Movies will be a little quieter, and emptier, without Morricone / Pitchfork


Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann. Steven Spielberg and John Williams. Spike Lee and Terence Blanchard. Every visionary filmmaker needs a composer they can trust-someone they can call on to accentuate their work with music. And from 1964 until well into the 1980s, there was no greater director-composer partnership than Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone, the Italian film composer who died on Monday in Rome at age 91. It was through his long-term collaboration with the late filmmaker that Morricone created his most iconic scores and helped define the sound of the Spaghetti Western, the Italian film movement spearheaded by Leone and his so-called "Dollars Trilogy" starring Clint Eastwood: 1964's A Fistful of Dollars, 1965's For a Few Dollars More, and 1966's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Leone was hardly the only director to take advantage of Morricone's talents over the last 60 years. In fact, hundreds of filmmakers, among them Quentin Tarantino, Brian De Palma, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Terrence Malick, partnered with the composer in order to infuse their films with orchestral gravitas and vintage swagger. Morricone's prolific drive was astonishing: By the end of his career, he had scored more than 500 movies-an especially impressive number, considering how he refused to move to Hollywood and never learned to speak English. Some film composers consider it their duty to write music that blends into the scenery or prioritizes tasteful subtlety. Not Morricone. His scores are expressive, grandiose, and undeniably audacious in their oddball instrumental choices, from the pan pipes he used in 1989's Casualties of War to the Haitian drumming and children's choir he incorporated into 1977's Exorcist II: The Heretic. Such boldness was remarkably well-suited to the operatic scope and brooding emotional expanse of the Spaghetti Western. As Leone put it in an interview towards the end of his life, "I've always felt that music is more expressive than dialogue. I've always said that my best dialogue and screenwriter is Ennio Morricone." Fittingly, on Monday, everyone from Chance the Rapper to Bon Iver's Justin Vernon to El-P mourned the indispensable composer. As the director Edgar Wright put it, "He could make an average movie into a must-see, a good movie into art, and a great movie into legend." Movies will be a little quieter, and emptier, without Morricone. READ THE FULL Pitchfork ARTICLE
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Ma, Thile, Meyer, Duncan - Not Our First Goat Rodeo is the WFMT: Featured New Release


Not Our First Goat Rodeo is the long-awaited follow-up album to the Grammy Award-winning Goat Rodeo Sessions with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile. Both albums combine the talents of the four solo artists to create a singular sound that's part composed, part improvised, and uniquely American. The music is so complex to pull off that the group likens it to a goat rodeo – an aviation term for a situation in which 100 things need to go right to avoid disaster. Both the first album and the new recording also feature the voice and artistry of singer-songwriter Aoife O'Donovan. For July 6, Ma, Thile, Meyer, Duncan - Not Our First Goat Rodeo is the WFMT: Chicago 'Featured New Release.'  SEE THE PAGE
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Dream Songs: The Essential Joe Hisaishi is a 'must have' / textura


To these ears, the soundtracks Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi created for Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli classics Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and Kiki's Delivery Service are so indissolubly bound up in their reception, it's hard to think of the music as a separate entity. To that end, Dream Songs: The Essential Joe Hisaishi does a superb job of enabling admirers to do precisely that by presenting his musical artistry sans visual accompaniment. In assembling a diverse selection of twenty-eight pieces spanning his nearly forty-year career, the release is a must-have for those already familiar with Hisaishi and those discovering him anew. READ THE FULL textura REVIEW
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John Scofield and Steve Swallow... tell tales


Guitarist John Scofield celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019 - "old school" style as Scofield says, acknowledging that more than forty years of preparation led up to it. John was a 20-year-old student at Berklee when he first met and played with bassist Swallow, and they have continued ever since, in many different contexts.  Listen to the podcast "I love these songs", says Scofield of the selection of Swallow compositions explored here – a broad range including tunes that have become standards, as well as some lesser-known works. The rapport between Scofield and Swallow is evident in every moment. John: "Sometimes when we play it's like one big guitar, the bass part and my part together."  Behind the drum kit, Bill Stewart is alert to all the implications of the interaction. "What Bill does is more than ‘playing the drums,'" Scofield says. "He's a melodic voice in the music, playing counterpoint, and comping, while also swinging really hard." The guitarist himself plays with fire and invention throughout: "These two giants bring out the best in me." Swallow's compositions, John notes, "make perfect vehicles for improvisation. The changes are always interesting – but not too interesting! They're grounded in reality with cadences that make sense. They're never just intellectual exercises, and they're so melodic. They're all songs, rather than ‘pieces'. They could all be sung."  Swallow Tales opens with "She Was Young", a tune introduced on Steve Swallow's ECM album Home, in 1979, where it was indeed sung, by Sheila Jordan. A number of the tunes addressed here – including "Falling Grace", "Portsmouth Figurations", and "Eiderdown" – belonged to the 1960s repertoire of Gary Burton's groups. Scofield, who had admired them from the outset, studied them with Burton and the composer in the early 1970s, by which point Swallow had made the transition from double bass to bass guitar, creating a new voice for himself on the electric instrument. When Scofield launched his own recording career, Swallow was in his trio (with Adam Nussbaum on drums). Touring widely the guitarist and the bassist fine-tuned their musical understanding, a process continued in many other configurations over the years. Scofield appeared on Steve's XtraWatt album Swallow in 1991, for instance, and Swallow is on numerous Scofield recordings - including the recent Country For Old Men, which also featured Bill Stewart. A close associate since the early 1990s, drummer Stewart had played in John's quartet with Joe Lovano, and gone on to join the guitarist in many journeys over varied musical terrain. John Scofield has recorded for jazz labels including Impulse, Blue Note, Verve, Emarcy and Gramavision. ECM appearances to date have been infrequent but distinguished; they include two albums with Marc Johnson's Bass Desires group – Bass Desires (recorded 1985) and Second Sight (1987) - in which the guitarist shared frontline duties with Bill Frisell. On Shades of Jade (2004), a third Marc Johnson album, Scofield is heard alongside frequent colleague Joe Lovano. The live double album Saudades (recorded in 2004), meanwhile, features Scofield as a member of Trio Beyond, alongside Jack DeJohnette and Larry Goldings, reassessing the songbook of Tony Williams' Lifetime. Swallow Tales is the first of his ECM recordings to feature the guitarist as bandleader. Produced by Max Horowitz - Crossover Media, This content, as well as the related podcast, are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) for redistribution and adaptation.
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Sharon Isbin's 'Affinity' has textural clarity and a perfect balance / musical america


Sharon Isbin has been a tireless commissioner of new work and her latest album Affinity is no exception with several recent compositions set alongside some old friends. It's Chris Brubeck's 18-minute Guitar Concerto-the longest and most colorful work here-that gives the album its title and opens proceedings. The concerto's name alludes to a shared "affinity" between composer and soloist, two musicians who thrive on exploring different styles. Like his father jazz legend Dave Brubeck, Chris Brubeck has his roots in jazz, but despite its plentiful toe-tapping syncopation, Affinity is most definitely a classical work. At its atmospheric heart the composer manages to incorporate one of his father's loveliest tunes-"Autumn in Our Town"-before a lilting Renaissance dance section ups the tempo to end with something akin to a wriggling Brazilian samba. Highly energetic, melodically infectious, and colorfully scored, Affinity is a real crowd pleaser, and with her immaculate and fleet-footed technique Isbin does it proud. The Maryland Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Elizabeth Schulze has just the right feel for this music and the excellent engineering ensures both textural clarity and a perfect balance. It's 40 years since Leo Brouwer wrote his solo guitar work El Decameron Negro for Isbin, and although she's recorded it previously, her interpretation has only deepened with time. The three evocative instrumental "ballads" are inspired by African love stories infused with the musical sensibilities of Brouwer's native Cuba. Isbin is a natural storyteller and is in her element here, putting on a virtuoso display full of light, shade, and manual dexterity. Ditto Tan Dun's Seven Desires, an intriguing solo work that straddles-and fuses-the seemingly disparate worlds of the Chinese pipa and Spanish flamenco guitar. Antonio Lauro's charming Waltz No. 3 is here arranged for two guitars by former Isbin student and now regular duet partner Colin Davin. The disc concludes with Richard Danielpour's Of Love and Longing, three contrasting settings for voice and guitar of the Persian poet Rumi. Performed here with great warmth and sensitivity by Isabel Leonard, it crowns an album that should please fans of Isbin and of contemporary guitar music in general.
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Smartly played and engineered, Mark Abel's 'The Cave of Wondrous Voice' is music of expressive directness and charm / the arts fuse


One would find it hard to beat the all-star line-up featured in The Cave of Wondrous Voice, a new, hour-long survey of vocal and chamber music by the California-based composer Mark Abel. David Shifrin, Carol Rosenberger, Hila Plitmann, and Fred Sherry headline the album but they're not its only stars. On the whole, The Cave of Wonderous Voice is smartly played and engineered. Abel's writing throughout is fluent and often genial. While certain spots in the Trio, particularly, might benefit from grittier moments to offset the diatonic ones, this is music of considerable expressive directness as well as charm. SEE ALL the arts fuse Classical CD Reviews
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John Scofield visits with 'The Paul Leslie Hour'


John Scofield, known to many in the music world simply as "Sco," makes his debut appearance on The Paul Leslie Hour. He's one of the most influential guitarists around and a composer, performer and recording artist. Scofield has released a trio recording on ECM Records entitled "Swallow Tales." The album consists of 9 compositions by jazz bassist Steve Swallow. It is a great thing to sit down and converse with Sco and you are invited to listen in to this episode of The Paul Leslie Hour
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  Interview with The Paul Leslie Hour

Michael Shapiro joins FM91: Toledo to talk about his John Milton-inspired piano concerto - Archangel


Composer, pianist, and conductor Michael Shapiro joins us to talk about the music on his latest disc, including his John Milton-inspired piano concerto entitled Archangel. In this action-packed work, Shapiro lays out the epic Biblical battle between good and evil as a metaphor for the challenges we all face in our daily lives (which includes the current coronavirus pandemic – something Michael recently fell victim to himself). Also on the disc: orchestral excerpts from an opera based on Federico Garcia Lorca, and a full-throttle realization for orchestra of the famous organ Toccata by French composer Charles-Marie Widor. LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION
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  Interview with WGTE's Haley Taylor

John Scofield & Steve Swallow is like one big guitar / CD HOTLIST


There are a few guitarists who are almost instantly recognizable by their tone: Richard Thompson, Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny - and John Scofield. It's not that his sound is idiosyncratic, it's just that it's personal. There's some chorus in there, and just a touch of distortion to rough up the very edges. But it's also the notes he plays, and the way that the blues are never far from him no matter how complex the chord changes get. On his latest solo album he's joined by drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Steve Swallow. As the title suggests, the album is actually a tribute to Swallow, and consists entirely of the bassist's compositions. Scofield has said that when the two of them play together "sometimes… it's like one big guitar," and you can definitely hear that; you can also hear why Scofield likes Swallow's tunes so much ("they're grounded in reality, with cadences that make sense"). As discursive as the trio sometimes gets - this is an ECM jazz recording, after all - they never lose the thread of brilliant continuity that binds these wonderful tunes together. For all jazz collections. SEE ALL THE CD HOTLIST REVIEWS
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John Scofield chats with jazzcast on his 4 decade career


John Scofield's guitar work has influenced jazz since the late 70's and is going strong today. Possessor of a very distinctive sound and stylistic diversity, Scofield is a masterful jazz improviser whose music generally falls somewhere between post-bop, funk edged jazz, and R & B. Scofield's new ECM album celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, made during an afternoon in New York City, March 2019 - "old school" style as Scofield says, acknowledging that more than forty years of preparation led up to it. John was a 20-year-old student at Berklee when he first met and played with bassist Swallow, and they have continued ever since, in many different contexts.  Host, Rich Brown had a chance to speak w/ John Scofield for jazzcast.ca. On this special edition of New Origins, hear their conversation, as well as a wide selection of Sco's music spanning the last 4 decades.
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  JazzCast

Camille Thomas - Voice of Hope is the WFMT: Featured New Release


Voice of Hope is Camille Thomas's second album for Deutsche Grammophon. The Franco-Belgian cellist's program pays tribute to people's ability to triumph over adversity, create harmony in place of chaos, and overcome hatred with love. The album presents the world-premiere recording of Fazil Say's concerto Never Give Up, a response to terrorist attacks in Paris and Istanbul written for and premiered by Thomas, and also includes an exquisite selection of songs, prayers, and laments, Bruch's Kol Nidrei and Ravel's Kaddisch among them. For June 30, Camille Thomas - Voice of Hope is the WFMT: Chicago 'Featured New Release'
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A little goes a long way on Dave Soldier's 'Zajal' / jazz Journal


