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Music News

In 1938, Ella Fitzgerald sang her first big hit, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," for a national audience on CBS Radio. Now, a global audience has access to this performance again — thanks to the discovery and restoration of the Savory Collection, a legendary private trove of nearly 1,000 recordings that haven't been heard by the general public since the 1930s. The National Jazz Museum in Harlem acquired them in 2010, and today they're beginning to make their way to a new generation of jazz fans.

The 59th Annual Grammy nominees were announced Tuesday morning, and while familiar names appeared among the five Latin music categories, there were also some nice surprises.

You'd be forgiven for viewing nominations for the 59th Grammy Awards, announced Tuesday morning, as a battle between two powerhouse singers: Beyoncé, whose Lemonade leads the field with nine, and Adele, whose 25 has been a sales juggernaut since its release late last year.

The new film Jackie, opening in theaters across the country this weekend, begins with a blank, black screen, underscored by melting strings. It's our first indication that music will play a central role here, at times even more so than the title character.

The last time New York's Metropolitan Opera presented a work written by a woman was 113 years ago. It's a drought that lasted longer than the years between the Cubs' World Series victories. That situation has finally been rectified this week with the New York premiere of the opera L'Amour de Loin by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho.

Christmas is coming, and soon TV screens everywhere will light up with that 1946 holiday classic, It's a Wonderful Life. But the same story is coming a little early to the stage of the Houston Grand Opera. That's right: An operatic version of George Bailey's struggle with life and death opens this Friday.

Librettist Gene Scheer admits that adapting such a beloved movie has sometimes felt like a fool's errand. "It's almost secular scripture, this piece," he says. "Everyone knows all the lines."

You can hear Harold Lopez-Nussa's training when he plays. The 33-year-old pianist is reluctant to admit the classical influence on his jazz playing, but he's quick to acknowledge that he, like many other great Cuban pianists, was classically trained. "This is the school that we have to learn music in Cuba; it's classical," he says. "I did all my stuff there from 8 years old to 25."

When you see Mary Halvorson on stage, she doesn't look like much of a trailblazer. She plays sitting down. She's small, and mostly hidden behind her hollow-body guitar and glasses. But then she starts to play. And the sounds coming out of her amp are anything but conventional.

Aretha Franklin performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Thanksgiving Day football game between the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings Thursday afternoon. And, as, the Queen of Soul usually does, she stole the show.

The first song the artist Cat Stevens released back in 1966 was titled, "I Love My Dog." He'd be the first to admit that it's a strange title, and subject, for someone nicknamed Cat. Now, 50 years later Yusuf / Cat Stevens has done a unique remake of this song; a direct-to-acetate recording at Jack White's renowned Third Man Records Blue Room. The single will also include Cat Stevens second U.K.

OK Go's latest (and astonishing) video, for the song "The One Moment," took only 4.2 seconds to film. But the whole thing — a series of rapid-fire explosions — was slowed down to fill the four-plus minutes it takes the band to sing the song. Remarkably, like OK Go's previous videos, the group manages to sync the whole thing using... I don't know, math?

A Queen Among Kings

Nov 21, 2016

The first time I ever saw Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings perform was circa 2002 at the Elbo Room, a tiny venue in San Francisco's Mission District. If you've ever been there, you know the Elbo Room doesn't need many bodies to pack the floor, and with the Dap-Kings crowding the diminutive stage, the full intensity of their act filled the space from practically the first note. I was already familiar with the group through its early records, but hadn't fully appreciated how much power Jones could pack into her stout, 5-foot frame as she sang, sweated, stamped, strutted, slayed.

Think about the classic Disney animated movies, and you may just start humming a song. Director Ron Clements says the pairing of music and film goes back to Disney's early animated films, projects like Steamboat Willie and Silly Symphonies.

In a society increasingly filled with self-delusion, there are still times when the roles individuals see themselves playing can unlock astonishing insights about who they are.

Mose Allison had a sharp eye for the way the world works, and doesn't. The pianist, singer and composer's acerbic lyrics, syncopated piano playing and distinctive southern drawl were beloved by jazz fans — and by the British rockers who covered his songs, from The Who to The Clash to Van Morrison.

In the summer of '65, Leonard Cohen, the great poet-singer who died last week, spent many happy hours in a warehouse by the St Lawrence River in his hometown, Montreal. As he watched the boats go by, his friend, a young bohemian dancer named Suzanne Verdal, whose warehouse it was, served him tea and oranges that came all the way from China.

Brian Eno is back with another ambient record. Called Reflection, it's due out Jan. 1 on Warp Records and consists of a single, 54-minute track. While Eno isn't sharing any samples of Reflection for now, he says it's similar to his 1985 album Thursday Afternoon, a moody, meditative record that was one 60-minute track.

In a prepared statement, Eno describes Reflector as a "generative" work because the sounds "make themselves."

Ty Segall's next album, which will be self-titled, is due out Jan. 27, 2017, on Drag City. It comes just over a year after Segall released his previous full-length, Emotional Mugger.

Copyright 2016 Nashville Public Radio. To see more, visit Nashville Public Radio.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Leon Russell has died in Nashville at the age of 74. His wife, Jan, said through an intermediary that the legendary musician and songwriter had died Sunday in his sleep in Nashville.

Music in Exile is a recording project that collects songs and stories from people displaced by humanitarian crisis. Alex Ebsary, a member of the Music in Exile team, explains that its mandate is straightforward: "What we do is go around, either to refugee camps or to places that we know there will be refugees or internally displaced Iraqis, and try to find musicians," he says. "They can be anyone, from somebody who knows how to sing a few songs to professionals."

A year ago today, terrorists attacked six locations in Paris, killing 130 people. Most of them were shot during a rock concert at a venue called the Bataclan. The attacks led to heightened security throughout Europe, and they've also led to some changes in how rock bands tour.

The xx is back with new music, and it feels like this wonderfully languid band may have just received a shot of adrenaline.

How Shirley Collins Got Her Voice Back

Nov 5, 2016

In a surprising press release NBC announced Friday that Dave Chappelle will host Saturday Night Live on Nov. 12 with musical guest A Tribe Called Quest. This will be the first episode after the presidential election, and an SNL debut for both Chappelle and A Tribe Called Quest.

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