WUIS Xponential

WUIS Xponential

Vijay Iyer is probably best known as a pianist and bandleader in the African-American creative improvisational tradition — most say "jazz" for short — though he's also several other things in music. He's a composer of chamber, large-ensemble and mixed-media works; a Harvard professor; a student of Indian classical music; a father and New York City resident. Committed as he is to multiplicity, there's one place where you can see many of his interests distilled at once: in the trio he's led for nearly a dozen years.

World Cafe Next: John Moreland

May 4, 2015

This week's World Cafe: Next artist, John Moreland, is an Americana singer-songwriter from Oklahoma who just released his second album, High On Tulsa Heat.

Before turning to songwriting, Moreland was in a metal band; nowadays, though, his work channels a deep well of emotion and pain. In this segment, you can hear two of his songs, which can also be downloaded here.

The London Souls On World Cafe

May 4, 2015

The London Souls' members aren't from London; instead, they form a drum-and-guitar duo based in Brooklyn, where they carve their music out of the best of '60s psychedelic rock and soul.

Tash Neal (guitar) and Chris St. Hilaire (drums) have extraordinary communication live. On record, their music sounds like an undiscovered gem of British psychedelic rock or a lost Cream song.

Eric Bibb On Mountain Stage

May 4, 2015

Acoustic blues master Eric Bibb makes his fifth visit to Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater on West Virginia's State Capitol grounds.

"Family band" is a term that can evoke either wholesome '70s stereotypes or embittered alt-rock rivalries, but the London siblings in Kitty, Daisy & Lewis seem to come from a time farther removed. Their sound and style recall those carnivalesque clans of Dust Bowl days that sought their fortune from town to town.

It took Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell nearly four decades to get around to making their first duets album, Old Yellow Moon, and just two years to follow it with The Traveling Kind. Their collaborative debut may have swept two of the biggest awards in their genre — a Best Americana Album Grammy and Album Of The Year at the Americana Awards — but there were more powerful incentives for them to team up again.

It's tempting to mythologize Buffy Sainte-Marie — to call her a folk-music mother of dragons, or at least a shaman calling up lost spirits in her music. It's easy, after all, to exoticize individualistic women, especially women of color; doing so can even feel like offering a compliment. But on Power In The Blood, her first studio album since 2008, the 74-year-old firebrand defies categorization, as she has throughout a half-century of recording.

Review: Surfer Blood, '1000 Palms'

May 3, 2015

After the middling reception that greeted 2013's Pythons, the Florida band Surfer Blood parted ways with its major label and returned to its DIY roots, hunkering down in attics and parents' houses to make its third album, 1000 Palms. If you can take the band out of the professional studio, however, it's harder to take the professionalism out of the band — and Surfer Blood circa 2015 only distantly recalls the sneakily clever slacker-rock of its beginnings.

For all their intricacy and precision, Patrick Watson's shimmery ballads never lack emotion or intimacy: The Montreal singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and prolific film-score composer puts every tiny sound in its right place, but his perfectionism is deployed for the sake of grace that feels almost otherworldly.

Review: Tyondai Braxton, 'HIVE1'

May 3, 2015

Wrapping your head around Tyondai Braxton's HIVE1 is like trying to catch a fly with your hands: It feels as if you could just reach out and grab it, but every time you lunge, it darts away. Braxton's busy electronic sounds are engaging, but his arrangements are consistently unpredictable. He traces quick patterns only to veer sideways, bent on coloring outside the lines he's drawn.

Review: Joanna Gruesome, 'Peanut Butter'

May 3, 2015

The story goes that members of Joanna Gruesome first met in 2010 at an anger-management group, and bonded over a mutual love of hardcore and writing songs as musical therapy. Whether fact or a myth that's grown in the telling, it's an origin perfectly matched to the Cardiff band's biting, bittersweet songs. Punk is about ratcheting up tension, whether through cranked-up amps and explosive drumming or howling above the fray.

Is there a modern-day equivalent to Duke Ellington? Or Ornette Coleman?

Who are the people today who think differently about jazz — who have created new forms, and expanded the musical vocabulary?

For 30 years, saxophonist Steve Coleman has been pushing the music forward, traveling the world to collect new sounds, rhythms and ideas. Along the way he's mentored many of the most exciting younger artists in jazz — musicians like Ambrose Akinmusire, Jason Moran and Vijay Iyer.

Benjamin Clementine's haunting voice and songwriting made him a star on Spotify after a single television appearance on BBC Two. These days, he's headlining sold-out shows in Europe. He recently signed with Capitol Records, and his first American EP, I Dream, I Smile, I Walk, I Cry, is out now.

Clementine's recent fame comes after years of busking on the streets of Paris and, before that, a challenging upbringing he still has trouble discussing. Now, the 26-year-old prefers to focus on what makes him fortunate.

Everyone knows the song — or, well, parts of it.

"Louie, Louie." "Ohhhhhh, baby." "A fine little girl, she waits for me."

But the next line ... How's it go again?

The voice growling out those indecipherable lyrics belonged to Jack Ely, the lead singer of The Kingsmen, who died this week at the age of 71.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

In "Mr. Holland's Opus," a young actress named Alicia Witt played a high school student who's struggling to play the clarinet.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS")

RICHARD DREYFUSS: (As Glenn Holland) Why are you crying?

In a recital hall at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, a group of musicians got together to play Jean-Baptiste Singelée's 1857 quartet for saxophones on some very old, very special instruments.

Each month, we listen to hundreds of new electronic music tracks, test the standouts on loud speakers and highlight the best of the best in a mix called Recommended Dose.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

One of the most distinctive voices of 1950s and '60s R&B has died. Ben E. King, best known for the song "Stand By Me," died yesterday in New Jersey of natural causes. He was 76. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has more.

Emily King On Song Travels

May 1, 2015

Grammy-nominated vocalist and songwriter Emily King is the daughter of internationally known jazz duo Marion Cowings and Kim Kalesti, and her musical journey has taken her far. She's toured with John Legend and Sara Bareilles, and she's released duets with José James and Taylor McFerrin.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

When we asked listeners to tell us about a song they turned to this week — one that spoke in some way to weighty events unfolding around the world and how they felt — we weren't sure what we'd get. Would it be mostly songs of solace? Songs of grief, or anger?

Last week's Drum Fill Friday was a tough one: I'd give it four out of five stars for difficulty. One thing that's nice about the tougher games is that they can turn you on to some great songs and bands you've never heard before. That said, I tamed this week's puzzler a bit — more like two out of five stars — so hopefully you'll be a little more familiar with the fills, while still feeling challenged. As always, good luck, careful listeners!

Instrumentals rarely become hits, but once they do, their staying power is undeniable. "Green Onions" (Booker T. & The MG's), "Frankenstein" (Edgar Winter) and "Pick Up The Pieces" (Average White Band) are just a few examples that come to mind.

Soul Singer Ben E. King, best known for his hit "Stand By Me," has died, his publicist says. He was 76.

Phil Brown, the publicist, says King died Thursday of natural causes.

Born Sept. 28, 1938, in Henderson, N.C., King moved to Harlem, N.Y., at age 9, his biography says.

Every now and then, if we are extremely lucky, we are witness to a musical game changer. That is the rare musician who single-handedly alters the direction of a genre though the power of musical vision and artistry.

Diego El Cigala is one of those game changers.

While he comes from the world of flamenco, he has deftly expanded his expressive range by applying his unmistakable voice to boleros, Spanish copla, tangos, jazz and various combinations of all of the above.

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