Montana Public Radio


Matt Wilson personifies the spontaneous energy of jazz. He's a drummer's drummer who seems to be everywhere at once, teaching, playing, recording, and bringing jazz to new audiences with the motto: "The answer is YES ... if it's legal."

Hear more from Wilson now in the Musician's Spotlight.

Tom Beetz (CC-BY-2.0)

Pat Martino had been playing jazz guitar professionally for 19 years in 1980 when a severe brain aneurysm sent him into life-saving surgery - and then into life-altering amnesia. He barely recognized his own parents, let alone his guitar, and felt as if he had been "dropped cold, empty, neutral, cleansed ... naked." Martino's long journey back from that musical erasure began with his father playing back his own recordings for him. Slowly, he taught himself how to play again. By the early '90s, Martino had returned to the soul-jazz, post-bop and jazz-rock fusion scene.

He was a keyboardist, composer, arranger, and bandleader. During a career spanning six decades, Clare Fischer worked with jazz artists like George Benson and pop icons like Prince and Robert Palmer and recorded in a wide variety of settings from solo piano to heading a vocal-dominated Latin group, Salsa Picante. When he had time-off he composed some memorable jazz standards like “Pensativa” and “Morning.”

Tune in at 8 p.m., Monday, March 4 to listen to the works of this amazing musician, on another edition of “Unsung Heroes, Influential but Overlooked Masters of Modern Music.”

Globe-trotting composer and pianist Amina Figarova’s career path has taken her from classical piano studies in Baku, Azerbaijan to jazz at the Rotterdam Conservatory and Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Today, she tours almost constantly from her home base in Manhattan, still managing to record 13 albums since 1994.

Tune in to "What I Like About Jazz" Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. for a live jazz concert from the University of Montana Music Recital Hall.

Tune in to "What I Like About Jazz" Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. for a live jazz concert from the University of Montana Music Recital Hall. Listen as the UM Jazz Bands present 'Swinging Into the Holidays'. Tune in on your radio or right here at

For more than three decades, New York jazz drummer, composer, bandleader and teacher Allison Miller has been merrily improvising her way into new musical genres and projects. Miller, whom the DownBeat Magazine Critics' Poll named "Rising Star Drummer" and "Top 20 Jazz Drummer," is the driving force behind albums by Natalie Merchant, Brandi Carlile, Ani DiFranco, Joey Arias, Pino Daniele, Erin McKeown and many others.

Just two years after he'd taken up the bass guitar, sixteen-year-old Nathan East found himself on the road with Barry White. The next time the phone rang, Quincy Jones was on the line. The calls kept coming, and for more than forty years, East has been holding down the bass on hit songs with Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Beyoncé, Barbra Streisand, Stevie Wonder, and Daft Punk.

Kevin Porto

Erica von Kleist graduated from Julliard in 2004 with a jazz degree, and spent the next ten years in New York City working as a pianist, saxophonist and flautist, a bandleader, a theater music director, a composer, and an arranger. She collaborated with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra,  Chris Potter, Broadway star Eric Michael Krop, the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Rufus Reid, and Anne Hampton Callaway, among many others.

Leni Stern
Sandrine Lee

“It has always been a political act, a practice in strength and defiance, to be a woman and a bandleader, a female electric guitarist and composer, who puts out her own albums and manages her own career..."

Those are the words of Leni Stern, German-born, New York-based electric guitarist, singer and composer.

Ellis Marsalis, Jr. is regarded by many as New Orleans’s premier modern jazz pianist. He’s been performing professionally for over fifty years, recording almost twenty albums of his own and guesting on many others, but primarily, Marsalis has focused on education, teaching at the University of New Orleans, Xavier University in Louisiana, and the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts.