Dave Soldier - Zajal is a lovingly compiled musical scrapbook from the Middle East and Andalusia / blogcritics


Dave Soldier‘s newest release bracingly fuses originality and tradition. Zajal is a "world music" album that sounds like a lovingly compiled scrapbook of music from the Middle East and Andalusia. But it's deceptive: With one exception, all the music is by the ever-imaginative Soldier. For this project the keyboardist and guitarist has set thousand-year-old poems in Hebrew, Arabic and the other languages of Andalusia (English translations are online) to bubbling stews of traditional instrumentation with strains of jazz and swatches of the Western avant-garde. Singer Ana Nimouz lends her starry, sweetly piercing vocals to many of the tracks, with superb contributions from other male and female voices too. The swirling arrangements include Latin percussion; the oud (from which we derive our word "lute") and the sentur (an Iranian hammered dulcimer); and Western strings and winds. The moods vary from snappy and joyous ("The Spy," "Don't Bite Me Baby") to mystical and devotional ("My Father," "Water and Fire"), defiant ("Beautiful Boy") to contemplative ("Land of Spain"), with a taste of jazz fusion ("Without Myself"). I'm giving only the English titles; the songs are mostly sung in Arabic, Hebrew, Romance (early Spanish) and Farsi. READ THE FULL blogcritics REVIEW
Bookmark and Share

Rachel Barton Pine inspires young musicians by celebrating black composers / CBS Evening News


At Brooklyn's Ryder Elementary School, students in the Harmony Program got a front row seat to world-class violinist Rachel Barton Pine. She plays music you may have never heard, by composers like Ignatius Sancho, a self taught British slave, and Chevalier de Saint-Georges, who was once the envy of Mozart. "This music, a lot of it hasn't been published. A lot of it was published but is long out of print due to historic discrimination," Pine said. In 1995, Pine suffered severe injuries and lost part of her leg in a Chicago train accident. While she was on the road to recovery, she started researching black composers whose works were not widely known. Now, the classical music of more than 350 black composers spanning four centuries has resurfaced thanks to her determined research. "Our primary motivation behind doing this work is to inspire young African American students that classical music is part of their history and that you know they're an important part of classical music's future," Pine said. It seems to be working. Pine's initiative, Music by Black Composers, has created a music book and even a coloring book. It's inspiration composer and violinist Jessie Montgomery would have welcomed when she was younger. "Knowing about these performers and composers probably would have eliminated the question in my head. Am I odd for being black and interested in classical music?" Montgomery said. It's a question young violinists have already answered. "I want to be a composer so I can share my feelings with the world," said 9-year-old student Jayni Reid. Pine said Tchaikovsky didn't expect his music to be only "played by Russians."  "We're all supposed to play all the good music 'cause that's how we learn about each other," she said. p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'; color: #4d4d4d} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'; color: #4d4d4d; min-height: 14.0px} WATCH THE CBS Evening News VIDEO
Bookmark and Share

Paul Merkelo enlightens classical radio


Recognized among the finest trumpet virtuosos of his generation, Paul Merkelo releases The Enlightened Trumpet, his first recording for Sony Classical. Hailed as "a spectacular soloist ... a most impressive master of his instrument" (Montreal Gazette) who "knows no limits" (Der Spiegel) and with "unusual lyrical gifts" (Gramophone), Merkelo has been Principal trumpet with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal since 1995, and has appeared as soloist with prestigious orchestras around the globe, from Melbourne to Shanghai. In The Enlightened Trumpet, Merkelo is joined by the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra and its founder and conductor Marios Papadopoulos for four spectacular concertos by Haydn, Leopold Mozart, Telemann, and Hummel. In conjunction with the new release PM has made himself available today!! January 16, to speak with classical radio stations throughout the US. Watch for our tweets throughout the day
Bookmark and Share

Sheku Kanneh-Mason discusses new Elgar recording with classical radio


Award-winning cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason returns with Elgar, a new album of works anchored around Elgar's Cello Concerto – arguably the best-known work in the classical canon written for solo cello, which saw the 100th anniversary of its first performance this month. Recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), and conducted by one of Sheku's lifelong heroes, Sir Simon Rattle, the work is a statement of intent from the 20-year-old musician whose rise to being "the world's new favourite cellist" (The Times) has taken nothing away from his ambition to continue evolving and learning as an artist. Sheku explains, "It's how I feel about the music that really motivates me to work and discover and develop my own ideas – that's what keeps me going." In conjunction with the album release; Sheku has made some time available TODAY and on January 31st to speak with classical radio stations around the US. Watch for our tweets today on part one of Sheku's interview journey.
Bookmark and Share

