september 2020 – good to hear

I Know the End
Phoebe Bridgers
In her latest release, the final track of her new album Punisher, LA singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers triumphantly kisses an older version of herself. «Bridgers has rocked the skeleton suit several times over the last few months, but now we’re gifted with an entire room of them, hung up neatly with gray hoodies — dripping wet. A child rolls an apple Bridgers’ way; she takes a bite and drops it to the floor as strangers usher her out. She runs during the song’s chaotic crescendo, picking up a guitar to join her band – including drummer Marshall Vore –at an empty stadium. ‘No, I’m not afraid to disappear,’ she sings over swirling instrumentation. ‘The billboard said the end is near.’» (Rolling Stone) Whatever she sings, she has an incredible voice.
Opaque Red, July 2020

Hate for Sale
Hate for Sale is the eleventh album of the British-American band. Singer Chrissie Hynde, with her distinctive voice and style, has been the only permanent band member behind this punky rock group ever since the 1980ies, rejoined by her former drummer Martin Chambers in 1994. Produced by Stephen Street, the typical combination of drums, guitar and bass sound like Chrissie has gone back to basics. «She’s sanded its edges to glide onto adult contemporary radio, and she’s flirted with passing trends, but she’s always centered herself with those ringing guitars. Street gives six strings plenty of room on Hate for Sale. Hynde is back playing rhythm guitar, weaving between the leads of James Walbourne, who also co-wrote the album’s ten songs.» (Pitchfork) Most of the tracks are familiar but have been cleverly remastered.
BMG, July 2020

My Future
Billie Eilish
In this cartoon visualization of her latest song, Billie Eilish brings out her crooner voice to tell us about the future she visualizes for herself – though she does not know where it is going to lead her. She presented ‘My Future’ at the Democratic Convention where she endorsed Joe Biden and encouraged her young fans to vote seeing she is a first-time voter herself. Billie wrote and produced this R&B based ballad together with her brother Finneas O’Conell. It is her first release since the theme song for the new James Bond movie No Time to Die. Having gone through a difficult time, it is encouraging to hear her strike a more positive note here, having somewhat come to terms with the problems of early fame and the fact that it robs her of an ordinary life. (sgs)
Universal, July 2020

Burna Boy
Born in Port Harcourt as Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, Burna Boy quickly rose to fame after the release of his first single, Like to Party, in 2012. «His grandfather was Fela Kuti’s first manager, and he appears to be following in that legend’s footsteps, as Fela grafted funk on to conventional Nigerian music to become the country’s biggest international superstar. The result is songs that are intricate but still tricky, in the way African rhythms can be, but there’s a comforting palm wine-y warmth – regardless of his almost perpetual fury or often tedious boasting, Twice as Tall is usually more urbane than urban.» (The Guardian) The spectacular video for ‘Wonderful World’ was shot in Nigeria. Superstar Burna Boy’s fifth studio album, Twice as Tall, from which this track was taken, was produced by Diddy and Mana Burna Bose.
Atlantic, August 2020

Nubya Garcia – ft. Ms Maurice, Cassie Kinoshi, Richie Seivright
Nubya Nyasha Garcia is a British jazz musician, saxophonist, flautist, composer and bandleader. It is a well-known fact that the best of jazz is produced in London these days, and this excellent debut album proves it. Born and raised in North London, Nubya Garcia began playing saxophone at the age of ten. Nine years later, she feels that she has come to accept herself more completely. «There’s that everyday feeling that you get as a Black woman that sometimes people don’t fully see you», she says. «I haven’t always been able to be myself because I’ve been worried about how people will respond to me. But now I feel more empowered—there’s been a really positive movement within myself towards accepting who I am.»
Apple Music, August 2020

august 2020 – good to hear

Spécial Fête de la musique
Ibrahim Malouf
For this 6th episode of Livestreams and on the occasion of the Fête de la Musique, Ibrahim Maalouf was live from his studio, accompanied by his faithful companion the guitarist François Delporte! «Franco-Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf is also a composer best known for film scores, and an arranger, producer and teacher of improvisation and trumpet. He has achieved success in a wide range of genres, and counts jazz, oriental music and rock among his diverse sources of inspiration. In 2017, he received the César Award for Best Original Music for the film In the Forests of Siberia. His father is trumpeter Nassim Maalouf and his mother is pianist Nada Maalouf. His uncle is the writer Amin Maalouf and his grandfather was the journalist, poet, and musicologist Rushdi Maalouf.» (Wikipedia)
Self-published, June 2020

