Frank Wess' new album, Magic 201, is a sequel to last year's similar helping of ballads and midtempo strollers, Magic 101. The new album is very nearly every bit as good, and made a little more poignant by Wess' death just before Halloween. On his last session as a leader in 2011, he was still sounding strong at 89.
Today on World Cafe: Next, we feature a unique duo. Sekou Kouyate, from Guinea in West Africa, has been described as "the Jimi Hendrix of the kora" for the way he electrifies the 21-string African harp. Joe Driscoll is an American living in England; he's a rapper, beat-boxer and loop-maker.
British folk musician Bert Jansch died in October 2011, about 10 months after recording this interview with World Cafe. A founding member of the folk-jazz-blues band Pentangle, along with fellow guitarist John Renbourn, Jansch was one of the most influential players of the '60s, though he never became hugely well-known.
This past week, the bassist and vocalist Mimi Jones released three albums at once. They weren't all her music, but they were her work: As the founder and producer of the record label Hot Tone Music, she brought all three albums to fruition.
Fifty years ago, on Feb. 12, 1964, Miles Davis led a band through one of the most exciting gigs to ever take place at New York's Philharmonic Hall. The show was a cultural event: a benefit for voter registration in Louisiana and Mississippi at the high point of the the civil rights movement, and an unofficial homage to John F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated a few months before.
In the 1950s, Philomena Lee was a naive Irish teenager who got pregnant, gave birth in a convent, and was forced by the nuns to sign away her parental rights. The 2013 film Philomena is based on what happened five decades later, when Lee went looking for her son with the help of a journalist. Directed by Stephen Frears and starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, Philomena is up for several Academy Awards, including one in an unlikely category.