News of the classical, jazz, and XPoNential worlds

In 1964, near the end of his career, Billy Strayhorn accompanied himself on a live recording of one of his best-known songs. It starts:

I used to visit all the very gay places

Those come-what-may places

Billy Strayhorn In Five Songs

21 hours ago

Villagers On World Cafe

Nov 27, 2015

Irish singer-songwriter Conor O'Brien, who performs as Villagers, has made three albums that have all hit Number 1 at home in Ireland, including his 2015 album, Darling Arithmetic. What's different this time has less to do with the fact that he's performing with a band and more to do with how he sees himself.

Tune in for the next installment of All This Jazz, airing at 9pm local time on Saturday the 28th, right here on Public Radio 89.5 / KWGS-FM (and streaming free-of-charge at

Revivalism in music often seems to be no more than a matter of style: a perfectly greased pompadour, a well-pressed rack of vintage dresses, some vintage equipment and the careful mimicry of a particular "hi-de-ho" or drawl. It's the rare living musician who does the extra work to comprehend the past she or he pursues in its entirety, from the flashiest trends of the time to the notes in the margins. Paul Burch is that extra-hard worker who also happens to be gifted with an easeful way of getting his messages across.

"Fulani Rock," the opening track of Baaba Maal's newest album, The Traveller, is a conceptual declaration, one of those in-studio meetings of an African artist and European producer that can either go very wrong or very right. Thank goodness that here it's very much the latter.

Why do Beethoven's symphonies remain so appealing? It's a question we put to Simon Rattle a few years ago after he had finished conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in all nine of them.

"There's nothing harder," Rattle said, "and at the end of it all, nothing more rewarding. This is one of the great monuments of Western art." Those performances were recorded for a set released in 2003.

On a long drive, Itzhak Perlman will sometimes listen to classical music on the radio and try to guess who's playing.

"There is always a question mark," he says. "If it's good, boy, I hope it's me. If it's bad, I hope it's not me."