music

Entertainment
3:46 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

The Biggest Jazz Riff Ever Written

Jeremy Denk at Carnegie Hall
Credit Eric Thayer, NPR Music

Pianist Jeremy Denk was awarded a MacArthur "genius" grant in September. Weekends on All Things Considered host Arun Rath invited the pianist to talk about his new recording of the iconic Goldberg Variations, a nearly 90-minute masterwork that Denk has referred to as "the biggest jazz riff ever written."

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Entertainment
3:55 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Pianist Paul Lewis plays Schubert

Entertainment
3:51 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

The Soulful Sounds of Stax

The city of Memphis is a main character in Robert Gordon's book, "Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion." NPR's Don Gonyea talks with Gordon about the story of the white, country-loving brother and sister from rural Tennessee who started Stax Records and "wound up making some of the most soulful, swinging music that we still listen to today."

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Entertainment
12:23 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

The (Syrian) Wedding Singer

Omar Souleyman's new album is called Wenu Wenu.
Credit Hisham Bharoocha/NPR Music

Morning Edition's Renee Montagne talks with Omar Souleyman, one of Syria's most popular wedding singers. Souleyman serenades newlyweds with songs of love performed on a synthesizer.

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Entertainment
12:13 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Overwhelmed by Music?

Credit NPR Music

Are you missing out if you're not actively exploring the newest beats? Have you ever felt like taking a break from music? NPR's Stephen Thompson responds to listeners' concerns about music overload.

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Entertainment
4:20 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

'12 Years a Slave' soundtrack

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northrup in '12 Years a Slave.'
Credit Fox Searchlight/NPR Music

NPR's Ann Powers talks about the soundtrack to Steve McQueen's film '12 Years a Slave,' and why it's the most compelling film about music to be released this year.

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Entertainment
4:10 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Debashish Bhattacharya: Tiny Desk Concert

Entertainment
2:49 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Cumbia: The Music That Moves Latin America

Dancers move to cumbia during a Carnival parade in Barranquilla, Colombia in Feb. 2012.
Credit Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images

Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd—hosts of NPR's ongoing series on Latin alternative music—recently stopped by for an episode of Weekend Edition to discuss the history and far-flung influence of cumbia, a syncopated style of music and dance that ranges from the traditional to the Top 40 (you can hear cumbia's influence on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' chart-topping "Thrift Shop.) You can listen to the piece here, along with a handful of song selections that illustrate the various flavors of

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Entertainment
2:37 am
Mon November 11, 2013

The Do's and Don'ts of Going Solo

George Michael (left) and Andrew Ridgeley both went solo after Wham! broke up. One fared just a little better than the other.
Credit Brian Aris

It's an age-old story; band finds success, band's momentum dwindles, lead singer departs for greener pastures in the form of a solo career.  But why is it that some solo ventures—like Morrissey's post-Smiths output, or Beyonce after leaving Destiny's Child—seem to strike gold, while others (like, for instance, Van Halen's David Lee Roth) simply fizzle out of existence?

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Entertainment
11:40 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Ari Shapiro's Five Songs for Earbud-free Biking

In anticipation of his departure for the bike-laden streets of London, Ari Shapiro picks five songs for headphone-free commuting.
Credit Denise DeBelius/NPR

In the interest of safety, NPR's Ari Shapiro doesn't wear headphones while riding his bicycle; instead, Shapiro prefers to tuck his iPhone into a jacket pocket and crank up the volume on the phone's external speaker.  As he prepares to depart from his position as White House Correspondent to cover London for NPR, he's picked five songs that still shine despite the undeniably tinny speakers mounted on most smartphones.

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Entertainment
6:08 am
Thu November 7, 2013

America, The Primitive: 5 New Guitar Records That Would Make John Fahey Proud

Bill Orcutt has reinvigorated and befuddled our ideas about the guitar.
Credit Hans van der Linden (http://www.flickr.com/photos/herrhanz/)

John Fahey pioneered a musical style called American Primitivism (or American Primitive Guitar) in the 1950's, a sort of amalgamation of the various flavors of American guitar.  Head over to All Songs Considered to check out Lars Gotrich's picks of five contemporary records keeping Fahey's tradition alive.

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Entertainment
3:50 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Tyler, The... Director?

For those familiar with the work of Tyler, The Creator—the divisive rapper whose Odd Future crew rose to prominence at the close of the 00's with a slew of jarring mixtapes centered around murder, mutilation and mayhem—the new video for "Glowing" might be a bit of a surprise.

