Lara Downes - A Billie Holiday Songbook help marks 2015 centennials / USA Today

Something must have been in the water in 1915. A host of artists who defined modern music are celebrating their centennials this year, from jazz greats Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday to blues giants Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon and guitar master Les Paul. USA TODAY's Maeve McDermott surveys the exhibits, documentaries, tribute concerts and commemorative albums that honor their legacies this year.   Billie Holiday will be honored with projects that include - induction into Harlem NY's historic Apollo Theater - Walk of Fame, and tribute concert for the The Philadelphia native by Cassandra Wilson on April 10. Tribute albums also include A Billie Holiday Songbook from Lara Downes which releases on April 27.
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Hilary Hahn - Mozart & Vieuxtemps Concertos / WFMT: New Release Of the Week

The two-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn combines Mozart's beloved Concerto No 5 with its fiery Turkish episode with the rich, virtuosic romanticism of Vieuxtemps' Violin Concerto No 4. Hahn first learned both works when she was 10 years old and studied them with her most influential teachers. Recording them for the first time, Hahn is joined by Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. The Vieuxtemps: Violin Concerto No 4 in D minor, Op 31 (30:36) from Hilary Hahn's Mozart & Vieuxtemps Concertos Deutsche Grammophon is a WFMT: Chicago - New Release Of the Week
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Lara Downes honors Billie Holiday's 100th birthday with her latest album /

Billie Holiday was born on April 7, 1915, meaning that her 100th birthday is only a little more than a week away. Pianist Lara Downes has chosen to honor this occasion with the release of her latest album on the Steinway & Sons label, entitled A Billie Holiday Songbook. This is a collection of 22 songs from Holiday's repertoire, all but two of which were arranged by composer and pianist Jed Distler. The other two are arrangements by pianists who played for Holiday, Marian McPartland and Teddy Wilson, the latter having played a major role in the development of her career between 1935 and 1938. READ THE FULL examiner ARTICLE
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Yolanda Kondonassis and Jason Vieaux interview on KQAC: Portland

He recently won the Grammy for "Play" as Best Instrumental Solo, and was also in Portland in the fall for a solo recital with Portland Classic Guitar.  She has a Grammy-nominated CD titled "Air", and next season, will perform Alberto Ginastera's Harp Concerto with the Oregon Symphony.  Now, harpist Yolanda Kondonassis and guitarist Jason Vieaux have released a gorgeous and adventurous first CD that pairs these two extraordinary American musical talents.  "Together" is the apt title of this first collaboration by these two performers, who both teach at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and in this CD have crafted a diverse but at the same time, cohesive grouping of works for their instruments, many of which are by living composers (Maximo Diego Puhol, Gary Schocker and Keith Fitch), but also by such greats as the Catalan composer Xavier Montsavatge and American Alan Hovhaness. I had an enjoyable time recently with Mr. Vieaux and Ms. Kondonassis, learning how these two just recently started playing together, and how their collaborations culminated in this new CD that has music that fully explores the possibilities of harp and guitar, both as a duo and individually.  You'll hear a selection from each of the pieces on their new disc, and hear about their approach to this repertoire, which they say presents some special challenges as well as rewards. LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW WITH KQAC: Portland - John Pitman
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Interview with KQAC's John Pitman

Jason Danieley co-stars in new Broadway musical - The Visit /

She plays the mother-in-law fans love to hate. "It's a hit that's so beautifully written," Mary Beth Peil said. A role Mary Beth Peil rocks on the award-winning TV drama "The Good Wife." "I just shot a scene this morning!" she said. Now you can also see her on the Broadway stage in The Visit. "It's complicated," she explained. "Every one of the characters has fatal flaws." The musical stars legendary Tony winners Chita Rivera and Roger Rees in a story about love and revenge. "I'm the other woman," she smirked. "I'm Chita's well actually, she's my nemesis." A show, written by Terrence McNally with music and lyrics by the iconic duo John Kander and Fred Ebb, more than 14 years in the making. "Dealing with greed, money and responsibility," Jason Danieley said. "It's very timely." Broadway veteran Jason Danieley joins Peil, his longtime friend, on stage. "Mary Beth and I worked together 21 years ago," Danieley remembered. "It was a musical called Floyd Collins, We did the world premiere in Philadelphia together." His love of music has always been a big part of his life. "I started singing when I was four years old in my dad's church," Danieley said. "He was a preacher so the marriage of text to a ritual and the theatricality was instilled early on." And it's the music that seems to make this show special. "It's kind of, for me, the best theater, it's highly stylized but real," Danieley said.  The Visit also makes for some good laughs. "It's not comedy for comic relief's sake," Danieley explained. "But almost a ridiculousness of how people act."  READ THE POST
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KING: Second Inversion enlists Seattle Symphony cellist Joshua Roman / Seattle Times

