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The Musical Universe

 

There comes a moment in almost any performance by vibraphonist Joel Ross when he seems to slip free of standard cognitive functions and into a bodacious flow state. Invariably, he's in the midst of a heated improvisation. Maybe he's bouncing on his heels, or bobbing like a marionette. His mallets form a blur, in contrast to the clarity of the notes they produce. The deft precision of his hammering inspires a visual comparison to some tournament-level version of Whac-A-Mole.

Songs about small towns are plentiful. Some of the best ones — Dolly Parton's "My Tennessee Mountain Home," John Prine's "Paradise," Kacey Musgraves' "Merry Go 'Round" and Bruce Springsteen's "My Hometown" — are powerful triggers of memory, often rich in storytelling detail with a wide lens to tough truths and deep secrets.

First Listen: Lee 'Scratch' Perry, 'Rainford'

2 hours ago

In the 1960s and '70s, Lee "Scratch" Perry produced the defining reggae music of that era: making classic albums for the likes of Max Romeo, Junior Murvin, the Heptones, and Bob Marley & the Wailers, as well as pioneering the spacetime-wobbling frequencies of dub.

Flor de Toloache stuns at the crossroads of fusion and mariachi girl magic. Whether intimately airy or ice-crackingly powerful, their intricate vocal runs and harmonic alchemy seem to defy logic with equally clever instrumental arrangements by the singers themselves.

K. Ishibashi has kept many instruments and techniques at his disposal — violins and loop pedals and layering effects that give his music a symphonic, hyper-multitracked sound — but the language he speaks is one of profound empathy. It's right there in the titles of albums like 2016's Sonderlust ("sonder" being the notion that others have complex lives of their own) and the new Omoiyari ("omoiyari" being the idea that thinking of others fosters compassion).

The Thistle & Shamrock: Dreamtime

13 hours ago

Settle into an hour of soothing voices and soaring instrumentals that all go to prove this roots music business needn't always be high-energy. Featured in this episode are Davy Spillane, William Jackson, Maire Brennan and Dougie MacLean.

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Some music is so ingrained in our collective minds that it's easy to forget how game-changing it was. In the late 1960s, a marriage of rock and folk took place and much of the popular music from that union was being made in a single place — Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Eleven years ago, after a Metallica show, a gentleman named Warren told me "We have this band you have to hear." I jump into his car, he pops the CD in the player, and this blares out: "Oh, there ain't no rest for the wicked / Money don't grow on trees / I got bills to pay, I got mouths to feed / There ain't nothing in this world for free."

This year, like every year, an incredibly strong pool of artists entered the Tiny Desk Contest.

On Monday, a grand jury in Los Angeles indicted 29-year-old Eric R. Holder Jr., who is accused of fatally shooting rapper, entrepreneur and community philanthropist Nipsey Hussle outside of the musician's clothing store in Los Angeles in March. Two other men were wounded during the incident.

by Richard Thompson / YouTube

Legendary guitarist Richard Thompson has composed a stunning score for a film honoring World War II fighter pilots and, to my surprise, there's not a lot of guita

When Wilder Woods announced his debut musical project in early April of this year, two songs — "Someday Soon" and the R&B flavored "Sure Ain't" — had already piqued curiosity of fans. Shortly after the two songs emerged, the race was on to try to guess the identity of the artist. All of the press photos and glimpses of the singer in the videos were mostly hidden, making him difficult to see clearly. There were some very good, very close guesses about Wilder Woods' identity.

In case you haven't noticed, we take music seriously here in Austin.

When the Queen of Soul died last August, family and lawyers said publicly that they believed that Aretha Franklin did not have a will. On Monday, however, three handwritten wills that had been found in her Detroit-area home — one from 2014 and two dated 2010 — were filed in probate court in Oakland County, Mich.

Two eminent avant-garde elders, a chameleonic vocal improviser, and a pioneering community organizer and presenter will make up the 2020 class of NEA Jazz Masters, according to an announcement this morning by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The four incoming inductees — saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, bassist Reggie Workman, vocalist Bobby McFerrin, and jazz advocate Dorthaan Kirk — will officially be recognized next April 2, during a tribute concert and ceremony at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco.

Fifty years ago, the band Nat Turner Rebellion made a funky album in Philadelphia that could have been a total classic. The band had a record deal, fans and, according to founder Joe Jefferson the members were "crowd killers." But then, it all fell apart and the album has been pretty much buried in audio archives — until now.

Seven years after her death, Whitney Houston may be coming to a venue near you.

The pop icon's estate has partnered with BASE Hologram to produce "An Evening With Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Tour," the company revealed in a statement on Monday.

The announcement comes on the heels of a separate deal between the singer's estate and Primary Wave Publishing last week, which is also expected to produce a series of new projects, including a new album, a possible Broadway musical and Vegas-style spectacle.

The four friends who make up the band Charly Bliss have grown a lot since they first met at summer camp as teenagers. The band's latest album, Young Enough, out now, was born out of growing pains.

Lead vocalist Eva Hendricks says the songs on this album were inspired by bad relationships — the kind that consume you and chip away at you until there's none of you left. The songs explore the crippling need to be liked — even if it means losing yourself in the process.

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GoldLink is riding a well-deserved tide of goodwill ever since his 2017 studio debut At What Cost, a record that b

The estate of Harold Arlen — the composer famous for such American-songbook classics as "Over the Rainbow," "Get Happy" and "It's Only A Paper Moon" — has filed a lawsuit against some of the world's biggest technology companies, including Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft in what it is calling "massive piracy operations."

Saturday Night Live's 44th season ended over the weekend with the help of host Paul Rudd and musical guest DJ Khaled, who brought with him an all-star cast that included J Balvin, John Legend and SZA.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NOEL KING, HOST:

In 2017, during the Super Bowl halftime show, Lady Gaga did something extraordinary. She performed a song that had become the unofficial anthem of the LGBTQ community.

(SOUNDBITE OF SUPER BOWL LI TELECAST)

LADY GAGA: (Singing) No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgender life - I'm on the right track, baby. I was born to survive. No matter black, white or beige, chola or Orient made - right track, baby, I was born to be brave.

(CHEERING)

On this edition of All Songs Considered, Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood joins us to talk about two of his classical compositions we've just premiered on our Tiny Desk series.

You might say Making Movies is a band of brothers. The Kansas City-based group is made up of two Panamanian-Americans — guitarist Enrique Chi and his brother, bassist Diego Chi — and two Mexican-Americans; drummer Andres Chaurand and his brother Juan-Carlos, who plays percussion and keyboards.

Singer Duncan Laurence from the Netherlands has emerged victorious at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. The finals were held Saturday night in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The 25-year-old Laurence won the international competition with a song called "Arcade," which he co-wrote. The song is a sweet, emotional ballad that stands in contrast to Israeli singer Netta's wacky "Toy," which won in 2018.

Eurovision 2019 Concludes

May 18, 2019

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ZERO GRAVITY")

KATE MILLER-HEIDKE: (Singing) Hey, you, it's me again.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Head and the Heart's latest album, Living Mirage, is warm, open and definitely leans hard on the "heart" part of the band's name. The band went to Joshua Tree in the desert to create the music. The trip was bassist Chris Zasche's idea — he thought the wide-open landscape would give the member's all a chance to start fresh and maybe see themselves differently.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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