The composer and pianist Roberto Piana has created 20 pieces he calls “Improvisations” based on these melodies, and Antonio Pompa-Baldi performs them here; both approach this material with deep affection.
In a Strange Land, the latest recording by the British vocal ensemble Stile Antico, is as imaginatively conceived and exquisitely sung as one would expect.
The King's Choir's two-CD set (all music, no readings) includes tracks taken from BBC broadcasts going back to 1958, plus new items conducted expressly for this collection.
In 1997, Owen Ashworth began recording as Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, making bedroom pop as bare, honest, and borderline-emo as his adopted monicker. In 2010, he exchanged the name for Advance Base.
When Franz Joseph Haydn began focusing on the genre of the piano trio, such pieces were technically and intellectually undemanding bagatelles crafted for at-home entertainment among the middle and upper classes.
On Vanished Gardens, saxophonist Charles Lloyd’s full-toned tenor opens his beautiful, easy “Defiant” with a soulful solo that is subtly supported by Bill Frisell, guitar; Greg Leisz, dobro and pedal steel; and bassist Reuben Rogers, and cleanly propelled by Eric Harland’s drums.
Spider Bags titled their current album Someday Everything Will Be Fine, so to go by album titles, you can assume they’re getting more optimistic about the future.
The sounds of a sitar open Masana Temples, the latest record by Japanese psychedelic band Kikagaku Moyo, with a spot of Indian music that unfurls before listeners like a lavish carpet.
Soprano and baritone saxophones open “Two Islands I” in a sprightly mien, like an awakening. Luciana Souza sings lines from a Margaret Atwood poem: “I could say it without looking, the animals; the blackened trees, the arrivals; the bodies, words, it goes and goes; I could recite it backwards.”
After years of serving as a studio magician for other artists, Jon Hopkins’ 2013 breakthrough release, Immunity, found him a global audience of his own. After a massive tour, he retreated to the desert to relax — and there, he found spirituality. The title of this follow-up and the names of many of its songs suggest an epiphany related to technology, a rebirth of sorts.
In May 2017, two English-born jazz veterans — bassist Dave Holland, seventy-one, and saxophonist Evan Parker, seventy-four — spent two days in the studio with Craig Taborn (keyboards and electronics) and Ches Smith (percussion). The result is 23 tracks, totaling two hours and 12 minutes of what truly qualifies as “aliveness music.”
London producer and DJ Daniel Avery made his album debut in 2013 with Drone Logic, a widely popular record full of robust beats and big, arresting melodies capable of filling a dance floor. For this follow-up, he wanted to craft something for the late night — the Uber home from the party and the slow comedown from the intoxicating rush of the festivities.
On this disc featuring Cohen’s tentet, we hear the clarinetist’s first recorded reference to Klezmer music, and it’s a thrill. That tune, “Anat’s Doina,” was arranged by her co-producer, Oded Lev-Ari, who shares her birthplace, Tel Aviv.
N’degeocello may no longer receive the mainstream attention she got in the 1990s when she was releasing classic neo-funk albums and appearing on John Mellencamp songs, but she’s enjoyed a fruitful mid-career, sliding easily into adult-contemporary soul as if she’d always been prepared for the moment.
In 2017, the pioneering avant-garde composer returned with Async, his first solo album of new material in eight years, and since being diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014 (he did contribute soundtrack work to films such as The Revenant).
In the relatively small pool of Richmond, Virginia, the indie-rock songwriter made ripples with her warm, wise No Burden, which was released on the regional EggHunt label. An indie-label bidding war ensued, and she made the jump to the internationally esteemed outfit Matador Records.
Soul singer and songwriter Miguel always sounds like he’s just discovered the joy in possessing his talents. On “Pineapple Skies,” the second song on his latest record, he launches into the verses like an airplane kissing the runway goodbye, putting the full weight of his vocal capabilities behind the refrain of “Pineapple purple skies/Promise everything gon’ be all right.”
On his seventh album, guitarist Scott DuBois employs a particular creative stratagem to carry out a specific program about the seasons: The first song is solo guitar and each new tune adds another musician until there are 12 participating on the 12th song.
