Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 11:16 am
The Miami-based Latin alternative band Elastic Bond has a varied sound that's hard to pinpoint. Its debut album, Real, contains tropical elements well suited to its home state of Florida, but funky horns and retro-leaning samples help freshen that sound. The combination of genres goes well with the band's name, which references a chemical equation.
Mozart's The Magic Flute, the last opera he lived to complete, has some of his most sublime and sublimely comic music. Technically, it's more of a musical comedy, what in German is called a Singspiel, a play with songs and spoken dialogue. I was excited to learn that it was filmed by Kenneth Branagh, whose Shakespeare movies I really admire. Mozart's mixture of fairy tale and high morality presents a great opportunity for a filmmaker; in 1975, Ingmar Bergman released a version for Swedish television that has become a beloved classic.
Listen to Laura Mvula's terrific full-length debut, Sing to the Moon, and you'll hear soulful pop music in Technicolor. The U.K. singer's sonic ambition is boundless: Her intricately layered songs straddle genres, locations and eras in ways that sound entirely original.
If you sample the first few notes of guitarist John Scofield's new album, Uberjam Deux, you might mistake it for something out of West Africa. But a spin through the tracks takes you to another hemisphere with a sound right out of Jamaica, then to American shores with a soulful homage to Al Green.
Taj Mahal has a degree in animal husbandry and agronomy, and planned to be a farmer. Music was just something he did.
"No matter what went down, music was always going to be a part of my life," the guitarist and singer says. "What ultimately happened is that, over a period of time, I just kind of looked around and when like, 'Wow! I'm actually making a living doing this.'"
Henry D'Arthenay grew up in Caracas, Venezuela — a country currently rife with political conflict. As lead singer of the Venezuelan alt-rock band La Vida Bohème, D'Arthenay used that chaos for fuel in constructing the band's latest album, Será, which was released in April.
Smith Dobson was one of the most sought-after pianists of the Bay Area when he died in a car crash in 2001. He was part of a musical family — his wife, Gail, a jazz singer; his son a drummer. His daughter, Sasha Dobson, was a scat singer who followed the family's jazz muse until her dad's tragic death.