Dave Soldier's 'Zajal' is wonderful / Music Guru


Dave Soldier's 'Zajal,' which has some beautiful music flowing all around it, also contains lyrics in Hebrew, Arabic, Farsi, and 1 song in English. The music is wonderful, the voices sound very nice. If you understand all of the languages above, you'll be able to get the whole picture, otherwise, you'll just have to sit back & enjoy the music. I can understand French, Spanish, Hebrew & English, but not Arabic or Farsi, however, the music is enough to get you to enjoy this if you're a fan of classical or acoustic guitar. I give this 3 out of 5 Music Guru stars.   SEE THE PAGE p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'; color: #4d4d4d}
Bookmark and Share

The Kanneh-Masons Q&A with QXR


Few classical musicians have had as many viral moments as the Kanneh-Masons have - and they're just getting started. I first saw the family of seven siblings, mostly string players, in a 2015 Facebook video of them huddled in a living room in Nottingham, England, absolutely shredding Monti's Csárdás. The next year, the older cellist, Sheku was in yet another viral video, winning the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year award. That moment led to an invitation from the royal family for Sheku to perform at the wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle. The globally televised and, of course, live-Tweeted event made Sheku one of the most recognizable cellists of his generation. Last year, he was among WQXR's "19 for 19" artists to watch, too. Pianist Isata, the oldest of the siblings, is a force of nature behind the keys. A postgraduate student at the Royal Academy of Music, she released her debut album, Romance - The Piano Music of Clara Schumann, in 2019, the 200th anniversary of Schumann's birth. The recording quickly shot to the top of the classical music charts, garnering Isata much critical acclaim. She's also just been selected as one of WQXR's "20 for 20" artists. I sat down with the brother-sister duo in Philadelphia before the final December performance of their sold-out U.S. tour.   
READ THE WQXR: New York Q&A
Bookmark and Share

Camila Meza - Ambar makes 2019 npr music: jazz critics poll


NPR Music's 7th Annual Jazz Critics Poll, Francis Davis 14th, going back to the poll's beginnings in the Village Voice is in. 2019's results provided surprise after surprise. We're repeating an experiment we introduced last year. You'll again find a capsule review of each album in the Top 10, but instead of me doing all the heavy lifting, we've asked a critic who voted for that album to weigh in. The same with the top finisher in Vocal, Debut, & Latin. And as a bonus, we've added a few capsules about solitary No. 1s: albums appearing only on a single ballot, but as that critic's top pick. Including my own choices and analysis, and the individual ballots of all 140 participants, there should be enough here to keep you reading - and listening - for the next 12 months.  Camila Meza & the Nectar Orchestra, Ambar on Sony Masterworks makes The Top 50 along with featured on Vocals & Latin lists. SEE THE NPR PAGE
Bookmark and Share

John Coltrane - Blue World makes 2019 npr music: jazz critics poll


NPR Music's 7th Annual Jazz Critics Poll, Francis Davis 14th, going back to the poll's beginnings in the Village Voice is in. 2019's results provided surprise after surprise. We're repeating an experiment we introduced last year. You'll again find a capsule review of each album in the Top 10, but instead of me doing all the heavy lifting, we've asked a critic who voted for that album to weigh in. The same with the top finisher in Vocal, Debut, & Latin. And as a bonus, we've added a few capsules about solitary No. 1s: albums appearing only on a single ballot, but as that critic's top pick. Including my own choices and analysis, and the individual ballots of all 140 participants, there should be enough here to keep you reading - and listening - for the next 12 months.  Solitary No. 1s include: John Coltrane, Blue World on Impulse! SEE THE NPR PAGE p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'; color: #4d4d4d} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'; color: #4d4d4d; min-height: 14.0px}
Bookmark and Share

'Getz at The Gate' makes 2019 npr music: jazz critics poll


NPR Music's 7th Annual Jazz Critics Poll, Francis Davis 14th, going back to the poll's beginnings in the Village Voice is in. 2019's results provided surprise after surprise. We're repeating an experiment we introduced last year. You'll again find a capsule review of each album in the Top 10, but instead of me doing all the heavy lifting, we've asked a critic who voted for that album to weigh in. The same with the top finisher in Vocal, Debut, & Latin. And as a bonus, we've added a few capsules about solitary No. 1s: albums appearing only on a single ballot, but as that critic's top pick. Including my own choices and analysis, and the individual ballots of all 140 participants, there should be enough here to keep you reading - and listening - for the next 12 months.  Solitary No. 1s include: Stan Getz, Getz at the Gate: The Stan Getz Quartet Live at the Village Gate Nov 26 1961 on Verve SEE THE NPR PAGE
Bookmark and Share

