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The Musical Universe

 

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Chick Corea is one of America's giants of jazz, beginning in the late '60s and his work with Miles Davis, then his acclaimed 1972 debut album, "Return To Forever."

(SOUNDBITE OF CHICK COREA'S "LA FIESTA")

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In these days of social unrest and uprising, Joan Osborne is releasing her most political album, "Trouble And Strife."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BOY DONTCHA KNOW")

How do you make pop music that means anything in the middle of a pandemic and civil unrest? How do you deliver that music to your fans when they can't come to see you, when you can't sing to them in person? At the moment, Alicia Keys is an expert on the topic.

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Five minutes and 22 seconds into the striking video, above, that Tyler Childers posted to YouTube today – a spoken liner note that sets up the title track from his sur

Meet the NEA Jazz Masters, Class of 2020

Sep 18, 2020

Every year since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts selects a new class of NEA Jazz Masters, a formal recognition reserved for seasoned musicians and jazz advocates.

'Why Am I Treated So Bad' is part of a special episode of Mountain Stage, featuring songs reflecting the struggles of African Americans, from slavery to freedom marches to today's Black Lives Matter movement.

The American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) represents about 7,000 performing artists across the U.S. For more than 80 years, it has been the union for chorus singers, soloists, ballet dancers, production staff and other performers at many of the country's leading arts institutions. Signatory companies include the Metropolitan Opera, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet and Washington National Opera.

Never before has Israel had such a high need for those schooled in the rarefied art of shofar blowing.

The wail of the biblical shofar — made from the horn of a ram or a certain antelope species — is a hallmark of prayer gatherings on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which begins this weekend.

But because of the coronavirus pandemic, Israel is mandating smaller, socially distanced prayer gatherings — so the country needs many more shofar blowers than in years past.

Fifty years ago today, a genre-defining album was released. Black Sabbath's Paranoid came out in Europe on Sept. 18, 1970, and its title track reached No. 4 on the UK charts shortly after. The band's first, self-titled release had just come out months earlier, but it was Paranoid that helped turn the world on to heavy metal.

For Tiny Desk Playlists, we ask musicians, creators and folks we admire to choose the Tiny Desk concerts they've come to love. As a proud member of the Bodega hive, I realized we made it when hit podcast and late-night talk show hosts Desus and Mero threw us a friendly jab on their show last year.

Nigel Chapman is always ... thinking. When you speak to him, it's almost like you can see the wheels spinning in his brain, like he's always on the brink of a new discovery ... about himself, about creativity, about the universe... and about music. And that makes sense, because Chapman, the frontman of the Canadian band Nap Eyes, spent a big chunk of his life working in biochemistry, in science.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. Our guest today is country artist Marty Stuart, who's just been selected for the Country Music Hall of Fame. His induction is scheduled to take place next year. In Rolling Stone, Marty Stuart was described as, quote, "one of the last remaining links to traditional country, roots music and the generation of greats like George Jones and Hank Williams," unquote.

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Good morning. I'm David Greene.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRAVIS SCOTT'S "SICKO MODE")

In the 1970s, there were few singer-songwriters more beloved than Cat Stevens. A lot has changed since his landmark album Tea for the Tillerman. For one, he's a grandfather. For two, he's not even Cat Stevens anymore: He's gone by Yusuf Islam, or simply Yusuf, since his conversion to the Muslim faith later that decade.

Stanley Crouch, Towering Jazz Critic, Dead At 74

Sep 16, 2020

Stanley Crouch, the lauded and fiery jazz critic, has died. According to an announcement by his wife, Gloria Nixon-Crouch, Stanley Crouch died at the Calvary Hospital in New York on Wednesday, following nearly a decade of serious health issues.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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"My partner tells me that apparently I only sing when I'm happy," says Anjimile Chithambo, who performs and records music mononymously as Anjimile. It's a slightly surprising admission. For one thing, the singer-songwriter's new album, Giver Taker, is full of piercing self-knowledge; it seems like they don't need anyone to explain their musical process to them. For another, the album is the product of some extremely trying situations: Anjimile wrote many of the songs while in treatment for alcoholism and while coming to terms with their identity as a trans and nonbinary person.

Philadelphia lost seven great musicians in the first four months of 2020. As a matter of cultural endowment, the loss represents the equivalent of whole libraries reduced to ash. These elders were the children of auto mechanics, beauticians, restaurant workers, scientists, unionizers and ministers — people who added measurable value to their communities. Each of the departed took the lived experience of Black America and articulated it with an instrument. They nurtured generations of musicians in this calling.

Morning Edition has been reaching out to musicians in recent months to get their take on the COVID-19 era, and asking them to write an original song inspired by this tumultuous time. This week's contributors, veteran folk-rock duo Indigo Girls, have lots of experience writing about social issues in their music. But according to member Amy Ray, they had some serious misgivings at first.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

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Good morning. I'm David Greene. A few weeks ago, 10-year-old Nandi Bushell challenged Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl to a drum battle. Grohl conceded. Now it's round two. He kicked it off with a song he wrote just for Nandi.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Hispanic Heritage Month On World Cafe: The Playlist

Sep 14, 2020

World Cafe celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. To celebrate we're taking a musical journey throughout Latin America, through cities in Central America, South America, and Mexico to explore the rising Latinx voices and sounds that sometimes fall under the radar. Discover new music by musicians from Guatemala City, San Salvador, Lima, Costa Rica, Ecuador and more in our playlist below.

If past generations saw their wanderlust reflected in Alice peering down a rabbit hole or Luke Skywalker staring down a sunset, the COVID-era equivalent will almost certainly involve a hero gazing into a screen: With most of the U.S. still advised to stay home as much as possible, televisions and smart devices feel more than ever like flickering portals, promising the addled mind passage to anywhere but our own four walls.

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Good morning. I'm Rachel Martin. Germans are reviving the perfect musical instrument for social distancing - alphorns.

(SOUNDBITE OF ALPHORNS PLAYING)

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

One of the biggest voices in reggae has died.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PRESSURE DROP")

TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS: (Singing) I said pressure drop, oh, pressure, oh, yeah, pressure gonna drop on you.

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