Two excellent books, one by Boston rocker Jen Trynin, plumb the insides of the worlds of jazz and rock ‘n’ roll.
Old timers Ray Davies, an ex-Kink, and Donald Fagen, ex-Steely Dan, have released surprisingly youthful solo albums. “Morph the Cat” (Reprise); “Other People’s Lives” (V2) By James Marcus “Hope I die before I get old,” declared The Who’s Pete Townshend in 1965, and certainly there have been times, during his drink-and-drug-addled middle decades, when he […]
In new albums, three innovative African musicians manage to turn what has been called neotraditionalism into a progressive style. Amadou & Miriam, Dimanche a Bamako (Nonesuch); Thione Seck, Orientation (Stern’s Africa); Daby Balde, Introducing Daby Balde (Introducing/World Music Network). By Milo Miles Starting in the late 1980s, the watchword for many leading African-pop performers was […]
Recent stand-out classical recordings boast fresh interpretations of familiar works, recordings of little-known repertoire, and some legendary performances by Pablo Casals. By Mark Kroll Harmonia Mundi has an excellent new recording of Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte” with Rene Jacobs and his Concerto Koln taking just the right approach to Mozart’s great comic opera. The packaging […]
A groundbreaking book explores the music written for Hollywood’s animated cartoons and how the tunes shaped the characters and stories that are now a vital part of American culture.
Though the last presidential race has faded into a memory, two recent albums from singer-songwriters bring subtle artistry to simmering political anger and alienation. Pierce Woodward, “Blow Them Away” (Long Run Music); James McMurtry, “Childish Things” (Compadre Records) By Danielle Dreilinger A year ago, folk stages were filled with artists like Steve Earle urging people […]
It is remarkable that two prime discoveries in John Coltrane’s recording history should appear in the same year; one of them an improved elevation from the world of underground tapes, the other a total surprise.
Handel and Haydn Society’s irreverent take on “Dido and Aeneas” is another example of an operatic trend in which production values push musical values to the sidelines
With the arrival of a new biography and DVD, guitarist Jimi Hendrix may have finally gotten his due, the pieces of his puzzle finally assembled, with just enough mystery left over for the ages. “Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix” by Charles R. Cross. (Hyperion); “Jimi Hendrix Live at Woodstock [The Deluxe […]
For fans of jazz, world music, Americana — in short, for fans of all the genres guitarist Bill Frisell has explored over the past decade — “East/West” is a must. By James Marcus Will the real Bill Frisell please stand up? It’s a question his admirers have been asking with increasing frequency over the past […]