music

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The musicians of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, having just finished their regular Masterworks season with four subscription performances last week, have decided to play one more concert.

Bill Morgan / Creative Commons

When J.J. Johnson, “the father of the modern jazz trombone,” first heard trombonist Steve Davis playing with the Jackie McLean Sextet some years ago at a jazz festival in Brazil, the great brass master had the highest praise for young Davis, then a rising musician who had idolized the jazz legend for years.

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Back in the days when rock and roll was still young and three-chord bands were popping up everywhere, The Grateful Dead were unique in just about every way. They fused multiple music styles: rock, blues, folk, R&B, country, jazz, and, of course, more than a peppering of psychedelia.

Jameziecakes / Creative Commons

A 2014 Nielsen report yielded some dismaying news for jazz connoisseurs: the once-coveted genre is now one of the least-consumed in the United States.

But why are so many turning away from jazz, and toward other styles of music like rock, pop, and country? 

This hour, a panel of experts and musicians weigh in, and share their thoughts on jazz's future both in America and abroad.

Stew Stryker / Creative Commons

Memorial Day now behind us, it's time to take out the calendar and begin the serious business of penciling in the summer concert-going plans.

Kevork Imizirian

It’s been five years since the big-toned, Israeli-born tenor saxophonist Benny Sharoni made his recording debut with an acclaimed album called Eternal Elixir.

Rick Ciaburri / Wesleyan University

Award-winning composer and lyricist Lin Manuel Miranda addressed college graduates on Sunday as the keynote speaker at Wesleyan University's commencement.

Blues Magoos

The psychedelic era made a huge impact on pop culture in the 1960s. Art, fashion, movies, and music all felt the impact of psychedelia. A blast from the psychedelic past comes to New Haven on Friday night. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

From Mozart to Radiohead, Sybarite5’s eclectic repertoire and dynamic performance style is turning heads throughout the music world: “…that impassioned playing, those hard-driving rhythms, the blissed-out faces of the mostly young audience…Genuine, spontaneous…excitement” (The Washington Post). 

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Gustav Mahler stood five-foot-four.

That doesn’t quite place him at the absolute bottom of the Famous Composer Vertical Comparison Scale (Grieg was a tad shorter, as was Ravel), but it’s strange to think that the man who created some of the most thunderously colossal symphonies the world has ever known, who famously said that each symphony should “contain the whole world,” stood just a few centimeters above Mickey Rooney.

Chris Boland / Creative Commons

It's been more than 40 years since Graham Nash first sung with David Crosby and Stephen Stills.

Bengt Nyman / Creative Commons

Looking every inch a silver-maned patriarch of Biblical grandeur, Sonny Rollins, the 84-year-old genius of the jazz tenor saxophone, was especially elated last weekend to receive an honorary doctor of music degree from the University of Hartford at graduation ceremonies on its West Hartford campus.

Algis Kaupas

The late cellist and teacher Ettie Minor Luckey will be remembered at an event later this week. She was an enthusiastic proponent of the arts along Connecticut’s shoreline.

Courtesy David Foster

Blue legend B.B. King died Thursday at the age of 89. Connecticut blues singer and former club owner David Foster had a decades long friendship with King, and played with him as recently as last year.

A Mississippi car accident in 1937 cut short the life of Bessie Smith.

She was just 43 years old. But she'd already established her legacy as "Empress of the Blues" — a pioneering American performer who demanded respect and equal pay in a world dominated by men and controlled by whites.

She'd also achieved a degree of infamy for her boozing, her brawling and her sexual appetites.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Sometimes being in the right place at the right time -- with your radio tuned into WNPR -- can lead to unexpected connections...

When WNPR's Where We Live first met Stanley Maxwell, we asked musicians Andy Chatfield, Mark Crino, Eric DellaVecchia, and Evan Green to explain the origin of their unusual name. 

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

For the past fourteen years, Mark Crino, Evan Green, Andy Chatfield, and Eric DellaVecchia have been performing under the name Stanley Maxwell. They’re a Connecticut-based quartet with a jazz-meets-rock-meets-funk sound that’s bound to get you off your feet. The four of them recently joined us in our Studio 3 to share some of the music that’s kept them all together for so long.

It seemed as if he'd go on forever — and B.B. King was working right up until the end. It's what he loved to do: playing music, and fishing. Even late in life, living with diabetes, he spent about half the year on the road. King died Thursday night at home in Las Vegas. He was 89 years old.

sybarite5.org

This may seem like flagrant nepotism, but in fact it’s only mild and forgivable nepotism:

There will be remarkable musical event next Sunday, May 24, at the new downtown Infinity Music Hall and Bistro in Hartford.

Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons

As a child prodigy, the now adult, prodigious drummer Johnathan Blake made an appearance on “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood,” the legendary children’s series on PBS created and hosted by Fred Rogers.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A lot of interconnected things were happening in the 1990s, an oncologist and hematologist  named Mitchell Gaynor discovered through a Tibetan monk, the so-called singing bowls and began incorporating them into the guided meditation and breathing work he did with his patients.

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This weekend, family and friends gathered in Bridgeport for the funeral of DeMonte Anozine. The 20-year-old was killed in a crash early Tuesday morning that closed down I-95 in Fairfield for several hours.

Banning Eyre

If you listen closely to the music of Thomas Mapfumo, you will hear the pulse of Zimbabwe. It’s a sound unlike any other, driven by decades of struggle, brutality, and cultural sabotage. 

Mark Kent / Creative Commons

I did a double take the other day as I browsed the music-themed blog called Slipped Disc.

As many of you music-minded readers might know, this is the daily blog put out by the sharp-tongued British critic Norman Lebrecht. It’s read religiously by people in the classical music world, both for the steady stream of music news Lebrecht provides, but also for the acerbic commentary he freely dispenses. It gathers music-related bulletins from all over the world.

I was surprised, to say the least, that one of the items he recently chose to include was a piece on the Hartt School’s decision to close down its Organ Performance major, and to sell the pipe organ that had been the major’s central instrument for 45 years.

Diane Sobolewski / Goodspeed Theater

So, you think it's easy to write a Broadway song? I say not so fast. 

The four aspiring writing teams that attended Goodspeed's Festival of New Musicals this past January say it's plenty hard. They spend a lot of time kicking around ideas, most of which never see the light of day. But, really, they have no choice. "If you can do anything else, you do do anything else," says Marcy Heisler, one half of one of our amazing teams. 

John Abbott / russnolan.com

Without ever sounding the least bit formulaic, saxophonist/composer Russ Nolan makes his musical calculations by using his favorite working equation, which is: Latin rhythms + post-bop harmonies = infinitely expanding quantities of energetic expression.

Capitol Studios / Courtesy Allen J. Hill, Gress-Miles Organ Photo Collection

The University of Hartford's Hartt School will graduate its last organ major in May. Once a robust program, Hartt made the tough decision to abandon the organ program two years ago. Alumni of the organ program will gather this weekend to say goodbye to the school's pipe organ, which has been sold to a church on Long Island. 

Creative Commons

One spring afternoon, maybe 20 years ago, I found myself having lunch with some guys who were all big supporters of Connecticut Opera. They were talking about ways that the company might increase its audience and thereby stabilize its finances. Various strategies were proposed.

Finally one of the guys said, “Look, if we’re really going to make any progress, we should just do ‘La Boheme’ every single season.”

William P. Gottlieb / U.S. Library of Congress

Maybe the best way to celebrate Billie Holiday’s centennial year is to pay Lady Day a one-hour visit by listening to the 20 signature songs on Columbia/Legacy’s new, fine and mellow single-CD tribute called Billie Holiday: The Centennial Collection.

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An oratorio based on the life of gay rights advocate and politician Harvey Milk gets its New England premiere this weekend in New Haven. Oratorios are typically large musical compositions with a dramatic theme, written for orchestra, choir, and soloists; think Handel's "Messiah," or Haydn's "Creation."

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