In the modern age of music, we're saturated with options of what to listen to and how to listen to it. Finding really great music can be like looking for a needle in a haystack, so it's exciting when truly stellar groups like Lake Street Dive burst onto the scene, all genuine talent and earned fame like old times.
Although they were discovered through a Youtube video performance of "I Want You Back" by Jackson 5, the band originally formed in a jazz music conservatory, and they have the skills to prove it. But rather than use their superpowers to get pigeonholed in the world of jazz for jazz fans, they've decided to take it to the streets and play highly accessible, yet wildly interesting music. It comes off like a secret ingredient in a tasty dish.
50 years after the historic airing of The Beatles playing live on the Ed Sullivan show, Beatlemania may not make young girls scream and faint anymore, but many listeners continue to hold their music near and dear to their hearts.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of books have been written about The Beatles. I have read a mere fraction of what is available. Some paint the lads from Liverpool in holy light, while others darken the lingering shadows and tell a more sinister tale. While not all music lovers love The Beatles, most respect their profound effect on the musical landscape that continues to evolve and annoy parents to this day.
To honor my favorite band, I would like to share my top five favorite Beatles albums!
Every two weeks, free tracks from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and Classical Music Library are offered.
This week (the week of January 28, 2014) the Smithsonian Folkways Recording is Pete Seeger's Buffalo Gals in honor of Pete Seeger's passing at age 94 on Monday, January 27, 2014.
Pete Seeger's life, music, and legacy encapsulate nearly a century of American history and culture. He has immersed himself in folk music and used it, like Johnny Appleseed, to "plant the seeds of a better tomorrow in the homes across our land." The songs in this collection of 139 American Favorite Ballads narrate tales of ordinary people and their extraordinary deeds, and show Pete at the crossroads of the past and the future putting his own stamp on America's folk song heritage while bequeathing it to generations to come.
With 2013 coming to a close, the “best of” music lists have been pouring in the past few months. Best albums, best cover songs, best tracks, best photos, best music appearances on television - the possibilities are endless and critics never seem to tire of list-making.
Here is a round-up from some of the more influential sources:
It can be challenging to find holiday music that isn't merely cheery, kitschy, or weirdly dark, leading many including myself to steer clear of it (while enjoying when certain renditions come up on the radio). Of course, it's hard to go wrong with jazz, but sometimes a person needs variety. This album just might fit the ticket.
Canadian musician and self-made record label owner Loreena McKennitt, best known for her 1997 song "The Mummer's Dance," has continued to produce great things, including this unique and wonderful collection of traditional old world holiday music, Midwinter Night's Dream (2008). It sometimes sounds as if it could be the original soundtrack to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, such as what you might imagine the elves of Mirkwood or the hobbits to play on rustic instruments during feasts.
What do you get when you put a pop-punk singer and a jazz singer in a studio? A totally stellar old-style country album, as it turns out. Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day and jazz singer Norah Jones have teamed up to thoroughly surprise the world. Definitely didn't see this coming.
In the late 50s, the Hardy-Boys-esque Everly Brothers debuted with alternately upbeat and somber country music that would influence later iterations of rock, though the duo's heyday would only last until the mid-late 60s. The world is about to rediscover their music through the star power of Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones on their brand new album, Foreverly, which consists of revamped and reclothed covers of the Everly Brothers.
Have you ever gone on a wild goose chase to get an album that's hard to find but you don't know why because it's so good? That's what I had to do to own Take it from the Top by the Bob James Trio. How I heard it in the first place was by browsing the shelves at my Denver Public Library branch.
One day, I had decided to discover new music by pulling CDs at random from our jazz shelves to check out, starting with the A's. The first major stand-out I came across was Take it from the Top (2004). In hindsight, I'm rather proud that we have it. Although the group is named after Bob James the pianist, James Genus (bass) and Billy Kilson (drums) make it what it is for me. It's difficult to surpass the crisp sound of a trio consisting of these three instruments.
It is one of the most cliché elitist replies when someone asks you if you like a band. Typically the speaker is trying to show off that they've listened to the band longer than newfound fans. In some instances, however, it's a genuine opinion void of hubris.
I confess that I've used the phrase for both reasons. Recently a friend asked me to go to see The National with him and I found myself saying this exact thing. I love their albums Alligator and Boxer, but found myself bored with their two latest. They weren't bad albums, just disappointing.
And when the heavens open I saw
I heard her say "Asucar turn this on."
Tito Puente's dressed in white
Playing timbales while the angels
Sing with Selena
Ay Mamma. Is you carnival shoes on.
--Wyclef Jean, "Selena"
As a depression-era child in New York's Spanish Harlem, Ernesto Antonio (Tito) Puente enjoyed banging on pots and pans so much that the neighbors convinced his parents to give him music lessons.
His Puerto Rican immigrant parents obliged, with lessons for piano, percussion, saxophone, vibraphone and timbales, and Tito became a professional musician at 13. Following an apprenticeship in the Machito Orchestra, he served in the Navy during World War II.