Some of Franz Schubert’s piano sonatas suffer from longueurs, but the final two — in A major (D. 959) and B-flat major (D. 960) — are perfect works of genius written shortly before his death. The current catalog offers readings of the B-flat Sonata by about 120 pianists and approximately two-thirds that number for the A-major.
Remember those annual LPs the Firestone and Goodyear tire companies used to put out back in the 1960s, chockablock with Christmas favorites performed by stars that might range on a single record from Leontyne Price to Stan Getz? The Sono Luminus label has captured that retro spirit in this LP-length CD (38 minutes) featuring a dozen excellent artists or ensembles from their roster.
After a decade spent trying on different indie-rock hats, including an extended stint in the power-pop group the New Pornographers, Dan Bejar (who performs as Destroyer) finally hit upon a sound that suited him with 2011’s Kaputt. Beginning with that record, he’s evoked 1980s soft-rock using gated drums, smooth saxophones, gently chirping guitars, and rhythms that conjure up the easygoing feeling of wind in your hair while sailing.
The first thing you notice about the music of Mackenzie Scott, who performs as Torres, is her singing voice. She possesses a husky tenor of mahogany textures, which she often navigates between her lowest octaves, keeping the listener off guard by placing load-bearing weight on unexpected syllables in her lines.
Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704) dedicated himself principally to composing sacred music for a pious duchess and a Jesuit chapel. Those works often smolder with inner embers, making him the musical equivalent of the French Caravaggist painter Georges de la Tour.
The music world is already observing the centennial of Leonard Bernstein, which arrives next August. A man of multifarious talents, Bernstein distinguished himself as a conductor, composer, mass-market educator, and all-around celebrity — and also as a pianist. In fact, his Touches, from 1981, bears the dedication “To my first true love, the keyboard.”
The self-titled new release from 1990s shoegaze act Slowdive is so good that it seems less a cash-in and more as though the musicians, now wiser and more comfortable with themselves, simply reconvened for the joy of making music.
Portland, Oregon, band Grails surfaces every few years with a collection of experimental rock songs, having stayed away just long enough that their return is a surprise. During these hiatuses, founding members Alex Hall and Emil Amos typically explore disparate side projects such as the funk-inspired Lilacs & Champagne and the drone-metal band Om.
British singer-songwriter Laura Marling has been releasing records since she was seventeen, steadily expanding her ambition with each release. After playing mostly sol…
Beginning at age nine in the Nile city of Luxor, Quenāwī spent much of his life preserving the musical traditions of the fellahin, or farm laborers, of southern Egypt. After his death in 2004, there was a renewed interest in his music. Taken together, the four untitled tracks here are stunning illustrations of the sounds of rural Egypt.
The global political climate has grown so tenuous that it’s increasingly difficult for artists to make neutral or apolitical albums. Even with those who create instrumental music, anxiety and dread may inevitably creep into their art. London producer Moiré made No Future under the shadow of Brexit, and the album’s title isn’t subtle about his mindset and his opinion on the state of affairs.
Gqom is a strain of South African dance music that wears its influences like passport stamps. U.K. funk, African polyrhythms, and the dizzying basslines of Chicago house have come together in a sound that is wildly popular in Durban, a city home to four languages and large numbers of residents of Indian and British descent.
Guitarist Ripley Johnson and keyboardist Sanae Yamada have spent their careers as Moon Duo concocting psychedelic jams that toy with notions of duality, balance, circles, and nature, with a dash of mysticism sprinkled in. Their latest endeavor seems to be the culmination of such obsessions: It’s a two-album project centered around the concept of the yin-yang.
Camp taste, in music at least, seems to have gone out of favor. We like our musicians sincere and our cultural influences acknowledged, if not worn on our band’s sleeves. That all goes out the door with the Poco Loco in the Coco series, a curated mix of foreign “exotica” culled from 45s released as dance party novelties among tiny American record labels in the 1950s.
London electronic producer Oscar Powell aims to provoke. When he asked notoriously cranky indie-rock legend Steve Albini to use an Albini sample for his 2015 song titled “Insomniac,” Albini granted permission but added, “I detest club culture as deeply as I detest anything on earth, so I am against what you’re into, and an enemy of where you come from.” Powell’s response was to use the quote on an East London billboard.