"There is no denying the emotional expression and feeling of the music, the joy and exuberance transmitted, and at times it certainly lifts the spirits, but unless you have a taste for this style, a little goes a long way" An intriguing release, this is really world music, drawing on Middle Eastern and Andalusian traditions, with guitarist and keyboard player Dave Soldier setting poems, mainly Hebrew and Arabic, to music. For this he uses traditional instrumentation with occasional elements of contemporary music and a sprinkling of jazz. There are jazz connections in the personnel – bassist Ratzo Harris played with Mose Allison and Betty Carter, trombonist Chris Washburne with Eddie Palmieri, and Soldier himself studied with Roscoe Mitchell. But apart from this, the link is minimal. READ THE FULL jazz Journal REVIEW
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Top 10 Albums for July

Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile :

Not Our First Goat Rodeo

Sony Music Masterworks today releases Not Our First Goat Rodeo, the long-awaited follow-up album to the GRAMMY Award-winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile.  Making its debut alongside the new album is a live performance video for the song "The Trappings," featuring guest artist Aoife O'Donovan - watch here. Sharing the story behind the track, Yo-Yo Ma recalls: "‘The Trappings' came out of a question of aesthetics. I believe Edgar was talking about pop music, how he used to think, ‘Oh, if something's too poppy, I'm not going to like it.' But that's like saying ‘classical music is boring,' or that jazz, rock, rhythm-and-blues are one way, or even ‘people from different countries are'... You know that as soon as you make a general statement like that, it's not true, because you can think of hundreds, thousands of exceptions. ‘The Trappings' is one of those."
Thelonious Monk :

Palo Alto

In the fall of 1968, a sixteen-year old high school student named Danny Scher had a dream to invite legendary jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk and his all-star quartet to perform a concert at his local high school in Palo Alto, CA. In a series of twists and turns, against a backdrop of racial tension and political volatility, that concert happened and was recorded by the school's janitor. Palo Alto is set for release on July 31, 2020 on legendary jazz label Impulse! Records – marking Thelonious Monk's posthumous debut on John Coltrane's label home. 
Harry Connick Jr :

Stars Still Shine

GRAMMY and Emmy Award-winning singer and actor Harry Connick, Jr. pays tribute to essential workers in an emotional and uplifting new song "Stars Still Shine," on Verve Records out now. The song will be made available to all streaming partners and digital download after its debut on "UNITED WE SING: A GRAMMY® TRIBUTE TO UNSUNG HEROES," a star-studded 2-hour special event conceived and hosted by Harry Connick, Jr. airing on the CBS Television Network.
Bettye LaVette :

Blackbirds

Blues Hall of Famer Bettye LaVette has decided to release her stirring rendition of "Strange Fruit" ahead of schedule as it says as much about the history of American racism and the state of the country today.  "Strange Fruit" was originally recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939 and written by Jewish teacher Abel Meeropol who wrote the song based on a photo of two black men who were lynched as a crowd of white people looked in the camera pointing and smiling. LaVette's version will be featured on her album, "Blackbirds" (Verve) set for release August 28. 
Terence Blanchard :

DA 5 BLOODS OMPS

Milan Records today releases DA 5 BLOODS (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SCORE) with music composed by six-time GRAMMY® Award-winning trumpeter and composer TERENCE BLANCHARD.  Available everywhere now, the album features music written by Blanchard for director Spike Lee's forthcoming film premiering on Netflix Friday, June 12.  The project reunites Blanchard with longtime collaborator Spike Lee, having most recently worked together on Lee's Academy Award®-winning film BlacKkKlansman.
Jimmy Heath :

Love Letter

Verve Records announces the release of Love Letter, a parting masterpiece and the first all-ballads album from magisterial tenor saxophonist-composer Jimmy Heath. The first single from the collection "Con Alma" is out now and you can listen to it here. Love Letter will be available worldwide on July 17 and is available by pre-order now.   In addition to original material, Love Letter is the jazz ambassador's beautiful take on seminal ballads, including songs written by Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, and Kenny Dorham.  Recorded in New York during the 48 hours preceding Jimmy's 93rd birthday, and two more a month later in Atlanta, Jimmy presided over a brilliant cast of colleagues and friends.  Propelling the album forward is a multi-generational all-star unit, including NEA Jazz Master pianist Kenny Barron, poll-winning guitarist Russell Malone, soulful vibraphone veteran Monte Croft, New York first-call bassist David Wong, and all-world drummer Lewis Nash. Augmenting the group on separate tracks are 21st century vocal superstars Gregory Porter and Cécile McLorin Salvant, and trumpet icon Wynton Marsalis.
Ludovico Einaudi :

