Yo-Yo Ma is testament to his continual search for new ways to communicate with audiences, and to his personal desire for artistic growth and renewal. Whether performing a new concerto, revisiting a familiar work from the cello repertoire, coming together with colleagues for chamber music or exploring cultaures and musical forms outside of the Western classical tradition, Ma strives to find connections that stimulate the imagination. Yo-Yo Ma maintains a balance between his engagements as soloist with orchestras throughout the world and his recital and chamber music activities. His discography of over 75 albums (including more than 15 Grammy Award winners) reflects his wide-ranging interests. He has made several successful recordings that defy categorization, among them Hush with Bobby McFerrin, Appalachia Waltz and Appalachian Journey with Mark O'Connor and Edgar Meyer and two Grammy-winning tributes to the music of Brazil, Obrigado Brazil and Obrigado Brazil - Live in Concert. Yo-Yo Ma's most recent recordings include Paris: La Belle ?poque, with pianist Kathryn Stott, Appassionato, which contains some of the world's most romantic music and New Impossibilities, a live album recorded with the Silk Road Ensemble and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; he also appears on John Williams' soundtrack for Rob Marshall's film Memoirs of a Geisha. Across this full range of releases Yo-Yo Ma remains one of the best-selling recording artists in the classical field. All of his recent albums have quickly entered the Billboard chart of classical best sellers, remaining in the Top 15 for extended periods, often with as many as four titles simultaneously on the list
Out of all the former Beatles, Paul McCartney by far had the most successful solo career, maintaining a constant presence in the British and American charts during the '70s and '80s. In America alone, he had nine number one singles and seven number one albums during the first 12 years of his solo career. McCartney pursued a different path than his former partner John Lennon did, and within a year after the Beatles' breakup, McCartney had formed Wings with his wife Linda, and the group remained active for the next ten years, racking up a string of hit albums, singles, and tours in the meantime. The late '80s, brought McCartney's first full-scale tour since the '70s, a considerable success, and during the '90s, McCartney has been concentrating on more classical projects. McCartney released Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (2005), which contained the lead single "Fine Line" and the follow-up "Jenny Wren," and became the first artist in history to broadcast live music into space with his performance of The Beatles' song "Good Day Sunshine," on November 13, 2005. The divergent musician was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Beatles in 1988 and as a solo artist in 1999. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1996.
Sultry vocalist and pianist Norah Jones developed her unique blend of jazz and traditional vocal pop with hints of bluesy country and contemporary folk due in large part to her unique upbringing. Born March 30, 1979, in New York City, the daughter of Ravi Shankar quietly grew up in Texas with her mother. While she always found the music of Billie Holiday and Bill Evans both intriguing and comforting, she didn't really explore jazz until attending Dallas' Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. During high school, Jones won the Down Beat Student Music Awards for Best Jazz Vocalist and Best Original Composition in 1996, and earned a second Best Jazz Vocalist award in 1997. Putting her vocal talents on the back burner, Jones worked toward earning a degree in jazz piano at the University of North Texas for two years before accepting a friend's offer of a summer sublet in Greenwich Village during the summer of 1999. Although she fully intended to return to college that fall, the lure of the folk coffeehouses and jazz clubs proved too strong and she soon became inspired to write her own songs. Jones appeared regularly with the trip-hop-electronica band Wax Poetic and assembled her own group around songwriters Jesse Harris (guitar) and Lee Alexander (bass), with Dan Rieser on drums. The combination of her striking beauty and the fact that she was the daughter of an internationally renowned musician placed Jones in the awkward position of defending her music from those who dismissed her as another pretty face (the same argument used by those opposed to Diana Krall) and/or another riding the coattails of her musical royal heritage (see Natalie Cole, Miki Coltrane, Corey Parker).
