Music

Can made music from an imaginary country, one with its own traditions and language — which means none at all. In its work, jazz, funk, electronic, psychedelic and minimalist music ran wild through impossible valleys and fantastic mountaintops. Some call it krautrock by virtue of the band's German home base in Cologne. Most just call it Can.

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The NEA Jazz Masters Award is often described as the nation's highest honor for a living jazz musician. From the first its program has celebrated a broad aesthetic range — its inaugural class of honorees, in 1982, consisted of bebop icon Dizzy Gillespie, his trumpet precursor Roy Eldridge and the interstellar visionary Sun Ra. As those initial inductees show, the roll call of NEA Jazz Masters have represented striking diversity within the uppermost echelon of achievement in this music.

The first time cardiologist Sonia Tolani performed CPR outside a hospital was in 2009.

She was on the subway in New York City, headed home from work, when she saw a man slump to the ground and stop breathing.

"It was super crowded, it was like rush hour," she remembers. "I just decided we needed to do something, and dragged him out into the center of the subway train [and] I just started doing CPR."

Ikutaro Kakehashi, the founder of the Japanese music company Roland, died yesterday at the age of 87. The news was confirmed by the company in a statement.

Decades of hits performed by everyone from Marvin Gaye to Madonna used Roland's iconic inventions. Kakehashi was also one of the original architects of MIDI, a method introduced in 1983 of getting different musical machines to "talk" to each other and which is still in used regularly around the world.

Since its inception, hip-hop has been grappling with the timeless question Marvin Gaye posed on his seminal 1971 album: What's Going On?

This weekend happens to mark the 33rd anniversary of Gaye's own untimely death (on April 1, 1984) resulting from a domestic dispute with his father that happened just one day before the singer/songwriter's birthday. Gaye would've turned 77 this year.

Calvin Harris has a habit of making ubiquitous summer jams.

Kendrick Lamar dropped the presumptive first single — titled "Humble" — from his highly anticipated forthcoming album on Thursday night, just a week after teasing new music with a cryptic Instagram post.

Breaking news this morning: Dan Auerbach has been abducted by aliens to compete in intergalactic demolition derbies.

Last fall, the Nobel Committee for Literature announced that its newest honoree would be Bob Dylan, immediately generating heated debates on whether he deserved the prize.

Where Have All The Bob Seger Albums Gone?

Mar 29, 2017

There was no such thing as Classic Rock in 1976 — the phrase, and the radio format it inspired, wouldn't come into common usage until the mid-1980s. But there was already some notion of a rock and roll canon, a list of key albums that FM listeners needed to have in their collection. At the start of 1976, Bob Seger had zero albums on that list. Twelve months later, he had two: Live Bullet, the double LP documenting some blistering hometown sets at Detroit's Cobo Hall, and Night Moves, his first platinum album, whose title single would peak at No. 4 as 1977 began.

Bob Dylan will be accepting his Nobel Prize in literature this weekend, according to the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy. In a blog post Tuesday, Sara Danius announced the "good news" that members of the academy will be meeting with Dylan when he makes a tour stop in Stockholm.

Although it closed 60 years ago, Black Mountain College keeps on giving. In its heyday, the liberal arts institution near Asheville, N.C., counted many of the mid-century's great artistic thinkers, including John Cage, Willem de Kooning, Cy Twombly, Buckminster Fuller, Francine du Plessy Gray and Robert Rauschenberg, among its faculty and students.

The first opera hit the stage over 400 years ago. More recently, the art form has been adapted to modern media: In the 1920s and '30s, operas were written to be performed on the radio, and in 1951, NBC commissioned Gian Carlo Menotti to compose Amahl And The Night Visitors for television.

On July 2, Adele will make the final stop on a 15-month tour to support her 2015 blockbuster 25. The tour certainly hasn't hurt: Far and away the best-selling album of recent years — it was top seller of 2015 and 2016, and no other record came close — 25 also won the Grammy for Album Of The Year back in February.

On March 18, Drake released More Life, 22 songs packaged as what he's calling a playlist and what everyone else (including the streaming svengalis at Apple Music and Spotify) have categorized as an album. Whatever you call it, on Monday, Billboard announced that More Life had arrived at the top of the Billboard 200, which tracks the performance of the world's most popular albums, mostly through fans streaming it on Spotify and Apple Music.

Movie fans know that Hollywood opens its most prestigious films every December, right before the Oscar nomination deadline. The same is true of Broadway — except it happens in the spring, before the Tony nominations come out. This year's is an exceptionally crowded season, with 18 shows — half of them musicals — opening in March and April.

Last season was all about Hamilton. Everyone knew it was going to win the Tony for best musical, but Barry Weissler, who produced Waitress, didn't care.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Unexpected releases, surprise announcements, the loss of giants - this week the music news kept coming. And here with the latest, NPR music editors Jacob Ganz. Hey there, Jacob.

JACOB GANZ, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.

Kendrick Lamar wasted no time following through on his mysterious "IV" Instagram post. Last night, the Compton MC released a new song, "The Heart Part 4," and it's a no-holds-barred lyrical onslaught.

Within the span of five minutes, over shifting beats produced by Syk Sense, The Alchemist, DJ Dahi and Axlfolie, Lamar waxes philosophical, adversarial and political while dropping heat on everyone from phony rappers to President Trump.

Kendrick Lamar, deservedly hailed as the god MC of his generation, made a peculiar pronouncement from on high (i.e., high-speed Internet) today that has fans genuflecting in collective anticipation.

The rapper's Instagram account was wiped clean Thursday morning, replaced with one cryptic post added around sunrise. The simple white-on-black image of the Roman numeral "IV," with no caption provided, has led to a near-universal interpretation: Prepare ye the way for the impending release of Lamar's fourth studio album.

This is the story of a hoax that almost was. Its motivating force was a hunger for fame, or infamy, or whispered legend in a particularly American sort of way. It begins on a beach somewhere in south Florida.

Two years ago, René Pérez Joglar took a chance.

For over a decade, the 39-year-old had been the voice of Calle 13, a Puerto Rican hip-hop crew that had grown to massive visibility. The two core members — producer Eduardo Cabra, known as Visitante, and Joglar, who rapped as Residente — had earned the group three Grammys and two dozen Latin Grammys, and were considered one of the biggest Latin acts in the world. And then, Joglar decided he was done.

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.


The great Beethoven specialist András Schiff says, "Whatever we do on the piano is a collection of illusions." If that's true, then Volker Bertelmann, the German pianist who goes by the single name Hauschka, is a master illusionist.

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.

Musicians from all over the world are settling back at home, recovering from last week's South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Hundreds of musicians played throughout the week, for crowds big and small.

Singer Kevin Morby is back with a followup to last year's much beloved full-length Singing Saw. The new album is called City Music and is due out June 16 on Dead Oceans. Morby has also shared the record's first single and lyric video, the moody and transfixing "Come To Me Now."

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