NYSMusic's Andie Chapman writes...... Four-time Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo has often advocated for human rights as she has been a UNICEF ambassador since 2002. Her music is imbued with compassion, and throughout the years she has contributed songs for important causes, such as her contribution song "Leila" for the Enough Project which raised awareness for women's rights in Raise Hope for Congo.
In 2020, the singer and activist recorded the song "How Can I Tell You?" by composers Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty who wrote "Ragtime," "Once on This Island," "Anastasia," and many more notable works. This song was included in a documentary directed and produced by Jeff Kaufman titled Nasrin. Often referred to as the "Nelson Mandela of Iran," Nasrin Sotoudeh fought for human rights in Iran, eventually leading to her arrest in June 2018 for defending women who publicly protested Iran's mandatory hijab law. The government sentenced her to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes. Nasrin now has COVID-19 and a heart condition, but even from the confines of prison she has continued to challenge the authorities.
READ THE FULL NYSMusic ARTICLE & WATCH THE VIDEO
The Guardian's Dave Gelly writes....August Wilson's 1982 play, and the 2020 Netflix film, are about a lot more than music, but Gertude "Ma" Rainey ("Mother of the Blues") was a real person, and the action takes place around what was a real recording session. Music, and how it's treated, is the basic metaphor here, so music is an important accompaniment to the story. In this case – like the clothes, the cars and the surrounding scene – it must also persuade us that we are in Chicago in 1927. Saxophonist Branford Marsalis has certainly spared no effort in recreating authentic period sounds. Photograph: David Lee/AP
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WBGO'S The Checkout: SIMON RENTNER writes......We've always admired Shai Maestro's fearless approach to music. When he sits down at the piano, especially in an improvisational solo setting, he checks the temperature of a space and lets the music come to him, allowing one idea to flow into another. But he wasn't always that free.
On this episode of The Checkout, Maestro remembers a difficult moment on tour with bassist Avishai Cohen and drummer Mark Guiliana - a moment that would shape his career. In the middle of a performance, while playing his tune, the trio took an unexpected detour and he completely freaked out. That meltdown would change his thinking, and approach to music, forever. To hear Maestro tell it, what he became after this experience was more human - which is also the title of his new album, which ECM will release on Jan. 29.
READ THE FULL WBGO: Newark NJ ARTICLE & LISTEN TO THE SEGMENT
Following the success of the Busoni The Visionary series, Jeni Slotchiver is humbled to introduce something so intimately close to home. With Southern roots of her own, Ms. Slotchiver's debut ZOHO CD release American Heritage is her homage to the legendary composers preserving American folk music and creating anew. What was once familiar, is reborn.
Spanning 125 years, from Louis Moreau Gottschalk's The Banjo (ca. 1854-5) to Frederic Rzewski's Down by the riverside (1979), American Heritage presents piano compositions by composers of concert music, inspired by the melodies, dance rhythms, harmonic inventions and various stylistic elements evocative of the American experience. Of the eight composers represented, six are of African descent and two of these are women. There are quotes from spirituals, use of the African American pentatonic scale, the African call and response structure popularized in southern church tradition, polyphonic rhythms of jazz, and the rich, sultry harmonies of blues. With the exception of the rich musical heritage of Indigenous people, the largest and most important American folkloric body of work arrived on American shores with the first enslaved African people.
Jazz Weekly's George W. Harris writes....Pianist Jeni Slotchiver gives solo interpretations of music from early to late 20th Century, taking you to a different world of patience and space. While classically trained, Slotchiver has a rich blues touch and a bona fide feel for gospel and folk material. Material ranges from a homespun read of "Swanee River" to the spiritual "Down By The Riverside" as well as the folk classic "Shenandoah" but with an arrangement by Keith Jarret. Parlor moods are presented in a collection of pieces from Harry Thacker Burleigh and the genteel pen of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, on "Union" and "The Banjo" while traditional pieces like "Deep River" and even 1967's "Troubled Water" feel like they've both been drawn from the same well. A journey to another world and world view.
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Soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom and bassist Mark Helias come together to create duets discovered in the moment in a way that is rarely heard today with Some Kind of Tomorrow. The long time bandmates, separated by space and time find a way to play in real time with one another and the results are magical. Two master improvisers and composers bring listeners up-close and personal to the first spark of their imaginations at work, recording eleven duet improvisations over the spring, summer, and fall of 2020. The music is raw, authentic, intimate, alive, and unapologetic in its passion. Their sound is deep wood and polished brass recorded with a depth that is hard to describe. They played the music, recorded it, mastered it firsthand and are now making it available to listeners for the first time as a digital download on Bandcamp. Don't miss these fearless jazz explorers as they face the future.
