December 26, 2006 It has been 30 years since Keith Jarrett released The Koln Concert, a recording of solo piano improvisations that has sold over 3 million copies — far more than most jazz records. It was a breakthrough for the 60-year-old pianist and composer, who studied classical music in his youth and got his start playing jazz with Art Blakey, Charles Lloyd and Miles Davis. After the success of Koln, Jarrett began doing regular solo concerts. But in the late 1990s, a battle with chronic fatigue syndrome forced him to rest at his home in rural New Jersey. Last September, the pianist performed at Carnegie Hall. The concert became a two-CD set. Tom Moon has a review.
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December 25, 2006 Our listeners take exception to music critic Christian Bordal's opinion that there is "no such thing as good Christmas music." The second in a series of suggested tunes is "River," written and performed by Joni Mitchell.
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December 22, 2006 Being born around Christmas has its drawbacks, but at least now holiday babies can revel in their own anthem, courtesy of The Slip. A whirling, jangly rock song distinguished by its Steely Dan-esque lyrical and musical manner, "Children of December" employs quirky pop-cultural wordplay.
December 21, 2006 Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's "My love, if I die and you don't--" offers a clear-eyed tribute to everlasting love. But it's hard not to be moved listening to the late singer's gorgeous, smoky voice, as well as her unsentimental approach to music that already aches with yearning and loss.
December 20, 2006 Dear Leader's "Nightmare Alleys" is arena-sized, with lungs-to-the-sky vocals, spacious but solid guitars and measured, booming drums. At the center lies Aaron Perrino's voice, which makes the song sound as if it's been dragged through the wringer on its way to the listener's eardrums.
December 20, 2006 Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews his picks for the best music of 2006. While CD sales figures are down from last year, Tucker says that music is increasingly being distributed in new formats.
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December 20, 2006 Rock critic Ken Tucker provides a quick overview of the music industry and his picks for some of the year's best tunes, including work from Gnarls Barkley, Nellie McKay, My Chemical Romance, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan.
December 19, 2006 On David Crosby's "Song with No Words (Tree with No Leaves)," a piano gently rumbles, while vocal harmonies, stacked atop each other for maximum choir effect, melt over the instruments. The result is part choral music, part stoner rock; it's easy to imagine the joint being passed from one musician to the next.
December 18, 2006 Deep City Records was founded in the 1960s by alumni of Florida A&M University's Incomparable Marching 100 Band. Known for highly aggressive performances, their sound formed the foundation of Deep City. Though the Miami-based label existed for only a few years, it had a lasting impact on rhythm 'n' blues via a series of singles that it released. Meredith Ochs has a review.
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December 18, 2006 In what may be rock's best-ever day job, Thom Moran, lead singer of Boston's Bon Savants, moonlights as a rocket scientist at MIT. On the band's new disc, people drink a lot, contemplate outer space and discuss Schrodinger — in other words, it's exactly the sort of album a rocket scientist might make.
December 18, 2006 Music critic Kevin Whitehead has selected some special jazz box sets for the music lover on your gift list this holiday season.
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December 18, 2006 Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead recommends four box sets for gifts that won't break the bank. They are: Fats Waller/If You Got to Ask, You Ain't Got It; How Low Can You Go?; Sonny Stitt/Stitt's Bits: The Bebop Recordings, 1949-1952; and Andrew Hill - Solo.
December 15, 2006 One of critic Robert Christgau's favorite CD's of the year is also a holiday CD: Happy Joyous Hanukah, with music performed by America's premiere Klezmer band, The Klezmatics. But the lyrics are all written by folk icon Woody Guthrie. Although Guthrie wasn't Jewish, his wife was; her background inspired a collection of words never before set to music.
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December 15, 2006 Fujiya & Miyagi isn't a duo, and its members aren't named Fujiya or Miyagi. A U.K. trio consisting of David Best (Miyagi), Steve Lewis (Fujiya) and Matt Hainsby (the ampersand), the group mixes the minimalist beats of Krautrock bands like Can, the angular new-wave guitars of Wire and the swirling electronica of Aphex Twin.
December 15, 2006 Music critic Milo Miles tells us how the klezmer-fusion band the Klezmatics are keeping the music of Woody Guthrie alive. Their latest albums are Woody Guthrie's Happy Joyous Hanukkah and the Grammy-nominated Wonder Wheel. They are currently on tour.
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