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Director's Cuts: CD Gift Guide for 2003

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Ned Wharton and Liane Hansen
Ned Wharton and Liane Hansen.

As music director of Weekend Edition Sunday, Ned Wharton supervises music continuity for the show, keeps tabs on what's new and noteworthy in the music world and produces many of the artist features heard on our program.

Nov. 30, 2003

Wharton's 2003 holiday gift suggestion list includes artists from the United States and around the world. Listen to samples.

'Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda'
Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)

'Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda'
In a small corner of eastern Uganda, the 600-member Abadayuda community has been combining Hebrew prayer with traditional music since their ancestors converted to Judaism in 1919.

Listen 'Katonda Oyo Nalimana (God is All-Knowing)'

Listen 'Mwana, Ngolera (Baby, Keep Quiet)'

'The Best of Mexican Divas'
The Best of Mexican Divas (Poly Sonic)

Mexican Divas
The independent Mexican label Opción Sónica has amassed an impressive collection of Mexican pop singers outside the boundaries of Mexico's TV monopoly Televisa, which has dominated Mexican pop culture for years. Out of 3 previously-released volumes, they've been boiled down to a new release available in this country: The Best of Mexican Divas.

Listen Julieta Marón - 'Otra Vez'

Listen Claudia Morfín - 'Muni'

'Word of Mouth Revisited'
Word of Mouth Revisited (Heads Up)

Jaco Pastorius Big Band
Bandleader Peter Graves gathered a who's-who of electric bass players for this tribute to the late bass innovator Jaco Pastorius, who changed the instrument forever when he played with Weather Report, Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny and others. Word of Mouth Revisited features players including Jimmy Haslip, Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller and Christian McBride.

Listen 'Teen Town'

Listen 'Barbary Coast'

'Power in the Blood'
Power in the Blood (One Little Indian Records)

If you've ever wondered about that driving groove that's heard at the top of each episode of The Sopranos, this is the group: A3. Known as Alabama 3 in their native London, and A3 here in the States, their CD, Power in the Blood, includes a bonus disc featuring an acoustic version of "Woke Up This Morning," the theme from The Sopranos.

Listen 'Reachin'

Listen 'Woke Up This Morning'

'Chutes Too Narrow'
Chutes Too Narrow (Sub Pop)

The Shins
This fresh pop from Albuquerque and transplanted to Portland, Ore., features an exuberant garage-y sound, thanks to the lo-fi tinge of the recording made in lead singer James Mercer's basement.

Listen 'So Says I'

Listen 'Pink Bullets'

'The American Song-Poem Christmas'
The American Song-Poem Christmas: Daddy, Is Santa Really Six Foot Four? (Bar/None)

'American Song-Poem Christmas'
Vanity recording outfits have for years been advertising to attract poets and closet musicians, offering (for a price) to set words to music. Many of these so-called "song-poems" have become collector's items. Bar/None Records has been compiling them lately, with a CD released earlier this year called Do You Know the Difference Between Big Wood and Brush. Now there's a holiday release: The American Song-Poem Christmas: Daddy, Is Santa Really Six Foot Four? with astonishing titles including "Santa Came On a Nuclear Missile," "How Do They Spend Christmas In Heaven" and "Santa Fix My Toys For Christmas."

Listen Heather Noel - 'Santa Came on a Nuclear Missile'

Listen The Sisterhood - 'The Rocking Disco Santa Claus'

'It's a Wonderful Life'
It's a Wonderful Life (World in Motion)

Kerry Getz
California singer-songwriter Kerry Getz says that when she was a kid, her older brother got an acoustic guitar from Santa, and while he was in school, Kerry would surreptitiously teach herself Christmas carols on the instrument. Today her CD, It's a Wonderful Life, on World in Motion Records shows off her full talents, with some Christmastime originals as well as rich folk-rock arrangements of lesser-performed carols such as "Lullay Lully" and "The Wexford Carol."

Listen 'Lullay Lully'

Listen 'Suspended in December'

'Go Tell It On the Mountain'
Go Tell It On the Mountain (Real World)

Blind Boys of Alabama
The soulful Blind Boys of Alabama deliver rousing gospel and rich harmonies on this Christmas disc. They are backed by an eclectic roster of singers and players, including Tom Waits, Chrissie Hynde, Richard Thompson, Solomon Burke and others.

Listen 'Go Tell It On the Mountain'

Listen 'In the Bleak Midwinter'

These items are available for purchase online. Your purchase helps support NPR.

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Web Resources

  • Abadayuda on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

  • Jaco Pastorius Big Band on Heads Up International

  • A3 on One Little Indian Records

  • The Shins on Sub Pop Records

  • 'American Song-Poem Christmas' on Bar/None Records

  • Kerry Getz on World in Motion Records

  • Blind Boys of Alabama on Real World Records


  • This music is available for purchase online