Our show is, as much as anything, about a sense of place, and about things that matter to people who live here. When we talk to artists and musicians, we want to know about the places that influence them. This hour, we have two conversations that are firmly planted with Connecticut roots.
Kerri Powers is a singer-songwriter who grew up in Massachusetts, even though her voice might read “West Texas.” She lives in suburban Connecticut now, but the songs on her new self-titled record might well fit in a small southern bar. This weekend, she’s performing at the Hartfolk Festival at the University of St. Joseph - we hear her music and get a preview.
As part of his musical legacy, the late Les Paul, the legendary guitarist, electronic wizard and iconic guitar designer, played a key role in encouraging Nicki Parrott, the gifted Australian-born double bassist, to spread her wings a bit and also become a first-rate, expressive jazz singer.
Outside the concert hall at Occidental College, in Los Angeles' Eagle Rock neighborhood, children are invited to test out the instruments the Santa Cecilia Orchestra will play later. Alexa Media Rodriguez, 8, says she and her family have never before been to an orchestra concert. She heard about the orchestra when some of the musicians visited her school.
"I brought my dad, my stepmom," she says, "my sister, my brother and my sister's cousin ..."
That's the thing about this orchestra, says conductor Sonia Marie De Leon De Vega: The children are bringing the parents.
Can the culture of one nation ever understand that of another? Critics say Fox's newest reality show in which 12 witless contestants believe their in a fight to the near death for the attention of England's Prince Harry. "I Wanna Marry Harry" is said to represent a new low in reality television.
While playing his weekly gig at Manhattan’s Caffe Vivaldi some four years ago, pianist Assaf Gleizner, a Tel Aviv native, decided to please his parents by mixing traditional Israeli folk music with the modern jazz fare that he and his fellow Israeli sidemen, Koby Hayon and Nadav Snir-Zelniker, were to serve that night at the popular West Village restaurant and live music hot spot.
Long a welcoming haven for jazz, Asylum Hill Congregational Church embraces Duke Ellington’s sacred music Sunday, May 18, at 4:00 pm as it presents "The Best of the Duke Ellington Sacred Concerts" with full-scale, soulful re-creations blessed with four mighty choirs singing, a powerhouse jazz band swinging, and a tap dancer tapping in the historic Hartford church’s majestic sanctuary.
You could make the case that America’s obsession with sports really took hold thanks to baseball in the 1950s. When Broadway producer/director/writer George Abbott turned to "Damn Yankees" as his next musical in 1955, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
When you’re right in front of West End Blend, it’s hard to not be physically blown away by their powerful sound and deep grooves. The band is about to put out an EP that they hope will capture at least some of the live energy of their stage performances. We hear a special concert and conversation with West End Blend recorded at the TELEFUNKEN factory and studio in South Windsor.
We also talk to a local professor, just days before he leaves for Ukraine to be an elections monitor in their upcoming, very controversial vote.
Last month, Fender Musical Instruments announced it will close the Ovation guitar factory in New Hartford in the coming weeks. For now, that means all Ovation guitars will be made in factories overseas.
When NPR Music and WQXR present the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival Chorus' performance of R. Nathaniel Dett's The Ordering of Moses at Carnegie Hall Friday, there will be one significant difference from its first airing: it should be free of interruptions.
Lake Street Dive makes its second appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va.
The four virtuoso musicians who comprise Lake Street Dive met as students at the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music. They became friends and formed a group to play outside of class; it was originally conceived as a "free country" project. That sound quickly morphed into one that includes influences from jazz, R&B and classic pop.
Thanks to The Side Door Jazz Club, one of Connecticut’s newest and hottest venues, and the Hartford Jazz Society, the nation’s oldest jazz society in continuous operation, May gets off to an explosive start with performances by two powerhouse modern mainstream ensembles that believe in the aesthetic primacy of unabashedly hard-swinging jazz crackling with unashamedly soulful feeling.
It's not too often I get to write a song with Colin, but I love when it happens. We had about two hours until showtime when Colin dropped off the lyrics to the song we wanted to use as an intro to our show about bees -- specifically about how bees are trucked to different locations throughout the country. I could hear the tune in my head right away.
Originally published on Tue April 29, 2014 12:52 pm
Duke Ellington didn't consider himself a jazz musician.
He said he was a musician who played jazz. And what a musician: pianist, bandleader, composer of more than 1,000 songs including standards like "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," "Satin Doll" and "Sophisticated Lady."
Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 11:00 am
11 min 16 sec
It's right there in the band's name, but the music of Quilt is truly a tapestry. Its songs are made of small bits of verses and choruses that, heard individually, may not seem to fit. But in the hands and voices of this band, they stitch together beautifully. Interweaving harmonies and guitar lines from Anna Fox Rochinski and Shane Butler set the tone for these tunes — soft and benevolent, dreamy and quivering, with poetry that's thoughtful and playful. The opening song at this Tiny Desk Concert, "Arctic Shark," questions and enchants.
It’s time for the next installment in our new series featuring local artists and musicians. This hour, we hear from folk-pop duo Chuck Costa and Mira Stanley of The Sea, The Sea. Their debut album, Love We Are We Love, dropped earlier this year. Both recently stopped by our studio to talk about and perform some of their new songs.
Later, we hear a tale from the sea. Kate Moore served as Keeper of Bridgeport’s Fayerweather Lighthouse for most of the 19th century. A Bridgeport historian and Coast Guard Ensign will tell us about her heroic and inspiring devotion to Long Island Sound’s busy seaway.
Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 12:18 pm
Robert Ellis and his road band perform songs from his fine third album, The Lights From the Chemical Plant, in this World Cafe session. After his last record, 2011's Photographs, Ellis wanted to push his music in less of a country-oriented direction, so he worked on the new album with producer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings Of Leon).
Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 1:30 pm
Yesterday, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation announced the recipients of its 2014 Performing Artist Awards, including 13 jazz and improvising musicians, who will receive at least $1.7 million in unrestricted grants in total.
“We’ve switched over to the dark side for real now.” No, that’s not an ominous utterance from Dick Cheney. It’s the celebrated flutist Ali Ryerson joking on the phone when discussing her touring quintet’s contemporary, plugged-in sound that marks a giant switch for her from the modern mainstream palette that has long been a hallmark of her acclaimed artistry.
Dan Blow, the noted Hartford-based fashion designer who creatively refashioned himself into one of the city’s most industrious and illustrious concert producers, plans to pull up stakes in Hartford to live in the Bahamas; shutter his clothing business, sell his elegant Woodland Street condo, and in a severe blow to the local music scene, perhaps end his enormously popular Music@Japanalia series held primarily in his West End boutique.