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The Musical Universe

 

The smooth, booming voice of Gregory Porter brought a galvanizing force to jazz when he broke onto the scene about a decade ago. It's a voice of exhortation, flowing out of the gospel church. A voice of dignity, in the mode of his hero, Nat King Cole. A voice of reassurance, whether aiming for the heavens or toward a single soul across the room.

Earlier this year, World Cafe host Talia Schlanger announced that she is leaving World Cafe in order to pursue new creative endeavors.

Alabama Shakes singer and guitarist Brittany Howard has just released her masterpiece. Jaime, her debut solo album,is a complex, deeply personal and genre-defying examination of spirituality, identity and survival. On this week's New Music Friday, we attempt to peel back its many layers and explore the life-stories behind the music. We've also got sad bangers from Tove Lo, the late-'60s, Laurel Canyon pop of Andrew Combs, a profoundly beautiful and poignant debut solo LP from Mountain Man's Molly Sarlé, a posthumous album from the legendary Algerian singer Rachid Taha and more.

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By and large, 1969 was a transformative year in the U.S.

Luz Elena Mendoza has such a far-reaching creative spirit that it's almost impossible to confine her to a single musical identity. Which is why she's one of just a handful of artists who've been invited back to the Tiny Desk to offer a revised musical vision.

Turning the Tables aims to reinterpret American music history by putting women front and center. This year, we're celebrating eight women who invented American popular music — including the legendary Celia Cruz. Her extraordinary career lasted more than 50 years, and before she died in 2003, she had released dozens of albums, won numerous awards (including two Grammys) and earned the title of "The Queen of Salsa."

For many observers of modern jazz, pianist Jason Moran became a known entity 20 years ago, with the release of his debut album. For Adrienne Edwards, curator of performance at the Whitney Museum of American Art, his name first circulated more recently, as a kind of rumor.

In this special dispatch from Paris, Keren Ann shows us around the artistic neighborhood Montmartre, which has inspired a lot of her writing and is the place she calls home, even though she's lived in many different places. (She was born in Israel, grew up for a bit in the Netherlands and lived in New York City.)

Soccer Mommy Leans Into Darkness With 'Lucy'

20 hours ago

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Sophie Allison of Soccer Mommy has never shied away from gloomier moods in her music.

What She Brought With Her

22 hours ago

The last time I saw Celia Cruz perform was in Central Park in 2002, one of her final shows, when SummerStage was less managed and thus more exciting. Cruz would often save her signature "Bemba Colora" as the encore an audience had to deserve. Over time it became a relied-upon catharsis for her public to recognize their ancient past and to air their damaged present. On that late afternoon descended an out-of-nowhere, fire-and-brimstone summer thunderstorm. The mighty Celia, at 76 years old and not feeling at all well, refused to waver.

Some of the friskiest country music made by previous generations was paired with sounds and sensibilities that registered as hard-edged and undiluted in twang (see: Hank Williams, John Anderson, Alan Jackson and countless others). But that hasn't been the case for many years now.

As a bassist and bandleader, Linda May Han Oh has demonstrated her gift for liquid dynamism, not only within her peer group but also with heroic elders like guitarist Pat Metheny.

Pascal Danaë was born just outside of Paris and the first time he went to the French overseas region Guadeloupe, he was given the "Letter of Freedom" that belonged to his ancestor, Louise Danaë. She was freed from slavery in 1841 at 27 years old. At the time, she had four children, one of whom was Pascal's grand grandfather.

As lead singer and guitarist of Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard has earned her accolades and then some. Since 2009, the band has won four Grammys, performed at the White House and heralded some of roots rock's biggest hits this decade. Still, Howard feels the urge to try something new every few years.

I've been in the same band, Nada Surf, with the same core members, Daniel Lorca and Ira Elliot, since 1994, and amidst many events and adventures, making our first album with Ric Ocasek remains the most transformative and magical experience I've been lucky enough to have.