Former Seattle Symphony cellist Joshua Roman and KING-FM: Seattle's new-music Web channel - Second Inversion have joined forces and plan to increase the channel's presence with new repertoire, performances, and more engagement on social media. A hub for modern, avant-garde and cross-genre experimental music from the 21st century, Second Inversion - launched in 2014 - is at the forefront of the Seattle station's efforts to expand and diversify its audience. Right now the station is only one of two radio stations in the U.S. (the other is WQXR in New York) with a dedicated online stream for cutting-edge new music. At a Town Music event Wednesday night - where he conducted ensemble Deviant Septet - Roman announced that he is now the artistic adviser for Second Inversion. He'll work with manager Maggie Stapleton on introducing new repertoire and performances and giving Second Inversion a high-profile personality and voice - on-air and through blogging and social media. Roman commented - "I had been talking to KING-FM for a while about being involved somehow," says Roman. "The growth of Second Inversion and its relationship with Town Music converged into this arrangement. Hopefully, I'll be able to bring new artists to the stream, but I think this is also about the way I approach and put things together." READ THE FULL Seattle Times ARTICLE
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Lara Downes' Piano Expeditions /

San Francisco-born pianist Lara Downes, who is of Caribbean and Russian heritage, often describes herself as having led "a gypsy-like existence" (given her European touring and studies early in life). But she also has a clear affinity for Americana, too -- most recently put to use on her new album, A Billie Holiday Songbook. Click play on our attached mix, and you'll start with a classical piano arrangement of Lady Day's original tune "God Bless the Child."  READ THE FULL Rhapsody ARTICLE
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Leonia NJ 12-year old is not just fiddling around /

Leonia NJ resident Dylan Hamme may only be 12-years-old but he already knows what he wants to be when he grows up. "I want to become a concert artist," says the sixth grader. "I've got big plans for the future." After playing violin on the Today show with his idol Joshua Bell in September and performing a solo with the Bergen Sinfonia Orchestra in December, Hamme's well on his way. On March 28, he will make his formal debut with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Teaneck, where he will perform Gioachino Rossini's "Semiramide Overture," Joseph Haydn's "Symphony No. 104 ‘London'" and Édouard Lalo's "Symphonie Espagnole," a 35-minute, five-movement violin concerto that took three months of memorization and a year of practice to perfect. READ THE FULL INTERVIEW
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How Four Utah Dads Quit Their Day Jobs to Make Millions / Entrepreneur

Perched high atop the Great Wall of China, decked out in black-and-white Karate uniforms, two middle-aged dads from Utah -- one on piano, one on cello -- are jamming out to a musical mashup of Chopin and a cut from the Kung Fu Panda soundtrack. Banging their instruments blissfully as an ethereal fog descends around them, the performance, which is part hokey, part magical, has been viewed on YouTube more than 10 million times. And it's just one of many stunning stagings to be found on the channel of YouTube supergroup The Piano Guys -- four Mormon dads from Utah who quit their day jobs three years ago in pursuit of an online career that has already netted them millions. READ THE FULL Entrepreneur ARTICLE  
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Bajofondo set to perform in Lima for the first time / Peru This Week