Angels and Demons at Play
Sun Ra Arkestra
Saxophone player Marshall Allen is the current leader of the Arkestra, a jazz collective founded by Sun Ra in the 1950s. Le Sony’r Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993), better known as Sun Ra, was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, and poet known for his experimental music, cosmic philosophy, prolific output, and theatrical performances. Allen assisted in producing, mixing, and engineering of their new album Swirling, which the group recorded in Philadelphia with Jim Hamilton. The band’s longtime baritone sax player and manager Danny Ray Thompson, who died in March at age 72, also appears on Swirling. The album will only be out in October but this is a taste that proves that Sun Ra’s cosmic jazz lives on. (Pitchfork and Wikipedia)
Strut, July 2020

since i was young
Wrabel featuring Kesha
L.A. singer-songwriter Wrabel has asked Kesha, a frequent partner in crime, to sing on this fabulous nostalgic summer hit. «In the standalone single, Wrabel tells the story of how he became the person he is today, starting from his first cigarette at 16, ‘trying to impress some guy or some girl.’ Kesha sings backup on the song’s chorus. The two friends worked together on multiple tracks featured on Kesha’s 2017 album Rainbow and her latest LP, High Road, released this past January. Wrabel released the extended play One of Those Happy People in September 2019.» (Rolling Stone) Stephen Wrabel (born 1989) went from being a back-stage writer to being one of pop’s unsung talents. His songwriting credits include releases by Pink, Kesha, Louis the Child, Kygo, Backstreet Boys or Ruel.
Pulse, July 2020

Burnt Umber
Brian and Roger Eno
On their new album Mixing Colours, Brian and younger brother Roger, also a well-known figure in ambient music, «invite listeners to immerse themselves in the infinite space and calmness of their tonal meditations. Like good wine, the material on the album grew over many years. he reciprocal creative process for Mixing Colours started back in 2005 with Roger recording individual synthesizer compositions and fragments of songs he then sent to Brian, who digitally decomposed his brother’s ideas and arranged them in new ways for giving each one its individual sound world.» “The idea for a full album emerged as the number of pieces kept increasing, and the results kept being interesting. It’s something that neither of us could have arrived at alone,» says Roger recapitulating the album’s birth. (Pop Matters)
Deutsche Grammophon, July 2020

Josh Rice
My old friend Josh Rice has written a couple of new songs recently. We go back to the early seventies, when we first met at a mutual friend’s house. He was self-possessed and good looking, had come up to Ottawa from New York via Philly, and he played a mean guitar in a band called Fat Fox and the Dirty Sox, accompanied by band member Michael Ziegler and a basist Bobby Finkle. Theirs was a different kind of music then, younger, lighter, less accomplished than Shadow Dance which owes its great graphics and funny storyline to Josh’s daughter Tara Rice. Acid Rock and R&B have always held a big part of Josh’s musical sway, and he was always a great singer whose voice has gained amazing power with age. His ironic play with stereotypes gives the lyrics additional appeal. (sgs)
Self-published, July 2020

july 2020 – good to hear

The Duffler
Fantastic Negrito
Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz is the real name of singer-songwriter Fantastic Negrito who feels at home in R&B, blues and black roots music and who’s music is powerful and authentic. Having grown up in Oakland, Negrito fled to LA to escape the vagaries of petty crime as a teenager, which ultimately led to an international career that has been rewarded with two Grammys so far. Negrito returned to Oakland later, became an activist for social change and an avid gardener who wants us to grow as much of our own food as we can. More about this in the title track of the album, Have You Lost Your Mind Yet. Then there’s a short documentary about this life you can see here A car accident changed this man’s life and turned him into a deeply spiritual being. And he is such a great singer! (sgs)
NPR Music, June 2020

On the tender spot of every calloused moment
Ambrose Akinmusire
Also born and raised in Oakland, California, Ambrose Akinmusire was a member of the Berkeley High School Jazz Band Ensemble when he caught the attention of saxophonist Steve Coleman who asked him to join Coleman’s Five Elements. That’s how Ambrose embarked on a European tour at age nineteen, while he was a student at the Manhattan School of Music. After returning to the West Coast to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Southern California, Akinmusire went on to attend the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in Los Angeles, where he studied with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Terence Blanchard. With on the tender spot of every calloused moment, Akinmusire not only asserts himself as of the best trumpeters in the world, he’s using his voice to dissect the complexity of black life in America.
Blue Norte, June 2020

Neil Young
In Neil Young’s career of over forty years, failure is part of the game. Last week, however, the seventy-four-year-old dropped Homegrown, a lost studio album from 1974 and one of his best. He is still to release a lot of the music that was swallowed by his private archives, so that we may still be in for some surprises in the not too distant future. After all, gems aren’t kept in drawers. Homegrown is a gentle opus. A little melancholy, it perfectly embodies the expressive spirit of the times. Homegrown has been highly praised by music critics and recalls a very productive period in Western music history. “Homegrown is not only the missing piece in the puzzle of an important decade, it also ranks with great radiance among the solitary masterpieces of an entire career.” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung)
Warner, Juni 2020

