By 1928, Earl Hines was jazz's most revolutionary pianist, for two good reasons. His right hand played lines in bright, clear octaves that could cut through a band. His left hand had a mind of its own. Hines could play fast stride and boogie bass patterns, but then his southpaw would go rogue — it'd seem to step out of the picture altogether, only to slide back just in time.
Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 10:11 am
The Umbria Festival in Italy turns 40 this summer. Umbria presents jazz indoors and out in two historic cities — Perugia in summer, Orvieto in winter. Marching bands parade; gospel choirs sing. Concerts start at noon, midnight and all the hours in between. (The New Year's Eve show in Orvieto begins at 1 a.m. on New Year's Day.) And the musicians can be delightfully unfamiliar, at least to American ears.
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy makes his first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded before a sold-out audience in Charleston, W.Va. A highly regarded singer-songwriter who remains willfully outside the mainstream, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy — one of the many stage names for Will Oldham — has been known to West Virginia audiences since 1987, when he co-starred in John Sayles' film Matewan.
Freshlyground has been one of the most talked about bands out of post-apartheid South Africa. One reason is the voice of lead singer Zolani Mahola. Mahola is a powerhouse; she and six other black and white musicians from around southern Africa make up the group. They came together in 2002 to forge a new sound, repackaging folk roots and classic African pop with a slick veneer of international pop production.
Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 1:14 pm
I first met Thao Nguyen in 2008, in the earliest days of the Tiny Desk Concert series. I was a big fan of her witty, catchy songs. After she finished playing the Tiny Desk, Thao said something that has endeared me to her forever. Walking toward the elevators on her way out of NPR, she said, "That was intimate and awkward ... a lot like my last boyfriend!"
Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 6:03 pm
Virtually everyone writing about the Tokyo String Quartet's final tour this year is drawn to the word "bittersweet," and with good reason: After 43 seasons, the group gave its farewell Boston concert last week at WGBH. The quartet is rising to the emotional occasion by playing with heightened finesse and dimension, sounding better than ever.