Can you believe we’re already past the midpoint of 2017? That means it’s time for us to crack open our books and reveal the data we’ve collected from the Discogs Database and Marketplace for a better look at music sales in 2017 and Discogs’ growth. And, once again, we’re comparing some of our numbers to the […]
On a visit to Salzburg, I had time for one composer-grave day trip: Bruckner in St. Florian or Webern in Mittersill. I polled the collective sagacity of Twitter, which voted decisively for Bruckner. Indeed, St. Florian is a most remarkable place: not only the famous crypt, where the late symphonist lies beneath his beloved organ and opposite a wall of skulls, but also the basilica itself, the Albrecht Altdorfer Passion altar, and the astonishingly atmospheric monastery library. Alas, the Hörerlebnis Brucknerorgel (Bruckner organ listening experience) that ordinarily occurs on Tuesdays was postponed. I offer my apologies to Dr. Webern and pledge to visit him another time.
Previously: Georg Trakl, Thomas Mann, Nietzsche, Monteverdi, Koussevitzky, Michael Furey, Luranah Aldridge, Ligeti, Frescobaldi, Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, Baudelaire and Beckett, Nadia and Lili Boulanger, Stravinsky and Nono, Zemlinsky, Schnittke, Fibich, Xavier Scharwenka, Elliott Carter, Enescu, Rachmaninov, Mahler and many others, Russ.
Melvins’ Buzz Osborne is a superhero. Before Nirvana. Before Soundgarden. Before Tool. Before Slipknot. Before Mastodon. There was Buzz and Melvins. Godfathers of Grunge. From their EP debut in 1986 ‘Melvins,’ to this year’s ‘A Walk With Death,’ Buzz has created, destroyed, toured, and lived at a furious pace. Now twenty-five albums in, recently The […]
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This week's free download is 'Behold the Sun!' from Haydn's The Seasons. Paul McCreesh leads the Gabrieli Consort, two choirs, and and a team of soloists including Carolyn Sampson, Jeremy Ovenden and Andrew Foster-Williams, who feature all on this track.
'McCreesh revels in Hydn's masterly skills,' writes George Hall. 'The choir's tone is full-bodied yet never heavy, the distinctive characters of the period instruments change with the seasons.'
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African stars old and new delight the Charlton Park crowds on the final day
Those who braved the lakes of treacle-like mud, wind, rain and eventually sun were treated to a glorious day of music on Sunday at WOMAD, featuring many newcomers plus a handful of legendary acts such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Roy Ayers and Bonga.
The day began at the Charlie Gillett stage with the BBC Radio 3 and 6Music simulcast broadcast. Presenters Lopa Kothari and Cerys Matthews were the as ever glamorous and entertaining hosts, whose guests included the Mexican chicano group Las Cafeteras from Los Angeles; Msafiri Zawose from Tanzania and the Ska Vengers from India.
The first act on the Open Air stage was Mamadou Diabaté from Burkina Faso and his troupe of balafon (wooden xylophone) players. Perhaps it was their thunderous percussive sound that briefly kept the showers at bay and meant they attracted a big crowd. They were certainly one of several acts from Africa who really shone out.
On the same stage later that afternoon came Bonga, the resplendent singer from Angola. Now in his 70s, Bonga has recently released his 30th album, yet he’s still a striking figure onstage, with a deeply powerful and soulful voice. The light, semba dance rhythms of his music belie the fact that many of these songs are ones of resistance – in the early 70s his music was banned by the Salazar dictatorship in Angola.
Following on from one veteran’s performance, it was the turn of a new star in the making, Msafiri Zawose who had earlier charmed the crowd during the simulcast. His own solo set was an excellent showcase of this young musician who is keeping the Zawose family musical legacy of gogo music alive. He’s the fifth child of the late Hukwe Zawose and plays the zeze, a two-stringed bowed instrument that resembles the ritti, and the ilimba, a type of thumb piano. His new album, Uhamiaji, comes out at the beginning of September on the Soundway label – look out for more about him in a forthcoming edition of Songlines.
