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Jazz guitarist John Scofield has had a pretty remarkable career. Without even finishing music school, he found himself on the Carnegie Hall stage playing with jazz legends Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan. Then it was on to Miles Davis, his own successful jazz-funk fusion groups, and even greater exposure playing with jam bands.

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Adele's smash hit "Hello" broke all kinds of records when it was released in November.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HELLO")

ADELE: (Singing) Hello, it's me.

Most nights, you can walk into a blues club and find a harmonica player blowing their heart out onstage. The wailing, honking sound associated with Western movies and juke joints is what many harp players have emulated for decades. But in the rarefied world of the harmonica, the earth has lately shifted on its axis — primarily because of one man.

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It is time now for a musical equation. Start with the singer best known for this hit from the late 1980s.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT I AM")

Beatles Music Available To Stream

Dec 24, 2015
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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And let's get onto a, maybe you could say, a higher note. Before we say goodbye to 2015, let's remember some of the year's best music. Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton from NPR Music, take it away.

Sometime around the 11th century, Western composers began to make room on the page for a new kind of sound. These notes would fall outside the key of a piece of music — generally a half-step higher or a half-step lower. They could even sound like a mistake. And that's how accidentals were born.

Kurt Masur, a former music director of the New York Philharmonic, died Saturday from complications from Parkinson's disease at a hospital in Greenwich, Conn. His death was announced by the New York Philharmonic.

Kurt Masur, the German conductor whose career spanned from leading an orchestra in East Germany to more than a decade of reshaping the New York Philharmonic, has died at age 88.

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All right, we're going to go from smalltime buskers in Malaysia to the best-selling album of all time.

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We won't keep you guessing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICHAEL JACKSON SONG, "THRILLER")

"Lyrics drove me to country music," said the producer Dave Cobb in an interview we published yesterday about his path from the L.A. rock scene to producing a handful of albums that signal a return of traditional country to Nashville's main stage, including ones by Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton. "I think maybe what I wanted to do is to find a way to make country records feel like all the other records I adored, but with those lyrics. And voice. I'm always looking for a voice."

The 2016 inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have been named, and the roster skews heavily toward classic rock, with Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, Chicago and Steve Miller among the acts chosen by the nominating committee.

The rap group N.W.A, possibly getting a boost from this year's biopic Straight Outta Compton, will also be inducted into the Rock Hall at a ceremony to be held April 8 in New York.

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It could be that this year's Christmas shoppers are getting familiar with The Shins.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME")

THE SHINS: (Singing) The party's on. The feeling's here.

Have you ever watched a Tiny Desk Concert and thought, "Hey, I want to do that!?" Well, now's your chance to play behind my desk here at NPR. That's right: We're bringing NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest back for a second year.

Here's what you do.

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We just heard about John's Stauffer's happy surprise, finding these four new photographs of Frederick Douglass after publishing his book. Now here is another one, this time for fans of Prince. Yesterday, he dropped a new album seemingly out of nowhere.

In 2014, the Wu-Tang Clan turned a double album into lost treasure.

Once Upon A Time In Shaolin was heard, in its 31-track entirety, only by Wu-Tang Clan leader RZA and producer Cilvaringz.

They vowed to sell just a single copy — with a seven-digit price tag. They destroyed all duplicates and placed the only extant version in a hand-carved silver and nickel box, along with a 174-page leather-bound book of lyrics, anecdotes and credits.

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A battle between upbeat, finely crafted pop and politically minded hip-hop seems to be what's shaping up for the biggest prizes at this year's Grammy Awards. The nominees were announced this morning, in advance of the awards ceremony on Feb. 15.

When the Grammy Awards' 2016 nominees are announced Monday morning, you'll no doubt hear some familiar names. Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar, for example, are expected to pop up in high-profile categories such as Album Of The Year — for last year's 1989 and this year's To Pimp A Butterfly, respectively.

In 1964, near the end of his career, Billy Strayhorn accompanied himself on a live recording of one of his best-known songs. It starts:

I used to visit all the very gay places

Those come-what-may places

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And earlier this week, we heard from one of the world's most celebrated classical musicians. Itzhak Perlman was just 13 when he performed on the "Ed Sullivan Show" in 1958. And he says he's still getting better.

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