The multicultural musical trio that make up Khruangbin, Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar and Donald Ray “DJ” Johnson on drums, hails from Texas. Their style is known as a mix of dub, psychedelia and soul – with a good shot of ambient in this case. “Mordechai, Khruangbin’s third proper album, is the first to prominently feature vocals, with all three members contributing. The introduction of singing suggests a new interest in songcraft, a welcome development… And Mordechai’s most memorable tracks are the ones with the most singing, like the poolside disco of ‘Time (You and I),’ and the highlife-inspired pop of ‘So We Won’t Forget.’ The best is ‘Pelota,’ whose sun-baked lyrics does not point clearly to any particular reference, offering a lively possibility for what Khruangbin might sound like when they are not trying to be anyone but themselves.” (Pitchfork)
Dead Oceans, June 2020

Art of the Descarga
The John Santos Sextet
John Santos has been faithfully carrying the Latin Jazz torch on the other coast for years. He has generally been a sparkplug for a wave of musical invention at the vortex where Jazz, Latin and other ideas meet. Born in San Francisco, in 1955, he was raised in the Puerto Rican and Cape Verdean traditions of his family, surrounded by music. His studies of Afro-Latin music have included several trips to New York, Puerto Rico, Cuba. Brazil and Colombia. He is known for his innovative use of traditional forms and instruments in combination with contemporary music has earned him much respect and recognition as a prolific performer who has recorded with countless masters of several musical generations.
Record Store Day, June 2020

june 2020 – good to hear

Ding a Ling
Dizzy Gillespie / Mike Longo
Here we see Mike Longo, whom we lost to Covid-19 last March, playing with the Dizzy Gillespie Reunion. Michael Josef Long was born in Cincinnati, in 1937, to parents with a musical background, and he started to play the bass very early. After the family moved to Fort Lauderdale, Mike set out with his father’s band but soon got his own gigs with the help of Cannonball Adderley who first hired him because he needed a pianist for his church. In the nineteen-sixties, Longo created the Mac Longo Trio, which remained active for the next forty-two years. Gillespie met him soon after and hired him on the spot as his musical director, as well as being the piano player for The Dizzy Gillespie Allstar Band. Longo’s musical career was tied to Gillespie’s from that moment. (sgs)
Pablo Records, 1973

Fiesta d’Or
Aurlus Mabélé
King of Soukous 

A victim of Covid-19, Congolese music legend Aurlus Mabélé (Aurélien Miatsonama) passed away on 23 May 2020, aged sixty-six. He was born in Poto-Poto, in the Republic of Congo, in 1953, and they called him the King of Soukous. A singer and composer, he started out in the seventies in Brazzaville, moved to Paris a decade later and ended up conquering of the world with his mix of Caribbean and African rhythms, pop and soul. Joining the band of the renowned Congolese guitarist Diblo Dibala (known as “Machine Gun” for his speed), the singer-songwriter Mav Cacharel and keyboard player Ronald Rubinel, they formed the band Loketo, domiciled in Zaïre, and played soukous, also known as Congolese rumba. It is music that makes you happy. During the twenty-five years of his career Mabélé sold more than ten million records, introducing soukous all over the world. Loketo quickly became known for its complex melodies and driving rhythms. (sgs)
Jimmy’s Production, 2001

Yé Ké Yé Ké
Mory Kanté
We also lost another popular African musician: Mory Kanté was a Guinean vocalist, guitarist and balafon player, heir to the griot tradition of the ancient Mande kingdom. A griot is a historian/storyteller/cultural repository. Of his work Kanté said: “Whether you play kora, balafon or any other instrument, you have to create something that people will not soon forget. As long as your work is good, we don’t forget it.” Born in the village of Albadaria, on 29 March 1950, his mother, a singer, came of a famous family of musicians. In the nine-eighties, Kanté moved to Paris, where they nicknamed him “the electronic griot”. He created thirteen solo albums, the last of which was released in 2017. “Later in his career, Kanté expressed his pride that he was able to construct an entertainment complex in the village of Nongo, near Conakry, featuring a 1,500-seat auditorium, two sophisticated recording studios and leisure facilities. He also gave guest lectures at universities around the world, expanding on his interest in the industrialisation of culture.» (The Guardian)
Discogs, 1993

