music

Photo illustration by Heather Brandon. Center image by longislandwins. Right image by OperaVictoria. / Creative Commons

In a few weeks – October 16 to be precise – the Hartford Symphony will open its new season with a program that is vintage Carolyn Kuan: the “1812 Overture,” a concerto for a traditional Japanese instrument called the koto, and a big concert version, with massed choral forces from around the city, of Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.” 

Sakurai Toshi

On the jacket cover of his latest CD, The Vigil, Chick Corea, portrayed as an ever vigilant knight on horseback, is equipped with a new suit of shining armor with a trusty lance at his side, a jazz Lancelot whose Holy Grail is, was and always shall be the pursuit of constant renewal and enlightenment.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Hartford's West End Blend has released its first EP, making you want to raise your hands and get up off your chairs. As shown in the music video to their title track "What It's All About," the 14-piece band is much more than a toe-tapping, head-nodding experience.

eddie welker / Creative Commons

Back in 2010, a resolution was passed by U.S. House of Representatives making the second week of September "Arts in Education Week" -- a week designed to spotlight the role and importance of the arts in our schools. 

hartfordsymphonyblog.com

The good people at WNPR recently asked me if I would be interested in writing a weekly online piece about classical music for their website. Last December, they had started running a weekly piece on jazz by my old Hartford Courant colleague and friend, the great Owen McNally. What they wanted, they said, was a sort of companion piece to Owen’s.

Maurice Robertson / Hartford Jazz Society

For more than a half-century, the Hartford Jazz Society’s annual riverboat ramble on the Connecticut River—the state’s biggest, longest-running, most celebratory floating jazz concert—consistently features indelible shipboard solos that might forever dwell in your nostalgic jazz memory bank.

Mind Meal / Wikimedia Commons

You're about to meet a very special guy. There's a good chance you already know him, if you were in the generational cohort whose lives were enriched by Schoolhouse Rock. More than any other person, Bob Dorough put his unique musical stamp on that show and its offerings. But Bob Dorough is so much more.

Vincent Oneppo

Willie Ruff, the celebrated French horn player and double bassist, venerable Yale School of Music professor, founder/director of Yale’s prestigious Duke Ellington Fellowship Program, award-winning author, documentarian, historian, linguist, ethnomusicologist, and voracious autodidact, is a man of so many intricate, smoothly running, coolly calibrated cerebral parts that he is, indeed, one of the jazz world’s true Renaissance figures.

On a hot, humid afternoon, Bob Stewart has called a rehearsal at his Harlem apartment. Six musicians are in a circle in the living room — on one side, trumpet and trombone; on the other, cello, viola and violin; and in the middle, the elephant in the room — Stewart's tuba.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Legendary American folk singer/activist Woody Guthrie, is best known for his classic song, "This Land is Your Land." All of his music gives voice to a restless and profoundly American search for freedom: artistically, politically, and personally.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

You live in an invisible ocean of vibrations caused by the sounds around you. On this show, an almost-creepy experiment shows how the physical changes caused by vibrations can be reverse-engineered to discover the sounds that caused them.

Then, an oncologist, a sonic therapist, and a world-renowned deaf percussionist give their unusual perspective on vibrations.

Brian Wittman

Many years ago, a young pianist named Bill Evans recorded an LP called Everybody Digs Bill Evans, one of those rare album titles that is forever memorable and also somehow a concise summation and mini-portrait of the artist himself.

Sunday night, women gave the most memorable performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, and Stephen Thompson and I got together to chat about the provocations of Nicki Minaj, the royal Beyonce and more.

You can check out the video of all the performances for yourself, from the triple threat of Ariana Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj to the 16-minute Beyonce-stravaganza that closed the show.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Downtown Hartford now has a new music venue, as Thursday was the grand opening of the Infinity Music Hall and Bistro. 

Remembering Jazz Violinist John Blake Jr.

Aug 21, 2014

For decades, John Blake Jr. created a rare role for the violin within the jazz of his eras. A versatile player, he worked memorably with Archie Shepp, Grover Washington Jr., and McCoy Tyner. He released several solo recordings. He taught in conservatories and mentored many outside the classroom.

