Charles Mingus : The Jazz Workshop Concerts: 1964-1965

When Sy Johnson, a jazz pianist and arranger, used to visit Charles Mingus at his apartment in the East Village in the 1960s, there was always a pot of soup on the stove, and Mingus—a gourmand who once interrupted a concert to eat a steak dinner on the bandstand—was constantly tasting it. “He would say—‘Needs … Continue reading Charles Mingus : The Jazz Workshop Concerts: 1964-1965

American Original : John Fahey (1939-2001)

“I consider myself a classical guitar player, but I’m categorized as a folk musician,” John Fahey says ruefully in the new documentary In Search of Blind Joe Death—The Saga of John Fahey. In true Fahey fashion, he speaks humbly while taking Occam’s Razor to his own complicated place in music history. One thing that Fahey … Continue reading American Original : John Fahey (1939-2001)

Abbey Lincoln : A Turtle’s Dream

Singer Abbey Lincoln has been persuasive in her recordings over the past few years, but in her latest release, "A Turtle's Dream," she attains a new expressive depth and ardor. Probably the best recording of her career, "A Turtle's Dream"  documents an artist who has pared down her means and her message to their essence. … Continue reading Abbey Lincoln : A Turtle’s Dream

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

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

Maurice Duruflé : The Last Impressionist

Maurice Duruflé (11 January 1902 – 16 June 1986) was a French composer, organist, and teacher. Although he was born in 1902 and died in 1986, Maurice Duruflé is not a typical 20th-century musician. Compared with other great composers of his day — Bernstein, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Britten — he seems strangely out of touch with … Continue reading Maurice Duruflé : The Last Impressionist

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 … Continue reading Composer Profile : Kate Soper