Living in a Ghost Town
The Rolling Stones
It took a pandemic for the Rolling Stones to write another good song, making it the first Rolling Stones single in four years and the first original material from the band since 2012. In an interview with Apple Music, Mick Jagger revealed that he and Keith Richards had written the song over a year earlier. “It wasn’t written for now, but it was just one of those odd things,” he said. “It was written about being in a place which was full of life but is now bereft of life so to speak…I was just jamming on the guitar and wrote it really quickly in like 10 minutes.” But they did rewrite the lyrics to fit the present situation. Richards and Jagger said they did not know when they would go on tour again, as they have been for the last number of years. The good news is that they have had a lot of time on their hands to write new music.
Polydor, April 2020

Strange to Explain
Woods is a folk rock band from Brooklyn, New York, formed in 2005. “A lot happened in the three years between Woods’ 2017 album Love Is Love and their 2020 follow-up Strange to Explain. Core members Jeremy Earl and Jarvis Taveniere worked closely with David Berman on his Purple Mountains album, the last music Berman would make before his death just weeks after the album’s release. In addition, Earl became a father and Taveniere left the East Coast for the West, putting substantial distance between himself and his bandmates. Their eleventh proper studio album, Strange to Explain, reflects all of this life in progress, standing as the most restrained, thoughtful, and varied record in a massive discography already well-stocked with thoughtful songwriting and wildly varied arrangement choice.” Singer-guitarist and founder Jeremy Earl also runs the rising Brooklyn label Woodsist, for whom the band releases their work.
Woodsist, June 2020

may 2020 – good to hear

Lost Highway Suite
Olga Neuwirth
Born in Graz, in 1968, the Austrian modern classical composer Olga Neuwirth began to play the trumpet at age seven and later studied composition at the University of Performing Arts Vienna, as well as the Electroacoustic Institute. She went on to work with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders and, also as Composer-in-Residence, at the Lucerne Festival, followed by a long list of other noteworthy academic achievements. The present composition is basically cheerful, it certainly knows many moments of humor and occasional outbursts of warmth and joy, but it leaves me nervous and confused as to its direction. Have I been here before, is this a refrain, a parable for our disoriented times? Incredibly dense, monotonously electronic, mildly threatening, this impressive work of contemporary music combines an endless variety of musical styles and directions. Eminently worth listening to in these dramatic times! (sgs)
Lost Highway Records, 2008
The Grateful Dead internet archive – gives you access to the recordings of hundreds of their concerts, including rehearsals. If there is an intrinsic order to this treasure trove of information, I have not been able to discover it: concerts as early as 1966 mingle freely with much later dates to provide us with a mosaic of unsuspected dimension, not only taking us all across California but across the entire US, as well as around the world, including legendary venues such as the Fillmore Theater and the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. There is much more: Live at Madison Square Garden, New York City, on 15 September 1990, for instance, gives us twenty-three tracks; Live at the Parc des Expositions, Paris, on 18 September 1974, boast twenty-six, entirely different tracks. (sgs)
Internet Archive

Was It Not
Marian Hill
The American singer-songwriter duo from Philadelphia met in high school. Both went on to study music. Their distinctive sound makes them stand out, the clear and concise voice of the versatile Samantha Gongol meanders over the rich carpet of ideas introduced by producer Jeremy Lloyd. Marion Hill have been covered an inordinate number of times over the last few years so that they have not been forgotten. The title song of their new album, their first in four years, “was it not” tells the story of a love that happened too long ago to be accurately remembered. It’s a melancholy song for melancholy times. Samantha Gogol brings to it the purity of her voice, sounding sweet and capable of expressing a wide range of emotions. (sgs)
Self-Released, March 2020

Light of Love
Florence and the Machine
The proceedings of this song, on outtake from their High as Hope album, go to the British Intensive Care Society. This is the acoustic version, rendered by Florence Welch with natural beauty while in self isolation in her home. For me this song also stands for all the performers who have had to perform without an audience lately. Performing out of your home is much more intimate than standing on a stage supported by the energy of hundreds or thousands of people merging into one big mass. You can’t hide who you are, you can only hide a little where you live, everything happens right in your face. In that sense, the camera was not too persistent in the case of Florence, and I hope it made it easier for her to bare her soul, which is what singers do in moments like this. Thank you! (sgs)
Virgin, June 2018/ April 2020

