As music director of Weekend Edition Sunday, NPR's Ned Wharton chooses much of the music heard on the show. He also keeps tabs on what's new and noteworthy in the music world and produces many of the artist features heard on the program.
For this holiday edition of his Director's Cuts series, he presents his picks of the year's best music ...
This blind couple from Mali have been a popular local act for decades, and are now making a big international splash with their CD Dimanche a Bamako. The title celebrates the open-air weddings popular in the country on Sundays.
Volume V of Simon Emmerson and his Afro Celts' explorations of Irish-African sounds and rhythms are heard on this CD, Anatomic.
High-gloss production and unusual vocals from this British singer/songwriter make for a rich collection of songs on Speak for Yourself.
Guitarist Alex Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens are back together with In Space, their first studio album in 30 years. New members Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow from the Posies add to the power-pop sound that made Big Star one of America's most influential bands.
A Los Angeles indie band belonging to the collective known as The Ship (that includes groups Earlimart and Autolux), Silversun Pickups offer a tantalizing debut EP, Pikul.
Brooklynites Marco Benevento and Joe Russo form this powerful keyboard 'n' drum duo. Their 2005 release Best Reason to Buy the Sun is one of the great overlooked instrumental CDs of the year.
Trio, from pianist Marcin Wasilewski, double-bassman Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz, provides a lovely wintry backdrop for fireside listening.
'K.T.C.' by Marcin Wasilewski
The San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble has always sought out a unique repertoire, covering Middle Eastern, European and pre-Columbian music. La Noche Buena is a collection of Christmas music of colonial Latin America.
Artists mobilized quickly for this benefit CD for Gulf hurricane victims, making all-new recordings in only a month. But the collection is thoughtful and first-rate, with performances from everyone from Dr. John to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to Beausoleil.
'L'ouragon' by Beausoleil