Music and Recording Features

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Stereophile Staff  |  Jan 18, 2022  |  6 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.
Fred Kaplan  |  Jun 03, 2021  |  2 comments
A review of the Archie Shepp/Jason Moran duet album Let My People Go, in the April issue, may have startled some readers. Shepp is a tenor saxophonist known for tearing across the fiercest climes of the avant-garde (his seminal album is called Fire Music); yet at 83, he's playing standards, spirituals, and slow blues. In fact, Shepp has been exploring such traditional terrain for several decades. So—for the debut of an occasional column on underappreciated albums, artists, genres, and labels—let's shine some light on Archie Shepp's ballads.
Ken Micallef  |  May 05, 2021  |  4 comments
In her reworking of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from my Friends," on the 2018 tribute album, A Day In The Life: Impressions Of Pepper (impulse records), Brooklyn guitarist and composer Mary Halvorson reinvents both her instrument and the song.

Most baby boomers can hum the tune of the Beatles' classic, from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, in a handful of notes. It might take longer to recognize Halvorson's joyous, angular version. A master of jazz phrasing, guitar technique, avant-garde discourse, and effects pedals, Halvorson bends the Beatles song to her 21st century will.

Sasha Matson  |  Apr 08, 2021  |  1 comments
The Harry Smith B-Sides
Various Artists
Dust-to-Digital Records DTD-51 (4 CDs). 2020. John Cohen, April Ledbetter, Lance Ledbetter, Eli Smith, prods.; Michael Graves, audio mastering and restoration.

Few music anthologies have been as influential as Harry Everett Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music (Smithsonian Folkways SFW 40090), which was first released in 1952 as an 84-track, 6-LP set. Without it, it is possible that many of the musicians represented would have languished in obscurity—including such artists as Mississippi John Hurt.

Thomas Conrad  |  Mar 11, 2021  |  5 comments
Full Disclosure: All jazz writers fantasize about owning a jazz label. These fantasies persist even in our post-CD, download era, when the record industry as we knew it has been laid to waste. It is reasonable to speculate that, as a reader of this magazine and therefore a music junkie, you may have had an entrepreneurial record label fantasy or two of your own. For us, it should be interesting to hear from Mark Feldman, because he actually did it. In fact, he did it twice.
Phil Brett  |  Feb 04, 2021  |  2 comments
Make More Noise! Women in Independent Music UK 1977–1987
Various artists. Various producers.
Cherry Red Records. CRCDBOX99. 4CD set and book.
Music *****
Sonics ***

The title of this set—4 CDs and a book—comes from British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst's call to arms for women to fight for their rights: "You have to make more noise than anybody else," said Pankhurst, who died in 1928.

The first words you hear on Disc One of Make More Noise! are sung by Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex, who was born almost 100 years after Pankhurst and died a decade ago, in 2011: "Some people think that little girls should be seen and not heard." This opening lyric, from the song "Oh Bondage Up Yours!," is followed by a raw sax solo by Styrene's bandmate Lora Logic.

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