Three Birthdays Today : Mississippi Fred McDowell; Jay McShann; Morton Feldman

When Mississippi Fred McDowell proclaimed on one of his last albums, “I do not play no rock & roll,” it was less a boast by an aging musician swept aside by the big beat than a mere statement of fact. As a stylist and purveyor of the original Delta blues, he was superb, equal parts Charley […]

God Don’t Never Change : The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson

Seminal gospel-blues artist Blind Willie Johnson is regarded as one of the greatest bottleneck slide guitarists. Yet the Texas street-corner evangelist is known as much for the his powerful and fervent gruff voice as he is for his ability as a guitarist. He most often sang in a rough, bass voice (only occasionally delivering in […]

Composer Profile : Kate Soper

Kate Soper is a composer, performer, and writer whose work explores the integration of drama and rhetoric into musical structure, the slippery continuums of expressivity, intelligibility and sense, and the wonderfully treacherous landscape of the human voice. She has been hailed by the Boston Globe as “a composer of trenchant, sometimes discomfiting, power” and praised […]

Wynton Marsalis : His Jazz Suites from the 1990s

Shortly after Wynton Marsalis burst on the scene in the 1980s, he and what was seen as his “agenda” became subjects of controversy.  Just prior, the Jazz scene had experienced Free Jazz and Fusion, both of which were styles Marsalis and his fellow traveler Stanley Crouch opined were “outside the tradition” of Jazz. Two decades […]