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Music News 5/19/2011
Levon Helm, RAMBLE AT THE RYMAN (Vanguard, $17.98) – Levon Helm was the drummer, and the most prominent vocalist in the Band, powering such songs as “The Weight,” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” In the past few years, he’s given concerts at his Woodstock barn, called Rambles, with guest stars dropping by. He took his show to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium for some great American music—blues, country, and root-sy rock-and-roll. There’s a pumped-up horn section, and guests like Sheryl Crow (on the Carter Family’s “No Depression in Heaven”), mandolinist Sam Bush, and harmonica player Sammy Davis drop by. Originals, some tasty covers, and Band standards like “Rag Mama Rag,” “Ophelia,” and “The Shape I’m In” are played with gusto. This is a great concert album, and Levon is bringing his Rambles to Wolf Trap on Thursday, June 9.
Meredith Monk, SONGS OF ASCENSION (ECM) – Meredith Monk is a pioneer in new music, dance, and performance art. Her vocal music is especially moving, and Songs of Ascension includes Monk and her Vocal Ensemble, and expands her compositional forces to include the voices of M6, the Montclair State University Singers, and the Todd Reynolds String Quartet.
Alex Ross wrote about Monk’s career and the stage version of Songs of Ascension in the New Yorker (http://www.therestisnoise.com/2009/11/meredith-monk-2009.html ).
Tune-Yards, w h o k i l l (4AD Records, $14.98) -- Merrill Garbus is Tune-Yards (or to be more typographically accurate, tUnE-yArDs), and she uses her voice (and imaginative vocal loops), percussion, ukulele, and other sonic embellishments in one of the best CDs of the year. Listen to her set at the recent South by Southwest showcase (http://www.npr.org/2011/04/07/134532458/sxsw-2011-tune-yards-live-in-concert ) to get an idea of her creative combination of styles.
VICTORIA’S 400th ANNIVERSARY
It is the 400th anniversary of the death of Tomás de Victoria (1548-1611), the most famous Spanish composer of the Renaissance. His music has been heard much more often in the last decade, and the Tallis Scholars have led this revival. THE VICTORIA COLLECTION (Gimell, 3 CDs, $19.98) is a box set that collects three albums—Requiem, Lamentations of Jeremiah, and Tenebrae Responsories—for the price of one CD.
And in this year of Victoria, don’t forget one of the most gorgeous albums of the last few years, countertenor Carlos Mena’s VICTORIA: ET JESUM (Harmonia Mundi, $13.98), displayed downstairs, the bottom of the stairs in our mid-price classical section.
FOLLIES AT THE KENNEDY CENTER
A new production of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies (1971) is at the Kennedy Center through June 19, directed by Signature’s Eric Schaeffer, and starring Bernadette Peters.
Listen to the original cast recording of FOLLIES (Angel, $12.98), starring Dorothy Collins, Alexis Smith, John McMartin, and Gene Nelson.
• András Goldinger