After the pioneering glam-rock band Mott the Hoople dissolved in 1974, Ian Hunter kicked off a solo career that stalled in the '80s. It took the death of Hunter's close friend and Spiders From Mars guitarist Mick Ronson in 1993 to reinvigorate his music career. But one thing has remained constant: Whether with Mott the Hoople or in politically charged albums nearly 40 years into his career, Hunter has never held back.
Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 8:23 pm
After a quarter century together as one of the world's top chamber music ensembles, the Fugue String Quartet is falling apart at the seams. A generation older than his colleagues, cellist Peter (Christopher Walken) is experiencing the early symptoms of Parkinson's, and with his sudden retirement, a morass of long-buried resentments and pain come spewing out of his three younger partners: first violinist Daniel (Mark Ivanir), second violinist Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and violist Juliette (Catherine Keener).
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 7:30 am
Bassist Omer Avital came from Israel to New York in the early '90s and found himself among the top tier of straight-ahead modern jazz performers. The time in the big city led him to re-investigate his roots — his parents are from the Arab-speaking world — and in 2002, he returned to Israel to study traditional music and oud. Since returning, he's remained a monster bass player, but has also integrated his Middle Eastern musical interests into his composing.
Joy Williams and John Paul White call their Grammy-winning band The Civil Wars, but the two have built a gentle, harmony-rich folk-pop sound in which warm chemistry more than counteracts the tension under the music's surface. Though not a couple themselves — each is married, and Williams just had a baby — they convey many hallmarks of a loving union, particularly in the way she stares at him sweetly as they sing.
Ethiopia enjoys a rich tradition of enticing music, filled with asymmetric rhythms set to a haunting, five-note scale and sly double-entendre lyrics in the Amharic language. It's a shame that, for Western listeners, a full, clear picture of Ethiopian music has been elusive.