Music and Recording Features

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Ken Micallef  |  Apr 14, 2022  |  27 comments
Celebrated New York City–based jazz drummer Billy Drummond recalls his first visit, with the group OTB ("Out of The Blue"), to the Mount Fuji Jazz Festival in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan. It was 1988. The Festival's elite drummers ranged in age from 69 (Art Blakey) to 26 (Ralph Peterson). In between were Roy Haynes, Tony Williams, Clifford Barbaro, Victor Lewis, Lewis Nash, Kenny Washington, Cindy Blackman—"and me," Drummond told me, by phone.
Anne E. Johnson  |  Apr 07, 2022  |  3 comments
Jonathan Ward, a historian of recorded sound, has some surprising news. Thousands of early 78rpm recordings were made not to preserve music but as disposable materials for selling gramophones. With manufacturers hoping to expand their sales globally, demo records featured regional music aimed at appealing to regional.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Mar 09, 2022  |  8 comments
It felt as though everyone had stopped breathing, so intent was their focus. I was in an exhibit room at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2018. I doubt that anyone present spoke German, but after soprano Sandrine Piau's recording, with pianist Susan Manoff, of Carl Loewe's "Ach Neige, Du Schmer-Zenreiche" (ah, incline, you who are laden with sorrows) began to fill the space, the silence was so deep that you could almost hear hearts beat. as Piau intoned words by Wolfgang von Goethe that spoke of a loss so painful that it pierced the heart and bore into one's bones, everyone present felt the emptiness and loss in Piau's voice and Lizst's setting.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Feb 11, 2022  |  3 comments
For all its ghastliness and heartbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic has been good to Keb' Mo'. When the virus hit the US, it forced the cancelation of a string of his concerts. "I was getting a little burned out on touring," he confesses.
Ken Micallef  |  Feb 03, 2022  |  3 comments
Called "the phantom" by fellow musicians and dubbed the "bearded, goateed astronaut of the tenor sax" by a close friend, trumpeter Kenny Dorham, the enigmatic Joe Henderson recorded five albums for the Blue Note label that are uniformly regarded as jazz classics. Mosaic Records has gathered those records—Page One, Our Thing, In 'n Out, Inner Urge, Mode for Joe—plus Henderson's sideman dates and alternate takes for Blue Note for a limited-edition, five-CD box set, The Complete Joe Henderson Blue Note Studio Sessions (Mosaic Records MD5-271).
Stereophile Staff  |  Jan 18, 2022  |  7 comments
So, what's this all about? Most of you already know—after all, we've been doing it since 1991, and it's one of our most popular features. But if you're new to Stereophile, here it is: Originally, the light-hearted conceit was, these are the records you'd be willing to lay down your life for. (This foie gras is to die for!) But, let's be real: That ain't gonna happen, or so I hope.
Jim Austin  |  Jan 06, 2022  |  6 comments
Jay Jay French has a book out, but it's not what you might think, or not exactly.

French earned fame in the 1980s as the lead guitarist for transvestite metal band Twisted Sister, which produced some of the most recognizable—and widely licensed—rock music in history: "We're Not Gonna Take It." "I Wanna Rock."

John Swenson  |  Dec 29, 2021  |  1 comments
R&B in D.C. 1940–1960 (Bear Family BCD 17052 16-CD, 2021) adds a new chapter to the Bear Family Records deep dive into American popular culture. Historian/collector Jay Bruder worked with a small army of researchers and editors to compile the beautifully designed book and its accompanying 16-CD discography.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Dec 10, 2021  |  6 comments
Rabbits figure frequently in chats with Tom Fine—not the little creatures per se but the holes they burrow into. Because when you question Fine about matters present and past, his encyclopedic memory and fascination with all things great and small take you down what he calls "rabbit holes."
Ken Micallef  |  Nov 10, 2021  |  4 comments
Over a long weekend in late August 2021, DJ, broadcaster, and contemporary music scholar Gilles Peterson and his Brownswood recordings label hosted the We Out Here (WOH) festival in Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire, 80 miles north of London. 20 stages. 15,000 attendees. Peterson called it "the British Jazz Woodstock."
Anne E. Johnson  |  Oct 07, 2021  |  10 comments
As the title of a fan blog puts it, indie is not a genre. It is potentially every genre. It's an attitude, an approach, a commitment to self-expression without regard to, or in spite of, mainstream demands. It's the blend that nobody can label, the outré, the ahead-of-its-time, the defiantly retro.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 09, 2021  |  0 comments
As she moves quietly across the huge scoring stage at Skywalker Studios toward the large, comfortable control room that sits behind glass, it's obvious that Leslie Ann Jones is in charge. She wears no badge that proclaims her authority, although her professional title is impressive: "Director of Music and Scoring, Music and Scoring Recording Engineer and Mixer".
Julie Mullins  |  Aug 10, 2021  |  0 comments
Crossing borders and genre boundaries is never easy, but for Bryce Dessner, it's become a familiar experience.

Dessner, 45, a classically trained guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer, has racked up multi-hyphenates over the last couple of decades of his musical career. Arguably best known for his work with indie rock band The National—where he shares lead guitar, piano, songwriting, and other duties with his identical-twin brother Aaron—he's also an accomplished arranger and producer and cofounder of two record labels.

Ken Micallef  |  Jun 25, 2021  |  10 comments
When Pat Metheny was growing up in the small Missouri town of Lee's Summit, his family's home stood within can't-even-hear-yourself-shouting distance of the Missouri Pacific railroad. trains, tornadoes, freezing winters, hot summers, small-town isolation—all fed an imagination that (combined with plenty of practice) fed a legendary music career.
Anne E. Johnson  |  Jun 04, 2021  |  2 comments
Not even a pandemic lockdown could keep Rhiannon Giddens from seeking new projects. Between making a new album with her partner, Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, and engaging in strategic planning in her new role as artistic director of the Silkroad Ensemble, the musician and activist seems as busy as ever even if she rarely leaves her house.

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