Originally published on Mon April 22, 2013 1:41 pm
Grammy-winning blues-rock singer Ben Harper has made 10 studio albums over the course of his career. For his latest project, he teamed up with harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite to release a collaborative album titled Get Up! Musselwhite, one of the few white musicians to gain exposure in the blues scene during the 1960s, has released 26 records and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2010.
Stacy Rowles once wrote a note to her father, pianist and composer Jimmy Rowles, stating: "Dear Dad, if you buy me a flugelhorn, I'll play the [expletive] out of it." Indeed she did, and she picked up singing, as well. A longtime mainstay on the Los Angeles jazz scene, Rowles worked with the all-female quintet the Jazzbirds, led by the late multi-instrumentalist Betty O'Hara, as well as the Jazz Tap Ensemble and the DIVA Big Band.
Margaret Bonds, who died in 1972, is perhaps near the top of the very short list of African-American female composers. Thanks to her partnerships with Langston Hughes and soprano Leontyne Price and others, she's remembered in some circles as an important figure in American composition. But, mostly, she's been forgotten.
"It's amazing that people don't know who she was, although she was quite well known in her time," says Louise Toppin, an opera singer and a voice professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Many music lovers know Juan de Marcos González as the man who teamed up with guitarist Ry Cooder to create Buena Vista Social Club. But González was busy celebrating the history of Cuban music long before Cooder arrived on the scene.
Concurrently with the Buena Vista project, González was recording an album with his own band, The Afro-Cuban All Stars. The orchestra now contains expatriate Cuban musicians, young and old alike, from around the world.
When she was 21, Sera Cahoone moved from Denver to Seattle to support artists like Carissa's Wierd, Band of Horses and Patrick Park. By 2006, she was focusing on her own solo work and releasing her self-titled debut album.
Violinist Joshua Bell has followed the lead of symphony orchestra conductors since he turned 7 and made his orchestra debut. But now he's the one waving the baton — or at least waving his violin bow. Bell recently took over the music directorship of the venerable Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
Zuoxiao Zuzhou is a Chinese singer whose accented, croaky voice is hardly ever in tune. But for his fans he's the voice of a generation — one of the very few voices who dare to speak out. After a collaboration, Cowboy Junkies member Michael Timmins called him "China's Leonard Cohen."
Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 10:19 am
No matter what a certain television series tells you, Portland, Ore., isn't all that weird. Sure, we make great coffee, ride bicycles, eat organic food — and, yes, there are a lot of hippies and hipsters here. But Portland is much more than that.
Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 7:37 am
On a video promoting Bill Frisell's album All We Are Saying, the guitarist shares the depth of his connection to John Lennon's music: "I don't know if I'd be playing guitar if it weren't for The Beatles." Frisell tells the story of how, several tours ago, a European presenter asked Frisell's band to play a Lennon set.
Sunday night's Grammys are an opportunity to rain accolades on pop music and perhaps witness the musical return of Justin Timberlake. But each year, the Recording Academy also honors recordings of "lasting significance" by inducting them into the Grammy Hall of Fame. One of them this year is Kentucky fiddler Bill Stepp's performance of "Bonaparte's Retreat."
Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 1:33 pm
The Philadelphia Museum of Art recently commissioned Jason Moran to write music in conjunction with its exhibition of quilts made by a remarkable group of African-American women in a small rural community on a bend in the Alabama River.
Marcos Valle wasn't identified with Brazil's influential Tropicalia movement during the 1960s and 1970s. But, like his peers Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, he made ambitious and subversive pop music during those years, mixing American soul and rock with samba, bossa nova and other Brazilian styles.