Whether we're talking about, say, the historic accumulation of medals by swimmer Michael Phelps or Rowan Atkinson's keyboard "playing" during the Opening Ceremony a few days ago, there have been --- at the current Olympic Games, of course --- scores of outstanding performances in London lately.
Therefore, in a tip of the hat to Mr. Phelps, Mr. Atkinson, and so many others, the next installment of All This Jazz will present a host of great performances from London Town . . . performances, in our case, in a jazz vein.
Originally published on Sat August 4, 2012 12:04 am
Canadian rower Michael Braithwaite is pumped and probably a little nervous. It's the day before the double sculls (two person team) competition at the London Olympics and the British Columbia native is hoping his strong arms and shoulders will bring him gold.
A dozen years ago, if someone told me that one of the liveliest, most inventive party albums of the year would come from a band originally associated with wedding celebrations and beer festivals, I would have been all, "Yeah, sure, you bet." If it was further explained that the band's roots were much closer to polka than rock, funk or hip-hop, I would have responded, "Don't push it." But nowadays, I'm familiar with the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar, whose retrospective Golden Horns will lighten the heart and lift the feet as surely as anything you'll hear in 2012.
Up until a few years ago, Italian-born, French-educated composer-pianist-conductor Alfredo Casella's greatest claim to fame in America was as the director of the Boston Pops in the late 1920s, preceding Arthur Fiedler. But that pales in comparison to the significant body of distinguished music he left behind that is receiving increased attention from record companies.
Sara Watkins isn't the flashiest of singing stars, but she's already carved out a remarkable career: She got her start as a kid with Chris Thile and her brother Sean in the heavily decorated, platinum-selling Nickel Creek, and has since gone on to perform with The Decemberists,
Bibi Tanga is a true musical globe-trotter. Born in the Central African Republic to a family of diplomats, he spent most of his life following his father around the world. But Tanga says his journey has helped him to incorporate diverse genres into funky, multilingual songs that tackle themes well-hidden behind groovy hooks. Together with his band the Selenites, he is now touring the U.S. in support of his new album 40 Degrees of Sunshine.
Folk-pop singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega appears in this archival edition of Mountain Stage, recorded in December 2007. Vega enjoyed commercial success with hits like "Luka" and "Tom's Diner," which both reached into the Top Ten of pop charts in the U.S. and abroad, earning her a large national and international following.