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Music News

This week tour dates and flights and meetings were rescheduled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and music writers in the Northeast have been preoccupied. And even though the mood is darker, the show did go on; here are three stories to divert and edify you while we all try to get back to normal.


One Man Metal

This past week has been filled with some truly tragic stories of loss and devastation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. There are also a few stories of near misses and disasters averted. Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, fortunately has one of the latter.

At the archives of Radio Tanzania, more than 15,000 reel-to-reel tapes are stacked in floor-to-ceiling shelves. Each band, musician and recording date is painstakingly notated. The tapes reside inside three musty rooms of the Tanzania Broadcasting Corp., which occupies the old brick-and-concrete BBC building in Dar es Salaam.

Radio Tanzania was the country's only station from its birth in 1951 until the mid-1990s, when competing stations came on the air and state-controlled radio became irrelevant.

Go See The Old Guys

Nov 1, 2012

Neil Young made me write this. Before last Thursday, when ol' Shakey and his golden garage band Crazy Horse stomped through my local amphitheater, the last thing I'd thought I'd be excited about was a bunch of guys hovering around 70, playing loud rock and roll into the night.

Bill Dees, who kicked off the creative process that produced one of rock 'n' roll's greatest songsOh Pretty Woman — has died. He was 73.

It's 4:30 in the morning in Washington, D.C., and dank pools of sweat are collecting on the dance floor beneath a dripping basement ceiling. I can see Sonny Moore's heart beating through his shirt. The 24-year-old DJ, whose producing alias, Skrillex, is a major keyword for the new wave of American dance music, just wrapped up an intimate surprise show at U Street Music Hall (my local gateway to electronic music and a place where I also DJ from time to time).

There's a new development in the British investigation into the allegations of child sex abuse against a late BBC television host: U.K. media, including the BBC, are reporting that police Sunday arrested rocker and convicted sex offender Gary Glitter on suspicion of sex offenses.

This week, we learned how the TV show Nashville fits into the long tradition of the country duet, why Meshell Ndegeocello covering Nina Simone makes all the sense in the world, and how Gary Clark, Jr.

An announcement: The end-of-the-week recap, formerly "Around The Jazz Internet" or "The Friday Link Dump," has a new name. Musicians will know that a "lead sheet" is a melodic sketch with chord changes, a reference guide for when you don't know the tune by heart. Here's what you ought to read from this week:

Classical Crib Sheet: Top 5 Stories This Week

Oct 26, 2012

  • Uff da: Along with the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra has also locked out its musicians, leaving the Twin Cities bereft for now. "Players at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra did not vote on an offer from management, and the board of directors shut the doors and canceled concerts through Nov. 4 ... So for the first time since the SPCO launched in 1959, neither orchestra will be playing for at least the next two weeks."

Nina Simone haunts. Meshell Ndegeocello hypnotizes. This difference is as subtle as it is crucial and is on full display in Ndegeocello's latest album, Pour Une Âme Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone, which came out earlier this month. In the past few weeks, she's been performing songs from Simone's vast repertoire during a small and intimate tour.

Twenty-five years ago today, Houston Grand Opera mounted the world premiere of Nixon in China, the first opera by a young composer named John Adams. Two days later, The New York Times described it as a "coy and insubstantial work" and "hardly a strong candidate for the standard repertory."

This week, we've been watching reports from the CMJ Music Marathon spill out of clubs in New York and onto the Internet, wondering who the next big band will be, even as we kept our eye on news that Beyonce would be performing on a much bigger stage in February and mourned the death of saxophonist David S.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

While Radio Liberty struggles to reinvent itself, this week brought a big announcement from a group that has dominated the radio for half a century.

SIR MICK JAGGER: Soon we'll be back on stage playing for you in two cities that know how to rock and roll.