The musical group Bajofondo, together with their original leader Gustavo Santaolalla, are scheduled to perform their first concert in Lima on April 19. Oscar winner Santaolalla will be performing with the original group of Bajofondo and presenting their latest album, "Presente" or "Present" at the Centro de Convenciones in Barranco, according to Andina news agency. "It is our most complete album. It is a sonic journey that takes us from the most magical city to the most epic moments," says Gustavo Santaolalla. Ssntaolalla and Juan Campodónico founded the group Bajofondo nearly 10 years ago, and they consider this album to be one of the best so far. The album is one of their most original as the band's members played and sang in the production entirely on their own. READ THE FUL Peru This Week ARTICLE
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Jimmy Webb, coming to Leeds City Varieties / Yorkshire Evening Post interview

Seasoned interviewee that he is, singer/songwriter Jimmy Webb has some sage words of advice as we begin talking about his remarkable career. It is indeed easy to let the 68-year-old Oklahoma-born composer, lyricist and arranger discourse at length on the art of songwriting and the spark that seems to be missing from much modern pop music but it makes for fascinating conversation. Of his new show, ‘An evening of songs and stories', which he's bringing to Leeds City Varieties on April 7, he says: "I sort of pull back the curtain on what goes on between songwriters and artists when they're working out these miracles. I believe that every hit record is a small miracle because so many factors have to combine in such a synchronistic way to create a hit record and if any little thing goes wrong – from the bass player to the engineer to the record company promotion man – and sometimes outside events, world-shaking events like disasters and wars and things of that nature, will actually affect the course of an album's potential." READ THE FULL Yorkshire Evening Post INTERVIEW
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Brooklyn Rider play Celebrity Series: Stave Sessions / The Boston Musical Intelligencer

The Boston debut of the string quartet Brooklyn Rider came Friday as one of five "Stave Sessions" which have extended the regular fare of Celebrity Series programs. From what I saw and heard, the concept should be adjudged a huge success. The venue, the Calder-esque Berklee School of Music's cafetorium, complete with full bar and café tables, was not your traditional concert space, and the crowd skewed at least 20 years younger than at a typical chamber music concert. Though outside of normal concert conventions, it was also, in some senses, the purest musical experience I have ever experienced, and I'll explain why shortly. In keeping with Brooklyn Rider's informality, and like in most rock concerts, there was no printed program or published set list. Since this concert was showcasing some recent commissions from composers outside the standard classical realm, there was no way to know what to expect, no anchor, no preconceived notion. There was nothing to do after the quartet sat down but listen, fully immersed in the sound, experiencing it only in real time. It's an indescribable feeling, a sense of floating. The opener turned out to be by Vijay Iyer, an American jazz pianist and writer who chose as his inspiration James Brown. Entitled Dig the Say was moto-perpetuo-ish, with a Ravel-like harmonic flavor.   READ THE FULL The Boston Musical Intelligencer REVIEW
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Top 10 Albums for March

Lara Downes :

A Billie Holiday Songbook

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Billie Holiday's birth, Lara Downes releases: A Billie Holiday Songbook on Steinway & Sons Records, A personal tribute to this sensitive, timeless icon of American music.Radiant. Intimate. Lara Downes grew up listening to Holiday's recordings with her father, born and raised in Harlem. Trained in the conservatories of San Francisco, Paris, Vienna and New York, Downes acknowledges that Holiday's singing has been a lifelong influence. "As a musician, I learned from Billie Holiday to make something completely personal when you make music," she says. "something that is completely your own - maybe something unexpected, something indefinable, perhaps complicated, but beautiful. To take a chance. As the song says: "But beautiful to take a chance, and if you fall, you fall. And I'm thinking I wouldn't mind at all." 20 NEW   49 Total SYND: PRI/Classical 24 Direct: Music Choice Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Houston, Austin, St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Madison WI, Canada Online: Taintradio, Classical Candor, AXS, Party934
Hilary Hahn :

Mozart 5, Vieuxtemps 4 - Violin Concertos

After touring together for many years, Paavo Järvi joins Hilary Hahn's on her new DG album, Mozart 5, Vieuxtemps 4 - Violin Concertos. This is Hahn's first recording with The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Paavo Järvi and is the violinist's first orchestral offering since her 2010 pairing of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto and Jennifer Higdon's Pulitzer-prize winning violin concerto, which was written for Hahn. With this new album, she returns to core violin repertoire on the heels of the Grammy-win for 'In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores,' Mozart 5, Vieuxtemps 4 are two concertos that have been part of Hahn's repertoire since she was ten years old.  29 NEW  32 TOTAL SYND: Classical 24, CBC Direct: SiriusXM, Music Choice Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Seattle, Cleveland, St. Louis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Detroit, Austin, Madison, Canada Online: ClassicallyHip
Nilson Matta :


