British conductor Nicholas McGegan celebrates his 'Beatle' birthday today (64, that is). To mark the occasion, he recalls how he first fell in love with opera. It came by way of a newfangled record player and one heavenly Mozart recording. Remember when the operatic light bulb first sparked for you?
Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 6:07 pm
The logo for the 2014 Winter Jazzfest, marking the festival's 10th anniversary, is a giant iceberg floating into New York harbor. Like the iceberg, this year's edition was both big — 90-plus groups over five nights, representing just a small portion of a larger scene — and cold and wet, in that it rained both nights of the music marathon last Friday and Saturday evening. But Winter Jazzfest was hot on the inside, as we soaked up great music like a sponge.
Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 11:02 am
The prime minister of Ireland showed up for The Gloaming's first gig; that's how big the supergroup's formation has been for fans of Irish music. Here at NPR Music, Bob Boilen and I have been waiting anxiously for the band's first album ever since The Gloaming made its U.S. debut at globalFEST in January 2012.
Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 10:58 am
The opening lament on Tom Brosseau's new Grass Punks is as old as the hills: You don't pay attention to me anymore. In a thin, reedy voice that grows more vulnerable as the song unfolds, Brosseau confronts the reality that he no longer commands his beloved's attention. He's been supplanted not by a new affair, but by the smartphone: "I long for you to hold me in your arms," he sings, "but instead, you cradle your device."
Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 3:33 pm
In a concert and ceremony at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, the National Endowment for the Arts recognized its 2014 class of Jazz Masters.
The honor is the highest federally supported award for jazz artistry; those recognized receive a $25,000 grant and a tribute performance. The event was webcast live on the NEA's website, XM Satellite Radio and WBGO.org, as well as on NPR Music.
Mukhtar Mai is from a small tribal village in Pakistan. In 2002, her brother was accused of sexually molesting a woman from a wealthy land-owning clan. What happened next was horrifying, says singer and composer Kamala Sankaram.
In the room he uses as a practice space and office in his apartment in Corona, Queens, Jimmy Heath recalls a hit record from long ago.
"It's a song Bill Farrell, a popular singer, had years ago," he says, and then sings: "You've changed, you're not the angel I once knew / No need to tell me that we're through / It's all over now, you've changed." Then the 5'3" musician with the big sound picks up his tenor saxophone and blows.
"Big Band Saturday Night " will feature this weekend The King of Swing Benny Goodman, smooth tones of Glenn Miller, the fun-time style of Louis Armstrong and a guy who was a genius with the clarinet and directing several swing groups - Artie Shaw. This will be the first of a two-part special on The Swing Era's Great Band Directors! And as always, plenty of extras with your requests!
Join us for Big Band Saturday Night at 8 o'clock on 89.5!