WUIS Xponential

WUIS Xponential

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.

The McCrary Sisters On World Cafe

Apr 30, 2015

Our guests today, the Nashville based gospel group The McCrary Sisters, have a new album produced by Buddy Miller called Let's Go. It's their third. They released their debut in 2011.

For more interviews from NPR Music, click here.

This past week we held a listening party in Denver, and one of the songs we played for the crowd was Stephin Merrit's "Book Of Love," from his album 69 Love Songs, by The Magnetic Fields. Our panelist, Amelia Mason, writer for WBUR's The ARTery, called it a perfect song, and many of us in the room agreed.

All Songs is a music podcast, and we like to have fun. But music can speak to significant political, cultural and social events that can be challenging to process on their own. Songs can spark a protest or offer peace of mind, or just be close companions.

Sylvan Esso combines heady electro beats from Nick Sanborn and Amelia Meath's warm and graceful voice. They've hit a sweet spot with their self-titled debut. On their recent visit to KCRW between Coachella dates, the two delivered an excellent interpretation of their danceable single, "H.S.K.T."

SET LIST

  • "H.S.K.T."

Watch Sylvan Esso's full performance at KCRW.com.

Punch Brothers, 'Familiarity'

Apr 29, 2015

When I asked Chris Thile (mandolin/vocals) and Gabe Witcher (fiddle/percussion/vocals) about the song "Familiarity" before Punch Brothers took the stage at Boston's House of Blues March 6, both of their faces lit up. It's clear this particular song — among a number of notable ones on the band's most recent album, The Phosphorescent Blues — is something special.

Jim White, the Southern-born filmmaker turned singer-songwriter turned novelist, has a new album — or at least half of one. Jim now lives in Athens, Ga., where he's become friends with a longtime local bluegrass group, The Packway Handle Band. When they asked him to produce their album, he said yes, but only if he could join the band and have them do some of his tunes. That's where the name of this project, Jim White vs. The Packway Handle Band, comes from.

There's a quiet and a calm from José González that amplify his words. This has never been truer than on his new album, Vestiges & Claws. The songs are full of abstract imagery — more paintings than stories. He performed this song, "With The Ink of A Ghost," at my desk.

Idle as a wave
Moving out at sea
Cruising without sound
Molding what's to be
Serene between the trace
Serene with the tide and ink of a ghost

How Bessie Smith Ushered In The Jazz Age

Apr 28, 2015

Jazz and blues are often treated as one and the same — but how did one end up taking over and surpassing the other, ushering in the jazz age?

Trumpeter Rolf Smedvig, praised for his beautiful tone and virtuosic style, died Monday afternoon at his home in West Stockbridge, Mass. The cause of death, according to his long-time manager Mark Z. Alpert, was a heart attack. Smedvig was 62.

Dom La Nena On World Cafe

Apr 28, 2015

Dom La Nena is our guest today. She is a cello-playing singer-songwriter with a wonderfully soft, melodic style and a beautiful new record called Soyo. Born Dominique Pinto, she is originally from Brazil and traveled at an early age with her father to Paris, where she studied classical cello. She acquired her diminutive nickname as the youngest in her school.

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