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A Thousand Thoughts by Kronos Quartet
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NPR: Kronos Quartet: Behind The Scenes And Out Of Doors
Morning Edition: The Kronos Quartet: Still Daring After All These Years
NPR: Kronos Quartet At 40: Songs We Love
NPR: Latitudes: International Music You Must Hear Now
NPR: Kronos Quartet: Tiny Desk Concert
Kronos Quartet and its artistic director/founding violinist David Harrington have long been known as interpreters of music from around the world, expanding the string quartet repertoire with works from across genres. Nonesuch, the Quartet’s longtime label, celebrates this remarkable curiosity in the group’s 40th anniversary year with two releases: the Kronos Explorer Series five-CD box set and a new album for 2014, A Thousand Thoughts.
A Thousand Thoughts is a look at Kronos’ geographically wide-ranging sources. It features music from 14 different countries, including China, India, Sweden, and Vietnam. The album includes the four cellists who have been in Kronos Quartet over the last 36 years: Joan Jeanrenaud (1978-1999), Jennifer Culp (1999-2005), Jeffrey Zeigler (2005-2013), and Sunny Yang (2013-present). Ten of the album’s 15 pieces are previously unreleased.
Carter Girl by Carlene Carter
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As Heard on Public Radio:
Weekend Edition: Family Musical Legacy is No Burden for this ‘Carter Girl’
Fresh Air: Carlene Carter Carries the Heavy Burden of History Lightly
Bluegrass Organization: Carter Girl Review
Carter Girl is the first album of new recordings this decade from Americana legend Carlene Carter. Produced by Don Was, Carter Girl is, in a very literal way, Carlene’s personal homage to the Carter Family legacy that both underpins so much of America’s music and is part of her own DNA. The album revisits both classic Carter Family repertoire as well as original songs that reflect Carlene’s direct connection to her roots. Willie Nelson guests on “Troublesome Waters” and Kris Kristofferson joins Carlene on “Black Jack David” while the unmistakable voice of Vince Gill is heard harmonizing on “Lonesome Valley 2003.” Musicians on the sessions included Jim Keltner, Rami Jaffee, Greg Leisz, Sam Bush, Mickey Raphael, Blake Mills as well as Don Was on bass. There are vocal contributions from generations past — Carlene’s aunts Helen and Anita Carter as well as her mom, June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash on the chorus of “I Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow” — that make Carter Girl an evocative collection, bringing music history to life for contemporary listeners.
Looking Into You: A Tribute to Jackson Browne
WFPK: Album of the Month - Looking into You
Strange Currency: New Music
A Tribute album to Jackson Browne featuring Ben Harper, Lyle Lovett, Keb Mo, Bonnie Raitt, Shawn Colvin, Bruce Hornsby and Bruce Springsteen, among others.
A Dotted Line by Nickel Creek
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A Prairie Home Companion: Nickel Creek
NPR First Listen: Nickel Creek, ‘A Dotted Line’
Mountain Stage: Nickel Creek On Mountain Stage
Folk Alley: Sara And Sean Watkins: Folk In The Family
The Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum selling trio Nickel Creek Chris Thile (mandolin/vocals), Sara Watkins (fiddle/vocals), and Sean Watkins (guitar/vocals) officially reunites for the first time since its 2007 self-described “indefinite hiatus” with the album A Dotted Line, followed by a tour of the US in support of the Eric Valentine-produced album, which includes the 2014 Telluride Bluegrass and Newport Folk Festivals.
As Nickel Creek’s 25th anniversary approached, the band members decided they ought to mark it in some way, so they got together to write music in Chris Thile’s apartment last year. They ended up with six new co-written songs, which they eventually took to a Los Angeles studio, along with one tune by Thile, one by Sean Watkins, and two covers: Sam Phillips’ “Where Is Love Now” and Mother Mother’s “Hayloft. ” There they worked with Valentine (Queens of the Stone Age, Smash Mouth), who had produced Nickel Creek’s previous album, Why Should the Fire Die?.
