When NPR Music started inviting musicians to perform at Bob Boilen's desk back in 2008, we never could have expected that we'd one day host The Dismemberment Plan. For one, the D.C.-area group had long since disbanded; for another, its fleshed-out and periodically funky sound wouldn't seem to lend itself to vastly stripped-down arrangements.
Sergei Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 — "Rach 3," as fans fondly call it — is one of the most famously difficult pieces of music there is. The sheet music goes on and on, with notes so dense the pages start to look like modern art. The piece is so challenging that some noted pianists have declined to perform it — but Yuja Wang has recorded it for her newest album.
Most music fans will recognize the title of Ben Allison's new album, The Stars Look Very Different Today, as a reference to the song "Space Oddity," itself a reference to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Pianist Jonathan Batiste was born and raised in New Orleans as part of the Batiste jazz family dynasty there. He was playing with the family band by age 8. Eventually he took his talents to Julliard, and that's where he met the rest of Stay Human: Joe Saylor on the drums, Ibanda Ruhumbika on tuba and Eddie Barbash on alto sax.
Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 10:54 am
Even if you haven't heard of Tony Joe White, you've probably heard his music. His songs have been performed by Elvis, Ray Charles and Tina Turner. He's even been sampled by Kanye West. Host Scott Simon talks with White about his distinctive swamp rock sound, and his new album, Hoodoo.
Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 10:37 am
Jazz legend Herb Alpert and his wife, Lani Hall, are both Grammy winners, and Alpert, who co-founded A&M Records, has sold over 75 million albums in a career that dates back to the late 1950s. They join host Scott Simon to talk about their new album, Steppin' Out.
Steve Swallow started playing jazz as a teenager. While a student at Yale University, he played mostly in with Dixieland bands. And then the 20-year-old bassist got a gig with the avant-garde-leaning pianist Paul Bley at a nearby college, went home, went to bed — and dropped out.
John Mayer has a lot to be thankful for this year, including his return to the stage. A Grammy winner and a multi-platinum seller, Mayer is one of the most successful musicians of the past decade-plus — but a few events in his life have left him uncharacteristically quiet of late. He took a break from press after a pair of controversial interviews in 2010; not long after, he underwent surgery for damage to his vocal cords and had to stop speaking and singing publicly for more than a year.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. My next guest needs little introduction because John Legend is, at a young age, already an R&B legend. His musicianship, impeccable phrasing, versatility and buttery sound have earned him nine Grammy awards. But it's been a while since he's delivered a solo. But now he's back with a new disc of original material titled "Love in the Future."