Guillaume Du Fay: The Tenor Masses (Les messes à teneur)

What did it mean for Guillaume Du Fay (ca. 1397-1474), chameleon-like expert in every musical genre of his day, to compose four settings of the Mass Ordinary toward the end of his life? Looking back from the vantage point of the next generation, when the polyphonic mass reigned supreme, it might be tempting to interpret … Continue reading Guillaume Du Fay: The Tenor Masses (Les messes à teneur)

American Roots Music : Three Bands/Artists

American Roots Music, is what I am calling what the three artists make whom I will highlight today. I took the classification from American Roots Music, a 2001 multi-part documentary film that explores the historical roots of American Roots music which, in the PBS film, includes Folk, Country, Blues, Gospel, and Bluegrass.   Common elements are … Continue reading American Roots Music : Three Bands/Artists

Robert Glasper : Taking Jazz to New Audiences

Hailing from Houston, Texas, Robert Glasper is a jazz pianist with a knack for mellow, harmonically complex compositions that also reveal a subtle hip-hop influence. Inspired to play piano by his mother, a gospel pianist and vocalist, Glasper attended Houston's High School for the Performing Arts. After graduation, he studied music at the New School … Continue reading Robert Glasper : Taking Jazz to New Audiences

Sara Carter, The Carter Family and “New Old Timey” Music

Today marks the birthday of Sara Carter, one of the original members of The Carter Family.  She was A.P. Carter's wife and the main singer for the group.  Marital problems forced the group to end their performing career, however not before they left an amazing amount of great music. The Carter Family is considered one … Continue reading Sara Carter, The Carter Family and “New Old Timey” Music

Ralph Stanley : February 25, 1927 – June 23, 2016

The worlds of bluegrass, country and roots music lost one of its patriarchs this week:  Ralph Stanley died in his sleep at age 89 Thursday night. Among other things, Stanley was a master of a style of banjo playing which came to be called the "Stanley style", which differed from both the Scruggs style or strict claw-hammer … Continue reading Ralph Stanley : February 25, 1927 – June 23, 2016

Guy Clark dies at 74

Best known as one of the great songwriters of the 20th century, Clark took unassuming characters and mundane happenings and projected them into narratives with epic scope. Among Texas songwriters, only Willie Nelson and Townes Van Zandt compare to Clark, who died at age 74 Tuesday morning at his Nashville home, after a long illness. Guy … Continue reading Guy Clark dies at 74

Two Pop Masterpieces Turn 50 Today : Pet Sounds & Blonde on Blonde

Both recordings were released on May 16, 1966, fifty years ago today.  One a ground breaking aural masterpiece which broke the mold of what a rock band might aspire toward with album length work; the other an impressive combination of roots rock and Shakespearian imagery.  Brian Wilson’s Pet Sounds inspired The Beatles and countless other … Continue reading Two Pop Masterpieces Turn 50 Today : Pet Sounds & Blonde on Blonde

Shelby Lynne : A long and winding road leading to artistic fulfillment

Shelby Lynne was destined to be a singer. Born a singer. She was raised in rural Alabama by musical parents who stressed individuality and the importance of standing apart from others. Lynne was born Shelby Lynne Moorer in Quantico, Virginia, in 1968 and spent most of her childhood in Jackson, Alabama. Her father was a … Continue reading Shelby Lynne : A long and winding road leading to artistic fulfillment

Andrew Hill : uniquely gifted composer, pianist and educator

Whenever the thumbnail sketch of the 1960s American jazz avant-garde is drawn, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor or Sun Ra appear in the foreground - and even a half-dozen other faces might materialize before that of Andrew Hill, who died at age 75 of lung cancer on this date in 2007. A uniquely gifted … Continue reading Andrew Hill : uniquely gifted composer, pianist and educator

Ornette Coleman : Artist of the Century

When Ornette Coleman passed away last year at the age of 85 there was much written about his life, career and impact.  Today is his birthday, and I wish to mark the day by repeating some of those remembrances and listening his music, which is his true legacy. Joe Lovano Saxophonist From an early age … Continue reading Ornette Coleman : Artist of the Century