Silkroad names Rhiannon Giddens as new artistic director / THE UNDEFEATED

Folk artist, banjo evangelist, Grammy winner and MacArthur genius grant recipient Rhiannon Giddens will be the new artistic director of Silkroad. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma founded the artistic organization in 1998 to foster multicultural connection and collaboration among music artists across the world, sort of like an ongoing United Nations jam session. Silkroad announced the decision Tuesday morning. Giddens' first official appearance as Silkroad's new artistic director will be July 29 during Tanglewood's virtual "Recitals from the World Stage." "Rhiannon is an extraordinary human being and musician," Ma said in a statement provided by Silkroad. "She lives Silkroad's values, at once rooted in history and its many musics, and is an advocate for the contemporary voices that can move us to work together for a better world." READ THE FULL UNDEFEATED Q&A
Bookmark and Share

glideMAGAZINE revisits select Medeski Martin & Wood recordings from the past 25 years

Medeski Martin & Wood have traveled a most intriguing career path over the course of their near-thirty years together. Since their formation as an unusually ambitious jazz trio through the blossoming as groovemeisters in the next decade than on to today's de facto hiatus, the threesome has followed its collective instincts as unerringly as they do within the spontaneity of their moments live on stage. In essence, these three musicians constantly challenge themselves, exhibiting confidence in their individual technical abilities as deep and abiding as their bond as a band. That, in turn, has allowed them to formulate, then deconstruct, a style that's (almost) immediately recognizable no matter what altered shape it might take. As a result, just as no two MMW concerts will ever be quite the same, so too their studio recordings are quite distinct from each other, whole and complete unto themselves, yet still of a piece within their overall body of work. That may well explain why, apart from the retrospective covered here and the Best of (1991-1996), there have been no archiving initiatives devoted to their discography. Nevertheless, returning to their recordings always brings new sensations and revelations. READ THE FULL glideMAGAZINE ARTICLE
Bookmark and Share

Kim Portnoy - Caprice is a winner / STAGE & CINEMA

The eponymous first track is compelling, propulsive, and melodious - a uniquely American sound that one might call Aaron Copland in Buenos Aires. Played with gusto by The Arianna String Quartet and Vera Parkin, who is positively making out with the piano, it seems that Mr. Portnoy is not just composing for his own happiness, but ours as well. Kirk Hanser and John McClellan offer the introspective trio of guitar duet "Intermezzos" that calls to mind the classicism of Andrés Segovia - the duo's expressive performances compliment Portnoy's wide palette of tone, and his musical personality and style. The tryptic of rag-gy syncopated delight that makes up From an Imaginary Musical is for violin (Nicoolae Bica) and piano (Alla Voskoboynikova): the music actually sounds like the titles: "Astaire Steppin'", "Dancing with Ginger" and "Cugat Takes a Bride." I immediately played these three again before moving to another track. The trombones of the St. Louis Symphony play another triptych, Le Tombeau de Justin Wilson; the first, "Waltz", sounds as if a Salvation Army Band graduated from Juilliard and partied at Mardi Gras! Kim Portnoy - Caprice is a winner  READ THE FULL STAGE & CINEMA REVIEW       After years and years of the so-called New Music and its alienating atonal sawing, I frothed at the mouth for something that was at least palatable. Here, elements of jazz, New Age, classical, tango, Bernstein, Berlin and many more have merged into absolute joy. The composer tells us in the liner notes that fusing these elements was a serious occupation during his formative years (he even throws in the term "post-pubescent-modern," which always makes me chuckle). I really, really love this album,
Bookmark and Share

Creating the soundscapes of 'Ghost of Tsushima' with Its audio director & composers / the escapist

