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The Musical Universe

 

When you think of Nashville, you probably think of country music. Soul and jazz? Not so much. But Kandace Springs is aiming to change that. In 2014, Springs was signed to Blue Note Records, which is known for recording the jazz greats like Herbie Hancock, Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk. Springs owned that warm classic jazz sound on her debut album, 2016's Soul Eyes.

Michel Camilo On Piano Jazz

Sep 14, 2018

Grammy-winning pianist, composer and bandleader Michel Camilo is one of the most fascinating jazz artists working today. A prodigy from the Dominican Republic, he began his professional career at the age of 16 as the youngest member of the National Symphony Orchestra. In his twenties, Camilo moved to New York City, where he took the jazz scene by storm with his whirlwind approach to music, technical brilliance and post-bop Latin rhythms. In this 1989 Piano Jazz session, Camilo plays his own composition "Nostalgia."

Ray BLK is here to hold it down for the ladies. The U.K. artist shines in her new video for "Empress," a cool, calm and vivaciously confident anthem about this woman's worth.

Denver band Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats played a scorching set of funky soul songs as part of our Apogee Sessions series, including the track, "I'll Be Damned." It's an older song they recorded with producer Richard Swift for the deluxe edition of its latest record Tearing at the Seams. This was only the band's third time playing the song live and it was a hit!

As the seasons change, the melancholy of losing summer deserves its own soundtrack. Atlanta crooner 6LACK (pronounced "black") — who dropped a sleeper hit of a debut album in 2016 with Free 6LACK and in the time since has toured the world with The Weeknd and become a first-time father — has returned with his sophomore album, East Atlanta Love Letter, for just such a time.

The Thistle And Shamrock: The Long View

Sep 14, 2018

If you've been listening to Thistle for some years, perhaps you'll remember two unforgettable extended medleys of tunes; one from Breton harper and multi-instrumentalist Alan Stivell and the other from Irish fiddler Kevin Burke. You'll be delighted to make their re-acquaintance this week.

GoGo Penguin: Tiny Desk Concert

Sep 14, 2018

During his setup, GoGo Penguin's pianist Chris Illingworth asked if he could remove our piano cover to "access the inside" and, after a few rotations of a screwdriver, he soon handed me a long plank of black painted maple, which has no convenient place to rest in the NPR Music office. If you look closely at the piano innards during "Bardo," you can see a strip of black tape stretched over a few strings, opposite Illingworth's bobbing head. It mutes a group of strings, turning them into percussive jabs and dividing the instrument into more explicit rhythmic and melodic sections.

The follow-up to Chicago artist Noname's 2016 debut Telefone is out today, and it's a must-listen. On Room 25, she returns with another literary tour de force, delivered in the conversational tone she's known for and that makes her music feel so intimate, like she's telling you a secret. It's personal, it's provocative, it's political, it's playful.

Sponsored by the Americana Music Association, the 19th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference features a broad range of music showcases from diverse musicians in alt-country, roots-rock, bluegrass, R&B, blues and folk as well as dozens of day time industry panels.

This week's run through the essential albums out Sep. 14 includes the first new music from Jump Little Children in 14 years, rapper Noname's incredible follow-up to her 2016 mixtape Telefone, one of the darkest and most distorted albums ever from the band Low, a bit of melancholy and hope from country singer Carrie Underwood and much more.

Featured Albums:

  1. Jump Little Children: SPARROW
    Featured Song: "Hand On My Heartache"
  2. Low: Double Negative
    Featured Song: "Quorum"

Wayne Shorter likes to tell a story about going to see Charlie Parker, the mercurial titan of bebop, sometime around 1951. Shorter was 18 at the time — a saxophonist, like Parker, and a bop obsessive already gigging around his hometown of Newark, N.J. He headed across the river into Manhattan, where Parker, colloquially known as Bird, was headlining at Birdland, the club named in Parker's honor.

Bradley Cooper has had a story to tell for a long time — about fame, addiction, his relationship with his dad.

The stars aligned when he was given the chance to direct his first film: a new take on A Star Is Born.

In Cooper's movie, the main architecture of the narrative is still there. A famous musician falls for a regular girl with a magical voice and makes her a star, while his own troubles come to the surface. The most famous version is the 1976 movie with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.

Last month Mary Halsey of Rhode Island posted a Facebook video of herself doing a karaoke version of Missy Elliott's "Work It." It quickly went viral, accumulating millions of views and drawing attention from Elliott herself who praised the performance on Twitter and called Halsey her "funky white sister."

Alejandro Escovedo has carved out a very special place for himself in the music world. He established unimpeachable punk cred when his 1970's punk band The Nuns opened for the Sex Pistols at its infamous last stand at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom.

"Who are you and why are you calling me?" According to Dawn Landes, that's what Country Music Hall of Famer Fred Foster said when she rang him up out of the blue and asked Foster to produce her new album. Foster founded Monument Records, he signed Dolly Parton and he produced most of Roy Orbison's hits in the 1960s. These days, he's in his late eighties and mostly retired.

Sponsored by the Americana Music Association, the 19th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference features a broad range of music showcases from diverse musicians in alt-country, roots-rock, bluegrass, R&B, blues and folk as well as dozens of day time industry panels.

Pyotr Verzilov, a prominent member of the Russian art and activist collective Pussy Riot, is suspected to have been poisoned in Moscow on Tuesday, according to the group and local media.

It was Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit's night to shine at the annual Americana Honors and Awards show Wednesday night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

Isbell and his band walked away with three of the night's biggest awards: Album of the Year for The Nashville Sound, Song of the Year for "If We Were Vampires," and Duo/Group of the Year.

John Prine was named Artist of the Year, while Tyler Childers won the always competitive Emerging Artist of the Year category.

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