Conjure up a list of all-time great blues harmonica players, and high up on it you'll see the name James Cotton.
Cotton's music begins at the source: He was born in Tunica, Miss., and started playing harp at the age of 9, learning directly from Sonny Boy Williamson II. He eventually made his way to Chicago, where he played for a dozen years in Muddy Waters' band before he struck out on his own.
Yngwie Malmsteen is the king of the neoclassical shred guitar. Since 1984's Rising Force, the Swedish musician and composer has somehow bridged centuries, from Paganini to his own arpeggiated acrobatics.
When movie director Baz Lurhmann got his hands on F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, a 21st century-Jazz Age mashup was inevitable. Vivid, anachronistic style is standard in Luhrmann's films: His take on Romeo + Juliet was a Technicolor fever dream for the MTV generation, and Moulin Rouge put Verdi's La Traviata through a genre blender.
Together, violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk make for one of the most dynamic duos in the classical music world. The two have been recording and performing together in the classical repertoire for almost a decade, and have become equally at home thumbing through the pages of the Great American Songbook.
At 81, music mogul and Columbia Records president Clive Davis has slowed down just enough to write his autobiography, The Soundtrack of My Life. The book, which describes how he's consistently made hit records, has itself become a bestseller.
Larry Keel & Natural Bridge return to Mountain Stage, recorded live in the border town of Bristol, Tenn./Va., in partnership with the Birthplace of Country Music. A native of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, Keel leads a band dedicated to taking fiery, authentic bluegrass around the world.
One of my favorite songs last year was a collaboration between a Sengalese drum collective and a German techno producer. The producer, Mark Ernestus traveled to the West African country to work with Jeri-Jeri, a group that plays a popular dance music called mbalax.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has issued a proclamation declaring Friday "Women in Jazz Day" — an attempt at cultural reform that's bound to enjoy the same resounding success as banning oversized sodas. Which is to say: Nice try, Mr. Mayor.