Jeff Goldblum - MSO 'I Shouldn't Be Telling You This' is the WRTI: Jazz Album of the Week


Jeff Goldblum (yes, THAT Jeff Goldblum) and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra are at it again, with more mash-ups, jazz standards, and collaborations on I Shouldn't Be Telling You This, the follow-up album to 2018's The Capitol Sessions. To refresh your memory, the first release was a product of Goldblum taking up a residency playing piano at a venue in Los Angeles that ended up being packed to the gills on a regular basis. On top of that, he performed an impromptu duet with Gregory Porter on British television. Decca records wanted something to happen, and it did. And now it happened again. Porter actually takes part in this new album, delivering a lovely rendition of "Make Someone Happy" with Goldblum, an accomplished accompanist since childhood, leading the melody right where it needs to be. Other esteemed guests include singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten, English sensation Anna Calvi (who contributed to the Peaky Blinders soundtrack), jazz maven Gina Saputo, and one half of The Bird and the Bee, Inara George. It's nice to have some mainstream star power behind a great jazz album. I guess it's just great to have star power behind jazz. He even took his act to late night television, and hilarity ensued. Not only is this a nice boost for the jazz industry, but we have something great to listen too as well. READ THE FULL WRTI: Philadelphia ARTICLE & WATCH THE VIDEOS
Bookmark and Share

Joyce DiDonato makes jazzed up Italian love songs sound indispensable / npr:Tiny Desk Concert


When opera star Joyce DiDonato told us she wanted to sing centuries-old Italian love songs at the Tiny Desk we weren't surprised. But when she said she was bringing a jazz band to back her up, we did a double take. But that's Joyce, always taking risks. After all, the last time we filmed the down-to-earth diva, she insisted on singing an opera aria at the Stonewall Inn, the iconic gay tavern in Greenwich Village. On paper, the idea of jazzing up old classical songs seems iffy. At the least it could come across as mannered and at worst, an anachronistic muddle. But DiDonato somehow makes it all sound indispensable, with her blend of rigor, wit and a sense of spontaneity. The musical formula for these unorthodox arrangements makes room for typical jazz solos while DiDonato molds her phrases to the flexible rhythms and inserts old-school trills and flamboyant roulades. Much of the credit goes to her crack band, especially trumpeter Charlie Porter with whom DiDonato trades riffs and raspy growls. Veteran bassist Chuck Israels, who keeps the music swinging hard, has played with everyone from Billie Holiday to the Kronos Quartet, and drummer Jason Haaheim's day job is principal timpanist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Pianist Craig Terry, co-mastermind of the project, directs the young artist program at the Chicago Lyric Opera. But the star of the show is the continually amazing DiDonato, whose voice is certainly one of the great wonders of her generation. The flexibility of the instrument, the colors she conjures and her fine-tuned dynamic range are a few of the reasons she's still at the peak of her powers. She looks and sounds like she's having the time of her life. "It's such a rush to be here," DiDonato said to the appreciative audience of NPR staffers. Believe me, Joyce, the rush was all ours. SET LIST Parisotti - Rosa: "Se tu m'ami / Star vicino" Torelli (attrib.): "Tu lo sai" Conti: "Quella fiamma" WATCH THE VIDEO CREDITS Producers: Tom Huizenga, Morgan Noelle Smith, Maia Stern; Creative director: Bob Boilen; Audio engineers: Josh Rogosin, James Willetts, J. Czys; Editor: Maia Stern; Videographers: Kara Frame, Bronson Arcuri, CJ Riculan, Maia Stern; Associate producer: Bobby Carter; Executive producer: Lauren Onkey; VP, programming: Anya Grundmann; Photo: Catie Dull/NPR p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'; color: #4d4d4d} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'; color: #4d4d4d; min-height: 14.0px} PHOTO: Credit: Catie Dull/NPR
Bookmark and Share

Lyn Stanley bravely records 'London With A Twist - Live at Bernie's,' and it's polished and relaxed / Jazz Journal


