NPR Music

Music Reviews
6:29 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Kobo Town: A Haunted 'Jukebox' Filled With Caribbean Sounds

The Toronto band Kobo Town plays a mix of old-school calypso, ska and West Indian styles.
Paul Wright Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 6:03 pm

Throughout Kobo Town's new album Jumbie in the Jukebox, frontman Drew Gonsalves declares his love for the past even as his feet are firmly planted in the present. The music of the Toronto band can drift between classic Caribbean pop styles and even verge on hip-hop, but the singer's perspective remains sharply focused, wry and witty. The song "Postcard Poverty," for example, ribs tourists for whom tropical slums become an exotic backdrop to fun-in-the-sun adventures.

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The Record
3:23 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Kanye West Stands Alone

Kanye West performing "Black Skinhead" on Saturday Night Live last weekend.
Dana Edelson NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 1:13 pm

  • Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley on Kanye West

What happened over the weekend? At 8:34 on Friday night, Kanye West tweeted. He said he'd be premiering a song in a half hour and we'd have to do what he said to hear it – we'd have to go to a particular address and stand outside with other people and watch a video projected onto the side of a building. Of course, the first video of the video was up within minutes, so most people didn't have to do any such thing.

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Deceptive Cadence
12:08 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Gods And Monsters: 5 Unforgettable Wagner Moments

The Valkyries, led by Brunnhilde (soprano Debra Voigt, lower left), are the warrior maidens of Richard Wagner's epic Ring cycle.
Ken Howard Metropolitan Opera

Originally published on Wed May 22, 2013 4:02 pm

  • William Berger on 'Parsifal'
  • William Berger on 'Das Rheingold'
  • William Berger on 'Die Walküre'
  • William Berger on 'Tristan und Isolde'
  • William Berger on 'Die Meistersinger'

How much do you know about Richard Wagner? Probably two unfavorable facts: He wrote very long, grandiose operas and was Hitler's favorite composer. As true as they are, those simple examples barely hint at the complexity of this endlessly creative and confounding artist.

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The Record
3:15 am
Tue May 21, 2013

The Doors' Keyboard Counterpoint Goes Silent: Remembering Ray Manzarek

Ray Manzarek (far right) stands with fellow members of The Doors Jim Morrison (from right), Robby Krieger and John Densmore in 1968. Manzarek died Monday in Germany. He was 74.
Express Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 1:43 pm

Ray Manzarek, the founding keyboardist of the Los Angeles rock band The Doors, died in a clinic in Germany on Monday after a lengthy battle with bile duct cancer, according to his publicist. He was 74.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:03 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Mohammad Reza Shajarian: Tiny Desk Concert

M R Shajarian performs a Tiny Desk Concert in March 2013.
Marie McGrory Marie McGrory/NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:31 pm

Every Tiny Desk Concert provides its own particular thrill, but it's not every day that we get to welcome one of NPR's 50 Great Voices to our offices. With the visit of the incredible, honey-voiced Mohammad Reza Shajarian from Iran, we lucked out by having him sing on not just any day, but on the biggest holiday of the Persian calendar: Nowruz, the New Year.

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NPR Story
1:01 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Sarah Vaughan: A New Box Set Revels In Glorious Imperfections

Sarah Vaughan performs during the International Jazz Festival of Nice in southeast France in July 1984.
Raph Gatti AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 5:43 pm

Singer Sarah Vaughan came up in the 1940s alongside bebop lions Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, starting out in Earl Hines' big band. Hines had hired her as his singer and deputy pianist, while Gillespie praised her fine ear for chords as she grasped the arcane refinements of bebop harmony.

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Music Interviews
9:21 am
Sun May 19, 2013

Marques Toliver: An R&B Crooner With Strings Attached

Marques Toliver's debut album is called Land of CanAan.
Athos Burez Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 2:11 pm

Marques Toliver is an R&B singer, but his music is equally anchored around the violin, on which he is classically trained. He says he discovered the instrument on the first day of his fifth-grade music class — and in a way, the violin chose him.

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Music Interviews
4:22 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Bobby McFerrin: Spirituals As Sung Prayers

Bobby McFerrin's new album is titled Spirityouall.
Carol Friedman Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 6:52 pm

Listen to Bobby McFerrin — onstage, warming up with his band — and it's like you're listening to an entire orchestra bubbling up through one man's body. He becomes a flute, a violin, a muted trumpet, a percussion instrument, a bird, you name it.

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Music Interviews
2:03 am
Fri May 17, 2013

Sam Amidon: Reshaping An American Folk Tradition

Sam Amidon's new album is titled Bright Sunny South.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 9:55 am

Shape-note singing is a communal form of music that began in New England 200 years ago, mostly from townsfolk without any musical training. It's music that surrounded folk singer Sam Amidon during his childhood in Vermont.

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Music Interviews
4:47 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Daft Punk On 'The Soul That A Musician Can Bring'

In spite of the robotic persona they've cultivated for years, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo elected to make the latest Daft Punk album in a real studio, with real musicians.
David Black Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 12:00 pm

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