music

Matthew Sussman / Jane Ira Bloom

Jane Ira Bloom, the innovative soprano saxophonist and composer, loves to tap into non-musical art forms as sources of inspiration for her bold, original music.

The types of conversations I saw online about Harriet Tubman, Prince and Beyonce over this past week have yet to be duplicated in our nation's discussion of politics. I think that's a bad thing. And I will tell you why.

But first, let's try to put the week in some sort of perspective.

It is possible that the week was the Internet's Blackest Week. Ever.

On Saturday night, Beyoncé shook the music world with an hourlong feature on HBO, and then a surprise album — Lemonade.

Beyoncé couldn't have produced a body of work this defiant, or blunt, two years ago. Lemonade has been made possible by the cultural, social and political upheaval we're in the midst of, triggered by the deaths of boys and fathers and women, who will never be forgotten.

Since the news of Prince's death broke on Thursday, fans have been flocking to the late artist's Paisley Park estate in Minnesota to celebrate his life.

Hundreds of fans, many of whom wore purple, showered the security fence surrounding the property with cards, flowers, stuffed animals and purple balloons, over the weekend to pay tribute to The Purple One.

Scott Penner / flickr creative commons

His Royal Badness died yesterday. He was 57.

This hour, an appreciation of Prince.

When Owen Husney first met Prince Rogers Nelson, the musician was barely old enough to vote — and still going by his government name. "When you meet someone before they became the unapproachable icon, you tend to have a different relationship with them," he says.

Prince — the Purple One, who reeled off pop hits in five different decades — has died at age 57. The shocking news was confirmed by Prince's publicist after reports that police were investigating a death at his Paisley Park compound outside Minneapolis.

"It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer Prince Rogers Nelson has died at his Paisley Park residence this morning at the age of 57," publicist Yvette Noel-Schure said. "There are no further details as to the cause of death at this time."

Metropolitan Opera / Facebook

If you pay any attention to the music world, you already know that James Levine announced last week that he is stepping down as artistic director of the Metropolitan Opera, an institution he has been associated with for 40 years.

Pramod Pradhan / Hartford Public Library

Basking in warm, sentimental, adulatory acclaim, pianist Emery Austin Smith -- a high-energy octogenarian and one of the last great patriarchs of Hartford’s first Golden Age of Jazz -- returns once again.

The Artistry of Jazz Horn / Facebook

At this moment, one of the hottest, rapidly rising young jazz singers is the phenomenal, 24-year-old Jazzmeia Horn, a life force on stage. 

Chuck Kramer / flickr creative commons

And after 15 seasons and 555 episodes and more than 345 Billboard chart toppers, "American Idol" is done with us. Love it or hate it, the show changed the American television business, the American reality television business, the American music business. It gave us Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson and Ryan Seacrest. And it gave us Taylor Hicks and William Hung. And Ryan Seacrest. We unpack the whole thing, the good and the bad.

Morn the Gorn / Creative Commons

I was talking to Rick Coffey the other day about Mendelssohn’s great oratorio “Elijah.” 

Lori Mack

According to the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, there were nearly 11,000 people who experienced homelessness in Connecticut last year. Multiple organizations spend countless hours trying to make a difference -- and now, in New Haven, there’s a new program with a slightly different approach. 

Courtesy: Briene Lermitte

As much in the American grain as Aaron Copland, William Carlos Williams, or Emily Dickenson, the celebrated composer/orchestrator and conductor/bandleader Maria Schneider is a great, lyrical celebrator of memory, home, and friendship in her latest masterwork recording, The Thompson Fields.

Bruno Tedeschi

I’ve been thinking a lot about chamber music.

Ann Braithwaite / Braithwaite & Katz Communications

Before settling down and committing himself to jazz, blues, classical, and Brazilian music, the rising, young West Coast pianist/composer Danny Green immersed himself for long periods of time in numerous genres, artists, and composers. 

The Rolling Stones Rock Cuba

Mar 26, 2016

Historians hailed U.S. President Obama's visit to Cuba as the beginning of a new relationship between the two countries. But for hundreds of thousands of Cubans, the real thrill this week was the visit of some prominent Brits: The Rolling Stones.

Mike Mozart / flickr creative commons

Chicago White Sox first baseman Adam LaRoche abruptly retired from baseball last week with a year and $13 million left on his contract because the team's front office told him he had to stop bringing his 14-year-old son Drake into the clubhouse so much. Then the actual team rallied behind both LaRoches. But it turns out it all happened 'cause Adam's teammates complained about Drake. But so anyway: Aren't people who bring their kids to work with them just the worst?

'Born To Be Blue' Finds Truth In Inventive Riffs

Mar 24, 2016

Now is a fine time for jazz trumpet fans to get lost at the movies. April will see the release of Don Cheadle's long-gestating Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead, and this week we get the shaggy dog Born to be Blue, the story of Miles' contemporary Chet Baker. Both films are far looser and more experimental than your typical straight biopic, and concentrate almost exclusively on historic low points in their subjects' lives. And Blue even features brief appearances from Miles himself.

Jesse Kruger via Flickr.com / Creative Commons

A quick early spring roundup of musical milestones from hither and yon.

Malik I. Taylor, the rapper known as Phife Dawg who was a founding member of the seminal group A Tribe Called Quest, died Tuesday at the age of 45.

His family said in a statement that Phife died as a result of complications from diabetes.

Courtesy/Brandee Younger

Whether you call it pushing the envelope, thinking outside the box, or just plain bending the rules, the boldly independent harpist and composer Brandee Younger creates a genre-crossing, smart, soulful, freewheeling, happy hybrid of hipness.

The winner of NPR Music's 2016 Tiny Desk Contest, Gaelynn Lea, produced a "serpentine, earworm melody" with "tremendous heartache in her poetry," according to judge Robin Hilton. 

University of Salford / Creative Commons

The great Sir Peter Maxwell Davies – composer, champion of simple living, all-purpose contrarian – left us a few days ago.

Steven Sussman / Steven Sussman Photography

What accounts for the ring of authenticity resonating through Giacomo Gates’ unaffected, yet affecting vocal craftsmanship is that the hipster, singer, and wordsmith from Connecticut always sounds as if he’s telling you all about life-shaping events and emotions that he himself has actually experienced and reflected upon.

Nick M / Flickr Creative Commons

This hour, we feature stories and sounds from the West African country of Nigeria. 

First, WSHU reporter Ebong Udoma checks in from Abuja, Nigeria, where he's helped launch a brand new multimedia project called Gotel Africa. When completed, Gotel Africa will become the continent's first-ever pan-African news service. We learn more about it. 

Copyright 1966 Capitol Records

On a hot August afternoon in 1966, I was driving down a residential street in my hometown of Niskayuna, New York.

jessicameyermusic.com

The music of women composers will be featured in several concerts this week. 

Martin Zeman

  

On Fred Hersch’s 2014 trio masterwork, Floating (Palmetto Records), the superb pianist/composer opens the session’s creative floodgates with "You and the Night and the Music," infusing the song with streaming contrapuntal lines whose richness, fluidity, and invention make it seem as if there were actually two pianists playing simultaneously.

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