This album is a "direct to disc" recording. This is an unusual technique and has been described as "plugging microphones directly into the cutting lathe". The performance has got to be almost perfect as there is no capacity to continuously retake or add post-production wizardry. So it is a brave artist who records this way and Lyn Stanley did just that. I only have the CD version to review, but "direct to disc" recording greatly favours vinyl. The album was recorded at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood, California. Grammy-winning engineers Allen Sides (recording and mixing) and Bernie Grundman (who mastered the metal lacquers) managed the masterful live sound for the project. For those interested in the technology that goes with "direct to disc" recording, there is a helpful accompanying booklet which explains everything from choice of microphones to vintage valve equipment. The recording – considering it was done in only two takes – is polished and relaxed. It has the feel of a great club set where everyone knew what was expected of them. Stanley has a great voice and the tribute to Julie London is more in the style of rather than any attempt to sound like. It is certainly not karaoke. If you like sophisticated female vocals and you like the work of Julie London then this album will certainly appeal. p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'; color: #4d4d4d} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'; color: #4d4d4d; min-height: 14.0px} READ THE FULL Jazz Journal REVIEW
Bookmark and Share
SEE TOP 100 STORIES

Top 10 Albums for January

Thomas Newman :

1917 OMPS

Sony Music announces the December 20 release of 1917 (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by GRAMMY®, EMMY® and BAFTA® Award-winning composer THOMAS NEWMAN. Most recently nominated for "Best Original Score" by the Golden Globe Awards, the album features music from Oscar®-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes' visceral new epic which was released by Universal Pictures and Amblin Partners on Wednesday, December 25, 2019.  The score is the latest in a long series of collaborations between Thomas Newman and director Sam Mendes. The two artists previously worked together on titles including Skyfall, Spectre, Road to Perdition, Jarhead, American Beauty and more.  Also making its debut today alongside album preorder is the soundtrack's lead offering "The Night Window."
Dustin O'Halloran :

Sundoor

Deutsche Grammophon is proud to announce the signing of Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning composer Dustin O'Halloran and his release of a new EP, Sundoor. The EP features a single 20-minute piece entitled "196 Hz," adapted from a 2017 site-specific composition for cross-disciplinary American artist Slater Bradley's Sundoor at World's End – an installation at the Church of Mary Magdalene in Venice during the city's Biennale.
Sheku Kanneh-Mason :

Elgar w/London Symphony Orchestra - Rattle

Award-winning cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason returns with Elgar, a new album of works anchored around Elgar's Cello Concerto – arguably the best-known work in the classical canon written for solo cello, which saw the 100th anniversary of its first performance this month. Recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), and conducted by one of Sheku's lifelong heroes, Sir Simon Rattle, the work is a statement of intent from the 20-year-old musician whose rise to being "the world's new favourite cellist" (The Times) has taken nothing away from his ambition to continue evolving and learning as an artist. Sheku explains, "It's how I feel about the music that really motivates me to work and discover and develop my own ideas – that's what keeps me going."
Joey Alexander :

Warna

Today, Joey Alexander, the Grammy-nominated jazz pianist, composer and bandleader announces the release of his major label debut album, WARNA (Verve Records).  Slated for release January 31, the album is primarily a collection of reflective, moving new and original music by an experienced and confident musician. You can pre-order the album here.   Translating as "color" from Alexander's native language of Bahasa, WARNA follows four Motéma Music albums that garnered the pianist three Grammy nominations and such honors as historic critics' and readers' poll victories in DownBeat and JazzTimes. Joining Alexander on the new album are bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Kendrick Scott, who comprise the core piano trio. On select tracks, Venezuelan-born percussion Luisito Quintero, and flautist Anne Drummond, join on to stunning aural effect. 
Andrea Bocelli :

Si Forever

Following over 1 million album sales of his No. 1 album ‘Si' worldwide, Golden Globe-winning operatic tenor Andrea Bocelli is back with an extended special edition, to be released on Decca/Sugar on 8th November, with brand new tracks recorded with some of the best and most exciting names in pop, plus a few of Andrea's famous friends! The first of these newly-recorded duets is released on 3rd October, and features BRIT Award-winning, Grammy-nominated British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding. Speaking about their collaboration on the powerfully emotional track, ‘Return to Love', Andrea said, "Ellie Goulding is the perfect singer for this track. She has a beautiful voice which I loved right away." Ellie was similarly delighted to be approached to record with Andrea: "It was a huge honour that the legendary Andrea Bocelli wanted me to feature on this song with him. I have always had an affinity with classical music and I'm a sucker for a love song. It was fun and enlightening to sing in Italian - a real joy to record."
Alexandre Desplat :