Coming off of 2014's inFamous: Second Son, Sucker Punch went hard to work on what would be the studio's next game, Ghost of Tsushima. This game was going to be Sucker Punch's most ambitious project yet, and with that came new challenges. The game's audio director, Brad Meyer, told me that the team wanted Ghost of Tsushima to act as a sort of time machine. When playing the game, the intention was to transport players back in time to make it feel like they were assuming the role of a samurai in feudal Japan. "Our next task was deconstructing the gameplay to figure out how we could make music work dynamically," said Meyer, "to keep pushing this sense of being in an ancient time and far-off place while also reacting to the hero journey." Ghost of Tsushima sound design Sony, Sucker Punch Productions interview Brad Meyer Ilan Eshkeri Shigeru Umebayashi READ THE FULL escapist REVIEW
Bookmark and Share

Caroline Shaw chats with WVIA: Public Media - Art Scene

Caroline Shaw, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2013, speaking about her oratorio, "The Listeners," commissioned by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale, in connection with the recent release of a recording of the work and a song trilogy titled, "Is a Rose" with Anne Sofie Von Otter. The soloists for "The Listeners" are contralto Avery Amereau and bass-baritone Dashon Burton, who is from Williamsport, PA. LISTEN TO THE interview with CS and WVIA: Public Media - Art Scene host Erika Funke
Bookmark and Share
  Interview with WVIA's Erika Funke

'A Neon Jazz Interview' catches up with John Scofield

Welcome to a new edition of the Neon Jazz interview series with Legendary Jazz Guitarist John Scofield. We caught up with him to talk abut his newest 2020 CD Swallow Tales that celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019 .. John was a 20-year-old student at Berklee when he first met and played with bassist Swallow, and they have continued ever since, in many different contexts. Born in Ohio and raised in suburban Connecticut, he has gone on to become a jazz legend with great tales .. We talked about this new material and this COVID-19 Jazz World we are all navigating through .. Dig ..  Neon Jazz is a radio program airing since 2011. Hosted by Joe Dimino and Engineered by John Christopher in Kansas City, Missouri giving listeners a journey into one of America's finest inventions. Take a listen on KCXL (102.9 FM / 1140 AM) out of Liberty, MO.  Listen to the attached interview.
Bookmark and Share

Niv Ashkenazi - Violins of Hope is 'beyondcriticism'

Niv Ashkenazi is the first and only artist to receive his fiddle on long-term loan from Violins of Hope. The recital from which we heard luminous excerpts is the first solo album released under the Violins of Hope banner. Founded by the Israeli luthiers Amnon Weinstein and his son Avshalom Weinstein, Violins of Hope collects, restores to concert quality, and loans out string instruments owned by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust. Back then, in concentration camps and ghettos, they provided comfort for some and a means of survival for others. "Wherever there was music, there was hope," a liner declares-a thought that resonates powerfully in our own dark hour. Featured tracks on Mana'O Radio for Niv Ashkenazi: Violins of Hope (Albany Records 2020), are Baal Shem, B. 47: II. Nigun Three Songs Without Words: III. Sephardic Niv Ashkenazi, piano; Matthew Graybil, piano SEE THE Matthew Gurewitsch 'Spirits of Revolution' PAGE
Bookmark and Share

On 'Vienna and the West,' Gernot Wolfgang creates a hybrid musical language all his own / Mainly Piano

Subtitled "Groove-Oriented Chamber Music, Vol. 4," Vienna and the West is part of a series of albums by composer Gernot Wolfgang that includes Common Ground (2006), Short Stories (2011) and Grammy-nominated Passing Through (2016). This album is the first of Wolfgang's music that I've heard, so I can't compare it to his previous recordings, but I love that he has created a hybrid genre of sorts that combines modern classical elements with jazz and other styles of music to form a musical language all his own. The eight original compositions on the album are performed on a variety of instruments that include piano, bassoon, strings, clarinet and horn. Overall, I would say that the music is more classical than jazz, but that "groove" element sneaks in quite often, adding an element of fun as well as getting the toes tapping. All of the featured artists contributed stellar performances! READ THE FULL Mainly Piano REVIEW
Bookmark and Share

