Here's a puzzle: You're a not particularly well-known rapper with a couple of albums under your belt, trying to introduce yourself to a wider audience. You've got a song with a harp sample and lyrics with a wide range of references that include Afrika Bambaataa, Cash Money Records, Rammellzee, Burt Bacharach, the Brill Building, Zola Jesus, Human League, outrageously expensive high-fashion brands like Prada and Balenciaga and low-budget but prolific art collectors Herbert and Dorothy Vogel.
Sometimes, it's hard to know what constitutes a band. Billy Corgan wrote and sang all the songs for The Smashing Pumkpins and still records under the name, even though the other original members are long gone. Same deal with James Mercer and The Shins.
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 8:32 am
Saxophonist Gregory Tardy came of musical age in New Orleans, then moved to New York after being picked up by drummer Elvin Jones' band. He found his way into a wide variety of groups — including a long tenure with Andrew Hill during the pianist's prolific final years — and made several albums as a bandleader. Still an international-caliber musician, Tardy has been less visible in the big city since he moved to Knoxville, Tenn., for a teaching position, but he returns here with his own concept and own band.
Author Anton Treuer has written several books, including Everything You Wanted To Know About Indians But Were Afraid To Ask. For Tell Me More's occasional "In Your Ear," series, Treuer offers his crash course on music from Indian Country.
Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 12:36 pm
Few classical musicians these days are serious improvisers — aside from organists and early-music practitioners. But pianist Gabriela Montero is absolutely fearless when it comes to creating a new piece, right out of the air, right on the spot. At her concerts she takes requests from audience members. They can suggest a song for her to improvise on, or simply a topic of interest.
Lianne La Havas was pretty much unknown until she appeared on the influential TV show in Britain called Later with Jools Holland. It was just her, singing and playing guitar. Her voice was clear, pure and soulful. The song she performed — called "Age" — was both jazzy and sassy.
"Time seemed to stand still," wrote one critic of La Havas' live performance. There were much more established artists on the music show that day, but Alison Howe, the producer, says La Havas was the standout.