Soundcheck Soundcheck, hosted by John Schaefer, is WNYCs daily talk show about music. Covering all musical genres, Soundcheck celebrates the musical passions of performers, composers, critics, and the public radio audience. Listeners enjoy intimate conversations with and live performances by leading artists from around New York and around the globe.


From WNYC Radio

Soundcheck, hosted by John Schaefer, is WNYCs daily talk show about music. Covering all musical genres, Soundcheck celebrates the musical passions of performers, composers, critics, and the public radio audience. Listeners enjoy intimate conversations with and live performances by leading artists from around New York and around the globe.More from Soundcheck »

Most Recent Episodes

Songwriter/Guitarist Jill Sobule Keeps Moving on 'Nostalgic' New Record

Denver-born songwriter, guitarist, singer, activist, and performer Jill Sobule, is possibly best-known because of her breakthrough hit of "I Kissed a Girl" (pre-dating Katy Perry by more a decade), and "Supermodel," the anthem from the film Clueless. In her over seven albums, troubadour Jill has "mused on topics such as the death penalty, anorexia, shoplifting, reproduction, the French resistance movement, adolescence and the Christian right." She has also written music for TV and theater, been active in numerous social and political causes, and been a pioneer in the art of crowdfunding. On her new record, Nostalgia Kills, released on her own Pinko Records, the songwriter/composer tackles adult topics, and looks back without sentimentality to "exorcise some junior high school demons." Jill Sobule and her band join us to perform some of these songs in-studio. Watch the session HERE:

Meredith Monk's 'Cellular Songs'

Vocalist and composer Meredith Monk is a multi-disciplinary artist, whose work involves music, dance, film, theatre, and now: biology meets anthropology. In her most recent large-scale work, Cellular Songs, musical forms evoke biological processes as layering, replication, division, and mutation in a "deeply affecting meditation on the nature of the biological cell as a metaphor for human society" (Financial Times). Through this work, Monk takes the microscopic unit of the cell, then projects and expands it as a proposal for "an alternative possibility of human behavior, where the values are cooperation, interdependence and kindness," (much like how a cell functions, minus the kindness part.) Using their voices-as-instruments, Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble perform some of these Cellular Songs, along with violin, piano and keyboard, in-studio. -Caryn Havlik Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble perform 'Cellular Songs' at Le Poisson Rouge, Oct. 14-16 Watch the session HERE:

Inventive Art-Rock by Ohmme

Chicago-based duo OHMME serves up fuzz and melodies, along with vocal hockets and harmonies, oh - and lots of time and feel changes. Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart, the songwriters and multi-instrumentalists of Ohmme, are both trained classical pianists with ties to the collaborative Chicago improvising scene. They made a decision to stretch their comfort levels and go with the guitar for their noise-making, and have composed a hard-to-categorize batch of songs that lean toward the experimental without losing that rockenroll bite. On their latest record Parts, they've enlisted improvising cellist Tomeka Reid, Tortoise's Doug McCombs, and composer/sax player Ken Vandermark, a jazzer and improviser, while drawing from influences like the vocal adventures of Kate Bush, the sonic playfulness of Dirty Projectors, and Brian Eno's Here Come the Warm Jets. Complemented by the highly inventive percussion of drummer Matt Carroll. Ohmme joins us in-studio to play songs from Parts. -Caryn Havlik Watch the session here:

Sons of Kemet Make Jubiliant Magic

The Mercury Prize-nominated quartet Sons of Kemet is a super-group led by London-based Barbados-born saxophonist and composer Shabaka Hutchings, and propelled by tuba player Theon Cross, and two drummers - Tom Skinner and Eddie Hick. (Kemet - the black land, is one of the ancient Egyptian names for Egypt.) The music is a dance party which may or may not touch upon techno, hip hop, grime, psychedelia, Caribbean music, and social commentary using jazz vocabulary. Their latest album, Your Queen Is A Reptile, is a seething thinkpiece of a record, in which Hutchings suggests some black women across history who were worthy of the title of queen – queens who were made, not born. They perform some of these tunes live. -Caryn Havlik Watch the session here:

Mountain Man Looks for Peace and Joy Through Vocal Harmonies

Mountain Man, the Appalachian a cappella trio, features the timeless sound of three voices singing in harmony, with an occasional strum of the guitar. They released an album in 2010, a trio of college friends who'd gotten used to singing together, but then went their separate ways after college. All three of them toured for a long time as Feist's backup singers, and lately Amelia Meath, one third of the trio, has been keeping busy as half of Sylvan Esso. Meath, along with Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Molly Sarle are back, with their first album in eight years, Magic Ship. Mountain Man joins us to perform songs, chat about community in North Carolina, and the cat, Magic Ship.

