Music

Music

And we're back! Our first new mix of the new year includes gritty guitar rock from the band Bethlehem Steel, a sweetly seductive, pop earworm from singer Anna Burch, and an epic breakup song from Lucy Dacus.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Composer Ramin Djawadi brought the incredible music of Game Of Thrones to life in our studio. He called the session "Game Of Thrones: Unplugged," as he usually performs this score with a full orchestra. It was a gorgeous set of music, whether you are a fan of the hit HBO show or not.

SET LIST

  • "Game Of Thrones Main Title"

Photos: Dustin Downing/KCRW.

When it comes to reporting on Spotify and the company's strained relationship with songwriters and publishers, it's beginning to sound like a broken ... system. But a possible fix is in.

Just two days before New Year's Eve, the music publishing company Wixen, which manages the compositions of a wide cross section of artists from Neil Young to Rage Against The Machine, filed a lawsuit against Spotify over its failure to properly license those works before making them available to stream.

This special radio hour features Pete Seeger's music throughout his career, plus an interview during a visit to his home, where he shared his anecdotes, spirit and zest for life with Fiona Ritchie.

This episode originally aired the week of Dec. 30, 2010.

Robert Mann, a violinist and one of the founders of the Juilliard String Quartet, died on Monday at home in Manhattan. He was 97 years old.

When he was a youngster in Portland, Oregon, Mann dreamed of being a forest ranger. But destiny apparently had other plans for him: instead, he became a legendary musician.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Muscle Shoals, Ala., is a small town a couple hours east of Memphis and south of Nashville. Starting in the 1960s, it drew some of the best musicians in the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TELL MAMA")

In the 1970s, William Eggleston shocked the New York art world when the Museum of Modern Art exhibited his color photographs (Until then, most
serious photography had been black and white). Eggleston's pictures of the everyday established color photography and turned him into an art star. At the age of 78, the Memphis native surprised people yet again by releasing his first body of original music last October, an album titled Musik.

As we sit here at World Cafe headquarters in Philly reading about the "bomb cyclone" that has already wreaked outdoor havoc for some folks (including, at the time I'm writing this, in northern Florida and southern Georgia), forecasts are rolling in predicting extreme cold, dangerous winds and record snowfall on the East Coast.

When Win Butler of the Canadian rock band Arcade Fire stumbled upon Bomba Esteréo playing in a church basement during the Pop Montreal International Music Festival, there was no turning back.

There's a danger, when an artist has as compelling a story as Margo Price has, that the personal will overshadow the musical. So let's just get one thing straight first: Margo Price writes really beautiful songs. And boy-oh-boy can she sing.

The official lineup for this year's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, taking place April 13-15 and 20-22, has arrived.

Open Mike Eagle may have released one of the most political albums of 2017, but Brick Body Kids Still Daydream is also among the most personal. It comes across best in his live performances. For only the second time during his recent tour cycle, the LA-based artist played a set aided by the live instrumentation of musicians Jordan Katz (trumpet, keys, sampler), Josh Lopez (keys, sampler) and Brandon Owens (bass) for his Tiny Desk debut.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

(SOUNDBITE OF LADAMA SONG, "NIGHT TRAVELER")

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Every year, each of the eight members of the SFJAZZ Collective is tasked with two writing assignments. The first: Compose a new piece specifically for the band, which gathers some of the most outstanding performers on the modern jazz scene. The second: Rearrange a composition by the elder artist that the Collective has chosen to feature that year. For the 2014-15 season, SFJAZZ is paying tribute to a tenor saxophone titan, a composer of classic tunes and a long-time San Francisco resident: the late Joe Henderson.

The Hammond electronic organ was developed with churches in mind, as a lower-cost alternative to pipe organs. But in Philadelphia, a keyboard player named Jimmy Smith was inspired by early jazz experiments on the instrument, and found a devastating way to adapt the new bebop style to the Hammond B-3. It seeded a new tradition of organ players in Philadelphia — major figures like "Groove" Holmes, Jimmy McGriff, Papa John and Joey DeFrancesco, and Trudy Pitts — and kickstarted a new sound in jazz at large.

It's not as if there were ever clear paths for cello players beyond the European classical tradition, but Akua Dixon made one for herself. The New York City native found work in the pit band of the Apollo Theater, the multi-racial Symphony of the New World, and the bands of many jazz musicians — including drummer Max Roach's Double Quartet. As she developed her jazz chops, she also started her own string quartet, featured prominently on her new self-titled album. Akua Dixon also features her crafty arranging for strings over jazz standards and Afro-Latin grooves.

For decades, David Murray was known as one of New York's most monstrously talented and astoundingly prolific artists — a tenor saxophonist who played and wrote for just about every imaginable context. He's still these things, but he lives in Europe now. So this year's Winter Jazzfest — already jam-packed with over 100 acts in two nights — saw fit to give New York audiences a proper saturation of what they'd been missing, presenting David Murray in three completely different sets.

You can hear a sense of wandering, the wistful shuffle of no fixed address, in Bedouine's music. She was born Azniv Korkezian but chose the artist name Bedouine from the Arabic-speaking Bedouin people, who wander the Middle Eastern desert as nomads.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Remembering A Legendary Hawaiian Musician

Jan 1, 2018

The great Hawaiian guitarist, singer and patriarch Gabby Pahinui died in 1980 but his influence is still felt. His music was featured in the George Clooney movie The Descendants and his sons have been carrying on the tradition. But Martin Pahinui just died and his brothers Cyril and Bla are getting old.

Norwegian Jazz Star Releases New Album

Jan 1, 2018

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Now let's listen to new songs from a leading figure in Norway's crossover jazz-pop scene. Ellen Andrea Wang, a 31-year-old bassist and vocalist, recently released her second album. It's called "Blank Out." Michelle Mercer has our review.

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And I'm Rachel Martin with some historic music firsts on this first day of the new year.

(SOUNDBITE OF ATOS TRIO'S PERFORMANCE OF BEETHOVEN'S "PIANO TRIO IN E FLAT MAJOR, OP. 1, NO. 1")

Toast Of The Nation 2018

Dec 31, 2017

NPR's New Year's Eve tradition returns in this year's Toast of the Nation jazz party. Spirited and swinging, each hour of our annual all-night broadcast features a different live performance sure to get you ready for 2018.

Right now, you can enjoy all six hours of music any time of day or night — complete with festive Happy New Year messages throughout. Hosted by Christian McBride, it's the perfect complement to your holiday festivities.

Images of Kentucky are often reduced to coal miners, bourbon, horse-racing and Loretta Lynn. This year, Oxford American magazine has dedicated its annual music issue entirely to Kentucky, and it explores soul jazz, punk rock, rap and more from the Bluegrass State.

Several years ago, Claire van Kampen was composing music for a London theater production. During a break, one of the singers asked her if she knew the story of Farinelli, the famous 18th century opera singer.

"'You'd really like the bit where he goes to Spain and sings to King Phillipe who has this bipolar disorder.' And then I started to think: Now that's an interesting story that I haven't heard about, seen."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARVIN GAYE AND KIM WESTON SONG, "IT TAKES TWO")

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

This week we're remembering some of the notable people who died this year.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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