A Blog Supreme is laying low this week as the NPR Music team and our newly-redesigned website go to the South by Southwest Music Festival. Check out four days of concert webcasts and recordings, photos, special video shoots and other updates at npr.org/sxsw. (Psst: Those of you interested in experimental improvisation should check out what Colin Stetson does with a bass sax, 1:30 p.m. ET on Thursday afternoon!)
In the meanwhile, I might note that WBGO recorded the Terell Stafford Quintet last night with us. Photos, interview, the whole bit. There were some really fine versions of Billy Strayhorn tunes, which, if you didn't know, are really fine tunes. Here's a highlight: It's pianist Bruce Barth's solo on "Johnny Come Lately."
Barth is the arranger of Stafford's soon-to-be-released tribute album This Side of Strayhorn. (I presume it was his call to set the "B" section of this rather fast song in 7/4!) So it's nice to see him get some shine. Peter Washington on bass, Dana Hall on drums.
In other news, I haven't been able to confirm the passing of Melvin Sparks yet, but musicians seem to believe it's true. If so, we've lost a soulful, soulful guitarist. The Checkout recorded him and other Houston-raised elder statesmen earlier this year — that might be his last session committed to tape.
A nice surprise is coming next week on Monday. And we'll try to curate some links on Friday. The Twitter is active.