In the western suburbs of Paris 150 years ago today, a boy was born to an unassuming couple, proprietors of a china shop who had no great taste for music. But that little boy felt otherwise, and grew up to write music of bold color, timbre and harmonic daring.
Claude Debussy ignored the old rules about how to write music and in the process created a brave new world of sonic possibilities.
Former Nickel Creek fiddler Sara Watkins is a musical protege, both as a vocalist and as a multi-instrumentalist who plays the guitar, mandolin and ukulele. Watkins enjoyed widespread success in Nickel Creek, which included her older brother Sean and childhood friend Chris Thile.
Originally published on Sun August 19, 2012 3:19 pm
In the early 1970s, British musician Bill Fay recorded a couple of luscious folk albums — which didn't sell very well. Fay was dropped from label after label, and though he continued to write his storybook songs over the years, he eventually fell off the map.
If you ever listened to jazz vocalists and wondered if you could ever in your life scat like them, there's someone who's willing to teach you. The vocalist Rhiannon has long held the importance of improvisation as a personal credo, and in her career has blended that art form with jazz, world music and storytelling.
Originally published on Tue August 28, 2012 4:15 pm
Based on their instruments, they seem like an old-time string band; based on their appearance, they seem like they might play punk music. The answer lies somewhere in between. Pete Bernhard (guitar) and Cooper McBean (banjo) grew up in New England to parents who liked ragtime and old blues. The two moved to Santa Cruz temporarily, where they met Lucia Turino (upright bass), and The Devil Makes Three was born. (For our session, Adam Chilenski fills in for Lucia, who had a broken arm.)
Kristian Matsson, the smallish Swede who performs under the moniker The Tallest Man on Earth, sings, plays guitar and occasionally takes a turn at the piano. That's all there is to his act: no backing band, no frills. Heck, he barely needs amplification, given the volume at which he performs. But that right there — the gigantic force of his delivery, the percussive hyper-dexterity of his playing — is part of what makes him so magnetic on stage. On paper, he's just another poet strumming a guitar.
Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 11:12 am
Hank Williams was a great singer-songwriter who forged his own brand of honky-tonk music from a variety of influences: country, folk, blues, gospel and jazz. Yes, jazz.
If you haven't listened to his music in a while you might not recall — Williams had swing. And even if some jazz listeners have forgotten that fact, many jazz players haven't. Here then are five jazz artists out of many who have taken Williams' music and put their own spins on it.