From mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli's ambitious revival of the early Baroque composer Agostino Stefani (and yes, she's got another outrageous album cover) to three very different roles for the violin, here's a clutch of classical albums I returned to again and again this year for sheer delight and aural inspiration. Bartoli lavishes extravagant attention on the music of a fascinating but forgotten link in the history of opera.
This past week marks a sad anniversary in one corner of the music world. In December 2009, the Philadelphia guitarist Jack Rose died of a heart attack. He was just 38 years old and about to release a new album of the fingerstyle guitar music he was known for.
Rose's career was relatively short, and the style of music he played doesn't have a huge fan base these days, but for one artist, Rose meant a lot.
Daniel Bachman is a 23-year-old guitarist who loves traditional guitar music, He's his own musician, but he grew up listening to Rose.
This interview was originally broadcast in 1999. Brubeck died on Wednesday at age 91.
In 1954, polls in the leading jazz magazines Metronome and Downbeat selected Dave Brubeck's band as the year's best instrumental group. That same year, Brubeck was the second jazz musician ever featured on the cover of Time Magazine (the first being Louie Armstrong).
Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 7:31 am
More than any year in recent memory, the folk and roots music of 2012 was focused on collective roots, elements of ancestry, the stories and events which unite us. The finest traditional albums released paid homage to Nova Scotia and Appalachia. The strongest singer-songwriter records told of the hard struggles of working class people — stories which haven't changed drastically from generation to generation, but continue to be provide hope and promise.
Back in 1985, a young Malian named Zani Diabate became one of the first African musicians to release a successful album in Europe. He was soon crowded out by a flood of superstar African singers, but for anyone who experienced Diabate's rocking guitar tone and edgy African phrasing, the sound is unforgettable.
Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 11:57 am
When the pianist Mulgrew Miller died on May 29, 2013, following a cerebral hemorrhage, the jazz world grieved the loss of this "wonderful musician and great spirit," in the words of his fellow pianist Kenny Barron.
Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 10:08 am
Lincoln Center and the New York Phil have confirmed plans for a (long, long overdue) major overhaul of 50-year-old Avery Fisher Hall that "aims to redefine what it means to be a concert hall at a time of challenging orchestra economics and changing audience habits." This will be the third attempt at addressing the venue's acoustical challenges.
Jazz reflects who we are as a people — democracy in action and all that. But a jazz tune or solo is also a portrait of the musician who makes it; the music reflects the particular background and training that influences how composers compose and improvisers improvise. Jason Kao Hwang makes that autobiographical component explicit throughout his extended composition for eight pieces, Burning Bridge. His parents made the move from China around the end of WWII, and he grew up attending Presbyterian services in suburban Chicago.
You can't tell the story of Martha Wainwright without talking about family. Her father is Loudon Wainwright III, her mother, Kate McGarrigle — both legends of the 1970's folk scene. Along with her brother, Rufus, she followed her parents into the music world.
Based in Lancaster County, Penn., The Stray Birds is one of the most promising bands on the folk music circuit these days. With three-part harmonies which fall somewhere in the sonic spectrum between Gillian Welch and Crooked Still, their songs are at once resonant and emotional, dreamy and sad.
Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 11:29 am
In the New York Times this week, Anthony Tommasini has a series in both print and video about those microcosmic musical moments like "a fleeting passage, a short series of chords, some unexpected shift in a melodic line — when something occurs that just grabs us." What links these diverse bits from Chopin to Puccini to Mahler together?
It's hard to write a biography of an artist with as many career and relationship arcs as Leonard Cohen has experienced in his 78 years on Earth. But that's exactly what celebrated music journalist Sylvie Simmons has done with I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen.
Kat Edmonson makes her first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown. Originally from Houston, Edmonson relocated to Austin, where her classic jazz-inspired singing soon made her one of the town's most talked about musicians.
Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 1:14 pm
Erin McKeown's music is a bit hard to describe. It is music and lyrics with meaning so it makes me think, but it's also playful and so it makes me smile. I'll have another chance to hear it soon, since Erin has made a new record, called MANIFESTRA. The album, her seventh, was funded by her fan base via PledgeMusic and will be out on January 15. Today we premiere her song, "Jailer."