Clarinetist Darryl Harper discovered jazz as a teenager in Philadelphia.
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July 30, 2013 On the clarinetist's latest album, the blues might be modernized or tweaked, but it's never far away. Fresh Air's jazz critic says The Edenfred Files is modest in a good way, like a musical chapbook or novella. The scale suits Harper's pointedly focused music.
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Trumpeter Etienne Charles' new album is called Creole Soul.
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July 27, 2013 This summer has seen plenty of worthwhile jazz, including a pianist who's been around since the '50s, a Caribbean jazzman, a band of deliberate melody, and a cover from The Jungle Book. Sample recordings from Harold Mabern, Etienne Charles, the band Black Host and Lauren Desberg.
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San Juan Bautista Mission in California, the inspiration for Kevin Puts' Symphony No. 4.
July 24, 2013 Hear excerpts from three new albums, each telling a distinctly different American story — from a Toscanini-obsessed symphonic fantasy to a special preview of a majestic symphony of clashing cultures.
Sylvester's 1978 album Step II resulted in a couple of smash singles, "Dance (Disco Heat)" and "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)."
July 16, 2013 A new collection of disco numbers, Mighty Real: Greatest Dance Hits, showcases the career of Sylvester. Music critic Milo Miles argues that Sylvester — an openly gay, superstar costume-wearer from the start — was not only a pioneer, but also someone with whom the times have finally caught up.
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Jay-Z's previous albums include Reasonable Doubt and The Blueprint. He collaborated with Kanye West for Watch the Throne.
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July 11, 2013 The rapper's new album is his first collection since becoming a father with singer Beyonce. Rock critic Ken Tucker says the album is an uneven but intriguing collection of songs that tries to navigate a path between parenthood and an obsession with commercial success.
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Kristi Sutton Elias/Courtesy of the artist
July 11, 2013 The blend of flute and vibraphone or marimba brings a transparent, sparkling quality — light and listenable, but permitting depth and mystery. On new albums, Nicole Mitchell and Anna Webber harness this energy, which has a surprisingly rich history
Jay-Z (left) and Timbaland (who produced most of the album) at the release party for Magna Carta Holy Grail July 3 in Brooklyn.
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July 9, 2013 It's not right, but it's okay, because even on cruise control, Jay-Z is revolutionary by his very existence.
Rich Halley and his quartet play with Bobby Bradford at the Penofin Jazz Festival.
Bob Pyle/Rich Halley
July 9, 2013 Oregon saxophonist Rich Halley takes inspiration from the Wallowa mountain range on his new album Crossing the Passes. On Boss of the Plains, Chicago-based trio Wheelhouse makes music that evokes the Great Plains and wind chimes on a porch when the weather changes.
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Virginia's No BS! Brass Band adopts and ultimately expands the brass-band tradition.
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July 8, 2013 Virginia's No BS! Brass Band taps into, and ultimately expands, the brass-band tradition. Whether kicking it with funk or clearing room for a screeching free-jazz solo, the group redefines what large brass ensembles can do.
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Personal Record is the second solo album by Eleanor Friedberger of The Fiery Furnaces.
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July 8, 2013 The bulk of Friedberger's work thus far has been recorded with her brother, Matthew, under the name The Fiery Furnaces. For this new solo album, her second, she's written with a new collaborator in singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding.
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Pamina (Amy Carson) and Tamino (Joseph Kaiser) in Kenneth Branagh's production of Mozart's The Magic Flute.
July 1, 2013 Director Kenneth Branagh has given us fresh Shakespeare and witty modern comedies of manners, and some years ago he turned to opera, with an adaptation of Mozart's classic set in World War I. It's finally available in the U.S., and critic Lloyd Schwartz says the results are disappointingly mixed.
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As the title character (Melvil Poupaud) begins a new life as a woman, Laurence Anyways tracks the ups and downs of a relationship that will face more than one test.
Breaking Glass Pictures
June 27, 2013 Director Xavier Dolan marries thematic urgency and stylistic idiosyncrasy in a sophisticated, emotionally honest story about a man becoming a woman — and the girlfriend who does her best to make the journey too. (Recommended)
On his new album, Magical Thinking, Chico Mann uses a host of electronic playthings to craft West African, Latin and 1980s "boogie" rhythms.
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June 26, 2013 The musician born Marcos Garcia was known for years as a member of the Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas — but one day, he began tinkering with his daughter's Casio keyboard.
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Duke Ellington (1899-1974) at the piano at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon, during a British tour on Feb. 10, 1963.
John Pratt/Getty Images
June 26, 2013 As a Japanese expatriate in Berlin, jazz pianist Aki Takase has an outsider's perspective on jazz and insider wisdom that comes from careful study. Her new album of Duke Ellington tunes reflects influences such as Thelonious Monk and Arnold Schoenberg, as well.
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Mavis Staples has been performing for more than six decades. One True Vine is her second album-length collaboration with Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy.
Zoran Orlic/Courtesy of the artist
June 25, 2013 Produced by Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, the soul singer's new album follows a narrative arc of struggle, acceptance and salvation. Tweedy's arrangements leave room for Staples' full range of vocal expression, from an R&B growl to gospel fervor.
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