12 Songs From Home

Ludovico Einaudi today releases a special 12-track digital collection, ‘12 Songs From Home', out digitally on Decca Records on 8thMay 2020 with artwork drawn by the composer. Recorded at home on his own upright piano in one evening during the lockdown, the release follows several live streams that were watched by thousands of people at a time on his Instagram page. Einaudi explains, "I recorded ‘12 Songs From Home' between March and April 2020 during the peak of Italy's lockdown. In March I started to play live concerts regularly on social media. Switching on my phone to connect for 30-40 minutes with the world has been a beautiful and intimate alternative to the spring tour that I regrettably had to postpone. This new release is the memory of those home live concerts, my memory of this time, the memory of a strange and new atmosphere that we won't forget."
Soundtracks :

Animal Crackers

Soon to be released on Netflix July 24th - Owen Huntington's life is one continuous loop of work, eat, and sleep. A loop that keeps him from ever seeing his wife Zoe, or his three year old daughter MacKenzie. A loop that is sure to kill him. Then, one day, Owen discovers a long lost Uncle passed away - and left his Circus to Owen. What could have been a blessing - soon unfolds into a curse. The circus is broke. The animals are all gone. And most of the crew are too old to be of any use. It's a disaster. But something magical happens. Owen discovers Buffalo Bob's secret. A box of Animal Crackers that gives the bearer the ability to become any animal in the box. Suddenly - there's hope. If Owen can use the box to become these animals and perform people will come. He'll be rich. But Owen forgot one thing. Buffalo Bob had a brother. Horatio P. Huntington. Owner of the largest chain of circuses in the world. And Horatio would stop at nothing to get his hands on the Magical Animal Crackers. Directed by Tony Bancroft (Mulan), Scott Christian Sava (Casper the Friendly Ghost), and James Maestro with voices of Emily Blunt, Danny DeVito, John Krasinski, Ian McKellen, Raven Symone, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Warburton, Gilbert Gottfried, and Harvey Fierstein.
John Scofield :

Swallow Tales

Guitarist John Scofield celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019 - "old school" style as Scofield says, acknowledging that more than forty years of preparation led up to it. John was a 20-year-old student at Berklee when he first met and played with bassist Swallow, and they have continued ever since, in many different contexts.  "I love these songs", says Scofield of the selection of Swallow compositions explored here – a broad range including tunes that have become standards, as well as some lesser-known works. The rapport between Scofield and Swallow is evident in every moment. John: "Sometimes when we play it's like one big guitar, the bass part and my part together."  Behind the drum kit, Bill Stewart is alert to all the implications of the interaction. "What Bill does is more than ‘playing the drums,'" Scofield says. "He's a melodic voice in the music, playing counterpoint, and comping, while also swinging really hard." The guitarist himself plays with fire and invention throughout: "These two giants bring out the best in me."
El-P :

Capone OMPS

Milan Records Today Releases Capone (Original Motion Picture Score) With Music By The Grammy-Nominated Run The Jewels' Producer And Rapper El-P.  Available Everywhere Now, The Album Features Music Written And Produced By El-P And Co-Produced By Long Time El-P Collaborator Wilder Zoby (Run The Jewels, Roma) For The New Film Starring Tom Hardy As The Infamous Gangster Al Capone. This Marks The First Complete Film Score From El-P Since 2004's Bomb The System, And Arrives On The Heels Of Score Contributions To Fantastic 4 (For Which El-P Scored The End Credits, Which Marked The Beginning Of His Working Relationship With Capone Director Josh Trank) And 2016's Bleed For This (Directed By Ben Younger) As Well As Contributing To The Soundtrack For 2018's Oscar Winning Roma (Directed By Alfonso Cuarón).  With Capone, El-P Is Stepping Out As A New Voice In The Film Music World And His Emotive, Tense, And Beautiful Score Is Unlike Anything He's Done Before.
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