Not long ago, Nick Lowe was approached by his American record label about releasing a Christmas album. The esteemed UK songwriter, who gave the world "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" and "Cruel to Be Kind," says the idea seemed laughable.
"But I was confused by how snooty I felt when they asked me about doing it," Lowe says. "I think it's a Brit thing, really: Making Christmas records is seen as a not very cool thing to do. And I thinkg it's all bound up with strange ideas from the 1960s, about selling out and things like that."
The a cappella group Groove For Thought has been electrifying classics and pop songs for 10 years. Tenor and baritone Kelly Kunz and soprano Amanda Taylor speak with host Scott Simon about their new holiday album, Songs of Good Cheer.
Bluegrass' most beloved pros often play well into their 80s and 90s, so it would surprise no one if our children's children's children turn up at a Sarah Jarosz concert 70 years from now. The singer and multi-instrumentalist first surfaced as an 18-year-old wunderkind with the release of 2009's Song Up In Her Head, which generated the first of what will likely be many Grammy nominations; now a grizzled 22, she's out performing songs from her fine new third album, Build Me Up From Bones.
Jay Z easily led Grammy Award nominations announced Friday with nine, but left-of-center rappers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar were among a group of new stars who took many of the major nominations.
Macklemore and Lewis' gay marriage anthem "Same Love" was among song of the year nominees and the Seattle rap crew joined Los Angeles rapper Lamar with seven nominations apiece, including best album and best new artist of the year. Pharrell Williams had four major nominations among his seven and Justin Timberlake also had seven.
For this 2006 episode of Piano Jazz, trumpeter Ellen Seeling brought her longtime collaborator and the assistant director of the Montclair Women's Big Band, saxophonist Jean Fineberg, as well as New York drummer Allison Miller.
The Bobs' members appear on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.V. Zany a cappella groups have become a bit of a thing in recent years, and these guys were doing it way back in the early '80s. The group formed on the West Coast when two of its founders lost their jobs at a telegram company.
Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 12:05 pm
This wound up being a spectacular year for elaborate, lavishly packaged reissues. Given all the fabulous classical box sets that appeared this year, you'd think we were in some kind of boom era for music served up on compact discs. (2013? More like 1993.)
Taylor Muse is the 31-year-old bandleader and songwriter of Quiet Company, an indie-rock band from Austin. A native of East Texas raised in a Southern Baptist church, he now reluctantly carries the banner of "that atheist rocker from Austin."
"Every band that I was in up until college was a Christian band," Muse says. "It was part of our identity as people, our identity as a community. It was everything."
Dominique Pruitt makes her first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.V. Pruitt grew up in the San Fernando Valley outside Los Angeles, surrounded by professional musicians, including her parents. When she saw the John Waters film Cry-Baby as a child, she immediately became fascinated with all things '50s, though she grew to love the '40s and '60s, as well.
Steve Lacy used to say that the right partner can help you make music you couldn't get to by yourself. Take the quartet William Parker founded in 2000, for example. Parker's bass tone was always sturdy as a tree trunk, but power drummer Hamid Drake gives him lift. The upshot is that free jazz can swing, too. The quartet's front line is another firm partnership: quicksilver alto saxophonist Rob Brown and flinty trumpeter Lewis Barnes.
Finally today, let's talk music. If you were anywhere near a nightclub or turned on the radio a few summers ago, you no doubt heard this song.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOLD YUH")
MARTIN: That was "Hold Yuh" from Jamaica's reggae and dance hall star, Gyptian. And now he's back and making waves in the U.S. with his latest album, "Sex, Love, and Reggae." And Gyptian is with us now. And as the album title suggests, this conversation may not be suitable for all listeners. With that being said, Gyptian, welcome. Thanks for joining us.
Whether she's creating songs in L.A. or New York, it's clear that Glasser (a.k.a. Cameron Mesirow) has put as much effort into her music as she has into the total artistic package of form and atmosphere. In songs like "Shape," she creates moody, intoxicating environments with her voice and presence.
Many jazz musicians write music here and there, but it's still a leap for someone to go from "writing tunes" to taking pride in the art of composition. The alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius, based in New York for a decade now, is headed that way. After releasing his fourth album, Infinite Blue, earlier this year, he's now set to premiere a new set of compositions for jazz octet. While We're Still Young is a suite based on the illustrated book of children's poems When We Were Very Young, by Winnie-The-Pooh creator A.A.
A Brian Blade Fellowship concert feels a bit like a family reunion. Its core — drummer Blade, pianist Jon Cowherd and bassist Chris Thomas — has played together for more than 20 years, and its horn players have stayed loyal to the operation, too. Its repertoire feels rooted in a deep emotional well where sacred abuts secular and jazz meets its Southern folk cousins. Sparks always seem to fly when it gathers for an infrequent recording or string of tour dates.
The James Hunter Six appears on this episode of Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.V. Van Morrison once called Hunter "one of the best-kept secrets in British R&B and soul," but after a series of acclaimed albums and an award from the Americana Music Association, the secret is out.
Follow the great musical migration from Scotland, through Ulster to Appalachia. Dougie MacLean, Tim O'Brien, Cara Dillon, Jean Ritchie, Sheila Kay Adams, Doc Watson and others share songs that tell the story of a remarkable musical diaspora.
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Keith Jarrett is a jazz legend. His catalog of recordings includes solo piano improvisations, trio and quartet works, classical performances, early sessions with Charles Lloyd and late ones with Miles Davis. But there's nothing quite like Jarrett's new double-CD set No End: It was recorded in his home studio in 1986, and he plays all the instruments — notably drums, bass and electric guitar.