John Scofield fits between post-bop, funk, jazz & r&b / Montana Public Radio

Legendary jazz guitarist John Scofield speaks with host John Floridis and answers questions submitted by Musician's Spotlight listeners through social media. In addition to dozens of recordings under his own name, Scofield's recorded collaborations read like a who's who of jazz royalty: Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Charles Mingus, Gary Burton, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock and his bass-playing mentor, Steve Swallow. His most recent recording, "Swallow Tales," finds Scofield recording "old-school style" with the bassist-composer on some of his most well-known pieces. In addition to playing with the jazz greats, Scofield has also found time to collaborate with musicians like John Mayer, Mavis Staples and Government Mule. LISTEN TO Montana Public Radio - Musician's Spotlight SEGMENT
Bookmark and Share

Bettye LaVette delivers powerful renditions that touch her personally on new 'Blackbirds' release / 91.7WSUM - GreenArrow

2020 Blues Hall Of Fame inductee Bettye LaVette is a native of Detroit. Her first recording in 1962, at the age of sixteen, was on Atlantic Records. She later charted with such singles as "He Made A Woman Out Of Me" and "Do Your Duty," Since then she has recorded ten albums. Her most recent album Things Have Changed, also produced by Steve Jordan (John Mayer, Keith Richards), was released on Verve in 2018 and received two GRAMMY nominations, which brings her total Grammy nominations to five. Her latest release, "Blackbirds," features songs primarily popularized by some of her peers, other iconic black women in music, who she personally respected and admired. Set for release August 28, the album finds Bettye in top form delivering powerful renditions of songs that touched her personally. It also re-unites her with legendary producer Steve Jordan and Verve Records. From Dinah Washington's "Drinking Again," Nina Simone's "I Hold No Grudge," Nancy Wilson's "Save Your Love For Me" and more, all delivered in Bettye's rich and raspy tone with a touch of the blues. After having a chance to chat with Bettye a couple of years ago and hanging out with her backstage, we were like two peas in a soul sharing pod. Which made this time around even better. We talk about how this album came together, working with a producer that has the same ear and the tunes that make up this walk down music history lane. We spend a good amount of time talking about the timeliness of the song, "Strange Fruit" as social upheaval takes over the news cycles once again in the United States and beyond. This track says as much about the history of American racism and the state of the country today. The song was originally recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939 and written by Jewish teacher Abel Meeropol who wrote the song based on a photo of two black men who were lynched as a crowd of white people looked in the camera pointing and smiling. This album is one that can help bring a little focus on the way things were and still are in many ways, but I believe it also holds some of the keys to unlocking the new realities many want to see within the space of equality and justice…while honoring the people who helped build the bridge that led Bettye as a whole person to where she is today. The music joins the times of then to the times of now, and if you never knew…..just grab an earful. LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW
Bookmark and Share
  Green Arrow Radio Podcast

Keeping Score with Keegan DeWitt

Keegan DeWitt is the featured guest on our Keeping Score podcast, produced and hosted by Crossover Media's Max Horowitz. The All The Bright Places Composer reveals to us what it was like crafting the sweeping score, working alongside director Brett Haley, and recording at Capitol Studios. Based on the internationally bestselling novel by Jennifer Niven, All The Bright Places tells the story of Violet Markey (Elle Fanning) and Theodore Finch (Justice Smith), who meet and change each other's lives forever. As they struggle with the emotional and physical scars of their past, they come together, discovering that even the smallest places and moments can mean something. This compelling drama provides a refreshing and human take on the experience of mental illness, its impact on relationships, as well as the beauty and lasting impact of young love. Keegan DeWitt is one of the more versatile and exciting young composers working in film and TV. Whether adding a refreshing voice to larger projects at HBO, Showtime and FOX, or collaborating alongside notable independent filmmakers; his work crosses a large tapestry of styles and demands attention with its originality and emotion. Over the past 5 years, Keegan has brought 15 films to the Sundance Film Festival; titles that would go on to garner an Academy Award, multiple Sundance Audience Awards, and an Independent Spirit Award. In addition to this, Keegan continues to expand on previous collaborative relationships with exciting young directors that have helped make his work a mainstay at festivals worldwide. Listen to the attached podcast
Bookmark and Share