A fixture on the American cultural scene, Wynton Marsalis has brought jazz back to centre stage in the U.S.A. through his relentless work ethic and drive. He is also a distinguished classical performer whose many recordings for Sony Classical have been an important aspect of his career since it began. In 1997 he became the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize in music, for his epic oratorio on the subject of slavery, Blood on the Fields. As a composer and performer, Marsalis is also represented on a quartet of Sony Classical releases, At the Octoroon Balls: String Quartet No. 1, A Fiddler's Tale, Reel Time and Sweet Release and Ghost Story: Two More Ballets by Wynton Marsalis. All are volumes of an eight-CD series, titled "Swinging Into The 21st", that is an unprecedented set of albums released in the past year featuring a remarkable scope of original compositions and standards, from jazz to classical to ballet, by composers from Jelly Roll Morton to Stravinsky to Monk, in addition to Marsalis. Marsalis has won critical acclaim for the recording In Gabriel's Garden (SK/ST 66244), featuring Baroque music for trumpet and orchestra. It includes performances of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto no. 2 and Mouret's Rondeau, a video of which has been adopted as the new theme for PBS's Masterpiece Theatre. The San Francisco Examiner wrote, "Marsalis continues to define great musicmaking...[the pieces] are all articulated with dazzling clarity and enthusiasm."
Canadian musician, singer and songwriter Sarah McLachlan, founded Lilith Fair, a tour which showcased female musicians in the late 1990s. Known for the emotional sound of her ballads, some of her popular songs include "Angel", "Building a Mystery", "Adia", "Possession", "I Will Remember You", "World on Fire", and "Into the Fire". Her best-selling album to date is Surfacing, for which she won two Grammy Awards and four Juno Awards. Sarah McLachlan has been nominated for nineteen Juno Awards and awarded eight. In 1992, her video for "Into The Fire" was selected as best music video. In 1998, she won Female Vocalist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Single of the Year for "Building A Mystery", and Album of the Year for Surfacing. In 2000, she won an International Achievement award and in 2004, won Pop Album of the Year for Afterglow and again shared the Songwriter of the Year award with Pierre Marchand for the singles "Fallen", "World on Fire", and "Stupid.
Eldar left his native Kyrgystan for the United States in 1998, a boy of 11 with a slight grasp of English but an astonishing natural talent that immediately captured the attention of the jazz world. In the last seven years, with the support of his family, he has established American roots, continued his education, absorbed the culture, and emerged as one of the most distinctive jazz pianists of the new generation. Eldar has won rave reviews from jazz critics and top jazz venues across the country. Billboard wrote, "Eldar has the fastest hands in jazz ... melds Russian soul with American razzle-dazzle (the up-tempo tunes) in standards, not-so-standards and originals ... His nine-tune set brought the house down ... He seems to easily channel Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson in his approach, but to his credit he gets lost in the music in his own way."
A classmate of director Sergio Leone with whom he would form one of the great director/composer partnerships (right up there with Eisenstein & Prokofiev, Hitchcock & Herrmann, Fellini & Rota), Ennio Morricone studied at Rome's Santa Cecilia Conservatory, where he specialised in trumpet. His first film scores were relatively undistinguished, but he was hired by Leone for Per un pugno di dollari (1964) on the strength of some of his song arrangements. His score for that film, with its sparse arrangements, unorthodox instrumentation (bells, electric guitars, harmonicas, the distinctive twang of the jew's harp) and memorable tunes, revolutionised the way music would be used in Westerns, and it is hard to think of a post-Morricone Western score that doesn't in some way reflect his influence. Although his name will always be synonymous with the spaghetti Western, Morricone has also contributed to a huge range of other film genres: comedies, dramas, thrillers, horror films, romances, art movies, exploitation movies -making him one of the film world's most versatile artists. He has written nearly 400 film scores, so a brief summary is impossible, but his most memorable work includes the Leone films, Gillo Pontecorvos _Battaglia di Algeri, La (1965)_ , Roland Joffe''s The Mission (1986), Brian De Palma's The Untouchables (1987) and Giuseppe Tornatore's Nuovo cinema Paradiso (1988), plus a rare example of sung opening credits for Pier Paolo Pasolini's Uccellacci e uccellini (1966). It must be stressed that he is *not* behind the work of the entirely separate composers Bruno Nicolai and Nicola Piovani despite allegations made by more than one supposedly reputable film guide!
