Billed as "all-ages folk and children's music from East Asia," Rabbit Days and Dumplings collects mostly traditional songs from China, Tibet, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. The album is the creation of Elena Moon Park. She's spent six years playing family music with Dan Zanes, who has a fanatically devoted following among the smaller set. For this project, she brought in dozens of other musicians from around New York City.
Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 9:37 am
Contemporary folksinger Tracy Grammer began her journey in music with her partner Dave Carter in 1998. The duo made three albums before Carter died in 2002 — less than a year before this performance was recorded in April 2003. She has also released three Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer albums in the years since his death, one of which came out earlier this year.
Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 6:12 pm
The spread of formal jazz education has created a new breed of global musician: one who uses improvisation, and other devices associated with jazz, to transform folk and traditional music. The Albanian singer Elina Duni is part of this rising class. Her latest release, Matane Malit ("Beyond the Mountain"), offers a transfixing balance of old and new.
This week, Piano Jazz digs deep into the archives with a session featuring James Herbert "Eubie" Blake. He was the last of the known living original ragtime pianists when he appeared on the program in 1980 with host Marian McPartland.
Saxophonist John Ellis (center) performs with Matt Perrine (left) on sousaphone at the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival.
Credit Erik Jacobs for NPR
Sharply dressed for the occasion, composer Darcy James Argue led his 18-piece big band, Secret Society, at the main Fort Stage on Saturday.
Credit Erik Jacobs for NPR
Song titles like "Three-Legged Tango In Jackson Square" and "Zydeco Clowns On The Lam" clue us into the Southern Gothic imagination of saxophonist John Ellis and his band, Double-Wide. New Orleans resident Matt Perrine played sousaphone bass during the festival's first main-stage show.
As we re-release these two sets from Newport, saxophonist John Ellis (leader of one, player in the other) is leading workshops in Portugal and Italy. Darcy James Argue has released a studio recording of Brooklyn Babylon, and his Secret Society tied with the Maria Schneider Orchestra for the Big Band of 2013 in the just-out DownBeat Critics Poll.
Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 9:49 am
There's something about Johann Sebastian Bach's music that nourishes musicians. Pianist Andras Schiff and cellist Yo-Yo Ma have said that they play Bach almost every day — like having breakfast, it seems essential for them.
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 7:34 am
Chihiro Yamanaka is big in Japan — of course, it helps that the pianist was born and grew up there. Now, she's based in New York City and making strides in the stateside jazz world. Her 2012 album Reminiscence features two trios: one is her working band, while the other features special guests Larry Grenadier (bass) and session artist Bernard "Pretty" Purdie (drums). An imaginative virtuoso on the piano bench, she's enjoyed a recent itinerary which has seen her play in many of the East Coast's most prominent jazz clubs and concert halls.
Everywhere you look right now, it seems like American symphony orchestras are fighting for their lives — strikes, lockouts, bankruptcy. Perhaps the biggest example is the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra, which is just coming out of its own bankruptcy. Tonight, its new 37-year-old music director takes the podium as the venerable orchestra begins a reboot.
Ahmed Janka Nabay was one of the first musicians to take 500-year-old bubu music outside of his homeland of Sierra Leone, where he'd been a rock star. Nabay was forced to flee the country in the midst of that country's civil war, and eventually wound up in Philadelphia in 2003. Nine years later, Nabay's band has released its first album, En Yay Sah, which blends bubu and electronic dance music.