David Shifrin sits down with WMBR: Boston to discuss Mark Abel's 'The Cave Of Wondrous Voice'

The Cave Of Wondrous Voice - Chamber Music and Songs of Mark Abel features David Shifrin, clarinet • Carol Rosenberger, piano • Hila Plitmann, soprano  Fred Sherry, cello • Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker, violin Dominic Cheli, piano • Sarah Beck, English horn. This album sings and dances, with Mark Abel's "colorful blend of styles that serve the emotional nature of each work to bracing and poignant effect" (Gramophone) and further clarifies why Abel is "one of the most interesting figures in American contemporary music" (Pizzicato). The program begins with Intuition's Dance, a combination of frolic and dreamy ruminations featuring the incomparable clarinetist David Shifrin and pianist Carol Rosenberger. (Together again for the first time since their memorable albums for Delos, recorded in 1984!)  David Shifrin sat down with 88.1WMBR: Boston - The New Edge host, Ken Field for conversation about the new recording and the clarinetist's impressive career.  Listen to the attached conversation.
Bookmark and Share
  Interview with WMBR's Ken Field

Top 10 Albums for August

Jonah Kim / Sean Kennard :

Rachmaninoff ^ Barber Cello Sonatas

Cellist Jonah Kim and pianist Sean Kennard have been making music together since they were teenagers at the Curtis Institute of Music and together they have played almost every sonata in the standard repertoire. The Rachmaninoff Sonata and the Sonata by Samuel Barber hold a special place for them: The Rachmaninoff was the first sonata they worked on together, and Kim's teacher at Curtis was Orlando Cole, who premiered the Sonata with Barber himself at the piano. Both Sonatas shine as big, romantic works with broad, rhapsodic strokes and soaring melodies. Kim and Kennard give stunning performances, singling out these brilliant young performers as two of the best in their generation.
Ilan Eshkeri & Shigeru Umebayashi :

Ghost of Tsushima

Milan Records today releases GHOST OF TSUSHIMA (MUSIC FROM THE VIDEO GAME) with music by ILAN ESHKERI and SHIGERU UMEBAYASHI.  Available everywhere now, the album features music written by both Eshkeri and Umebayashi for the latest action-adventure game from Sony Interactive Entertainment.  Included in the album are tracks written by Eshkeri that serve as the sonic companion to the game's narrative, as well as music written by Umebayashi for the exploratory, open world dimension of the game. Developed by Sucker Punch Productions, Ghost of Tsushima is now available for PlayStation®4 (PS4™) system.  Of the soundtrack, composer ILAN ESHKERI says, "Ghost of Tsushima is such a beautiful game set in a culture that has always fascinated me, with a powerful and compelling story. Everything about it touched me creatively and I learned so much on the journey. The score brings together Japanese music and instruments, with sounds I've performed and a symphony orchestra all led by melody. I hope together it creates an emotional world that touches you and draws you into the heart and spirit of Ghost."
Max Richter :


Over a decade after its inception, ground-breaking composer Max Richter announces the release of VOICES – a major new recording project inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The first single from his uplifting new work, which he describes as "a place to think and reflect", is out today via Decca Records. It is the latest album from the innovative, billion-streaming artist behind landmark 2015 composition SLEEP, which continues to evolve five years on with the launch of a new app. Available to download now, the app enables listeners to reimagine the 8-hour Deutsche Grammophon recording in custom-made musical sessions to help with focus, meditation and sleep. At the heart of both VOICES and SLEEP is a profound sense of global community, born out of Richter's career-long view of music as activism and his desire to unite audiences worldwide.
Marcin Wasilewski Trio Joe Lovano :

