Music

Review: Jacaszek, 'KWIATY'

Mar 9, 2017

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


Polish composer Michał Jacaszek's new album KWIATY, which translates as "flowers," strives to locate beauty in desolation. These aren't the kaleidoscopic gardens of Victorian manors. They're the dried petals inside old acrylic paperweights, their life cycles frozen in time.

Dave Valentin became one of the pre-eminent flutists in Latin jazz. He was known for his creative combination of fusion, pop and R&B.

He won a Grammy in 2003 for best Latin jazz album for "The Gathering," by the Caribbean Jazz Project. Vibraphonist Dave Samuels was also featured on that record.

Manager Richie Bonilla told news agencies that Valentin, 64, who had suffered multiple strokes over the last several years, died Wednesday from stroke complications and Parkinson's disease.

An impresario and producer who helped launch the careers of many marquee-name musicians, comedians and actors — including Bob Dylan, Woody Allen and Bruce Lee — has died. Fred Weintraub was 88 years old.

His wife, Jackie, confirmed his death to NPR. He died at their home in Pacific Palisades, Calif. on March 5, due to complications related to Parkinson's disease.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUPER TRAPPER")

FUTURE: (Singing) The top come out the Lam' 'cause I'm a super trapper. My pockets on fat Albert. I'm a super trapper.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Last week, a fierce battle was pitched between the Austin, Texas-based music mega-festival South by Southwest (SXSW) and artists who took exception to a certain passage in the agreements which SXSW sends to its performers.

PWR BTTM is goofy as hell, like we could ever forget. The fab rock 'n' roll duo's "Answer My Text" is the latest single from their upcoming Pageant, a nervous flirtation wrought in emojis and a "funny joke from that TV show you said that you like."

It's been nearly six years since the Fleet Foxes released any new music. But Tuesday morning the group announced it's got a new album coming in the spring called Crack-Up. In making the announcement, frontman Robin Pecknold shared a lyric video for a nearly nine-minute song called "Third of May / Ōdaigahara."

Chance the Rapper is not leaving the future of Chicago school kids to chance. During a press conference Monday at Westcott Elementary School, on the city's South Side, the newly minted Grammy winner announced plans to donate $1 million to Chicago Public Schools.

"This check that I donated is a call to action," said Chance, calling for politicians and corporations to follow suit as the conference streamed live on Instagram. "I'm challenging major companies in Chicago and all across the U.S. to take action."

Symphony orchestras and opera companies across the country continually ask the same question: How do we attract a younger and more diverse audience?

Saturday night, I discovered something of an answer at the Washington National Opera's east coast premiere of Champion, a four-year-old opera by jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard.

In 21 seasons of attending WNO performances, I've never witnessed a more diverse crowd.

Practice is a physical activity, of course, but it's also hard mental work — if you're doing it right. A new video published by TED Ed gets down to the scientific nitty-gritty of what good practice looks like, and what it does to your brain. (Think axons and myelin, not "muscle memory" — muscles don't have "memory.")

Future has made history: the Atlanta rapper's two albums, released back-to-back over two weeks, have each officially landed at the peak of the Billboard 200 albums chart. With the respective releases of FUTURE on Feb. 17 and HNDRXX on Feb. 24, Future is the first solo act in the 61-year history of the album chart to supplant himself at No. 1 with two successive releases, according to Billboard:

One week and a day before thousands will descend on downtown Austin for South By Southwest 2017, what seemed like a standard bit of legalese in contracts given to artists performing at this year's SXSW music festival has, amidst a markedly shifted political climate, erupted into controversy. Musicians have accused the festival of threatening foreign performers with deportation if they appear outside official festival venues.

Front Street Blues host Lan Nichols explores the newest release from one of North Carolina's most prolific blues artists of the new century, Randy McQuay. A three-time finalist of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN, Randy brought the IBC solo championship trophy back to Wilmington in 2015, leaving no question about his hard work and love of the  blues.

Even amongst East Coast traditionalists, talk of bringing back New York rap has become a tired cliché. But a blazing freestyle has a way of elevating the conversation.

Thursday would have been Lou Reed's 75th birthday. This morning, his widow, performance artist Laurie Anderson, marked the occasion by announcing that the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts will house Reed's complete archives. The collection includes thousands of hours of video and audio recordings, Reed's personal record collection and more than 300 boxes of papers, photos and other items spanning his six-decade career.

Lady Gaga will be filling in for Beyoncé as Coachella's Saturday headliner for the two-weekend festival.

Don't Bother Big Sean — He's Working

Feb 28, 2017

Real life will tell you different, but to let rap lists tell it an artist peaks in his late teens or early 20s. Most MC's debut albums are praised as their classics, even retroactively, while fans spend the rest of their careers pleading for them to return to their glory days. Nas has had a phenomenal career, but he still hasn't topped Illmatic. Jay Z wasn't popular until 1998, but his 1996 debut Reasonable Doubt is seen as his undisputed best. And no matter how much he pushes the boundaries of hip-hop, many fans want "the old Kanye."

Editor's note: The authors of this post, Peter Kolovos and Steve Lowenthal, worked closely with Hideo Ikeezumi in his final years, with Kolovos purchasing most of the impressive catalog of music he had released and reissuing that catalog through his U.S.-based Black Editions. Below, they share a remembrance of the man as well as a cross-sectional playlist, complete with "liner notes," compiled from the vast catalog of strange, lovely sounds that Mr. Ikeezumi dedicated himself to.

We watched more than 6,000 videos. Ten judges weighed in. Now, the 2017 Tiny Desk Contest has a winner.

It's become an annual tradition for NPR to host a live band in our studios for a full day. This year, we upped the ante and invited around 70 musicians from Washington, D.C.'s National Symphony Orchestra to play the musical interludes between stories on All Things Considered.

Hip-hop took off its cool over the weekend — and lit itself ablaze in the process.

Two seemingly unrelated threads this past weekend served as raucous, yin-and-yang reminders that hip-hop is not just a genre measured by charts, award show accolades and platinum plaques, but an organic culture unbound by industry rules.

Last night, after all was said and done — you might've heard about a late-in-the-evening mix-upMoonlight was deservingly crowned last year's best film by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Well, excuse me while I throw away my first draft, won't you?

Front Street Blues host & producer Lan Nichols will serve up some fine blues this Saturday night at 11:00 pm. Expect tasty cuts from Earl Hooker and Francine Reed. Plus, Phil Berkowitz & The Lucky Losers, Si Cranstoun, Elliott & The Untouchables, Jimmy Reed, Devon Allman, Jody Williams, Too Slim & The Taildraggers, Buddy Black, and others. Always the finest in classic, contemporary, and traditional blues - never a dull moment. Tune in via your browser at http://whqr.org.

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