Best known for his work in collaboration with director Tim Burton, composer Danny Elfman created one of the most distinctive bodies of work in contemporary film music, bringing his talents to a dark fantasy world populated by superheroes, monsters and freaks. The son of novelist Blossom Elfman, his brother Richard's 1980 film The Forbidden Zone was his first film score. Assembling a band dubbed the Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo, Elfman recorded the movie's soundtrack; abbreviated to simply Oingo Boingo, the group remained a going concern following the project's completion, later earning a significant cult following during the New Wave era. In 1985 Elfman met fledgling filmmaker Burton; after collaborating on the score to the hit Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, they reunited frequently in the years to come, with Elfman composing the music to later Burton projects including Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Mars Attacks! and the Grammy-winning Batman. In 1993 Elfman also scored the Burton-produced Nightmare Before Christmas, dubbing the vocals of the animated musical's lead character Jack Skellington. Outside of Burton's sphere of influence, Elfman also scored a number of other features, most of them strange fables such as Darkman, Dick Tracy, Army of Darkness and The Frighteners; in 1997, he composed the music for Men in Black, the summer's biggest hit. Among his television work: the theme song to The Simpsons. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide
From 1949 to 1975, Blue Note Records signed and/or recorded just about every trumpet-player-that-mattered in jazz: Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Donald Byrd, Don Cherry, Blue Mitchell. Fitting then, that now that the label is enjoying an artistic and commercial renaissance, it's no mere coincidence that its current roster includes two of the most celebrated, influential and gifted trumpeter/composers to walk the planet since those halcyon days: Wynton Marsalis and Terence Blanchard. "Blanchard's virtues spring from his sense of restraint. The joy is in the tease," said People Magazine. Since his days under the tutelage of Art Blakey, Blanchard has matured to one of the most important musician/composer/band leaders of his generation.
The Cowboy Junkies were founded by guitarist and songwriter Michael Timmins and bassist Alan Anton (born Alan Alizojvodic), who first played together in a Toronto-based band called the Hunger Project in 1979. They later moved to the U.K. and played with an avant-garde instrumental outfit called Germinal, but eventually grew weary of the group's style and returned to Toronto in 1984. They started jamming with Timmins' brother Peter on drums, and in 1985 they recruited a vocalist in sister Margo, at the time a social worker who'd never sung publicly before. Dubbing themselves the Cowboy Junkies simply because the name had a ring to it, they formed their own independent label, Lament, and released their debut album, Whites Off Earth Now!!, in 1986. Featuring only one original song, the album was recorded using only one microphone, and although it was initially available only in Canada, it helped them land a major-label deal with RCA. Their first widespread release was 1988's The Trinity Session, which was recorded inside Toronto's Holy Trinity church in the span of one night -- again using only one microphone. The Trinity Session became a cult hit, earning rave reviews from critics and substantial college radio airplay for tracks like "Misguided Angel" and their cover of "Sweet Jane."
Katie Melua was born in Georgia (former USSR) in 1984 growing up in the capital Tbilisi and later the seaside town of Batumi. The family left Georgia when Katie was 8 and moved to Belfast due to her father's profession as a heart surgeon. When Katie told this to one of her teachers later on in England he described the move as: "from the frying pan into the fire." She never really viewed it as that because she had a great childhood both in Georgia and Northern Ireland. Katie found the people in Northern Ireland extremely warm and made great friends at St. Catherine's Primary School and Dominican College, Fortwilliam - Katie went to catholic schools in Northern Ireland while her younger brother went to a protestant school. Katie didn't always want to be a singer or songwriter. Her ambition when she was thirteen was to be a politician or a historian "I honestly thought I'd be able to bring peace to the world.... If I ruled it!" The family lived in Belfast for five years before moving to South East London.?When Katie was fifteen she entered a TV talent competition called Stars Up Their Nose - singing Mariah Carey's "Without You". Despite just entering for fun, she won the competition (the prize was a bedroom makeover and an arm chair for her dad) and also gained valuable experience by performing live on ITV three times.
