NPR News

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Can I Just Tell You: Barbara Bush

Apr 21, 2018

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NPR Poetry Month: Andrea Davis Pinkney

Apr 21, 2018

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Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

James Comey To 'Fresh Air': The FBI Isn't 'On Anybody's Side': The former FBI director tells Terry Gross that he wants to sound the alarm about the "forest fire" of the Trump presidency — and also to defend the FBI against charges of partisanship.

Edie Falco starred in the groundbreaking HBO show, Oz, and then gained fame and a boatload of awards playing Carmela on HBO's The Sopranos. She followed that up by creating another iconic character, Nurse Jackie, on Showtime. Her new movie is a drama called Outside In.

Since Falco starred in The Sopranos, we've invited her to play a game called "Woke up this morning and got myself an aria" — three questions about tenors.

Click the listen link above to see how she does.

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(SOUNDBITE OF LAURA VEIRS SONG, "EVERYBODY NEEDS YOU")

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Last time we heard Laura Veirs, she was collaborating with Neko Case and k.d. lang on a critically acclaimed album. Now she's returned to her solo work.

In January, Ursula K. Le Guin died. Her Washington Post obituary is glowing; it notes that The Left Hand of Darkness "was cited by literary critic Harold Bloom in The Western Canon, his overview of classic literature, and paved the way for Ms. Le Guin's broader acceptance." It also, reverentially, identifies her as the "grande dame" of science fiction.

An elite group of movie lovers in the Saudi capital Riyadh got a special treat on Wednesday — a screening of the Hollywood blockbuster Black Panther. The invitation-only event marked the lifting of a ban on cinemas that's lasted more than three decades. It also heralds a new era for Saudi filmmakers, who for years have faced harassment from Saudi authorities for pursuing a profession considered haram, or forbidden, in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

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A startup company in California is using machine learning and artificial intelligence to advise fire departments about how to plan for earthquakes and respond to them.

The company, One Concern, hopes its algorithms can take a lot of the guesswork out of the planning process for disaster response by making accurate predictions about earthquake damage. It's one of a handful of companies rolling out artificial intelligence and machine learning systems that could help predict and respond to floods, cyber-attacks and other large-scale disasters.

Malibu Moves To Ban Single-Use Plastic

Apr 20, 2018

In terms of environmental impact, there are alternatives to plastic straws — glass, paper, metal even. But each one had its particular flaw in the eyes of Robert Morris, who owns the Paradise Cove restaurant in Malibu, Calif.

"I've tried paper, but they just don't work as well with our cocktails, and we've had paper straws in the past for years, but pasta straws are just better and take less time to decompose," Morris said.

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A good magician never reveals his secrets. Well, one of the world's most famous magicians has just broken that rule.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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Arvo Pärt is one of the most popular, most performed living composers. He's beloved worldwide for his signature sound – a spacious, meditative music that tends to sound timeless.

But there's a lesser-known side to the 82-year-old Estonian's career. It's a story that can be traced in a new recording of Pärt's four Symphonies. The album is a musical journey spanning 45 years in fervently detailed performances by the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic, conducted by fellow Estonian Tõnu Kaljuste.

Earlier this week Kanye West ended his social media hiatus and hopped on Twitter to share anecdotes about life, existence and the universe. West announced that he is writing a book on philosophy. He also tweeted that he will release two new albums later this spring (he'd been spotted around Jackson Hole, Wyo. over the last few months, where many believe he is working on his new albums with some of hip-hop's finest).

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Too young and way too soon - that's what artists and musicians all over the world said today remembering one of their own, Swedish DJ Avicii.

(SOUNDBITE OF AVICII SONG, "HEY BROTHER")

Willie Pickens On Piano Jazz

Apr 20, 2018

Piano Jazz remembers Willie Pickens (April 18, 1931 – Dec. 12, 2017), who passed away at the age of 86. A master of digital speed and harmonic sophistication, the Chicago pianist was McPartland's guest for this 1997 program.

Recorded live at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild in Pittsburgh, the set kicks off with an improvised boogie-woogie that shows why Pickens' contemporaries revered him as "one of the foremost piano players in jazz."

If John and T.J. Osborne hadn't been born brothers, each might have found artistic success in his own lane. John's a hotshot guitarist who developed his smooth, inventive style emulating hard rockers and bluegrass pickers. T.J. has the resonant baritone of a classic country crooner, with a little Eddie Vedder thrown in.

Updated at 2:56 p.m. ET

Avicii, the Swedish producer who was one of the world's most successful DJs, was found dead today in Muscat, Oman, his publicist confirmed to NPR Music. He was 28. No cause of death was given.

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Since diplomatic relations broke off between the United States and Cuba in 1961, musical exchange between both countries has been largely left, outside of tours, to the underground. Yissy García remembers her father, Bernardo García — a co-founder of Irakere, one of the most iconic bands in the history of Cuban music — sharing cassette tapes full of artists like Herbie Hancock after he would toured the U.S. These treasured souvenirs shaped her musical foundation — and the methods of sharing music haven't changed much since, either.

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Colombia's Monsieur Periné is at that sweet spot of a band's maturation process wherein they've solidified what they know, but are unafraid to venture towards what they don't.

Consider that the group's last album, Caja de Musica, flowed with French-inspired swing-jazz feel-goodness, leading to a breakout 2015 Latin Grammy win for best new artist.

On his fifteenth studio album, Moby reconciles his rage about the state of things with a zen-like acceptance of the apocalypse. The lush, haunting songs on this record paints a beautiful picture of a broken world, as indicated in the title: Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt.

SET LIST

  • "Falling Rain And Light"

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