NPR Music & Concerts

Music features, reviews and "first listens" from NPR.  For WUNC's music programs,  Back Porch Music.

Together, saxophonist Charles Lloyd and pianist Jason Moran make jazz that draws from the past while looking to the future. Lloyd's body of work stretches back to the mid-1960s, and has always shown a disregard for boundaries and cliches. He seems determined to work through the later part of his career with artistically and spiritually motivated playing that simply astounds.

When we invited the band Mashrou' Leila to come play at the Tiny Desk, we couldn't have foreseen the timing.

The group arrived at our office the morning after the horrific June 12 shootings in Orlando at the gay nightclub Pulse. We were all collectively reeling from the news, and for this rock band from Beirut, Lebanon, the attack hung very heavily.

I want to take a moment to remember and appreciate Bernie Worrell, the former keyboard star of Parliament-Funkadelic who is dying from cancer as I write this.

The Thistle & Shamrock: The Longest Day

Jun 22, 2016

Ancient holidays, festivals and fertility rituals once marked the time when the sun reaches its greatest height in the Northern Hemisphere. Host Fiona Ritchie joins in the celebration with music and song handpicked for the longest period of daylight. Hear from artists like Richard Wood, Kathryn Tickell, Maddy Prior and more.

Before he turned twenty-five, Van Morrison had written a rock and roll standard ("Gloria"), essayed arguably the greatest-ever Bob Dylan cover ("It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" — both with Them), made a top-ten American hit ("Brown Eyed Girl") and recorded two very different, very compatible LP masterpieces, Astral Weeks and Moondance — the former concerned with "childhood, initiation, sex, and death," per Greil Marcus in Stranded, the latter with rebirth, experience, love and living for its own sake.

Very few musical gatherings during the crowded summer festival season have been going on as long as CMA Music Fest, which launched under the name Fan Fair in 1972 and now descends upon Nashville just after the heat and humidity set in each June. One of the secrets to its longevity is that it's always been a place where country fans can encounter artists up close; folks who get a bit of face time with their favorite artists, maybe even a hug, are prone to keep coming back.

There's no explicit narrative threading together Brandy Clark's second album, Big Day In A Small Town. Instead, the 11 interconnected songs map a small collection of streets, landmarks, loves, betrayals and heartbreaks that cohere into a place as particular and as universal as Winesburg or Grover's Corners.

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