Persuance: The Coltranes
Lakecia Benjamin
“New York City altoist Lakecia Benjamin has assembled an intergenerational cast of all-stars for this tribute to John and Alice Coltrane.” (Thomas Rees, Jazzwise)
The dynamic young saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin delivers her masterwork, a cohesive walk through the lineage of the jazz artform and her third full-length release. As Abiodun Oyewole said about the legendary album A Love Supreme: “Coltrane was a vessel, taking us to the house of god, he spoke to god in the language god knew, in the language of sound.” With this release, Benjamin opens herself up as such a vessel, speaking timeless truths through her horn over the medium of Coltrane’s classic compositions alongside elders of this artform who bore witness to the conception of this material. Three generations of musical titans gathered to celebrate and further the message of the great maestros of this improvisational artform, John and Alice Coltrane.
Ropeadope Records, March 2020

april 2020 – good to hear

Soul Makossa
Manu Makossa
We lost the legendary Emmanuel N’Djoké “Manu” Makossa on 25 March to Covid-19. He was eighty-seven. A musician and songwriter originally from Cameroon, he played the saxophone and vibraphone and was Africa’s best-known musician for these two instruments. He developed his own musical style from elements of jazz, funk and traditional music from his country. The name Makossa means “dance” and stems from a Douala dance called kossa, the most popular music in the largest city of Cameroon, where Manu grew up. “By the 1980s, makossa had moved to Paris and formed a new pop-makossa that fused the fast tempo zouk style popularized by Kassav from the French Caribbean. Prominent musicians from this period included Moni Bilé, Douleur, Bébé Manga, Ben Decca, Petit Pays, and Esa.” Makossa later went on to conquer mainstream audiences all over the world. (sgs)
Makossa International Records, February 2018

Rokia Traoré
Rokia was on hunger strike in a French prison from 10 to 25 March, to be extradited to Belgium for alleged child abduction. Her bad luck: she was the partner of a powerful white man. Many artists worldwide have stood up for her, including Damon Albarn, Angélique Kidjo and Youssou N’Dour. The government of her home country also supported the French-Malean dual citizen and diplomat’s daughter, whose passport was not recognized, even though she had travelled in and out of France with it for years. The roots of the award-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist lie in the Mandingo culture, but she spent most of her childhood outside of Mali. Actually, she should not have been allowed to make music as a Bambara noblewoman and broke many taboos in traditional Mali. In the meantime, she was provisionally released thanks to present circumstances. (sgs)
Label bleu, February 2018

Maulana and Reign
Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (born 12 February 1982), known by his stage name Bobi Wine, is a Ugandan musician, actor, businessman, politician and philanthropist. As of 11 July 2017, he serves as the member of parliament representing Kyadondo East constituency in Wakiso District, in Uganda’s Central Region. Kyagulanyi began his music career in the early 2000s. His first singles “Akagoma”, “Funtula”, and “Sunda” (featuring Ziggy D) brought him success in the East African music scene. His music has been characterised as reggae, dancehall, and afrobeat, often with a socially conscious message. He has released more than 70 songs over 15 years. (Wikipedia) Bobi has recently released a single to support his government in the fight against the coronavirus
Germaica Digital, February 2020

Schaltkreis Wassermann
PJ Wassermann took the work of another electronic pioneer and skillfully covered Jean Michel Jarre: “Schaltkreis Wassermann had already started a design for a cover version of Oxygene in the studio about ten years ago. Stella Wassermann breathed the word Oxygene into the microphone at that time, and I strongly alienated these samples. This sketch was left until two years ago, when I released the song on the EP 2600noise. Now I reworked it again, the intro with the spherical wind was much too long for today’s impatient listeners, who prefer to hear the chorus during the first bars. Here come the CO2 mix of Schaltkreis Wassermann’s Oxygene, a homage to Jean-Michel Jarre, who inspired us many years ago.”
HyperMusic, March 2020

Murder Most Foul
Bob Dylan
This brilliant late work, seventeen minutes long, is filled with historical allusions to a time when, with the Kennedy assassination, the world lost its innocence for an entire generation. Performed with a delicate and nuanced voice, it is a musical ballad that captures an entire era, a lament or lullaby that returns to the day when America’s misery began, even though the hippie era brought new optimism for a while. Politically, however, spirits were henceforth divided, and hardly anyone was able to summon up the unity with which John F. Kennedy had called on his fellow countrymen not to ask what their country could do for them, but was they could do for their country – what today sounds like sheer utopia. Just listening to all the titles Dylan refers to fills many hours. The speculations about this comforting new release, his first since 2012, will fill entire volumes. What Dylan says is: Music will pull us through these devastating times. (sgs)
Columbia, March 2020

march 2020 – good to hear

The Plant Medicine Podcast (MAPS)
Shannon Carlin
Shannon Carlin is the associate director of training and supervision at the MAPS Public Benefit Corp. In this role, she oversees the development and implementation of the programs that prepare mental health and medical professionals to deliver MDMA assisted psychotherapy in approved clinical settings. Today Shannon is sharing what the clinical and legal landscape currently is for MDMA trials. The discussions with the FDA are currently evolving, but Shannon is very optimistic about the direction things are going in. She also talks about the current model of trials that they are conducting and how this promises to yield innovative and tangible results.

