Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 4:58 pm
Since she was a teenager, saxophonist Hailey Niswanger has been drawing attention in the jazz world, and not just because she's a woman in bands most often populated by men. Niswanger's alto- and soprano-sax mastery is captivating. Now 25, she's just released her third album as a bandleader, PDX Soul, and is preparing to go on tour with fellow Portland, Ore., native Esperanza Spalding.
Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 8:54 am
The Salón Los Angeles is the oldest dance hall in Mexico City. The classic 1930s ballroom is located in a working-class neighborhood near downtown, and every week, it sees dozens of well-dressed couples of all ages moving to an orchestra of saxophones, trumpets, trombones, clarinets and percussion instruments.
James Snyder writes songs as if he were in the room next door — hushed and vulnerable in his own space, but aware and perhaps even thrilled that someone might be listening. With Beach Slang, these uplifting confessionals become euphoric punk anthems about squeezing every second out of life. So it's telling and endearing that, when he played a solo acoustic set in the NPR Music offices, Snyder giggled with the nervous energy of a songwriter who's just been walked in on by a large group of strangers.
Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 8:37 am
Will Butler, the keyboard player and jack-of-all-instruments for Arcade Fire, has been playing smaller stages lately and liking it. Arcade Fire plays sheds and festivals — led by his brother, singer Win Butler — but he's been playing 150-seat clubs as a solo artist who's just released his debut album, Policy.
The Atlanta duo Larkin Poe makes its first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va.
Members Rebecca and Megan Lovell have appeared on the show once before, along with their sister Jessica, as bluegrass trio The Lovell Sisters. After taking a break from that project in 2009, the two took the name of their great-great-great-grandfather and adopted a raucous Southern rock sound that got them nicknamed "the little sisters of the Allman Brothers."
Before Toro Y Moi released its new album What For?, frontman Chaz Bundick and his band played it front to back for a small audience at Apogee Studio in Santa Monica. Bundick is a musical chameleon, and after a dance/electronic release under the name Les Sins, he's confidently planted his flag in the field of guitar-driven psych-pop. Here, Toro Y Moi performs a perfect springtime jam called "Empty Nesters."
Pianist Ralph Sharon, the longtime accompanist for Tony Bennett, died March 31 at age 91. In the audio link above, Tom Cole has a brief report for NPR's Morning Edition, and below, Walter Ray Watson filed this remembrance for NPR Music.
A few years ago, Matthew E. White and his crew formed a production company and studio in Richmond, Va., and called the enterprise Spacebomb. White and Spacebomb's first album, 2012's Big Inner, was produced primarily as a demo to showcase the group's strengths.