At twenty-three, British rapper Little Simz has released a combined 11 albums and mixtapes, a furious Lil Wayne-like schedule that has produced as many wonders as it has duds. On her new album, she has created a hip-hop concept based around Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
On her fourth album, Natalie Mering (who performs as Weyes Blood) takes a tremendous step forward in her songwriting and production, crafting an album that is highly of the moment yet rooted in 1970s folk-pop tradition.
Named for a mythological woodland creature from guitarist Lionel Loueke’s ancestral homeland, the Dahomey kingdom (now Benin) in Africa, this album features two compositions each from jazz bassist Dave Holland, saxophonist Chris Potter, drummer Eric Harland, and Loueke.
The year 2016 marked the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death, and as the international Shakespeare industry went into high gear, our city was fortunate to be selected as a stop for the Folger Shakespeare Library’s touring exhibition of copies of the First Folio.
The Rhine Maidens are the sisters who cavort in myth-laden currents to get the action moving in Wagner’s Ring cycle — and then return at the end as everything that has happened gets washed away by those same waters.
Guitarist Nels Cline’s Lovers is a two-disc concept album loosely exploring the misery that goes hand-in-hand with being in love. Spanning styles and emotions — and available on vinyl as well as CD — its 18 selections address love’s eternal dichotomy, best represented here by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s 1936 lament, “Glad To Be Unhappy” (“But for someone you adore/It’s a pleasure to be sad”).
You scan the playlist — Schumann, Handel, Bach, and friends — and you wonder how this is possible. But no: John Bullard is serious, and although he plays the banjo, he does not view that as an impediment to his music-making.
It may have been a while since you have listened to a 75-minute recital of music for jaw harp and mouth organ, but your wait has ended. The mouth organ featured on this CD is the sheng, a Chinese instrument of ancient roots.
The headshot of twenty-five-year-old pianist Daniil Trifonov stares out just now from the covers of both of Britain’s leading music magazines, Gramophone and BBC Music — well-deserved accolades coinciding with the release of his stunning new Liszt recital.
Vandals could not entirely silence Bernardino de Ribera. The maestro de capilla of Toledo Cathedral in Spain at the height of the Counter-Reformation, Ribera saw his works gathered in 1570 into a magnificent volume of 159 parchment folios, its pages enhanced by lavishly embellished initials. The decorations proved nearly fatal.
No musician sounds quite like Cass McCombs. His songs feel invertebrate, squiggling around and circling back to melodic touchstones that bury themselves deeper with each pass. His lyrics are puzzle pieces that take dozens of listens to decipher and don’t always come together to form the picture you expect.
After just one album — 2013’s self-titled dance-funk workout — London trio Factory Floor has slimmed down to a duo. Perhaps relatedly, their already minimalist compositions became even more spare, and 25 25 features several tracks that are positively skeletal. The songs often consist of one warbling electronic squiggle that serves as both the bass and the lead melody, along with a smattering of live and programmed percussion.
Since reuniting in 2005, when the band members were around age forty, Massachusetts rock band Dinosaur Jr. has released a series of albums that are, incredibly, of the same quality as their pioneering output from the 1980s and early ’90s, when they were considered forerunners to grunge. On their latest album, it’s clear that the well of inspiration they discovered in the mid-2000s has not yet been tapped out.
Born four months before his illustrious father died, Franz Xaver Mozart (1791-1844) felt pressured to excel as a musician. His mother always called him Wolfgang, and, after studying with such luminaries as Salieri and Hummel, he toured for a while under the name W.A. Mozart Jr. Perhaps it was unwise for him to invite comparisons in this way, and yet being his father’s son unquestionably opened doors to him.
Supposedly, “Afro Soca” is a term coined by original Fela! cast member Shakira Marshall, who appears on the cover of this pleasantly raucous mixtape. In this genre, for the most part, the beats are pure West African pop, while the patois-steeped vocals, steel drums, and dancehall-inflected synths come to us straight from the Caribbean.
With a babydoll punk caterwaul and country-blues guitar licks, Victoria draws on the South’s twin musical traditions to deliver a raw, densely lyrical album that reckons with the South Carolina native’s own conflicted feelings about her birthplace.
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