To reconsider an old expression, this album doesn't just represent the "best of both worlds" – but rather the collective greatness of at least three or four.  - Will Friedwald, Wall Street Journal Bassist/Composer Nilson Matta releases "EastSideRioDrive," a uniquely creative recording that's got some real force and punch to it. The blend of South (Romero Lubambo, Cyro Baptista) and North (Anne Drummond, Craig Handy) American musicians– as well as pianist Edsel Gomez from Puerto Rico - is a wonderfully balanced mixture of jazzy sounds from the two hemispheres.  It's soothing and relaxing in places, but gutsy and bold in others – it utilizes the conventions of the genre creatively and, at the same time, refuses to be limited by them. 19 NEW  156 Total SYND: PRI/Jazz After Hours Direct: SiriusXM/Real Jazz & Luna Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami, Minneapolis, Denver, Portland, Detroit, New Orleans, Austin, Indianapolis, Berkeley CA, San Antonio, Albuquerque, Sacramento, Louisville, Santa Fe, Honolulu Online: Accuradio, Jazz From Gallery 41, Party934, KUHS, Soul City Radio, Taintradio, GreenArrow, Jazz & Blues Tour, SoulCityJazzRadio, Jazz Da Gama, Live 365 INTER: Canada, Brasil, The Netherlands
Twin Danger :


Bound by a mutual love for juxtaposed musical influences, spanning Black Sabbath to Chet Baker, to iconic film scores,Twin Danger melds noir jazz with midnight blues and cinematicgrooves. The "dark, sexy" (VH1) new brainchild of Stuart Matthewman, GRAMMY-winning co-founder and multi-instrumentalist of Sade, and vocalist Vanessa Bley of Brooklyn-based alt-rock outfit Beast Patrol, release their self-titled debut album on April 21, 2015 (Decca/Universal Classics). 20 NEW  87 TOTAL SYND: Jazz Variations, Sixty Second CD Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Cleveland, Minneapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Denver, Detroit, Long Is. NY, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Madison WI, Raleigh NC, Honolulu Online: GreenArrow, Jazz From Gallery 41, Taintradio, Eclectic Chair, The Jazz Intersection, GreenArrow INTER: Canada, The Netherlands
2Cellos :


2CELLOS, music's most electric and dynamic instrumental duo, return with their new album Celloverse (Portrait/Sony Music Masterworks). 2CELLOS latest music video is their take on Avicii's hit "Wake Me Up," Propelled into international fame in 2011 after their version of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" went viral with 20 million-plus YouTube views, Croatian cellists Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser return to their rock roots on their third album, Celloverse.Self-produced by Sulic and Hauser, Celloverse showcases 2CELLOS' unique ability to reinvent current and classic rock/pop songs, starting with "The Trooper Overture," a metal-meets-classical mash up of Iron Maiden's hit and Rossini's "William Tell Overture." The album includes their take on AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" (the video has 31 million views), "I Will Wait" by Mumford & Sons, "Shape of My Heart" by Sting and Michael Jackson's "They Don't Care About Us." Rounding out Celloverse is the Paul McCartney classic "Live and Let Die," with special guest Lang Lang and the title track, an original song penned and arranged by 2CELLOS.  16 New 'ON'  90 TOTAL SYND: PRI/Classical 24, APM/Performance Today Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Portland, New Orleans, Berkeley CA
Tony Succar :

Unity - The Latin Tribute To Michael Jackson

Fueled by his relentless commitment, quiet determination and passionate faith in the loving message behind much of Michael Jackson's music, producer/multi-instrumentalist/arranger Tony Succar has thoughtfully created Unity: The Latin Tribute To Michael Jackson. The result is Jackson's timeless pop and R&B tunes, such as "Thriller," "Billie Jean," and "I Want You Back" married with glorious salsa and tropical rhythms, resulting in innovative, vibrant arrangements that snap to life with exhilarating energy. Unity will be released April 14 on Universal Music Classics in collaboration with Universal Music Latin Entertainment.  9 TOTAL Markets include: Los Angeles, Atlanta, Orlando Online: Jazz From Gallery 41
Angele Dubeau & La Pieta :


