The celebration of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday this year is reaching a crescendo in Germany. The composer and pianist was born in Bonn on December 16, 1770, and his musical legacy carries on. In this reel, we meet concert pianists putting a new spin on Beethoven’s work. Susanne Kessel, for one, put out a call to composers for 250 new piano pieces inspired by Beethoven and is now in the midst of performing them. Elsewhere, the duo known as Pianotainment is using humor and serious piano chops to make the work of the likes of Beethoven accessible to all. We wrap up this ode to Beethoven with a visit to a museum full of self-playing musical instruments. And, yes, some of them even play Beethoven.
The Newport Jazz Festival was just one year old when the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet blazed onto its stage in 1955. By 1960, when pianists Dave Brubeck and Horace Silver each played a rollicking set, the event was an institution, known all over the world. And so it remains today — though there’s something to be said about the fest in that formative era, when every step forward was historic.
For all of us at Jazz Night in America, the Newport Jazz Festival is both hallowed ground and a cherished hang. Our host, Christian McBride, is the festival’s artistic director. (Call that a disclosure, if you like; we think of it as a heavy asset.) So this summer, in the absence of a physical gathering, we’ve set out to lovingly recreate the festival experience, Jazz Night-style.
Our three-part series begins with The Golden Age — a jump back to the mid-to-late ’50s, featuring McBride’s selection of rare and unreleased Newport recordings by Brown and Roach, Brubeck and Silver, along with a killer festival house band. (Will there also be a taste of Muddy Waters? You’ll have to listen to know for sure.)
Newport House Band: Joe Zawinul, piano; Howard McGhee, trumpet; Clark Terry, trumpet; Zoot Sims, tenor saxophone; Wendell Marshall, bass; Roy Haynes, drums.
Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet: Clifford Brown, trumpet; Max Roach, drums; Harold Land, tenor sax; Richie Powell, piano; George Morrow, bass.
Dave Brubeck Quartet: Dave Brubeck, piano; Paul Desmond, alto saxophone; Eugene Wright, bass; Joe Morello, drums.
Horace Silver Quintet: Horace Silver, piano; Blue Mitchell, trumpet; Junior Cook, tenor saxophone; Gene Taylor, bass; Roy Brooks, drums.
“Chasin’ At Newport” (Newport House Band)
“Jaquis” (Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet)
“I Get A Kick Out Of You” (Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet)
Streaming has become this decade’s preferred way of listening to music. It’s an $11 billion dollar industry, making up 47% of global music industry revenues, and Spotify has become the clear winner globally in terms of paid subscribers. Taking on behemoths like Apple, Amazon and Google, Spotify has dominated the global streaming music industry with about 130 million premium subscribers world-wide. Recently, Spotify secured distribution deals with Joe Rogan and Kim Kardashian West to produce podcasts for the platform. Watch CNBC’s deep-dive into how Spotify started, how it became the audio leader, and where what’s to come next.
This week, Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu held its first performance with a live audience post-coronavirus, but it’s unclear whether the attendees were too green to appreciate Puccini’s “Crisantemi.” Seated in the red, velvet seats and among the gold balconies, 2,292 palms, ficus trees, and Swish cheese plants filled the iconic opera house to listen to the string quartet’s rendition.
A collaboration with Madrid-based artist Eugenio Ampudia and the Max Estrella gallery, the concert was meant to reflect on humans’ relationship with nature. “I thought why don’t we go into the Liceu like weeds, take it over and let nature start growing everywhere and turn it into something alive even when there are no people,” Ampudia said in an interview. After the performance, the leafy audience members were donated to healthcare workers who have been battling the virus during the last few months.
By any name, Yusuf Islam is a legend. The man who came to fame as Cat Stevens will soon release a new album, a collection of songs he made famous half a century ago and has now re-recorded with the perspective that 50 years of living can bring. Correspondent Tracy Smith talks with Yusuf about recording “Tea for the Tillerman 2,” including his duet with his younger self for the song “Father and Son.”
In this month’s episode, we learn that human brains differentiate musical pitch a way that macaque monkeys do not. In fact, speech and music shaped the human brain’s hearing circuits. Researchers are studying these circuits with an eye on developing treatments for neurological disorders.
Filmed and Produced by: Jonathan Gelez (The World Is Art)
Music: “Spenta Mainyu” by Jesse Gallagher
Here is a simple and relaxing film about the beginning of the spring season as it happened in my garden. Since going outside wasn’t an option due to the confinement measures in place, I tried to capture the beauty of nature at home.
“Monocle On Culture” speaks to Richard Russell, head of XL Recordings about his brand new book and his incredible career producing records for everyone from Damon Albarn to Bobby Womack, his life in New York that kicked everything off and the unusual start of his collaboration with Gil Scott Heron.
For almost 30 years as label boss, producer and talent conductor at XL Recordings, Richard Russell has discovered, shaped and nurtured the artists who have rewritten the musical dictionary of the 21st century, artists like The Prodigy, The White Stripes, Adele, M.I.A., Dizzee Rascal and Giggs. Growing up in north London in thrall to the raw energy of ’80s US hip hop, Russell emerged as one part of rave outfit Kicks Like a Mule in 1991 at a moment when new technology enabled a truly punk aesthetic on the fledgling free party scene. For most of the ’90s identified with breakbeat and hardcore, Russell’s stewardship at the label was always uncompromising and open to radical influences rather than conventional business decisions.
Liberation Through Hearing tells the remarkable story of XL Recordings and their three decades on the front line of innovation in music; the eclectic chorus of artists who came to define the label’s unique aesthetic and Russell’s own story; his highs and lows steering the fortunes of an independent label in a rapidly changing industry, his celebrated work with Bobby Womack and Gil Scot Heron on their late-career masterpieces; and his own development as a musician in Everything Is Recorded.
Always searching for new sounds and new truths, Liberation Through Hearing is a portrait of a man who believes in the spiritual power of music to change reality. It is also the story of a label that refused to be categorised by genre and in the process cut an idiosyncratic groove which was often underground in feel but mainstream in impact.
Singer-songwriter Graham Nash had recently embarked on a sold-out tour, until it was cancelled due to coronavirus. Anthony Mason sits down with Nash in New York City to talk with the former member of The Hollies and Crosby, Stills & Nash about how he has maintained his productivity while remaining under lockdown.