Music

Music

Joey DeFrancesco On Piano Jazz

Mar 10, 2017

Joey DeFrancesco was only 20 years old when he was Marian McPartland's guest on Piano Jazz. Hailed as the new hero of the organ, his stint with Miles Davis brought the classically trained keyboardist national attention. He has since gone on to release more than 30 albums and has earned multiple Grammy nominations.

Camae Ayewa, who records under the name Moor Mother, doesn't waste time. The Philly-based artist and agitator stuffs every moment of her densely packed, combative songs with unease and piercing static — that she doesn't allow listeners a moment of peace or rest can only be part of the point.

Out of over 6,000 entries — more submissions than we've ever received — Tank And The Bangas won, unanimously, this year's Tiny Desk Contest. I fully expected their victory performance here at NPR headquarters in D.C. to be celebratory. I didn't know we'd all end up in tears.

David Bowie's website announced Thursday a limited-edition release of two rarities from the rock icon's vault: Cracked Actor, a three-LP live record of a Los Angeles show from 1974 mixed by longtime Bowie studio collaborator Tony Visconti, as well as a reissue of a small-pressing EP of Bowpromo from 1971, which contained alternate mixes of songs from Hunky Dory.

Earl Johnson II didn't grow up dreaming about becoming a famous singer: For a long time, he didn't even know he could sing. He discovered his talent almost by accident one night, at the recording studio he was working in as a producer.

Marty Stuart is a walking, talking, singing, guitar-slinging repository of American popular music. The multiple-Grammy winner has had a long and storied career rooted in country music, but spanning everything from honky-tonk to "hillbilly rock" and from Southern gospel and blues to Native American balladry.

What The Dap-Kings are to vintage soul, Los Hacheros are to the golden era of Latin music. A strong statement, yes, but this New York City five-piece acoustic band has all the soul, fire and reverence of the late Sharon Jones' backup band — and is even signed to Chulo, Daptone Records' new Latin imprint.

Yesterday, on International Women's Day, most of my friends were in full empowerment mode. They were sporting red clothes, naming their top five women artists, and posting photos of mothers and daughters. But over in the jazz world, International Women's Day was a little more ... awkward. We were busy attending to some much less celebratory women's business, a series of online events that we'll call the Saga of Musical Clitoris.

The Aussie trio Middle Kids came seemingly out of nowhere to release some of the catchiest pop songs we've heard recently. The band visited KCRW for a live session on the day it released its self-titled EP and performed the standout "Never Start."

SET LIST

  • "Never Start"

Photo: Michael Verdin/KCRW.

The combination of an acoustic guitar and the human voice can trigger powerful emotions in countless ways, but it's pretty remarkable when they come together in ways that sound novel. "Goji Berry Sunset" — the first single by Naomi Hamilton, a singer from Northern Ireland who goes by the name Jealous Of The Birds — is made from some of the sparest ingredients imaginable; it's just a gently plucked acoustic guitar, a whistled hook and Hamilton's layered vocals. But those simple sounds dig deep.

Review: Jacaszek, 'KWIATY'

Mar 9, 2017

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.


Polish composer Michał Jacaszek's new album KWIATY, which translates as "flowers," strives to locate beauty in desolation. These aren't the kaleidoscopic gardens of Victorian manors. They're the dried petals inside old acrylic paperweights, their life cycles frozen in time.

Stephin Merritt is a great storyteller with a really analytical perspective — except, maybe, when it comes to his own feelings.

As the driving force behind The Magnetic Fields, Merritt has written hundreds of songs. Almost none of them are autobiographical; it's just not his style. And yet, for his 50th birthday, he decided he was going to write 50 songs, one for each year of his life.

Dave Valentin became one of the pre-eminent flutists in Latin jazz. He was known for his creative combination of fusion, pop and R&B.

He won a Grammy in 2003 for best Latin jazz album for "The Gathering," by the Caribbean Jazz Project. Vibraphonist Dave Samuels was also featured on that record.

Manager Richie Bonilla told news agencies that Valentin, 64, who had suffered multiple strokes over the last several years, died Wednesday from stroke complications and Parkinson's disease.

Ty Waters is an 11-year-old singer from Vancouver, Canada. His remarkable voice has won him recognition and opportunities from an appearance at the Apollo Theater in New York to the Music and Media Awards show in Hollywood. Now, he's released his debut album, titled Only Human.

Here's a story of how a sentiment, the kernel of a piece, can blossom when the right person comes along. The songwriter is Minneapolis-by-way-of-Wisconsin's J.E. Sunde, but the key transformer was Monica Martin, of the band Phox.

The Afghan Whigs embrace the sleaze and surreal in the first single from In Spades. "Demon In Profile" picks up where 2014's Do To The Beast left off, with smeared blue-eyed soul far more sinister than it lets on.

With Slowdive's live reunion, stellar new song and promise of more material, you could forgive guitarist Christian Savill if he set aside any other projects for the time being. But no, Slowdive's return actually seems to have spurred more activity — he and Sean Hewson's long-running project Monster Movie will release Keep The Voices Distant, its fifth album and its first with an expanded band, next month.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Hurray for the Riff Raff has always been a voice for the underdogs and the outsiders, and the band delivers that spirit in spades on a new, rousing album called The Navigator. It's based on a fictional character named Navita, whose journey mirrors the one taken by courageous band founder and songwriter Alynda Segarra.

An impresario and producer who helped launch the careers of many marquee-name musicians, comedians and actors — including Bob Dylan, Woody Allen and Bruce Lee — has died. Fred Weintraub was 88 years old.

His wife, Jackie, confirmed his death to NPR. He died at their home in Pacific Palisades, Calif. on March 5, due to complications related to Parkinson's disease.

Iron & Wine On Mountain Stage

Mar 8, 2017

Iron & Wine makes his debut on Mountain Stage, recorded during the show's recent 33rd anniversary celebration at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. Sam Beam didn't become his critically-acclaimed alter ego Iron & Wine until his late 20s, at which point he switched his career as a cinema professor for a career as a cinematic musician.

Pages