Heard on Fresh Air, here's Kevin Whitehead's piece. LISTEN & READ THE TRANSCRIPT
Shunia is a duo that combines addictive melodies, ancient chants and polycultural rhythms into a sound that feels both new and timeless. Their music captures and conveys deep energies and spirit. The state of "shunia" means stillness, receptivity. Shunia's members, Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson both performed with the Washington National Opera for 20 years before finding continued success in their solo careers. Coming together as Shunia, they combined their influences, inspirations and experiences to create genre-defying music with the power to transform and to connect you to the energy within and around you. It can put you in touch with something as simple as your five senses or as mysterious as the infinite.
American Songwriter's NADIA NEOPHYTOU writes......To press play on Shunia's new album of chants is to allow a wave of calm and relaxation to wash over one's whole self. For Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson, who've known each other for 30 years, sharing the gift that's been a major part of their lives with others is the reason they began recording together as the duo Shunia in the first place. "Music in and of itself is such a powerful medium," Reagan tells American Songwriter. "It is the language of our humanity and our souls. We know these mantras are tried and true, and we have personally been chanting them for years."
READ THE FULL American songwriter ARTICLE
WFMT: Chicago 's Candice Agree writes....From the age of 3, CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe toiled at a keyboard-not in typing, as unintended preparation for his 13 years at the Washington Post, but in studying classical piano in Delmar, a suburb of Albany, NY. Although he loved playing, his interest in current events and politics pulled him into a journalism career. No stranger to Chicago, in 2008, O'Keefe was in Grant Park the night that Barack Obama was elected president. O'Keefe, 37, is about to become a fixture in the White House press room, as he will cover the Biden administration for the TV network he joined in 2018. But he has never left his first passion far behind. He shared some musical memories with us before taking on his new assignment at CBS News as Senior White House & Political Correspondent. Photo courtesy CBS News)
READ Candice Agree's Q&A with Ed O'Keefe.
An ensemble that attracts rave reviews and sell-out crowds at prestigious venues everywhere from Vienna to New York, the sensational SIGNUM saxophone quartet are now set to present their first Deutsche Grammophon album.
Re-inventions is a very special collection which shows us a different side of Robin Spielberg / MainlyPiano
Posted: November 17, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
Re-inventions is pianist/composer Robin Spielberg's first collection of classical music, arranged and "re-invented" during the 2020 pandemic. Inspired by the historical fact that classical composers often held "soirees" where they presented alternate versions of each others' music, Robin decided to do something similar with favorite classics that she re-discovered while going through her "treasure trove" of sheet music. In the liner notes of the CD and LP, Robin tells the story of one of her piano teachers slapping her hand when she played a new melody for a Chopin waltz. I never had my hand slapped, but my piano teacher also considered the classics to be sacred and not to be altered in any way, which is contrary to how the composers themselves regarded their music. Most of the fifteen tracks on the album will be familiar to just about everyone and are different from the originals - but not so different that they are unrecognizable. Most of the tracks are solo piano, but there are a few duets that include Tina Guo on cello; Ricardo Ochoa on violin; Robin's daughter, Valerie Kosson, on bells; and Robin's husband, Larry Kosson, on guitar. A Steinway Artist, Robin recorded the album on an 1898 Steinway.
This is a very special collection and shows us a different side of Robin - she "re-invented" herself, too!
This is Robin Spielberg's 19th recording. She has been hailed as the most expressive contemporary pianist of our time. From Elton John to Adele, from Bob Dylan to Crowded House, from Bruce Springsteen to Joni Mitchell, from Five for Fighting to Debbie Boone, and from Billy Joel to Gilbert O'Sullivan and Bread, Robin performs beautiful and innovative arrangements of popular hits on solo piano. Nostalgic and soothing, each track is intended to stir emotional memories in the listener. Recorded on an exquisite 1898 Steinway Concert D grand.
Created during the pandemic, Robin reached into her treasure trove of music and discovered long lost friends--classical piano scores that always offered her comfort, companionship and piece. Celebrated composers of the past often held soirees where they concocted new ways to play one another's pieces. Mozart himself said that he strove to never play his pieces the same way twice.
On this collection of 15 great masterworks, Robin honors the spirit of the great masters by re-inventing and re-imagining their works on an 1898 Steinway.
Composers include: Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Chopin, Schumann, Schubert, Rubinstein and more.
You might not have heard of composer/pianist Robin Spielberg, but her music has very likely accompanied you on your day. Spielberg, who is releasing "Re-Inventions," her 20th album on November 20, is in the top 1% of artists played on Pandora Radio, the internet's largest radio station. In addition to over 200 million streams on that platform, she has over 220,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and has sold over a million physical CDs of her piano-centric music. Known for her expressive touch at the piano, melodic original compositions and unique arrangements of covers, Spielberg's newest recording contains original arrangements of classical masterpieces by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Strauss, Schumann, Schubert, Brahms and more.