Joshua Bell's artistry is a mixture of the adventurous and the traditional and he has the uncommon ability to bridge the two effortlessly. His last Sony Classical release is a case in point, featuring a cadenza Bell composed himself for Mendelssohn's venerable Violin Concerto--a bold departure from customary practice. Romance of the Violin similarly strikes a balance between a reverence for the past and a desire to update it. The young artist took fresh inspiration from the 'old school' of violinists (such as Kreisler, Sarasate, and Wieniawski) who mesmerized audiences with their direct, personal interpretations. Bell found a link to these bygone artists through his violin teacher, the late Josef Gingold, who instilled the values of the old school. An exclusive Sony Classical artist known for his breadth and daring choices of repertoire, Bell has created a richly varied catalogue of recordings. Recent releases include The Red Violin Concerto by John Corigliano, The Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, The Essential Joshua Bell, Voice of the Violin and Romance of the Violin which Billboard named the 2004 Classical CD of the Year, and Bell the Classical Artist of the Year.
Mr. Bell doesn't stand in anyone's shadow." said the New York Times
When a BBC interviewer recently asked Dr. John, "What is the secret to musical longevity?" the legendary New Orleans artist had a ready answer. "Living," he replied. Through more than half a century of music making, Mac Rebennack Jr. has been doing just that as he's rolled with the highs and lows that come with being a working musician, and these days he finds himself in an extended stretch of being in the right place at the right time. Now 65, this American icon, whom fellow legend Jerry Wexler once described as "the blackest white man I know," continues to take all that life has to offer, crisscrossing the country and spanning the globe with his band of virtuosic veterans, the Lower 911, and recording whenever the spirit moves him, which is frequently. More than ever, it seems, Dr. John's head is brimming with ideas. Although he didn't become widely known until the 1970s, Dr. John had been active in the music industry since the late '50s, when the teenager was still known as Mac Rebennack. A formidable boogie and blues pianist with a lovable growl of a voice, his most enduring achievements have fused New Orleans R&B, rock, and Mardi Gras craziness to come up with his own brand of "voodoo" music. He's also quite accomplished and enjoyable when sticking to purely traditional forms of blues and R&B. On record, he veers between the two approaches, making for an inconsistent and frequently frustrating legacy that often makes the listener feel as if the "Night Tripper" (as he's nicknamed himself) has been underachieving. In the late '50s, Rebennack gained prominence in the New Orleans R&B scene as a session keyboardist and guitarist, contributing to records by Professor Longhair, Frankie Ford, and Joe Tex. He also did some overlooked singles of his own, and by the 1960s had expanded into production and arranging.
Anoushka Shankar has shown herself to be a unique artist with tremendous talent and understanding of the great musical tradition of India. Anoushka is the only artist in the world to be trained completely by her father and legendary sitar virtuoso and composer, Ravi Shankar. She has been playing and studying the sitar with him since she was nine, and at age thirteen she made her performing debut in New Delhi, India. That same year, Anoushka entered the recording studio for the first time to play on her father's recording, In Celebration. Two years later she helped as conductor with her father and dear friend, George Harrison, on the 1997 Angel release, Chants of India. Shortly thereafter she signed an exclusive contract with Angel/EMI Classics. In the Fall of 1998 her first solo recording, Anoushka, was released to tremendous critical acclaim. Two albums followed, Anourag in 2000 and Live at Carnegie Hall in 2001. The latter was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best World Music Album category, making her the youngest ever nominee in that category. She also played sitar on her father's Grammy Award-winning album Full Circle: Carnegie Hall 2000, and has appeared as a sitarist on several other CD's, including Sting's Sacred Love.
Euge Groove -- a pseudonym for saxophone journeyman Steve Grove -- began playing piano in the second grade and turned to the saxophone at the age of nine or ten. His teacher gave him a classical education on the instrument, which he followed at the University of Miami's School of Music, where he became interested in jazz. Upon graduation, he initially remained in Miami doing sessions and playing in bands such as Expose, where he can be heard on the group's #1 1987 single "Seasons Change." He then moved to Los Angeles and joined Tower of Power, remaining with the group about four years. Following this experience, he freelanced, doing sessions and working in backup bands, his clients including Joe Cocker, the Eurythmics, the Gap Band, Huey Lewis and the News, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Eros Ramazotti, and Richard Marx. His saxophone appeared on Marx's Top 20 pop and #1 AC hit "Keep Coming Back" in 1991.
