It was a magical experience having reggae legend Jimmy Cliff here at KCRW for the first time, as the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer played a set of timeless classics and fantastic cuts off his new album, Rebirth. In an intimate, soul-stirring set — he sang and played acoustic guitar, with just one other musician accompanying him — Cliff's voice sounds as strong as ever, and his spirit is truly inspiring.
I'm usually a fan of "between" albums — the ones that break away from an artist's established sound, either tentatively or extravagantly, exploring the extremes of inspiration. These records are often misunderstood upon immediate release, but offer clues to an artist's discography over time.
With the sesquicentennial of Claude Debussy's birth coming up fast on Aug. 22, you'd think there would be a small blizzard of new Debussy releases. This year, not so much; maybe it's a sign of the economic times and industry reality that there's no great rush to add the zillionth recording of such incredibly loved repertoire to the catalog. But every so often, a project comes along that demands a revisiting of music you think you know inside and out. This two-disc set of Debussy headed by Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov is just such a release.
Originally published on Sun December 2, 2012 11:06 am
Pink Martini had already been together for 11 years when it appeared on this Mountain Stage show in June 2005. Formed in Portland, Ore., by pianist Thomas Lauderdale, Pink Martini functions as a "little orchestra" with many international influences. Any given set features a wide range of musical styles from all over the world and songs in many languages.
Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 12:16 pm
The Scottish group Django Django has been tearing it up in Europe since dropping its self-titled, debut collection of fabulously catchy synth-pop back in January. The album won't be available in the States until mid August, but a few cuts have been circulating the Web, including the cosmic romp "Hail Bop," now available in a tasty new, lo-fat video.