Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 3:46 pm
Jay Z doesn't do anything small. His album drops feature entire new apps. His tours (with his wife, Beyonce, or collaborator Kanye West) gross hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide. So of course the launch of his recently acquired streaming music service, Tidal, would have to be just as big.
Originally published on Sat March 28, 2015 11:29 am
The Smithsonian American Art Museum has just added a handful of soul records to its collection — or at least that's what you might think when you first see the work of Mingering Mike. A self-taught artist, he grew up in a tough part of Washington, D.C., just a few miles from the museum, though his family didn't spend much time there. Now, his work is in the museum permanently.
Originally published on Sat March 28, 2015 11:41 am
Guitarist and composer John Renbourn co-founded the group Pentangle and went on to become revered by guitarists around the world. Renbourn was found dead of an apparent heart attack at his home in Scotland on Thursday, after failing to show up for a concert. He was 70 years old.
Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 6:23 pm
Late one night, Dina el-Wadi, a singer and musician from Cairo, arrived in Kampala, Uganda. She'd come for a gathering of musicians who live in countries along the Nile River.
She went to bed and woke up to pure enchantment: "I found a very beautiful woman singing in the morning in a very, very, very magical way. So I said, 'Oh, who is this girl that's going to sing with us?'"
Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 10:53 am
There's only one word to describe Aaron Watson's music: country. Watson, from Abilene, Texas, sings about rodeos, fence posts and family with a twang in his voice that would sound like a huge moneymaker if you're the kind of fan who stopped listening to country in the early 1990s, when George Strait and Garth Brooks were selling millions of albums and scoring hits on country radio.
Last year, as an April Fools' Day joke, the label Bloodshot Records announced that it had brought together 21 affiliated artists for a roughed-up roots take on the music of Prince, to be pressed as a "purple swirl colored double vinyl LP" set.
There's a kind of little village of artisans on Manhattan's West 54th Street. In a couple of plain looking office towers, there are a bunch of rehearsal studios, violin makers' workshops and other music businesses. Behind one of those office doors on the 10th floor sits Frank Music Company — Frank's, as everybody calls it.
It was supposed to be a celebratory occasion, a high-profile performance of a piece given life by the orchestra that commissioned it — a young composer's music played by other young musicians.
Instead, the performance scheduled for Sunday of Jonas Tarm's music at Carnegie Hall by the highly regarded New York Youth Symphony (NYYS) has been canceled after it came to the attention of the ensemble's administration that the piece contains a quotation from the Nazi "Horst Wessel Lied."
Releasing music under multiple names is a standby in the world of electronic dance music, but nobody in the early 1990s made more of the tendency than Aphex Twin, born Richard D. James in Cornwall, England in 1971. In addition to his main moniker, James had perhaps the most perversely odd pseudonyms in a field heavy on dweebs, gearheads, sci-fi nuts and other language-as-alien-device types.
Originally published on Sat February 28, 2015 2:17 pm
It's been five years since Kanye West raised his glass to "the a--holes" in the song "Runaway," a poetic taxonomy of bad behavior that formed the emotional center of his masterwork My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It's a sad song about romantic failure, but also a strong statement connecting West to popular music's longstanding practice of being dangerously outrageous.
Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 3:16 pm
Singer Madonna fell off the steps next to the stage while performing her song "Living for Love" at the Brit Awards in London. The 56-year-old singer picked herself up and continued her performance.
The fall at Wednesday's music awards show was apparently caused by a move that went wrong: A dancer tugged at Madonna's cape, which failed to detach, and the singer fell down a flight of steps. Almost immediately, she rose and continued singing.
Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 12:40 pm
By some measures, China is now the world's largest economy. It's also a gigantic market for American brands, from Hollywood blockbusters to KFC and Pizza Hut. But one Chinese conductor, Long Yu, would like these cultures to hear each other a little more clearly. He's launching a new project to do just that, and it's starting tonight with the New York Philharmonic.
Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 4:46 pm
The movie Birdman is favored to pick up several major Academy Awards Sunday night, but it will not be taking home the Oscar for best original score. That's because it was declared ineligible for Oscar consideration.
Birdman has one of the year's more distinctive musical scores, propelled by the unaccompanied jazz drumming of Antonio Sanchez, a bandleader and longtime drummer for guitarist Pat Metheny.