Surreal Art-Rock By Saxophonist Donny McCaslin

Sax player and bandleader Donny McCaslin, who collaborated with David Bowie on Blackstar, freely mixes pop, jazz, electronica, and art-rock on his striking new album, Blow., which sees the band moving into sonic terrain that shows even more of Bowie's impact. It's some daring sax-led badassery - a blast of concentrated, powerful, and wonderful pop that rocks, with jazz tendencies - with lyrics and guest vocalists. He and his band play some of the new tunes in-studio. - Caryn Havlik Watch the full session here:

A Kind of Nordic Blues From Tord Gustavsen Trio

Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen and his trio, featuring new bassist Sigurd Hole and long-time collaborator, drummer Jarle Vespestad, combine together folk influences and church music for unhurried embraces of melody. Expressive and reflective, Gustavsen's 'Nordic blues' slowly unfurls passages of delicate lyricism, with enough space for contemplation, and only the notes that are needed from all players in the trio. On the latest record, The Other Side, the trio effortlessly injects old Norwegian lullabies and dance forms into original works, and develops haunting and riveting responses to both Scandinavian hymns and Bach Chorales. The Tord Gustavsen Trio joins us to play some of these compositions in-studio. - Caryn Havlik Set list: The Tunnel O Traurigkeit Schlafes Bruder Watch the session here:

Marissa Nadler Sharpens Her Elegant and Eerie Dream-Folk

Boston-based Marissa Nadler writes intimate, sweeping dreamy and eerie songs, that shimmer with gothic melancholy. On her latest record, For My Crimes, she's enlisted accomplished musicians: harpist Mary Lattimore, drummer Patty Schemel (Hole), experimental multi-instrumentalist Janel Leppin, and Eva Gardner plays additional bass. Guest vocals come from Angel Olsen, Kristin Kontrol (Dum Dum Girls), and Sharon Van Etten, and there is but one non-female collaborator - saxophonist Dana Colley (Morphine). These bittersweet and sharp slow burning tunes have a piercing intensity, driven home by Nadler's gripping voice. Marissa Nadler performs some of these songs in their stripped-down form, in-studio. -Caryn Havlik Watch the session here:

Havana Pianist Harold López-Nussa's Exciting Cuban Jazz

Havana pianist, composer and bandleader Harold López-Nussa delivers a range of drama and the irresistible rhythms of Cuban music, fully integrating his conservatory training and love of the jazz continuum with his Cuban roots and soul. His wide mastery of styles includes a jazz album and documentary film with David Sánchez, Christian Scott and Stefon Harris, an album of compositions by revered Cuban classical guitarist, composer and conductor Leo Brouwer, and three years spent in the touring band of singer Omara Portuondo. Harold holds dual citizenship in both Cuba and France, but will spend some of September touring the United States, which brings Harold López-Nussa and his trio play music from the new record, Un Día Cualquiera, in the studio. Watch the full session:

'Mutant Chamber Jazz' From Robbie Lee and Mary Halvorson

Mary Halvorson has established herself as one of the finest guitarists of her generation; Robbie Lee has established himself as a versatile flutist, sax player, and keyboardist. But if they're not careful, they could wind up being known as the weird instrument team, because their new album together sports such oddities as a 19th-century harp guitar with 18 strings, the world's smallest saxophone, and a Renaissance reed instrument called the chalumeau. The music of edited improvisations covers a lot of sonic ground, floating between folk and jazz and world music. Robbie Lee and Mary Halvorson are in the studio for an improvised set of "mutant chamber jazz" (via @robbielee.) Watch the full session:

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