Abu Obaida Hassan
The tambour of Abu Obiada was famous throughout Sudan and beyond before the dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir drove the musical superstar underground and into obscurity. “In his 70s heyday, Abu Obaida travelled from Merowe, the home of the Shaigiya people and a centre of Nubian culture, to Khartoum, finding fame as a renegade player of a local stringed instrument known as the tambour.” The music of the Shaigiya people uses call and response to let the audience participate in grand tales of the vicissitudes of love. As his unique style became known around the world, Obaida became an ambassador both for his music and for his people, Read the fascinating article about a man rumored to be dead before a younger generation came to his rescue here.
Ostinato Records, March, 2019

Giacomo Puccini: Madama Butterfly, Un bel di vedremo
Ermonela Jaho
Is she the best soprano the world has seen since Maria Callas (without the drama)? The exceptional Albanian singer lives her roles fervently and with much nuance, lending her characters a new dimension. Now resident in New York, Ermonela Jaho was born in Albania and first began to take singing lessons when she was just six. At fourteen, she was taken to the Tirana Opera House for the first time where she heard La traviata and decided to become an opera singer. In demand across the world, Ermonela Jaho is particularly recognised for her portrayals of Violetta (La traviata), Madama Butterfly and Suor Angelica (Il trittico). Puccini drew on Japanese folk melodies for the score, one of his most evocative and atmospheric.
The  Royal Opera House, London 2019

Anna Calvi, featuring Charlotte Gainsbourg
Anna Calvi has announced a newly released version of her Mercury Prized third album from 2018, Hunted, featuring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Julia Holter, Courtney Barnett and Joe Talbot (of Idles). Of the rack with Charlotte Gainsbourg, the English singer-songwriter says: “Charlotte Gainsbourg has taught me so much as a singer, in how the most quiet of utterances can be the most dramatic and powerful of all. When I was writing ‘Eden’ I had Charlottes’s voice in my head – there’s a secrecy and quiet power to this song that has always made me think of her. It’s a dream come true to have collaborated with her.” Anna herself was famously hailed as “the best thing since Patty Smith” by Brian Eno.
Domino, March 2020

We Are Sent Here by History: Go My Heart, Go to Heaven
Shabaka and the Ancestors
Shabaka Hutchings was born in London but moved to Birmingham at the age of two. From the age of six he was raised in his parents’ native Barbados. There as a nine-year-old he picked up the clarinet and practised along to the hip-hop verses of Nas, Notorious Big and Tupac  as well as the rhythms of Crop Over. He returned to England to receive a classical-music degree on the instrument. In London he joined the Tomorrow Warriors programme, a blues workshop led by expat New Orleans trumpeter Abram  Wilson, where Hutchings met many of his future collaborators in the burgeoning South East London jazz scene, where he has established himself as a central figure over the last five years. (Wikipedia)
Verve, March 2020

february 2020 – good to hear

Haverford College 1980 Solo Piano
Sun Ra
American jazz pioneer Sun Ra (1914-1993), whose legal name was Le Sony’r Ra (born Herman Poole Blount) was a composer, poet and bandleader. He played piano, organ, keyboards, Minimoog, percussions and synthesiser, as well as being an enthusiastic vocalist, and he was famous for his prolific experimental music, his wild performances and his esoteric philosophy. “Decades after his death, the Afrofuturist pioneer’s influence is popping up everywhere, from Solange gigs to the underground.»“ (Rolling Stone)  The meditative concert covers Ra’s customary approach to solo outings: original Ra crowd pleasers (Space is the Place , Love in Outer Space); standards (St. Louis Blues, Rhapsody in Blue, Over the Rainbow); and untitled improvisations (here assigned the titles “Haverford Impromptu” numbers one and two.)
Enterplanetary Koncepts, December 2019

The Neon Skyline
Andy Shauf
Born in Saskatchewan, Andy Shauf lives in Toronto. His parents ran an electronics and musical store, giving him access to a variety of instruments, of which he plays drums, guitar, keyboard and clarinet. Before starting a solo career, he was a drummer in the Christian punk band Captain, having been introduced to Christian music by his parents. The Neon Skyline is his seventh album. The LPs eleven interconnected tracks follow a simple plot: the narrator goes to his neighbourhood dive, finds out his ex is back in town, and she eventually shows up. A great storyteller, Shauf sets a familiar scene of inviting friends for beers on the opening track: “I said, ‘Come to the Skyline, I’ll be washing my sins away.” While the arch of its narrative captivates our imagination, the real thrill of the album comes from how Shauf finds the humanity and humour in a typical night out and the ashes of a past relationship.
Anti- Records, January 2020

