Museum curators, instrument dealers and some of the world's most esteemed musicians will be clutching paddles today at Cloiduff's auction house in New York. They're gathering for what is expected to be an eight-figure sale of perhaps the rarest instruments ever to appear at auction: a pair of lovingly restored Stradivarius timpani.
Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 12:03 am
The Hammond electronic organ was developed with churches in mind, as a lower-cost alternative to pipe organs. But in Philadelphia, a keyboard player named Jimmy Smith was inspired by early jazz experiments on the instrument, and found a devastating way to adapt the new bebop style to the Hammond B-3. It seeded a new tradition of organ players in Philadelphia — major figures like "Groove" Holmes, Jimmy McGriff, Papa John and Joey DeFrancesco, and Trudy Pitts — and kickstarted a new sound in jazz at large.
One hundred years after she was born, Billie Holiday remains iconic in American music, not to mention jazz singing. Cassandra Wilson has made her career in jazz singing by embracing a wide range of American music, and it holds true on her latest project: a new album rearranging the Billie Holiday songbook. The new Coming Forth By Day, created with rocker Nick Cave's producer and rhythm section, reshapes songs like "Good Morning Heartache" and "Strange Fruit" with fresh textures and resonances.
Each April 1st, practical jokers get their kicks pulling the wool over people's eyes. There are little white lies, cunning schemes and elaborate hoaxes. Pranksters are alive and well in music, too. Test your wits with these musical smart alecks who run the gamut from clever clowns to serious scam artists. Score high and feel a surge of superiority. Score low and fancy yourself a true April fool.
Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 12:51 pm
This week's World Cafe: Next artist, BKO Quintet, is from the North African nation of Mali. Its album Bamako Today modernizes traditional Malian tunes and originals.
The band calls its music "Trad Actual Malian Sound." But, as you'll hear, it's also got a contemporary feel. In this segment, you can hear and download a couple of songs, including one in which BKO Quintet is joined by vocalist Piers Faccini singing in English.
Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 9:34 am
Every fan seems to have a story about their love for Elliott Smith. For Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield, theirs might have started with a dog. The two friends bonded over Smith's songs after Mayfield introduced Avett to her adopted pooch, Elliott.
Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 10:46 am
When thinking about populism, it's easy to focus on either the relatable day-to-day struggles of average people — of the majority somewhere in the middle, glorified by so many rootsy tropes — or the more strung-out striving of those at the bottom. In politics and in culture, "the little guy" has typically made it far enough up the ladder to have a voice echoed in anthems and slogans, or else sunk far enough into desperation, homelessness or famine so as to surpass the need for detail entirely.