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Music News 10/01/2014


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Lucinda Williams, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone(Hwy 20 Records, 2 CDs, $17.98) – Lucinda’s new double-set CD has 20 songs, and each one is a gem. The first song (just voice and guitar) is Lucinda’s setting of a poem by her father, Miller Williams. From there, a full, guitar-driven band supports Lucinda’s wonderful songs, sung with her heartache-etched voice. Highly recommended.

NOTE: Lucinda Williams will play the Lincoln Theatre on Wednesday, November 12.

Kat Edmonson, The Big Picture (Okeh Records, $12.98) – Two years ago, I got to see Kat Edmonson open a show at the Birchmere, and her voice—reminiscent of Blossom Dearie—and her catchy songs instantly won me over. Her new album takes its inspirations from movie soundtracks, and each of her original songs is steeped in a variety of rich orchestral arrangements. Listen to some excerpts in an interview with Kat on NPR’s Saturday Edition.


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Charlie Haden & Jim Hall, Charlie Haden Jim Hall (Blue Note, $13.98) – Two jazz masters, bassist Charlie Haden and guitarist Jim Hall, passed away in the last 10 months. Both musicians thrived in duet settings, and this live recording (from July 2, 1990, at the Montreal Jazz Feistival) is a prime example. The set builds with each song—Ornette Coleman’s blues, “Turnaround,” “Body and Soul,” Hall’s “Latin-waltz,” “Down from Antigua,” “Skylark,” and ending with a free improvisation, “In the Moment.”

John Luther Adams, Become Ocean (Cantaloupe Music, CD & DVD, $19.98) – This year’s Pulitzer Prize in Music went to John Luther Adams’s orchestral work, Become Ocean. Adams, who lived in Alaska for many years, has always been inspired by nature, and Become Ocean, a majestic, continuing one-movement work, evokes the calm and the fury of his subject. Become Ocean is performed by the Seattle Symphony (which premiered the work), conducted by Ludovic Morlot.


Locals in Concert: Hangtown Dancehall & Opera Lafayette

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Eric Brace (leader of Last Train Home, and former Washington Post writer, now in Nashville), and DC musician Karl Straub wrote a wonderful “folk-opera,” Hangtown Dancehall: A Tale of the California Gold Rush (Red Beet Records, $17.98), using the 1850 song “Sweet Betsy from Pike” as inspiration. Eric and Karl decided to continue the story. Eric sings the role of Ike, Kelly Willis is Betsy, and other great singers (Tim O’Brien, Darrell Scott, Mr. Straub, Jason Ringenberg, Wesley Stace, and Andrea Zonn) play additional characters. A great cast of instrumentalists, including the late Mike Auldridge on dobro, also are here.

On Friday, October 3, at the Birchmere, Hangtown Dancehall will be presented live in concert.

Opera Lafayette and conductor Ryan Brown are celebrating their 20th anniversary. The group specializes in French Baroque (and some later works), and have made many premier recordings of unjustly neglected operas. Their latest recording is the wonderful comic opera from 1862, Lalla Roukh (Naxos, 2 CDs, $19.99) by Félicien David.

On Monday, October 6, at the Kennedy Center, Opera Lafayette will present Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Les Fêtes de l’Hymen et de l’Amour, ou Les Dieux d’Égypte (1747), the last of his large scale opera-dances; each act will be directed by different choreographers.