Hayley Williams
Known as the singer-songwriter and keyboardist of Paramore, Hayley Williams, a soprano with a four-octave range, is producing her first solo album. Born in Mississippi in 1988, she moved to Tennessee at age fifteen. There she met her future bandmates. In 2015, along with co-writer Taylor York, Williams won the Grammy Award for Best Rock as well the APMA (Alternative Press Music Award) for Best Vocalist. In December 2019, on her 31st birthday, Williams announced she would be releasing solo music in 2020, with a “taste” of it to come in January. Flyers consisting of a picture of Williams under the title Petals for Amor  began appearing in several US cities and abroad. She released her debut solo single “Simmer” with its accompanying music video. That same day Williams announced that her debut solo album would be released in early May.
Atlantic Records, January 2020

Fender Sessions
Black Pumas
Made up of singer Eric Burden and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada, the Black Pumas are a funk and soul duo with strong Latin influences, based in Austin, Texas. They have been nominated for this year’s Grammy Awards as Best New Artists. Dominating their local music scene, the group was recognised as one of the breakthrough artists at SXSW (South by Southwest, an annual conglomeration of parallel film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences in Austin) last year and took home the Best New Band trophy at the 2019 Austin Music Awards. Each month, Fender Sessions, a new YouTube performance series and deep dive into the creative process, features a live performance by a band or artist as well as a panel discussion moderated by another artist or industry veteran.
Fender Sessions, January 2020

Suite for Max Brown
Jeff Parker
«Jeff Parker (born April 4, 1967) is an American guitarist and composer based in Los Angeles. Born in Connecticut and raised in Hampton, Virginia,  Parker is best known as an experimental musician, working with jazz, electronic, rock, and improvisational groups. Also a multi-instrumentalist, Parker has been a member of the post-rock  group Tortoise since 1996, and was a founding member of Isotope 217 and the Chicago Underground Trio in the 1990s and early 2000s. He is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and has worked with George Lewis, Ernest Dawkins, Brian Blade, Joshua Redman, Fred Anderson, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joey de Francesco , Smog Carmen Lundy and Jason Moran. A prolific sideman, he has also released six albums as a solo artist: Like-Coping, The Relatives, Bright Light in Winter, The New Breed, Slight Freedom, and Suite for Max Brown.” (Wikipedia)
International Anthem, January 2020

janaury 2020 – good to hear

Making Sense: Psychedelic Science
Sam Harris speaks with Roland Griffiths, Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and founding Director of the Johns Hopkins Center on Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. He is author of over three-hundred-and-eighty journal articles and book chapters and has trained more than fifty postdoctoral research fellows. Griffiths has been a consultant to the National Institutes of Health, to numerous pharmaceutical companies in the development of new psychotropic drugs, and as a member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Dependence for the World Health Organization.

Outside/In – Chasing the Light
Transformed tree in Aviva Rahmani’s Blued Tree Symphony
From the ancient charcoal animals of France’s Chauvet Cave to seventeenth century windmill paintings, art history can tell us a lot about our evolving view of the natural world. In this episode, produced Taylor Quimby (a self-descried art-world neophyte) searches for the individual works and genres through history that reveal something interesting about human society and the outdoors. Outside/In is a show about the natural world and how we use it. You don’t have to be a whitewater kayaker, an obsessive composter or a conservation biologist to love it. It’s a show for anyone who has ever been outdoors. In short, it’s a show for almost everyone. Outside/In is a production of NHPR, New Hampshire Public Radio.

Romances inciertos, un autre Orlando
Théâtre de Chaillot, Paris, 20 December 2018
Here, choreographer, dancer, historian singer François Chaignaud and director Nino Laisné offer their very own interpretation of the legendary Orlando figure. Gender and epoch boundaries blur in an imaginary Spain between dream and tradition. In each of the three acts François Chaignaud shows himself in a new guise: As Doncella Guerrera, a woman who goes to war disguised as a man and would rather die than be married against her will, as San Miguel, a provocative archangel on stilts with a winking reference to the religious processions in central Spain, and finally as Tarara, a gypsy in flamenco costume, torn between gender ambivalence and religious fervour. François Chaignaud is accompanied by four musicians playing bandoneon, viola, theorbo, viola de gamba and traditional percussion instruments).
ARTE Concert, available till 14 January 2020.