Canadian singer/composer Loreena McKennitt is self-managed, self-produced, and the head of her own internationally successful record label, Quinlan Road. In a recording career spanning nearly two decades, McKennitt's "eclectic Celtic" music has won critical acclaim worldwide and gold, platinum and multi-platinum sales awards in fifteen countries across four continents. Born in the province of Manitoba, Canada, Loreena moved to Stratford, Ontario, Canada in 1981, where she still resides. She has acted and sung in, and composed music for, Stratford Festival of Canada productions ranging from The Tempest (1982) to The Merchant Of Venice (2001). Her recording career began in 1985 with the album Elemental. In the fledgling years of her label Quinlan Road, Loreena ran its operations from her kitchen table, selling recordings by mail order and producing her own concert tours across the country. Quinlan Road's catalogue is currently distributed around the world by The Verve Music Group (US), Universal Music (Canada and other territories including Italy and Spain) and a number of independents including Keltia Music (France) and SPV (Germany). Loreena continues to manage her career from her Stratford base. An active member of her community, she has founded and oversees important charitable undertakings in the fields of water safety and family/childhood support services.
The Cold War was done, the Gulf War just begun and somewhere in the heart of Brooklyn, Medeski Martin and Wood were born in the sun. Playing music together for the first time that summer there was an instant connectionThe Cold War was done, the Gulf War just begun and somewhere in the heart of Brooklyn, Medeski Martin and Wood were born in the sun. Playing music together for the first time that summer there was an instant connection. Talking to JOHN, BILLY and CHRIS it becomes very clear that this trio will be playing music together for a long time to come... each member cites the need to grow individually as musicians and the sincere desire to learn more about themselves and their art away from the band... to practice, to learn and to grow. Together and apart. But as John puts it "as long as the music's still growing and remains fresh then we'll be together forever, we all kinda feel that way." The trio grew and evolved as naturally and organically as their first jam session. They had no real plan and kinda made things up as they went along (still do in fact). First, it was the gigs at the village gate, then opening it up a bit at the old knitting factory. The guys held onto their various side-gigs and all three continued to work with other artists and groups (still do in fact) but the trio was un-derivative, un-jazz and unlike anything they had ever experienced before. They were having a great time.
Cassandra Wilson never fails to surprise and inspire. Sexy, honey-velvet vocals wrapped around her own jazzy blue compositions or inventive interpretations of others' material led TIME magazine to name her "America's Best Singer" in recent years. GLAMOURED is a Gaelic word meaning 'to be whisked away,'" says vocalist, producer, and songwriter Cassandra Wilson, explaining the title of her new album on Blue Note Records.
John Williams should need little introduction since he is almost certainly the most well-known film composer, and possibly to many people the best-known composer, period. Born in New York, Williams started out doing television work composing for Irwin Allen shows like "Lost in Space", "Time Tunnel" and "Land of the Giants". His first brush with Hollywood was as a pianist. During the Golden Age of Hollywood Cinema, he worked as a pianist and arranger with film music luminaries such as Alfred Newman, Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann, and later Henry Mancini. With such exposure to the industry, and the encouragement of Newman in particular, Williams made the transition into film composition. Early steps in that direction found Williams again working for Irwin Allen, when he came to do a series of popular disaster movies including "The Poseidon Adventure" and "The Towering Inferno." John Towner Williams was born on Long Island, near New York City, on the 8th of February 1932 into a musical family. In 1948, the family relocated to Los Angeles, where he studied music at the UCLA, after which he did his national service in the Air Force. Following the Air Force John Williams went to the Julliard School in New York, where he studied piano with Madame Rosina Lhevinne. While in New York, he also worked as a jazz pianist, both in clubs and on recordings as Johnny Williams.
While you can hear traces of Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Jose Feliciano and, Richie Havens in his music, Raul Midon is an extraordinary original whose passion is expressed in his indelible songs. "I like to celebrate the possible, the highest, the best of possibilities for human beings," says Midon, who has been blind since birth and is the son of an African American mother and an Argentinean father. "It's easy to be pessimistic given the state of the world. But I'm inspired by people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi who had the ability to transform. Collectively we create an enormously powerful force that can change the world and overcome any obstacle." Even before he entered the studio with the Mardins, Midon was accumulating the kind of accolades reserved for seasoned pros. The New York Times called him a "virtuoso," while Newsday heralded him as a showstopper.