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Entertainment
9:53 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Fresh Air Remembers Lou Reed

Lou Reed, known for his work with the Velvet Underground and the dynamic solo career that followed, passed away on Sunday at the age of 71.
Credit Karl Walter/Getty Images

From his counter-culture anthem "Walk On The Wild Side" to a questionable but undeniably bold collaboration with Metallica, Lou Reed was always pushing: pushing himself, his listeners, and often the entire landscape of American popular music in electrifying new directions.  It wasn't always a successful strategy—take that record with Metallica, for instance—but when Reed's restless creative drive was in top form, it really was something to behold.

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Entertainment
9:19 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Beneath The Wig: Bach Examined In New Book

A new book from John Eliot Gardiner attempts to unveil the personal side of one of history's preeminent composers.
Credit courtesy of William H. Scheide, Princeton, N.J.

Johan Sebastian Bach's music has enjoyed considerable longevity as a cornerstone of the musical zeitgeist, but his personal life is, for the most part, the stuff of speculation.  The composer's little known personality—his emotions, flaws, and triumphs—may be about to become significantly clearer, however, with the publication of Bach: Music in The Castle of Heaven.  Written by John Eliot Gardiner—himself a renowned composer—the book attempts to unravel a man "filled with contradictions".

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Entertainment
4:04 am
Mon October 28, 2013

First Listen: Cut Copy, Kronos Quartet and More

Cut Copy's new album, Free Your Mind, comes out Nov. 5.
Credit Cut Copy

The fine folks over at NPR Music headquarters have rolled out a fresh batch of First Listen streams; head here to hear new music from indie dance mainstays Cut Copy, experimental string outfit Kronos Quartet and more.

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Entertainment
3:56 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Katy Perry's Career 180

Katy Perry made a major career transition, from aspiring Christian singer to explosive pop star.
Credit Cass Bird/Courtesy of the artist

Katy Perry has a unique perspective with regards to pop music.  You most likely know her as the sultry star responsible for hits like "I Kissed A Girl", but chances are you might not be aware that Perry is currently in phase two of her career.  Her first stab at the music game was under the name Katy Hudson, singing sterilized Christian pop; it was a move that failed to garner the audiences Perry was hoping for, and she has since moved to greener, more secular pastures.

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Entertainment
12:35 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Do Surprise Album Releases Work For Everyone?

Amaechi Uzoigwe at the A2IM Awards in New York City last June.
Credit Brad Barket/Getty Images

What's the value of hype? As part of NPR's The Record, Eric Ducker examines the pros and cons of the spontaneous album release, on the heels of records like Four Tet's Beautiful Rewind and Kanye West's polarizing Yeezus.

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Entertainment
3:11 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Ryley Walker Brings Acoustic Swagger

Guitarist/singer Ryley Walker.
Credit Michael Vallera/Courtesy of the artist

Guitarist/songwriter Ryley Walker offers music that "swings and sways", an alluring hybrid of blues, folk and psychedelia.  Check out "The West Wind" now, courtesy of All Songs Considered. 

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Entertainment
11:05 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Rubblebucket Gets Funky

With their new video for "Save Charlie", Brooklyn indie pop outfit Rubblebucket serves up a technicolor slice of languid funk, complete with neon outlines and shimmering on-screen lyrics.  For more info, head over to All Songs Considered.

Entertainment
10:58 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Chilean Saxophonist Melissa Aldana Cracks the American Scene

Melissa Aldana, 24, took after her father in pursuing jazz saxophone.
Credit Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist

24-year-old Melissa Aldana, the winner of last month's Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, has been gaining quite a bit of buzz as a result of her talents.  Citing artists like Sonny Rollins as key inspirations, Aldana talks with A Blog Supreme about her experiences as a globe-trotting jazz afficionado. 

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Entertainment
4:56 pm
Sat October 5, 2013

Deltron 3030 Brings More Interstellar Madness

Deltron 3030 has reconvened, more than a decade after its self-titled debut, for the new album Event II. Left to right: Kid Koala, Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan "The Automator" Nakamura.
Credit Michael Donovan/Courtesy of the artist

Thirteen years after the release of the much-celebrated concept album Deltron 3030, rapper Del Tha Funkee Homosapien has returned with producer Dan The Automator and turntablist Kid Koala for Event II, another dystopian sci-fi epic packed with nimble wordplay and head-nodding beats.  Listen now at NPR music.

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Entertainment
4:51 pm
Sat October 5, 2013

Is Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" A Real Hit?