Charles Lloyd Quartet – Montreux Jazz Festival 1967
Charles Lloyd, Keith Jarrett, Ron McClure and Jack DeJohnette
“This is the Charles Lloyd Quartet hitting the peak of its powers during its brief lifetime that had begun on record with Dream Weaver, recorder on 29 March 1966, and would end with its implosion in late 1968. It was recorded during their summer 1967 tour of Europe that had produced Live in the Soviet Union the previous month and through the Montreux set shares two titles with it: ‘Sweet Georgia Bright’ and ‘Love Song to a Baby,’ the extent to which the quartet had begun to make use if the kind of dissonance and abstraction associated with free jazz comes as something of a revelation.” Stuart Nicholson
TBS, December 2019

South of the Border
Ed Sheeran (feat. Camila Cabello & Cardi B)
In July, South of the Border was released on Sheeran’s YouTube channel, while the heavily styled music video by the same name was also released on Sheeran’s YouTube channel in early October. In the video Sheeran plays Teddy Fingers, Cabello plays Mariposa, and Cardi B appears as herself, alongside actress Alexis Ren as Scarlet Jones and actor Paul Karmiryan as Agent X. The play shows the stark contrasts between the rich gangsters who make big money in Mexico. With this parody, Sheeran has delivered a protest song was written for Generation Z. Only few can afford this level of perfection! Bizarre. (sgs)
Atlantic, July and December 2019

dezember 2019 – good to hear

Bird of Paradise
Dead Venus
Mike Malloth, the drummer on this piece, suggested I give you the link, and I am happy to oblige. Dead Venus was founded in spring 2015 by the Swiss singer & composer Seraina Telli as a solo project while she was still the lead singer of the German neo-prog band «Surrilium». Soon afterwards, however, she decided that she wanted to bring more musicians on board to develop her ideas and continue working collectively. On March 6, 2019, Dead Venus released their first self-titled EP, available through the band’s home page. It contains three songs and is a sampler of their first full album, Bird of Paradise, released on September 13, 2019. Mike Malloth lives in Lucerne where he teaches drums and digital management. He has been active with various groups, drumming and singing back-up.
Dead Venus, September 2019

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
The Australian rocker has done it again. This is his 17th album, and one of his best. Lyrical, moving and somber, the music is brilliantly clear, the organ and the piano lure us toward celestial spheres where a fall from grace spells a broken heart or a troubled soul. Cave was born on 22 September 1957 in Warracknabeal, a small country town in the state of Victoria. There he lived as a child and then in Wangarata in rural Victoria. His father taught English and mathematics at the local technical school; his mother was a librarian at the high school that Nick attended. Cave’s father introduced him to literary classics from an early age. As a child, Nick was a big fan of the outlaw Ned Kelly, later played by Mick Jagger. (
Bad Seed Ltd., October 2019

It Might Be Time
Tame Impala
Also out of Australia, the psychedelic experimental music project Tame Impala soon found an international following. Led by multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker, they hail from southwestern Perth. «As a touring act, Parker (guitar, vocals) plays alongside Dominic Simper (guitar, synthesizer) and some members of Australian psychedelic rock band Pond – Jay Watson (synthesizer, vocals, guitar), Cam Avery (bass guitar, vocals), and Julien Barbagallo (drums, vocals).» (Wikipedia) On 2 January 2019, Tame Impala was announced as a headliner for the 2019 Coachella Festival.
Interscope Records, October 2019

Close to Me
Maria Mendes
This is the third album by the Portuguese singer Maria Mendes, having as guests the famous American producer/pianist John Beasley and the biggest symphonic orchestra of jazz in the world, Metropole Orkest. Maria Mendes has her heart and soul in Jazz. She studied in New York, Brussels, Rotterdam and Porto and her talent and work were praised by musical legends such as Quincy Jones and Hermeto Pascoal. However, for his new album, Mendes explored a musical genre completely different from her own, fado. The result is surprising and refreshing in adaptations of fados never before made to Jazz. «A jazzy and symphonic approach to fado,» is how the singer briefly describes the music on her new album Close to Me.
Justin Time Records, October 2018

The Sidewinder/The Beat Goes On
Jeff Goldblum & the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra featuring Inara George
Most famous for his acting in Jurassic Park (being only one out of more than seventy movies he played in), Jeff Goldblum is also a world-class jazz pianist. Accompanied by a varying cast of supporting female vocalists (noteworthy as always Haley Reinhardt), Jeff interprets a number of standards, sometimes singing them himself as well. «The Hollywood star imposes his inimitable personality on a set of jazz standards, silkily played in the company of the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra.» (Guardian) He has released his first album at the age of sixty-six.
Universal, October 2019

Say I Won’t
Anthony Russo
Los Angeles-based singer, producer, and songwriter Anthony Russo developed his smooth blend of low-key electronic, sleek dance-pop, and playful romantic ballads in his native St. Louis. With his mix of rapped and sung vocals, he began to establish himself in 2016. «Seems like Russo’s  taking it back a few decades and getting down with the retro vibes in his latest drop Say I Won’t! He’s testing his limits and daring everyone in this new song with a totally new attitude he’s adapted as well. We are so for this funky fresh new sound, and to be completely honest is came out of nowhere.» (Banger of the Day)
EP, Sewing Apples, RVG, November 2019

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