Portrait is a string of recordings presenting contemporary composers with a unique musical signature. Ludovico Einaudi is one of them. A music that captivates the listener, a sonic landscape to discover"says Angèle Dubeau. Driven by the works of this grand and prolific Italian composer, the internationally renowned violinist shares once again her passion with the excellent musicians of her string orchestra, La Pietà. For her 39th album in career, Angèle Dubeau offers a unique revisit to Ludovico Einaudi's music, "changing its texture, rethinking its character, while bringing a new sonic dimension."
Simone Dinnerstein :


Sony Classical releases the new CD from pianist Simone Dinnerstein - Broadway-Lafayette on February 24, 2015. The music on this album celebrates the time-honored transatlantic link between France and America through the music of George Gershwin (Rhapsody in Blue), Maurice Ravel (Piano Concerto in G Major), and Philip Lasser (The Circle and the Child: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, written for Dinnerstein). The album was recorded with conductor Kristjan Järvi and the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, by Grammy-winning producer Adam Abeshouse. 34 New 'ON'  128 TOTAL SYND: Classical 24, CBC, The Romantic Hours Direct: SiriusXM, Music Choice, MOOD Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, Cleveland, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Baltimore, Denver, Portland, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Detroit, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Memphis, Albuquerque, Louisville, Buffalo, Honolulu, Canada Online: ClassicallyHip, Classicalite, Taintradio
Yolanda Kondonassis | Jason Vieaux :


Internationally acclaimed harpist Yolanda Kondonassis and virtuoso classical guitarist Jason Vieaux join forces to release their first duo recording, Together, which features original works for harp and guitar including Alan Hovhaness' Spirit of Trees, Xavier Montsalvatge's Fantasia, Máximo Diego Pujol's Suite Magica, and two world premiere recordings of works commissioned by the duo: Knock on Wood (2012) by Keith Fitch and Hypnotized (2013) by Gary Schocker. Together will be released on Azica Records on January 27, 2015 at all major retailers. The duo will make its New York debut at the 92Y on February 28, 2015 as part of the Art of the Guitar series. 19 New 'ON'  103 TOTAL SYND: PRI/Classical 24, CBC, CGA Direct: SiriusXM, Music Choice, MOOD, Spafax Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Dallas, Seattle, Cleveland, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Denver, Portland, Cincinnatti, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Detroit, Austin, Albuquerque, Tucson, Louisville, Tucson, Columbus OH, Buffalo, Honolulu, Canada Online: ClassicallyHip, Taintradio
Avi Avital :


The GRAMMY-nominated Israeli mandolinist Avi Avital has been praised as a both an "enthralling and sensitive soloist" (Boston Globe) and a "convincing advocate for his instrument" (Wall Street Journal).  As the first mandolinist signed to Deutsche Grammophon, he has brought the instrument to entirely new audiences, building a fresh legacy for the mandolin through virtuosic performance and a commitment to commissioning new works and arrangements in a range of genres. Avital has now released - Vivaldi, his third album on DG that returns the instrument to its origins-the Venetian Baroque and master composer Antonio Vivaldi. On this CD Avital captures the mystical spirit of Venice, shedding new light on Vivaldi's musical genius by performing his own transcriptions of the composer's works. He is joined on the album by the Venice Baroque Orchestra on this, the ensemble's twelfth recording on Deutsche Grammophon. Avital and the VBO are also about to embark on a major North American tour this spring, stopping in Southern California, Miami, Boston and Carnegie Hall as well as Calgary and Montreal. 16 New 'ON'  116 TOTAL SYND: Classical 24, Classical Guitar Alive, Sunday Baroque, CBC Direct: SiriusXM, Music Choice, MOOD, Spafax Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, Cleveland, Houston, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Denver, Portland, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Detroit, Austin, Memphis, Albuquerque, Louisville, Buffalo, Honolulu, Canada Online: ClassicallyHip, Tainradio