"We were excited every day to be there," Sara Watkins says. "Having grown up singing together, there is something natural about our voices and it’s really fun to harmonize. Our voices have come to match each other’s really well. Sean and I are siblings, and Chris is about as close to a sibling as you could get. " Sean Watkins continues: "It feels more natural and easy than it ever did, by far. Getting to spend time alone with our own musical personalities has helped us mature. "
"There’s a joyful aspect to Nickel Creek no matter what we’re doing. Things just steer themselves into that sort of place, " concurs Thile. "We will go poke around in the dark corners but always with a heavy dose of optimism. "
The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style by Nelson George
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Tell Me More: How ‘Soul Train’ Shaped A Generation
An authoritative history of the groundbreaking syndicated television show that has become an icon of American pop culture, from acclaimed author and filmmaker Nelson George, “the most accomplished black music critic of his generation” (Washington Post Book World).
When it debuted in October 1971, seven years after the Civil Rights Act, Soul Train boldly went where no variety show had gone before, showcasing the cultural preferences of young African-Americans and the sounds that defined their lives: R&B, funk, jazz, disco, and gospel music. The brainchild of radio announcer Don Cornelius, the show’s producer and host, Soul Train featured a diverse range of stars, from James Brown and David Bowie to Christine Aguilera and R. Kelly; Marvin Gaye and Elton John to the New Kids on the Block and Stevie Wonder.
The Hippest Trip in America tells the full story of this pop culture phenomenon that appealed not only to blacks, but to a wide crossover audience as well. Famous dancers like Rosie Perez and Jody Watley, performers such as Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and Barry White, and Cornelius himself share their memories, offering insights into the show and its time—a period of extraordinary social and political change. Colorful and pulsating, The Hippest Trip In America is a fascinating portrait of a revered cultural institution that has left an indelible mark on our national consciousness.
The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison
NPR: 'Empathy Exams' Is A Virtuosic Manifesto Of Human Pain
Beginning with her experience as a medical actor who was paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Leslie Jamison’s visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about each other? How can we feel another’s pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed? Is empathy a tool by which to test or even grade each other? By confronting pain—real and imagined, her own and others’—Jamison uncovers a personal and cultural urgency to feel. She draws from her own experiences of illness and bodily injury to engage in an exploration that extends far beyond her life, spanning wide-ranging territory—from poverty tourism to phantom diseases, street violence to reality television, illness to incarceration—in its search for a kind of sight shaped by humility and grace.
Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers by Frank X Walker
Tell Me More: Civil Rights Turmoil In Verse: Retelling Medgar Evers’ Story
Around the void left by the murder of Medgar Evers in 1963, the poems in this collection speak, unleashing the strong emotions both before and after the moment of assassination. Poems take on the voices of Evers’s widow, Myrlie; his brother, Charles; his assassin, Byron De La Beckwith; and each of De La Beckwith’s two wives. Except for the book’s title,”Turn me loose,” which were his final words, Evers remains in this collection silent. Yet the poems accumulate facets of the love and hate with which others saw this man, unghosting him in a way that only imagination makes possible.
Book of Hours: Poems by Kevin Young
NPR Poetry: Twinning Grief And Hope, A Poet Softens Pain’s Sharp Edge
Fresh Air: Kevin Young On Blues, Poetry And ‘Laughing To Keep From Crying’
NPR Poetry: Ice Cube Sculptures, Tulips And Death: A 2014 Poetry Preview
What could be better, or harder, than death and birth in one book? Young is our prolific chronicler of the state of the African-American union, but also of fatherhood, of son-hood. These poems counter the grief of the father’s death with the bewildering joy of a child’s birth. This is mourning with its feet on the ground — of the dead father’s dogs, Young writes, “Their grief is colossal// & forgetful./ Each day they wake/ seeking his voice,//their names.” He also evokes new fatherhood with all the grit: “Like the rest of us,” he says to his newborn son, “You swim// In your own piss.” Young has captured true adulthood between the covers of a book.
In Defense of Nothing: Selected Poems, 1987-2011 by Peter Gizzi
Gizzi’s poems blend the most enduring experimental techniques — sudden jumps, seemingly missing bits of info, reverence for the obscure — with god-awful heartbreaking emotional outbursts, sheer sweetness and hurt naked on the page. His blunt declarations become sudden questions, for which the answers are only more poems. “The present is always coming up to us, surrounding us,” he writes in the title poem. “It’s hard to imagine atoms, hard to imagine hydrogen & oxygen binding, it’ll have to do.” This selection brings together poems from his hard-to-find first two books with his picks for the best of his more recent three. What is contemporary poetry about? Gizzi has one plausible answer.
