Joe Martin, bass; Mark McLean, drums.
Host: Christian McBride; Producer: Alex Ariff; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Music Recorded by Ed Haber and George Wellington; Thanks to: Ashley Kahn, Jane Gilvin, Olivia Meyer, Kay Wolff, Joseph Fridman, and James Crawford. Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Executive Producers: Anya Grundman, Gabrielle Armand and Amy Niles; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey.