music

Winston Vargas

A few days ago, quietly and with an irritating minimum of details, we learned that Martin Scorsese has committed to directing a full-length biopic about Leonard Bernstein.

Logan Grendel

An alchemist/anarchist who blends jazz with gritty grunge rock, classical chops, turbo-powered passages, funky backbeats and sweet, salon-like moods, Michael Gallant and his trio celebrate his new release with a surprise-packed performance on Friday, November 6, at 8:00 pm at Middletown's The Buttonwood Tree.

Uncle Pockets / Flickr Creative Commons

Music can be a powerful, transformative tool in the quest for social change. Protest songs are the songs associated with a particular movement.

Earlier this month, Janelle Monáe and Wondaland produced the searing protest song "Hell You Talmbout." Nearly seven minutes long, it's a tribute to a long list of black men and women lost, and has been performed alongside protesters at Black Lives Matter rallies.

taupupua.com

When I see a press release about a guy who started off being drafted into the NFL as a defensive end and then decided to become a professional opera singer instead, I reflexively think headlines:

"Former Gridiron Star Tackles Verdi."

"Defensive End Calls an Audible, With Vibrato."

"Now He's Holding High Cs Instead of Wide Receivers."

Please, somebody stop me.

joshevansmusic.com

Josh Evans, the Hartford-born trumpet phenomenon, launches the Hartford Jazz Society's fall Concert and Workshop Series with a compelling, powerful jolt as he leads his electrifying big band on Friday, October 30, at 8:00 pm at the Polish National Home at 60 Charter Oak Avenue in Hartford.

Tyler Merbler/flickr creative commons

Sex, drugs, and rock & roll -- now there's a phrase that conjures up images and memories of the 1960s. But of course it wasn't all peace and love. The counterculture was completely intertwined with the serious challenges and changes that swept America in that decade, from civil rights and women's rights to the trauma of Vietnam and the anti-war movement. The violence, turmoil, and clashes between the generations paved the way for a surge in self-expression and creativity. We saw it through protests on college campuses, we watched it in the marches, and -- maybe most of all -- we heard it in the music that would become the common thread that wove it all together.

Mark Garten / United Nations photo

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma turned 60 the other day.

That’s as good a reason as any to reflect for a moment on a life and career that seems about as well executed as that of any classical performing artist in our time, maybe ever.

Resonant Motion, Inc.

Sean Clapis’s fine new CD, The Unseen River (RMI Records), is a smooth-sailing, adventurous cruise that reveals the gifted, Hartford-born guitarist/composer’s fluent style and expressive depths streaming from dreamy reverie and elegant eulogy to steamy sophistication.

Hartford Symphony Orchestra / Facebook

Maybe it's that my two older daughters have both gotten married in recent weeks. Or that my youngest daughter (married two years ago, for the record) is about to have a baby. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that Donald Trump -- Donald Trump -- is being taken seriously as a presidential candidate. 

Ali Hasbauch

As a toddler, Frank Vignola would sit for hours on the floor in the living room right up close to his father’s bulky, state-of-the-art stereo, totally mesmerized by the enchanting guitar sounds of Les Paul and Bucky Pizzarelli magically wafting out of the imposing twin speakers that towered above him. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A new work premieres in Hartford this weekend that has a fresh and inspiring take on traditional opera. The performance even takes on a science fiction feel. 

Eric Devine

If you love traditional jazz and an amicable, intimate setting where you can schmooze and nosh at ease with your favorite performers, you should be right at home at Jeff and Joel’s House Party, a vintage music bash that runs full steam ahead from Friday, October 9, through Sunday, October 11, at the VFW Hall, 104 Mill Road in Guilford.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Alan Doyle is best known as lead singer of the Canadian band Great Big Sea. Recently, however, he's been touring with a different act: Alan Doyle and The Beautiful Gypsies

Gerry Lauzon / Creative Commons

Volkswagen is having a moment. Not a good moment, but it's certainly a moment. VW owners are glaring at their vehicles with suspicion after it was revealed the automaker's diesel vehicles were designed to cheat on emissions tests.

Hopefully, VW is not capturing its moment with a selfie because that could be deadly. Plus, selfies are so easy to take, a monkey can do it and maybe even make some money from it.

Hartford Symphony Orchestra / Facebook

A new arts season dawns. And despite the lingering cloud of the Hartford Symphony labor impasse – it originally looked like the HSO season-opening concerts might be lost, but in fact they will go on as scheduled – the new cycle brings a reassuringly plentiful supply of music, both familiar and challenging.

The '60s, Through the Notebook of a Rock Critic

Sep 24, 2015
Danny Birchall/flickr creative commons

Sex, drugs, and rock & roll -- now there's a phrase that conjures up images and memories of the 1960s. But of course it wasn't all peace and love. The counterculture was completely intertwined with the serious challenges and changes that swept America in that decade, from civil rights and women's rights to the trauma of Vietnam and the anti-war movement. The violence, turmoil, and clashes between the generations paved the way for a surge in self-expression and creativity. We saw it through protests on college campuses, we watched it in the marches, and -- maybe most of all -- we heard it in the music that would become the common thread that wove it all together.

Michael Crommett / Courtesy of Amir ElSaffar

Hailed by Down Beat magazine as “an exquisite alchemist” for his magical blend of traditional Middle Eastern motifs with free-wheeling jazz elements, the Iraqi-American, Chicago-born trumpeter/composer Amir ElSaffar has made a breakthrough discovery with his latest album, Crisis (Pi Recordings).

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra contract impasse staggers along.

As anyone reading this is likely to be aware, the HSO musicians continue to be engaged in a dispute with management over the number of services they will be contracted for and therefore the amount of money they will earn next season.

It's official - 2015's song of the summer is "Cheerleader" by OMI. So now that horse race is over, what about an anthem for Autumn? And how do you even make that choice?

If a summer song needs to be fun, upbeat, and sound good blasting from car windows at Hampton Beach, what qualities define a memorable fall tune?  Pumpkin-related lyrics?  Wistful melodies, and acoustic guitars?  We asked three music industry insiders to tell us what they think 2015's (Unofficial) Song of the Fall should be and why -  and here's what they had to say.

A Bold Experiment: How Pop Music Might Sound In 2065

Sep 16, 2015

[Youtube]

“Society 50 years from now needs its own drug.”

John Abercrombie

Perhaps best known for his long, amazingly fruitful relationship with Manfred Eicher’s ECM Records, guitarist John Abercrombie has enjoyed such a diverse, distinguished career that you can’t lock up his restless, lyrical artistry into any one air-tight, neatly convenient category, not even with the venerable ECM label.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint against the Hartford Symphony Orchestra for failing to come to the bargaining table to hammer out a new contract with the orchestra's musicians.

Nate Gagnon / WNPR

At a rally on the steps of the state Capitol Wednesday, a huge crowd came out to support the musicians of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra who are being asked to take a huge pay cut next season. 

Rory Anderson / Quincy Jones Productions

The close teacher-to-pupil, father-to-son-like relationship that developed between the dying, nonagenarian trumpet great Clark Terry and his last protégé, the young, gifted blind pianist Justin Kauflin, was the highly moving, emotional core of director Alan Hicks’s excellent, award-winning documentary, "Keep On Keepin’ On."

Cuatro Puntos

When we think about the major agents of social change we don’t immediately think of classical chamber music.

Thanks to groups like Cuatro Puntos, we need to perhaps start changing our thinking.

Daniel Feingold / Hartford Jazz Society

More than a half-century ago, a small, devout band of jazz-loving members of a then obscure, but courageous group called The Hartford Jazz Society launched HJS’s first riverboat jazz cruise on the Connecticut River.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Earlier this month, a group musicians and activists from Connecticut joined artists from around the country, who traveled to Missouri to participate in events marking the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown's death.

The "All Roads Lead to Ferguson: Black Lives Matter Tour," included musicians like The Peace Poets and Peter Yarrow of the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary.

Hugh Burkhardt / robertblack.org

Whatever airline horror story you have about lost or mishandled luggage, I’m pretty sure Robert Black can top it.

Robert, as many of you around here know, is a brilliant, nationally recognized double bass player and teacher. He is perhaps best known for being a founding member of the avant-garde music ensemble, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, a group that regularly plays all over the world. Robert has also been a faculty member at The Hartt School for many years, and is currently the chairman of the school’s string department.

Carlos Hernandez Chavez

Renowned region-wide since 2007 for its abundant servings of savory, red-hot Latin sounds and friendly, festive communal vibe, the free, outdoor Ray Gonzalez Latin Jazz and Salsa Festival presents its annual sizzling summer celebration in downtown Hartford on Saturday, August 29, from 5:00 to 10:00 pm at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza.

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