The eight women we chose to honor in this season of Turning the Tables were skilled singers, writers, instrumental innovators and musical pioneers. But often in the stories of these women's lives and legacies, their musical skills are obscured by a focus on persona or biography. We also want to highlight their work as musicians and the fundamental musical contributions they made to American popular music.

There's a hush to the music of Nilüfer Yanya that made the Tiny Desk the perfect stage for her sound. On a hot summer day, the British singer and her band — made up of Jazzi Bobbi primarily on sax, Lucy Lu on bass, Ellis Dupuy on drums and Nilüfer on guitar and vocals — performed their three-song set with restraint and subtlety. At moments, the music felt like an eruption waiting to happen, though the suave, refined sound left an indelible vibe in the room.

Every month is Latino Heritage Month on Alt.Latino, but I like to set aside some special features from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to celebrate. We're kicking things off with a trio of interviews with musicians and a filmmaker who have three very distinct connections to Mexican music.

There's a reason the mixtape (or CD, or playlist, or .zip file) holds such sentimental power. A good mix can feel like a letter from a best friend, with each track carefully aligned with one's personal tastes. But the truly excellent ones are like being handed a key ring to the cosmos, with each track unlocking a door to a new world to explore. North Carolina may not take up that much space on a map, but it's home to an abundance of musical worlds. North Carolina Public Radio has spent the past year talking to artists about their favorite songs that say something about our home state.

With the ease of uploading music online, Internet sensations are made every day. But for one rising bedroom pop artist, it was truly accidental ... almost.

Until recently, mxmtoon — who otherwise prefers to go by her first name, Maia — kept her music a secret from the people in her immediate life. Now, with her debut album, the masquerade, mxmtoon is slowly peeling back the layers of her online persona.

The “people’s poet” isn’t one for sitting on the sidelines and staying silent.

British singer-songwriter and activist Billy Bragg has been at music and politics for more than 35 years. While some might view the two subjects as separate, he’s dedicated much of his music to social change and grassroot causes.

John Cohen straddled two worlds: as a photographer, he immersed himself in the avant-garde visual arts scene of 1950s New York; as a musician, he was an integral part of that city's folk revival of the same era. He was a member of the seminal New Lost City Ramblers and he used every platform he could — photography, filmmaking, writing and record producing — to preserve and celebrate the music he loved. Cohen died Monday at age 87. His death was announced on social media by his son, Rufus Cohen.

There may be more theremins than pieces of furniture in Marc Chouarain's apartment on the classic Parisian street Rue Montorgeil. The multi-instrumentalist, film composer and rare instrument enthusiast believes he has one of the biggest theremin collections in the world and invited us over to learn about the the very first electronic instrument.

Lisa-Kaindé Díaz and Naomi Díaz are twin sisters who make music as Ibeyi. Growing up, the twin sisters split their time between Cuba and France. The music they make now delivers West-African and Afro-Cuban influence through an electronic filter you can feel deeply in your bones, and the blend between their voices is nothing short of spectacular.

Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

The fastest route to obsolescence is telling y'all that it was better in ye olde days. The truth is that while the mechanisms for music change — rapidly nowadays, it seems — the motivations for discovery don't. You dig because ya dig, you know?

Danny Brown Finds Peace On 'Best Life'

Sep 17, 2019

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In a hip-hop landscape where celebrity is suffocating and fan bases are becoming pressure cookers, it is reassuring that Dan

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There was a time, around the turn of the century, when Mandy Moore the pop singer and Mandy Moore the actor existed simultaneously, touring with

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Wilco has always had a gift for pairing sunny day reflections with late-night jitters, shifting subtly over the course of a sin

Celia Cruz: The Voice Of Experience

Sep 17, 2019

By the time I saw Celia Cruz in concert, she had already released more than 40 albums over the course of a career that spanned nearly half a century and had long established herself as the reigning Queen of Salsa. It was the spring of 1995 at the Aragon Ballroom in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, and the city was just beginning its muddy thaw.

She was 69; I was 24. One of us managed to sing and dance until the early morning hours without a break.

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