Music News

Jazz musician and composer Charles Lloyd has what you might call an "eclectic" resume.

The saxophonist has played with hundreds of jazz musicians — but also B.B. King, the Beach Boys, tabla master Zakir Hussain.

Tonight, Charles Lloyd will be inducted as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. He's being honored, in part, for fusing jazz with musical styles from other places and times.

You can hear that on his new album, Wild Man Dance, which features two ancient instruments from Europe.

Noah Wall is an experimental musician in New York, and his latest album is maybe his boldest experiment yet.

"I usually make sort of very meticulously crafted music, and I think that's important because this project is so different from that," Wall tells NPR's Rachel Martin.

The album, Live At Guitar Center, is a series of recordings of nameless musicians — both newbies and old-timers — at the music equipment store Guitar Center.

In the music world, today is all about bricks and mortar. It's the annual Record Store Day, when music fans are urged to get out to support their local shop.

From new releases to vintage finds, people have been posting photos of beloved albums and record stores Saturday.

Music companies are putting out dozens of limited-edition releases for the occasion. One example: Johnny Marr doing a live version of his old band The Smiths' song "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want."

In his home in Lahore, Pakistan, Saleem Khan holds up his late father's violin. There are no strings, the wood is scratched and the bridge is missing.

"There was a time when people used to come to Lahore from all over the world to hear its musicians," the 65-year-old violinist says in the new documentary, Song of Lahore. "Now we can't even find someone to repair our violins."

Saturday is Record Store Day, when independent music retailers around the country host parking-lot concerts and sell limited-edition pressings of vinyl records, which have made a small but forceful comeback in an age dominated by digital listening habits. But if there's one problem with the vinyl resurgence, it might be this: The machines that press vinyl records are decades old, and no one's building new ones, so keeping up with increased demand is hard.

Demand Increases For Vinyl Records

Apr 17, 2015
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

I'm David Greene, wishing you a happy Record Store Day.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OLD TIME ROCK AND ROLL")

BOB SEGER: (Singing) Just take those old records off the shelf.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It was streamed on Spotify 4.2 million times in just a single day this week. Last week it streamed a total of nearly 22 million times.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SEE YOU AGAIN")

On his most recent album, Vestiges & Claws, José González treads a familiar musical path, offering listeners the same subdued-but-powerful austerity of his unobtrusive tenor paired with minimal instrumentation that's come to define his remarkable sound since his full-length debut with 2003's Veneer. While those compositional tendencies have thankfully remained undisturbed, Vestiges & Claws is a divergence in theme for González.

Singer Percy Sledge, perhaps best known for his hit "When A Man Loves A Woman," has died, Artists International Management Inc., his talent agency, said.

Sledge died of natural causes a little after midnight at a hospice in East Baton Rouge, La., according to a coroner. The coroner said Sledge was 74, though the Encyclopedia of Music as well as his talent agency says Sledge was 73.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Thirty years ago this month, the duo known as Wham! became the first pop group to rock Beijing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU GO-GO")

The Salón Los Angeles is the oldest dance hall in Mexico City. The classic 1930s ballroom is located in a working-class neighborhood near downtown, and every week, it sees dozens of well-dressed couples of all ages moving to an orchestra of saxophones, trumpets, trombones, clarinets and percussion instruments.

Pianist Ralph Sharon, the longtime accompanist for Tony Bennett, died March 31 at age 91. In the audio link above, Tom Cole has a brief report for NPR's Morning Edition, and below, Walter Ray Watson filed this remembrance for NPR Music.

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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMERICAN PIE")

DON MCLEAN: (Singing) Bye, bye, Miss American Pie.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Pay a visit to New York City's Museum of the Moving Image to see its blockbuster show Matthew Weiner's Mad Men, and toward the end of the exhibit you will find a lonely kiosk.

Mothers in prison rarely get to see their children, let alone touch them or sing them a lullaby. But female inmates in New York City are getting a little help with the singing, thanks to Carnegie Hall. For the last few years, Carnegie has sponsored the Lullaby Project, which pairs professional musicians with women in jails, homeless shelters and city hospitals, to help them write lullabies for their children.

Andrew Porter, a renowned music critic and scholar and translator of opera, died early today in London's Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. His twin sister, Sheila Porter, told NPR his death was the result of complications from pneumonia. He was 86.

After being found found unconscious in her home Tuesday afternoon, folk music icon Joni Mitchell has been hospitalized in Los Angeles. "She is currently in intensive care undergoing tests and is awake and in good spirits," according to her website.

Mitchell "regained consciousness on the ambulance ride," her website says.

Museum curators, instrument dealers and some of the world's most esteemed musicians will be clutching paddles today at Cloiduff's auction house in New York. They're gathering for what is expected to be an eight-figure sale of perhaps the rarest instruments ever to appear at auction: a pair of lovingly restored Stradivarius timpani.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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.

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.

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.

There's something mysterious, almost opaque, about the songs of Lower Dens. The ones on the band's new album, Escape From Evil, are lush but distant, beautiful things held just out of reach.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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?'"

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