They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re Full by Mark Bibbins
Bibbins is today’s poetry’s hipster cynic. His poems are laugh-out-loud funny, but they just can’t stand the way things are turning out, despite some delight on the way to bad ends: “how do we delete/ what’s onscreen when someone put a foot/ through it last night,” he wonders. Here, pop music and the Internet butt heads with the eternal. The book’s a little crazy, packed with air quotes and brackets, jokes and condemnations, forms that explode across the page. Crazily enough, it’s also packed with truth.
The Pedestrians by Rachel Zucker
Two books in one, The Pedestrians combines a sequence of fables about a highly pressurized, but not unusual, domestic life — “They slept in the smoke-drenched bed or rather the husband snored and sputtered and she lay awake and unseeing under her chilled eye mask” — with a group of confessional lyrics that reveal dreams, city life, sex, love and parenthood: “I don’t want to have coffee or not have coffee / or listen to the This American Life podcast on infidelity / which makes me tired b/c I don’t want to have sex w// anyone.” Zucker reminds us how wild contemporary poetry gets when it spends Saturday nights at home.
Time is a Toy: The Selected Poems of Michael Benedikt
NPR Poetry: Wise, Funny Poems, Saved From The Trash Bin In The Nick Of ‘Time’
Michael Benedikt (1935 2007), who has been occasionally grouped with the New York School poets, published five books of poetry in his lifetime, and edited several anthologies, including the influential The Prose Poem (1976) and The Poetry of Surrealism (1974). This collection brings together for the first time work from all five of those long out-of-print volumes, along with work from his five unpublished manuscripts, which were nearly destroyed after his death. Finally, this once widely published and influential voice is back in print, and a fuller understanding of the development of American surrealism and the prose poem in the 1960s and 1970s is possible. A lifelong New Yorker, Benedikt was at various times an associate editor with Art News and Art International, managing editor of Locus Solus, and poetry editor of the Paris Review. Benedikt also taught at institutions such as Sarah Lawrence, Bennington, Vassar, and Boston University.
Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting: Poems by Kevin Powers
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NPR: With Poetic Intensity, Kevin Powers Tackles The Terror Of War
An Iraq war veteran, National Book Award finalist and author of The Yellow Birds offers poems capturing the life of a soldier, including waiting in the dusty Middle Eastern heat and writing a love letter back home.
Between Worlds by Avi Avital
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Classical MPR: New Classical Tracks: An Instrument Between Worlds
A genre-defying tour of the globe exploring the nexus between classical, popular and traditional music uniquely inhabited by Avi Avital and his magical mandolin.
From Bach to Bluegrass to Balkan Beats, the mandolin is the chameleon of the music world - every culture and musical genre features the mandolin or one of its close relatives - and Avi Avital is this beautiful instruments most charismatic, versatile exponent.
After the success of the Bach recording, Avi returns to again defy expectations with a selection of beautiful melodies and delightful dances from Europe, Central Asia, and the Americas, each with roots in popular folk traditions, arranged by some of the worlds greatest classical composers. The resulting dialogue between North and South, East and West, New and Old, Classical and Traditional - offers a captivating musical journey Between Worlds.
For this journey, Avi is joined by a host of special guests: from music legends such as Richard Galliano and Giora Feidman, to DG stars such as Catrin Finch, accompanied by a hand-picked ensemble of virtuoso friends from around the world. The joy is palpable, the colors and rhythms irresistible.
Repertoire highlights include the popular Monti Czardas, Bachianas Brasilieras (Villa-Lobos), Blochs spiritual Nigun, Spanish, Bulgarian, Romanian, Cuban and Georgian folk dances, and a very special Piazzolla tango.
Beethoven Piano Sonatas, Vol. 2 by Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
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Classical MPR: Regional Spotlight: Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet continues his complete chronological survey of Beethoven’s piano sonatas. This three-disc set runs from the Op. 22 Sonata in B flat major to the great ‘Waldstein’ Sonata Op. 53. - The first volume in the series received high praise, with BBC Music Magazine describing his performances as ‘distinguished and virtuosic’ and Fanfare stating ‘his readings will withstand the test of time’.