Little Women OMPS

Sony Music announces the release of LITTLE WOMEN (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by Academy Award®, Golden Globe® and GRAMMY® Award-winning composer ALEXANDRE DESPLAT.  Available for preorder now, the album will be available in digital, CD and vinyl formats beginning Friday, December 13.  Recorded in New York City under the leadership of Desplat, who conducted a chamber orchestra to perform his original compositions, the score serves as a sonic companion to the film's coming-of-age narrative.  Making its debut alongside album preorder is the title track from Desplat's score – listen to "Little Women" now.  Directed by Greta Gerwig, Sony Pictures' Little Women will make its highly-anticipated theatrical debut on Wednesday, December 25.   
Laura Karpman :

WHY WE HATE

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'; color: #4d4d4d} Laura Karpman (Underground, Paris Can Wait, Step, Black Nativity) has scored the Discovery docu-series Why We Hate. The show is directed by Geeta Gandbhir & Sam Pollard and investigates the human capacity for hatred and how we can overcome it. The 6-parter traces the evolutionary basis of hate and uses stories from past and present to reveal the nature of the primal and universal emotion. Steven Spielberg, Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) and Frank Marshall (Jurassic World, The Sixth Sense) are executive producing the Amblin Television & Jigsaw production with Stacey Offman, Richard Perello (Super Troopers), Darryl Frank & Justin Falvey (The Americans, The Haunting of Hill House), Yael Melamede, Erica Sashin and Steve Tisch (Forrest Gump, The Equalizer). Karpman has previously scored the Spielberg-produced 2002 mini-series Taken. Why We Hate will premiere later this year on Discovery.
HAUSER :

CLASSIC HAUSER

From performing in sold-out arenas across the globe as one-half of renowned duo 2CELLOS to striking out on his own and making his Sony Classical solo debut, HAUSER continues the momentum of 2019 into the New Year, today announcing the February 7 release of his new album CLASSIC. Available for preorder now, Classic includes some of the most beloved classical melodies ever written, each a personal, longtime favorite of HAUSER he's carefully curated and rearranged for the cello. Making its debut today is one of these iconic melodies, Puccini's incredibly emotional aria "Nessun Dorma," which has been taken to new heights by HAUSER's cello  "It's simple," says HAUSER when asked to describe Classic. "It's the most beautiful, the most romantic melodies ever written in classical music – by the greatest composers – played on the cello, the most beautiful and romantic instrument of all."  HAUSER could hardly be blamed for calling each of the compositions on Classic "the most iconic" or "the most beautiful" or "the most romantic" melody in classical music. Because they are. Working alongside arranger Robin Smith and producer Nick Patrick, HAUSER has adopted these immortal compositions for the cello, letting them sing as never before with help from the London Symphony Orchestra.
Artists For Peace And Justice :

Let the Rhythm Lead: Haiti Song Summit Vol. 1

Let the Rhythm Lead: Haiti Song Summit Vol. 1 is a meeting of musical styles and traditions that brings together the world views of songwriters Paul Beaubrun, Jackson Browne, Habib Koité, Jenny Lewis, Raúl Rodríguez, Jonathan Russell and Jonathan Wilson alongside members of Haitian roots band Lakou Mizik at the Artists Institute of Jacmel.  Steeped in polyrhythmic drumming of Haitian Vodou, complex notes of Spanish Tres, Flamenco and Malian Guitar, interwoven with North American folk and rock, Let the Rhythm Lead is a musical odyssey, employing an array of diverse songwriting traditions and genres to tell stories of new friendships and collaborations, powerful spirits and ancient traditions, all the while honoring humanity, love, understanding, awakening and rejuvenation. Six languages narrate the journey with singing in English, French, Creole, Khassonké, Manding and Spanish. All Press Secured By MISSING PIECE GROUP
Jon Batiste :

Chronology Of A Dream - Live@The Village Vanguard

The inimitable musician and bandleader, Jon Batiste, sets to release Chronology Of A Dream: Live At The Village Vanguard on November 1. Recorded during his six-night residency in the fall of 2018, the live album is a follow up to his recent critically acclaimed release, Anatomy of Angels: Live at the Village Vanguard, and is part two of the two-part series.  You can listen to the first single "HIGHER" and pre-order the album here. Anatomy of Angels and Chronology of a Dream are two sides of the same coin. Batiste explains, "My compositions on Chronology focus on thematic development within short form structures with memorable melodic themes, while Angels focuses on thematic development within longer form structures that are built for deconstruction, never to be played the same way twice."
SEE TOP 100 PROJECTS