Katy Perry (left) and Miley Cyrus at the Pre-Grammy Gala in February.
Credit Lester Cohen/WireImage

It's the number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 with a raunchy video to match, but is Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" a genuine hit?  After the flash-in-the-pan popularity of songs like Bauuer's "Harlem Shake", NPR's Chris Molanphy wonders about the lasting impact of Cyrus' sound. 

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Entertainment
8:58 pm
Sun September 29, 2013

Nostalgia 2.0: 90's Rap Release Dates

On September 28, 1993, three very different albums, Souls of Mischief's 93 'Til Infinity, Spice 1's 187 He Wrote and KRS-One's Return of the Boom Bap.
Credit Jive Records

More 90's nostalgia! Evan Auerbach delivers this piece for NPR's The Record, celebrating a number of dates from the 1990's that marked the release of classic hip-hop records.  A random highlight: April 17, 1990, which offered the release of A Tribe Called Quest's seminal People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.

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Entertainment
1:06 pm
Sat September 28, 2013

'If It Swings': An Asian-American Jazzman's Pioneering Career

The Paul Togawa Quartet at the El Sereno Club in Los Angeles in the late 1950s. Left to right: Gabe Baltazar, Paul Togawa, Dick Johnston, Buddy Woodson.
Credit Gabe Baltazar

83-year-old saxophonist/clarinetist Gabe Baltazar was recently profiled as part of NPR's Weekend Edition series, offering an in-depth look at one of the foremost Asian-Americans in jazz music.  The piece examines a career that spanned the U.S., and boasted appearances alongside the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderly and Wes Montgomery. 

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Entertainment
12:57 pm
Sat September 28, 2013

Drake's Hip-Hop Emotionality

Hip-hop musician Drake at a recent taping of 106 & Park.
Credit Bennett Raglin/BET/Getty Images for BET

Rap superstar Drake, fresh on the heels of his third studio album, Nothing Was The Same, has been garnering quite a bit of attention recently.  NPR's Jason King takes a look at what makes the Toronto sensation so engaging, from his uniquely emotional appeal to an evident talent for verbal calisthenics.  

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Entertainment
10:27 am
Sun September 22, 2013

Marley Marl Talks Hip-Hop, Sampling, The Bridge Wars

New York DJ Marley Marl's In Control Vol. 1 was released in 1988.
Credit Cold Chillin' Records

Widely considered a seminal figure in the hip-hop moment for his invention of the process known as sampling, New York DJ Marley Marl speaks with Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley for NPR's Microphone Check series.  Marl describes his memories of  discovering sampling—the act of utilizing sounds recorded from other records—as well as his love for synth-pop pioneer Giorgio Moroder and working with LL Cool J. 

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Entertainment
10:10 am
Sun September 22, 2013

Jessye Norman's Jazz Favorites

Opera star Jessye Norman picks her favorite jazz singers for WBGO.
Credit Carol Friedman

In a conversation aired on WBGO, opera singer Jessye Norman shares songs from five of her favorite jazz singers, including the likes of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.  

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Entertainment
9:51 am
Wed September 18, 2013

Tiny Desk Concert: Arturo O'Farrill

The latest in NPR's Tiny Desk concert series comes from jazz musician Arturo O'Farrill, who performs three songs with a stripped-down, eight-man version of his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.  A multi-talented performer born of a musical family, the sounds O'Farrill offers are "as fluent in Afro-Cuban rhythms as they are in the deep grooves and advanced harmonics of bebop."

Entertainment
9:42 am
Wed September 18, 2013

Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic Share Memories of Nirvana

Nirvana in 1993 (from left): Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl.
Credit Anton Corbijn

Nirvana's seminal grunge record In Utero marks 20 years of existence this year; in celebration of the album's memory and the memory of lead singer Kurt Cobain, Nirvana founders Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic talk with All Songs Considered about the making of the album.  Hit the link for an in-depth look at the history behind the definitive grunge album, and listen to some unreleased out-takes from In Utero.

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Entertainment
10:15 am
Fri September 13, 2013

90's Musicians We Miss

90's hip-hop duo P.M. Dawn
Credit Mick Hutson/Redferns

Having been born at the decade's inception, I harbor a soft spot for the music of the 1990's.  So does NPR's Ann Powers, apparently, as she picks six pre-millenial artists worthy of nostalgia.  From Janet Jackson to Elastica, the piece should stir some memories of neon-clad mid-90's vibes for anyone fortunate enough to have experienced the decade.  

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