Music News 3/20/2019


Luther Dickinson and the Sisters of the Strawberry Moon, SOLSTICE (New West, $13.99) – A talented group of women gathered at a studio in Mississippi to sing and play together with a small combo—Amy Helm, Amy LaVere, Sharde Thomas, the Como Mamas (Ester Mae Wilbourn, Angelia Taylor & Della Daniels), and Allison Russell (one half of the group, Birds of Chicago, and who’s also on the new Songs of Our Native Daughters project). The women take turns on lead vocals, and are joined by Luther Dickinson and JT Nero (the other half of Birds of Chicago), and Drew Lindsay, plus a few instrumental guest musicians.

The southern connections are especially strong, with Sharde Thomas, a young master of the Mississippi African-American fife-and drum tradition, the Como Mamas also from Mississippi, Amy LaVere from Memphis, and Amy Helm, who joined her father, Levon (from Arkansas), in his band for many years.

 NOTE: Sisters of the Strawberry Moon performed earlier this month in DC, but Amy LaVere will be back in town with Will Sexton (who’s also on Solstice) next Tuesday, March 26, at Hill Country Live.

 Andrew Bird, MY FINEST WORK YET (Loma Vista, $14.98) – Andrew Bird’s unique talents—writing, singing, whistling, and violin playing—are all featured on his latest.


Van Morrison, THE HEALING GAME (Sony Legacy, 3 CDs, $20.98) – First released in 1997, the new deluxe edition includes a CD of alternate takes, and duets with John Lee Hooker, Lonnie Donegan and Carl Perkins, plus a 1997 performance from the Montreux Jazz Festival, issued for the first time.


Lara Downes & Friends, HOLES IN THE SKY (Sony Classical, $13.98) – Pianist Lara Downes focuses on women composers and performers on Holes in the Sky. Vocalist friends include Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, Judy Collins, Magos Herrera, and Alicia Hall Moran. She also collaborates with fellow pianist Simone Dinnerstein and violinist Rachel Barton Pine.

Composers include Florence Price, Meredith Monk, Hazel Scott, Elena Ruehr, Libby Larsen, Lil Hardin Armstrong, Joni Mitchell, and the writing teams of Billie Holiday/Arthur Herzog, and Abbey Lincoln/Melba Liston.

Last month, Ms. Downes performed some numbers from the project (along with Rhiannon Giddens) at her Sixth & I recital.

Yo-Yo Ma, SALONEN: CELLO CONCERTO (Sony Classical, $13.98) – Esa-Pekka Salonen wrote his newest work, in classic three-movement concerto structure, for Yo-Yo Ma. This recording features the composer conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien, VIERNE FRANCK YSAŸE BOULANGER (Hyperion, $19.98) – Last year, violinist Alina Ibragimova and pianist Cédric Tiberghien released the fifth and final volume their set of Mozart duets. Now they deliver a French and Franco-Belgian program featuring two major works by César Franck and Louis Vierne. They open and close the recital with shorter works by Eugène Ysaÿe and Lili Boulanger.