Blake died Friday, Aug. 15 from complications due to multiple myeloma, according to his family. He was 67.

sergiofranchi.com

This weekend marks the 20th annual Sergio Franchi Memorial Concert on the grounds of the late tenor's estate in Stonington.

Kavita Shah

An artist of many parts, Kavita Shah, an ascending, young singer/songwriter of Indian descent, applies her keen, empathetic intelligence, ethereally beautiful voice and adventurous spirit by using global music and multi-cultural influences as sources of inspiration for expressing her personal and cultural identity on her adventurous debut album aptly titled Visions.

Laura Ink

When Katie Perkins, 24, a country singer and East Lyme native, started performing with a band, it was sometimes hard to find country-friendly venues in the area. As part of a burgeoning country scene in the state, Perkins will perform Friday night in Somers at the Hartford County 4-H Fair, August 15 to 17.

Alan Nahigian

“With the wind at his back, he can sound like an ocean roar.” Using meteorological and oceanographic allusions fit for portraying a mythic hero, jazz critic Gary Giddins described the powerhouse pianist Harold Mabern, a life force on the jazz scene for more than half a century.

Connecticut DECD

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra has appointed a Director of Artistic Operations and Administration.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Here are some songs from your life, "Backstreet Girl" by the Rolling Stones, "Joey" by Bob Dylan, "Road to Nowhere" by the Talking Heads, "Boy In The Bubble" by Paul Simon, "July Fourth, Asbury Park", better known as "Sandy" by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by the Beach Boys. They all rely heavily on the accordion.

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When you think of Connecticut, bluegrass music may not immediately jump to mind, but there is a bluegrass scene here in the Land of Steady Habits. Starting on Thursday night, fans will gather at the Hebron Fairgrounds in Hebron for the Podunk Bluegrass Festival. 

Cyrus Chestnut

Graced with the robust technique of a premier concert hall pianist, Cyrus Chestnut is totally absorbed in exploring and celebrating the seemingly unlimited sonic potential of his grand instrument, using its keyboard and pedals to generate resonant, thickly-textured, amazingly agile, nuanced orchestral effects. 

Newport Jazz 2014 In Photos

Aug 5, 2014

The Newport Jazz Festival turned 60 this year, and expanded to three days to celebrate. Throughout last weekend, more than 45 bands performed at Fort Adams State Park in coastal Rhode Island, playing through abundant sunshine, pouring rain and anything in between.

Chion Wolff.

Mario Pavone and Jimmy Greene are both veterans of Connecticut's jazz scene -- having grown up here, decades apart -- and both deciding to make the state their home.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Can you ever make sense of a whole decade? That's what the National Geographic Channel tries to do with its three-part documentary on the '90s. So we get Bill Clinton, the building of the internet, Waco, O.J., the Oklahoma City bombing, Prozac, Starbucks, Tanya Harding, Kurt Loder, In Living Color, Rodney King and Reginald Denny, Anna Nicole Smith, the rise of SUVs and NMA, the fall of the Walkman and Tamagotchis, the Great Gretzky... This is starting to sound like a Billy Joel song.

The New Haven Jazz Festival kicks off Thursday evening with an event honoring Connecticut musician/composer Jeff Fuller

nojazzfest.com

Elated to be alive and once again playing at the top of her game after a debilitating, three-year struggle with a life-threatening brain condition, the whirlwind New Orleans singer/dancer and entertainer Charmaine Neville is looking forward to performing with her famous father, saxophonist Charles Neville, on August 9 at the first Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival in downtown Springfield’s historic Court Square.

Jukka Zitting / Creative Commons

The Avett Brothers are riding the crest of the modern Americana music wave. John Hall, after a stint in Congress, is back leading Orleans and singing a song so catchy that simply to mention it would glue it to your eardrums for the rest of the day. Glen Phillips is leading Toad The Wet Sprocket after a long layoff and successful Kickstarter campaign that launched their latest album, New Constellation.

James L. Amos

Even though the guitar had been at the heart and soul of his existence since age seven, the future great jazz guitarist Gene Bertoncini went to the prestigious University of Notre Dame in the mid-1950s to study architecture.

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