Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 9:11 am
The Umbria Festival in Italy turns 40 this summer. Umbria presents jazz indoors and out in two historic cities — Perugia in summer, Orvieto in winter. Marching bands parade; gospel choirs sing. Concerts start at noon, midnight and all the hours in between. (The New Year's Eve show in Orvieto begins at 1 a.m. on New Year's Day.) And the musicians can be delightfully unfamiliar, at least to American ears.
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy makes his first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded before a sold-out audience in Charleston, W.Va. A highly regarded singer-songwriter who remains willfully outside the mainstream, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy — one of the many stage names for Will Oldham — has been known to West Virginia audiences since 1987, when he co-starred in John Sayles' film Matewan.
By 1928, Earl Hines was jazz's most revolutionary pianist, for two good reasons. His right hand played lines in bright, clear octaves that could cut through a band. His left hand had a mind of its own. Hines could play fast stride and boogie bass patterns, but then his southpaw would go rogue — it'd seem to step out of the picture altogether, only to slide back just in time.