SIEGEL: That's the Rolling Stones announcing a new concert tour to celebrate their 50th anniversary. They've scheduled four shows so far, starting next month, two in Newark, New Jersey and two in their hometown of London.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Everywhere you look right now, it seems like American symphony orchestras are fighting for their lives — strikes, lockouts, bankruptcy. Perhaps the biggest example is the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra, which is just coming out of its own bankruptcy. Tonight, its new 37-year-old music director takes the podium as the venerable orchestra begins a reboot.

Jason Lytle is the man behind the Modesto, Calif., band Grandaddy. The band released its debut in 1997, but it was Grandaddy's second album — The Sophtware Slump — that broke through with critics and fans. Even David Bowie called himself a fan when he approached the band members after seeing them play.

Around The Jazz Internet: Oct. 12, 2012

Oct 12, 2012

More recommended reading:

  • New York Philharmonic Music Director Emeritus Kurt Masur, 85, has announced that he has been living with Parkinson's disease for several years: "I have had the fortune of receiving great medical care since the diagnosis, enabling me to continue my conducting activities. These recent events have served as a good opportunity to make a return to the podium with a greater sense of purpose and awareness."

Gangnam Style is, among other things, a high-tech, sophisticated export.

Yes, the video is totally crazy and awesome. But this is not some viral fluke. South Korea has been building up to this moment for 20 years.

Here are three reasons South Korean pop music is taking over the world:

Taking Stock Of The MP3 At Mid-Life

Oct 11, 2012

Last week, Joel Rose wrote about the compact disc on its 30th anniversary, but it could have been an obituary. In the last decade, CD sales in the United States have dropped by more than two thirds, fulfilling a cycle that dates back to wax cylinders and 78 rpm discs: the 20 to 30 year lifespan of a format, followed by the rise of a new technology. So we decided to look at the format that usurped the CD's place in music listener's ears and hard drives, if not always hearts.

In 2006, Roger Arias went into his garage searching for a long-lost treasure. He remembered a story about his grandmother and a Spanish translation of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"I dug through my boxes and sure enough, there was a folder," he says. "It said 'The National Anthem,' and she had version 1 through 10. She kept every one of them."

It's been a tumultuous time for American orchestras. Labor disputes have shut down the Minnesota Orchestra and Indianapolis Symphony, and strikes and lockouts have affected orchestras in Chicago, Atlanta and Louisville in the past year.

You, Too, Can Print Your Own Guitar

Oct 10, 2012

Though it's been around for three decades, 3-D printing has finally started to take off for manufacturing and even for regular consumers. It's being used for making airplane parts on demand and letting kids make their own toys. One designer is pushing the limits of 3-D printing by using it to make an acoustic guitar.

Muse: Arena-Sized Entropy On 'The 2nd Law'

Oct 9, 2012

Known for its huge performances, the British band Muse has twice sold out London's Wembley Stadium — the second largest stadium in Europe. Muse has sold more than 15 million records worldwide to date, and was even chosen to write the official song for the 2012 London Olympics, called "Survival." The track is featured on Muse's new album, The 2nd Law, which is out now.

Around The Jazz Internet: Oct. 5, 2012

Oct 5, 2012

Happy long weekend.

  • Whither smooth jazz? Though straight-ahead and experimental fans might assume their, uh, less bumpy cousin is weathering the storm, the loss of many radio stations is affecting the field a lot. David Adler talks to many musicians and industry insiders for JazzTimes. That includes Kenny G, who is identified on subsequent reference as "G," in a sidebar.

(More) Lockouts, Lawsuits And Losses

Oct 5, 2012

  • As we've been anticipating, the Minnesota Orchestra is now in lockout after contract negotiations failed. And the orchestra has now canceled all concerts until November 25.

Shehzad Roy, one of Pakistan's most popular signers, rocketed to fame in the 1990s singing sweet songs about love. He was a favorite among Pakistani elites who like to dance to secular tunes but don't otherwise rock the boat.

So those fans might be slightly shocked by the Roy of today, who has traded candy-coated pop for fiercely political songs.

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