British folk star Eliza Carthy and her Wayward band put on one of the standout performances of the weekend. Comparisons with Bellowhead are inevitable but Carthy’s 12-piece band proved they are worthy successors of English folk’s finest big band crown. Always a hugely entertaining performer, Carthy is clearly relishing playing with this new outfit who have a punk-like attitude to the folk tradition. Their set included songs from their debut album Big Machine and rapper Dizraeli who joined them onstage for the song ‘You Know Me,’ Carthy’s response to the refugee crisis. Thankfully the torrential downpour at the start of their set was short-lived – “dance between the raindrops!” urged Carthy – and by the time they had finished, the delighted crowd and jubilant band were basking in sunshine. Even a rainbow made a brief appearance as the sun set on a veritably muddy yet enjoyable 35th edition.
There’s said to be a minor resurgence in swing in the metropolis, with new bands popping up, and that’s all to the good. Still, for the real thing, you needed to be on hand to hear the mighty Buck Clayton Legacy Band storm into ‘Outer Drive’, its opening piece for this Soho one-off. Arranged by band trombonist Adrian Fry, this had all the ensemble cohesion and rhythmic certainty that its original composer, Basie trumpeter Buck Clayton himself, would have relished. Clayton knew how to give his pieces an inbuilt propensity to swing, but as band altoist Alan Barnes said to me, “I can think of plenty of bands who’d still miss out.” Happily this one, propelled by the peerless Bobby Worth, our finest swing drummer, who formed a tight rhythmic bond with bandleader-bassist Alyn Shipton, never put a foot wrong.
Even more to the satisfaction of the late Mr Clayton, were he to be still with us, it boasts an array of on-form soloists. Take Barnes on alto and clarinet, straining every sinew to find a new line on such old favourites as ‘The Jeep Is Jumping’ or the equally perky ‘Broadway Babe’. Then again there’s his fellow-saxophonist Robert Fowler, whose robust tenor sound and direct style made me think of Illinois Jacquet, another swing-era hero. Add in the near-boppish trumpet of Ian Smith and the trenchant trombone of Adrian Fry and you have quite a line-up. And that’s not to overlook Martin Litton intent at the Steinway, sprinkling every piece with his own personal brand of gold dust, his light touch and lightening runs a joy to observe.
For all this emphasis on the virtues of mainstream, the meat of the night came with the ‘guest’ appearance of vocalist Lady J, whose role was to evoke and emulate Billie Holiday, especially on songs with a Clayton association. Given her prominence in the mix, it’s not surprising that some of the band’s intensity dipped with a touch here and there of ‘after-you- no-after you’, her vocals sometimes struggling to be heard amid the band tumult. Greater familiarity and more rehearsal will sort that out. Any singer, and there have been many, who seeks to tackle the Holiday repertoire is self-evidently a hostage to fortune and unsurprisingly Lady J took a while to settle, coming off best the nearer she got to replicating Billie’s sound and behind-the-beat phrasing. Her second set excelled, the confidence building, the backing scaled-down, as on ‘God Bless The Child’. For this combination to work as a concert show, it needs a stronger narrative and a more precise sense of purpose: for now, it’s best described as a work in progress, even if the band itself is very definitely the finished article.
– Peter Vacher
Tracks from the August 2017 Richer Unsigned playlist have been chosen by Reload Sessions. Reload Sessions is a London based YouTube music channel which showcases stripped-back, live performances and acoustic sessions. Their aim is to showcase their favourite unsigned artists on their hugely subscribed YouTube channel. Take a look at their vast selection of performances here.
Reload Sessions chose their favourite 10 developing artists to make up the August Richer Unsigned Playlist. Take a listen to their selection:
Prince kicked off a series of 21 sold out UK shows at London’s O2 arena. Tickets for the events cost £31.21 – the same figure used by the singer to name his album, website and perfume. After completing the 21 nights the Jehovah’s Witness was planning to take time out to study the Bible.