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Music News 03/20/2014


CD CoverLeyla McCalla, Vari-Colored Song: Tribute to Langston Hughes (Music Maker Recordings, $11.98) – This is definitely one of my favorites so far this year. Vocalist Layla McCalla is also a talented cello and tenor banjo player, and songwriter. On half of the album, she takes poems by Langston Hughes (“Heart of Gold,” “Girl,” “Too Blue” among them) and sets them to music, played in spare arrangements for cello, banjo, pedal steel and bass. The other songs are folk songs from her Haitian heritage. Highly recommended.

CD CoverJacques Schwarz-Bart, Jazz Racine Haiti (Motema, $15.98) – Tenor saxophonist Jacques Schwartz-Bart (whose mother is from Guadeloupe) has put together a fascinating jazz project with Haitian folk roots: three vocalists add to his arrangements of Afro-Caribbean Voodoo (Vodoun) ritual chants and melodies. Trumpet, flugelhorn, piano, bass, drums and percussion add to a very successful and inventive “jazz fusion” project. Highly recommended.


Rip: Phil Everly & Claudio Abbado

CD CoverPhil Everly died on January 3rd. Phil sang tenor to his brother Don’s baritone to create the spine-tingling harmonies of the Everly Brothers; their sound was hugely influential, and unsurpassed in the history of rock & roll. The Everly Brothers were inspirational for many acts including the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Just last year, Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones recorded Foreverly (Reprise, $17.98), their loving recreation of the Everly Brothers’s 1958 album of traditional songs, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.

Listen to the originals:

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The Complete Cadence Recordings 1957-1960 (Varese Sarabande, 2 CDs, $26.98) includes all their early hits (“Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Claudette”), and includes the complete Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. This is the rockin’-est Everlys, driven by Don’s great rhythm guitar.

The Definitive Pop Collection (Rhino Records, $18.98) includes some of the early hits, but goes on to their early and mid 1960s with songs like “Crying in the Rain” and “Gone Gone Gone.”

If you like the traditional songs (“Roving Gambler,” “Barbara Allen,” “Long Time Gone”), Songs Our Daddy Taught Us (Varese Sarabande, $11.98) is also available as a separate album.

CD CoverOne of the world’s most admired conductors, Claudio Abbado, died on January 20. He had long tenures—as music director or conductor—at La Scala, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the London Symophy. He also devoted more and more time to working with younger musicians: he founded the European Community Youth Orchestra in 1978, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in 1981, and the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra in 1986. In 2004 he became the artistic director of the Orchestra Mozart, which combined veteran professionals with young players. He had long associations with some of the world’s great instrumentalists and singers—one of his last appearances was with Martha Argerich and the Orchestra Mozart at the 2013 Lucerne Festival. That recording is now available: Mozart: Piano Conceto No. 25 and No. 20 (Deutsche Grammophon, $18.98)



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Meklit, the Ethiopian-American chanteuse has a very special voice. Hear her tonight, Thursday, March 20, ath the Strathmore Mansion. Her new album, We Are Alive (Six Degrees, $13.98) comes out March 25.

Pat Metheny Unity Group with Chris Potter, tenor sax; Antonio Sanchez, drums; Ben Williams, bass and multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi at Strathmore Friday, March 21. The band has a new album, KIN (Nonesuch, $17.98)

Tinariwen, the Tuareg “desert blues” band headlines on Saturday, March 22, at 6th and I Synagogue, co-presented by WPAS. Listen to their just-released CD, Emmaar (Anti, $15.98).