Music News 1/19/22



Punch Brothers, HELL ON CHURCH STREET (Nonesuch, $14.98) – In 1983, Tony Rice released his solo album, Church Street Blues. Tony, the most influential bluegrass and “new-grass” guitarist of his generation, also had a soulful voice, and he chose great material. Church Street Blues featured a mix of traditional songs, classics by Bill Monroe and Jimmy Rodgers, and newer songs by Norman Blake, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, and Tom Paxton, among others. 

The Punch Brothers—Chris Thile, mandolin;  Chris Eldridge, guitar; Noam Pikelny, banjo; Gabe Witcher, fiddle; and Paul Kowert, bass—have gone back to their bluegrass roots to salute and honor Tony Rice, and this album in particular, by doing their own version of it, beginning to end. To quote the band, “No record (or musician) has had a greater impact on us, and we felt compelled to cover it in its entirety, with the objective of interacting with it in the same spirit of respect-fueled adventure that Tony brought to each of its pre-existing songs.” Mr. Rice passed away just after the making of this album, in late December, 2020. 


NOTE: The Punch Brothers are scheduled to be in concert at the Lincoln Theater on February 26 and 27. 


Janis Ian, THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE LINE (Rude Girl, $17.98) – Janis Ian has been writing and singing songs since the mid-1960s, hitting the charts before she was 16, with “Society’s Child,” and scoring a huge hit in 1975 with “At Seventeen.” Her songwriting did not shy away from difficult political subjects—and she was one of the few gay artists of her era. Ms. Ian has called The Light at the End of the Line her final album, with the goal of getting off the road, and devoting more time to writing.  

Read the profile by Jim Farber in Tuesday’s New York Times.  


Gui Duvignau, BADEN (Sunnyside, $16.98) – Bassist Gui Duvignau salutes Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell, with saxophonist Billy Drewes, pianist Lawrence Fields, and drummer Jeff Hirshfield. Guitarist Bill Frisell guests on four tracks, and Duvignau’s mentor, bassist Ron Carter, on one. 




BLACK SWANS: AT MID-CENTURY (Parnassus, 2 CDs, $17.98) – Last year’s release, Black Swans, offered very rare recordings of classical repertoire by African American vocalists early in the twentieth century. Black Swans: At Mid-Century is the 2-CD follow-up, with legendary vocalists Marian Anderson, William Warfield, Robert McFerrin, Sr., Todd Duncan, and many more: Adele Addison, Jules Bledso, Carol Brice, Betty Allen, Thomas Carey, Margaret Tynes, and Camilla Williams, among others. 


Stephen Hough x 2 

BRAHMS: 3 SONATAS (BIS, $19.99) – Clarinetist Michael Collins and pianist Stephen Hough in the two late works, Sonatas for Clarinet and Piano, Op 120, Nos 1 and 2. Collins also nods to Brahms’s many re-arrangements of works by adapting the Sonata No 2 for Violin and Piano, Op. 100 to the clarinet. 

Stephen Hough also released a fantastic album late in 2021, his CHOPIN: NOCTURNES COMPLETE (Hyperion, 2 CDs, $29.98). 




Ray Charles, TRUE GENIUS (Tangerine/Ray Charles Foundation, 6 CDs and hardcover book, $101.98) – Singer, pianist, songwriter, bandleader, and arranger, Ray Charles became an American icon who created his own blend of soul. He mixed gospel, swing, blues, jazz, country, pop into a unique sound, and True Genius is a fantastic survey filling six discs, covering his entire career. Disc Six is a full concert performance, live in Stockholm in 1972.  (one copy in store, more by special order)