In a stretch of Blue Note albums throughout the 1950s, '60s and even early '70s, alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson, now 87, emblematized the hard bop and soul jazz that we now consider "straight-ahead." The old dog has resisted certain new tricks in music — "no fusion, no confusion" is his motto — but he's certainly expanded his palette of dirty jokes to include, well, modern medicine. At the Blue Note at 75 concert, Donaldson warmed up the crowd and gave it some of his classic greasy polish. Sweet Poppa Lou was accompanied by organist Dr.
Pianist McCoy Tyner and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson first connected on record in 1966, on Hutcherson's album Stick-Up! They must have realized they were musically simpatico — they've continued to work together for nearly five decades now. At the Blue Note at 75 concert, they didn't say a word, but locked into a miniature set of Tyner's classic compositions with ageless grace.
Ryan Lott, the beat genius behind Son Lux, loves to dismantle rhythms, crafting off-kilter synth and programmed patterns. It's an often disorienting form director Geoff Hoskinson recreated and realized beautifully in the video's jump-cut visuals.
Andrew Hozier-Byrne's voice is so rich, so vital and so soulful, I'm certain I'll follow his music for a long time to come. The 24-year-old Irishman, who performs under the name Hozier, opens this set with the brilliant and instantly grabby song "Take Me to Church," about passion, sex and religion.
In his own words, Mark Stewart makes a living playing a little bit of popular music, quite a bit of semi-popular music and an enormous amount of unpopular music — the last being all the music you probably haven't heard.
Lykke Li may sing about repeating past mistakes, but on her new album, I Never Learn, the Swedish singer-songwriter has clearly grown. While continuing to work with Björn Yttling (of Peter Bjorn and John), who contributed to her first two albums, Li took the helm in producing this time around. Musically, the results are darker and more melancholy; lyrically, she pulls no punches in relating the heartbreak that informs its songs.
The former leader of Pavement, one of the most important bands of the 1990s, Stephen Malkmus has continued his enduring career with The Jicks. Malkmus and his more recent group have released six albums together, the most recent being Wig Out at Jagbags. He and The Jicks recently performed "Chartjunk" live in the studio at The Current in St. Paul, Minn.
Tycho started as a solo musical project from graphic designer and photographer Scott Hansen, but has since evolved into a full band. The exhilarating music triggers strong emotions, which is unusual for instrumental music; the band was built around its live shows and the "arcs of energy" that define its performances. This version of "Awake" provides a great example.