Arctic Riff

The first-time teaming of Poland's dynamic Marcin Wasilewski Trio and big-toned US tenorist Joe Lovano brings forth special music of concentrated, deep feeling, in which lyricism and strength seem ideally balanced. The alliance plays four new tunes by Marcin and one by Joe, as well as Carla Bley's classic "Vashkar" plus collective improvisations with strong input from all four players;  Slawomir Kurkiewicz's bass skills are particularly well-deployed in the spontaneous piece "Arco". 
Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile :

Not Our First Goat Rodeo

Sony Music Masterworks today releases Not Our First Goat Rodeo, the long-awaited follow-up album to the GRAMMY Award-winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile.  Making its debut alongside the new album is a live performance video for the song "The Trappings," featuring guest artist Aoife O'Donovan - watch here. Sharing the story behind the track, Yo-Yo Ma recalls: "‘The Trappings' came out of a question of aesthetics. I believe Edgar was talking about pop music, how he used to think, ‘Oh, if something's too poppy, I'm not going to like it.' But that's like saying ‘classical music is boring,' or that jazz, rock, rhythm-and-blues are one way, or even ‘people from different countries are'... You know that as soon as you make a general statement like that, it's not true, because you can think of hundreds, thousands of exceptions. ‘The Trappings' is one of those."
Harry Connick Jr :

Stars Still Shine

GRAMMY and Emmy Award-winning singer and actor Harry Connick, Jr. pays tribute to essential workers in an emotional and uplifting new song "Stars Still Shine," on Verve Records out now. The song will be made available to all streaming partners and digital download after its debut on "UNITED WE SING: A GRAMMY® TRIBUTE TO UNSUNG HEROES," a star-studded 2-hour special event conceived and hosted by Harry Connick, Jr. airing on the CBS Television Network.
Bettye LaVette :


Blues Hall of Famer Bettye LaVette has decided to release her stirring rendition of "Strange Fruit" ahead of schedule as it says as much about the history of American racism and the state of the country today.  "Strange Fruit" was originally recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939 and written by Jewish teacher Abel Meeropol who wrote the song based on a photo of two black men who were lynched as a crowd of white people looked in the camera pointing and smiling. LaVette's version will be featured on her album, "Blackbirds" (Verve) set for release August 28. 
Terence Blanchard :


Milan Records today releases DA 5 BLOODS (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SCORE) with music composed by six-time GRAMMY® Award-winning trumpeter and composer TERENCE BLANCHARD.  Available everywhere now, the album features music written by Blanchard for director Spike Lee's forthcoming film premiering on Netflix Friday, June 12.  The project reunites Blanchard with longtime collaborator Spike Lee, having most recently worked together on Lee's Academy Award®-winning film BlacKkKlansman.
Jimmy Heath :

Love Letter

Verve Records releases Love Letter, the first all-ballads album from magisterial tenor saxophonist-composer Jimmy Heath. In addition to his original material, this elegant collection offers the jazz ambassador's beautiful take on ballad classics, and includes songs written by Billie Holiday, Mal Waldron, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Dorham, and Gordon Parks. The album also features 21stcentury vocal superstars Gregory Porter and Cécile McLorin Salvant, and trumpet icon Wynton Marsalis.  Love Letter is available worldwide now and you can listen to the album here.
Ludovico Einaudi :

12 Songs From Home

Ludovico Einaudi today releases a special 12-track digital collection, ‘12 Songs From Home', out digitally on Decca Records on 8thMay 2020 with artwork drawn by the composer. Recorded at home on his own upright piano in one evening during the lockdown, the release follows several live streams that were watched by thousands of people at a time on his Instagram page. Einaudi explains, "I recorded ‘12 Songs From Home' between March and April 2020 during the peak of Italy's lockdown. In March I started to play live concerts regularly on social media. Switching on my phone to connect for 30-40 minutes with the world has been a beautiful and intimate alternative to the spring tour that I regrettably had to postpone. This new release is the memory of those home live concerts, my memory of this time, the memory of a strange and new atmosphere that we won't forget."