Music

From jazz, to classical and world music, NEPM entertains, inspires and enriches lives seven days a week with its signature music programming. Our hosts provide in-depth knowledge about music they share and keep listeners up-to-date on music events happening throughout the region on air and on the Classical Facebook Group and Jazz and World Music Facebook Group  

Explore and experience a variety of music programming on NEPM 88.5FM:  

Find All Music Programs on NEPR

Bob Dylan
NPR

I've just listened all the way through Bob Dylan's "Murder Most Foul" for the first time. I'll move on to the rest of his new album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, this weekend. A musician friend says it's "heavy and spooky," and he's got me eager to hear, "Goodbye Jimmy Reed." I've always taken Dylan in moderate measure, given him plenty of time. For 60 years, he's been our chief chronicler, and in his long ballad for JFK, the music and mood are stately, elegiac, and emphatic, which feels right both for his subject and for the state of the nation today.

Dr. Orlando, Medical Director at Baystate Hospital, High St., Springfield joined us on Tertulia to speak about Covid-19. He discussed symptoms presented by children affected by the virus, types of masks, necessary precautions to consider when reopening stores and how this pandemic is disproportionately affecting specific sectors in our community.

Dr. Orlando Torres on Coronavirus Pandemic

May 14, 2020

Tertulia’s guest is Dr. Orlando Torres, Medical Director at Baystate Hospital, High St. , Springfield.

He shared information about the coronavirus pandemic such as common and not-so-common symptoms, those who may be at higher risk of being infected, when one should go to the hospital, and new testing sites.

Ellis Marsalis, Jr., pianist and patriarch of the world's most famous jazz family, died on April 1 at 85. He'd been hospitalized with Coronavirus symptoms. New Orleans currently has the most concentrated Covid-19 death rate in the nation.

Archie Shepp
Montreal Jazz Festival

The documentary, Miles Davis: The Birth of the Cool, will be shown in the American Masters series on PBS on February 25.  The film includes a scene in which Archie Shepp recalls an encounter he had with the trumpeter at the Village Vanguard on Thanksgiving weekend in 1965. The scene is brief and only scratches the surface of what proved to be a disruptive event in which Shepp defied Miles by storming the bandstand and sitting in with his group.

Say the name “theremin” and there’s a good chance it will conjure up eerie soundtracks from horror or sci-fi movies, like 1951’s “The Day The Earth Stood Still.”

Watch on YouTube.

But Léon Theremin’s preternatural invention has been inspiring classical musicians and composers since it first wowed the world in 1920. To celebrate its upcoming 100th birthday, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) is celebrating the electronic instrument with a world premiere performance and a live recording.

Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges
Jan Persson / CDJ

"Tell 'em what happened! Tell ‘em what happened!” Duke Ellington exhorts Johnny "Jeep" Hodges in this 1957 performance of “Jeep’s Blues,” at a dance concert in Carrolton, Pennsylvania.

Tanglewood, the summer home in the Berkshires of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has long felt like something of a summer camp for musicians and fans. Since 1936, music lovers have noshed and lounged on blankets at Tanglewood while listening to the BSO play hits by Brahms or Beethoven (these days lawn tickets cost a modest $13).

Less visible are the hours of intense instruction for about 150 young musicians at the Tanglewood Music Center.

Members of Phat A$tronaut play their song "Green Eyes" at NEPR. From left, Dylan McDonnell on flute, Ro Godwyn and Chad Browne-Springer.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

This region is packed with great musicians. Our annual music series is a chance to highlight some of the amazing artists who live here, in southern Vermont, throughout western Massachusetts and around Hartford. 

The new Linde Center for Music and Learning is home to the Tanglewood Learning Institute. It launches its first season of music, lectures and cultural events this summer, and will offer events year-round, a first for Tanglewood.
Winslow Townson / Boston Symphony Orchestra

The summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Lenox, Massachusetts, is about to become a year-round destination. Tanglewood's all-season complex opens this weekend, with a new series of lectures and events.

Dr. John
NPR

Malcolm John Rebennack, Jr., who was better known as Dr. John the Night Tripper, died on Thursday, June 6, at age 77. Among his many musical associations, he was a featured member of the RCO All-Stars, a group that drummer Levon Helm formed after the break-up of The Band. Great but short-lived, RCO made one album and a memorable appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1977. There the principles— Dr. John, Levon Helm, and Paul Butterfield— were introduced by host Broderick Crawford.

American lutenist, composer and teacher Ronn McFarlane has been active nationally and internationally for over 40 years, both as a soloist and as a collaborator with other instrumentalists.

As befitting the legacy of Duke Ellington, who led his renowned orchestra for nearly 50 years and criss-crossed the globe as an unofficial musical ambassador, there are Duke Ellington Society chapters in Toronto, Stockholm, London, and Paris, in addition to New York, Los Angeles, and Ellington’s birthplace, Washington, D.C. I’ve been a member and have attended several of TDES’s gatherings at St.

Jack Brown conducts the Berkshire Lyric Chorus during a weekly rehearsal in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

About 70 singers greeted each other on a recent Monday night as they settled into their seats at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A tall, bearded man stood before them next to a piano.

Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Roy Haynes, Open Door, New York City, 1953
copyright Robert Parent / The New York Times

A few weeks ago (March 8, 2019), the New York Times ran a piece entitled, “Is This the Greatest Photo in Jazz History?” I was immediately struck by the silly conceit of declaring anything the greatest (except, that is, for the ice cream made from dairy cows at a local farm that I’ve assiduously avoided since February 5, 2017), but of course I read on. Robert Parent’s photo depicts Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, and Roy Haynes, playing at the Open Door in Greenwich Village on September 13, 1953.

(r-l) Lennie Tristano and Charlie Parker with Hot Lips Page, Lester Young, and Max Kaminsky, at Birdland, 1949
copyright Herman Leonard Photography, LLC / Herman Leonard Photography, LLC

Among Charlie Parker's many admirers, Lennie Tristano was especially respectful of Bird's character and astute in his assessments of the saxophonist's music.  The blind pianist recognized Parker as the single most important innovator of modern jazz, and rejected the commonly held view that bebop was formulated in a workshop-like atmosphere at Minton’s and Monroe’s and other after-hours venues.

Jane Bunnett and Maqueque at the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival
Kari Njirri / NEPR

Kari Njiiri, NEPR, spoke with saxophonist Jane Bunnett following a performance with her all-female band from Cuba, Maqueque, at the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island. 

Dance and music inspired by Puerto Rican culture.
Charlie Billups / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/titoytitabillups

 

Dan Román began composing as a young teenager growing up in Puerto Rico. He doesn't know why he started, exactly — just that simply playing instruments wasn't enough.

Composer Kate Soper plays Polyxo in a scene from her opera "Here Be Sirens" in New York City in 2014.
Noah Arjomand / Courtesy Kate Soper

Opera fans, and even non-fans, are familiar with the music of Bizet's "Carmen" or Puccini's "Madama Butterfly." Lesser-known is the world of new opera, like "Here Be Sirens," composed by a Smith College professor and on stage in Northampton, Massachusetts, this weekend.

Nat King Cole Centennial

Mar 18, 2019

Nat King Cole was born on March 17, 1919. For his centennial, I'm posting a couple of recordings by the great singer-pianist, and a rare photo of Nat with Dick LaPalm. LaPalm was an advance man and factotum for Nat between 1950 and '65, and then a tireless advocate for his legacy and a friend and counsel to the Cole family until his death in 2013. Nat and Dick are seen in the photo walking along Michigan Avenue in LaPalm's hometown of Chicago. He's a giveaway in profile, but even from behind, there can be no doubt that this is Mr. Cole.

Three of the four gentlemen in this photo were guiding lights in my Worcester youth. Howie Jefferson (far left) was a great tenor player who could have been a contender on the national scene but chose to stay close to home and ply his trade at weddings and bar mitzvahs and GB gigs galore.

Ed Bickert, the renowned Canadian-born guitarist who was a prominent figure on the Toronto jazz scene, died on February 28 at 86. I learned of Bickert through his great work with Paul Desmond on Pure Desmond (1975) and with Ruby Braff on the trumpeter's Sackville sessions in Toronto (1979), and took additional notice when Dave McKenna played on his 1989 release, Third Floor Richard.

Buddy Bolden's Blues

Mar 7, 2019
Jelly Roll Morton
Hogan Jazz Archive / Tulane University

Jelly Roll Morton immortalized the most mythical of New Orleans jazz pioneers in his composition, "I Thought i Heard Buddy Bolden Say." He recorded it twice in 1939, first for RCA Bluebird with a band that included New Orleanians Sidney Bechet, Albert Nicholas, Wellman Braud, and Zutty Singleton. Four months later, on December 16, 1939, he recorded the tune as "Buddy Bolden's Blues" on a solo session for General Records. It was later released in an album by Commodore.  

Composer Kenneth Fuchs, a UConn professor of music, left, and conductor Jo Ann Falletta, after winning a Grammy for Best Classical Compendium.
Courtesy of Kenneth Fuchs

UConn was a double winner at the Grammys on Sunday, in classical music and jazz.

Notwithstanding the bold and daring recordings made by Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Charles Mingus, and other musicians who found common cause with the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950’s and early ‘60’s, jazz was absent from the musical proceedings at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  Mahalia Jackson, Joan Baez, Odetta, Bob Dylan, Josh White, Bernice Reagan (later a founder of Sweet Honey in the Rock), and Peter, Paul & Mary were accorded the musical honors.  However, no less a figure than the event's headliner, Dr.

Allison Miner at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1991
The Times-Picayune

Here's a moving film tribute to Allison Miner, a beautiful spirit who made a major difference to the preservation and perpetuation of the musical culture of New Orleans between her arrival in the Crescent City in 1967 and her death in 1995 at age 46. Allison was instrumental in establishing the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, albeit with a sexist-driven subordinate role and title that she discusses in Amy Nesbitt's film.

Joseph Jarman
Marilyn Yee / The New York Times

Joseph Jarman, who died on Wednesday, January 9, at 81, was an icon of free jazz and best known for his long association with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in Chicago, Jarman played woodwinds (saxophones, flutes, and clarinet) and was a founding member of both the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and the AEC.

Duke Ellington's Azure

Jan 7, 2019
The Mediterranean Off the Coast of Sardinia, December 2018
David Reney

My brother David, who lives in Paris, took this photograph during a trip he made to Sardinia after Christmas. His email subject line read “Azure,” which immediately brought to mind Duke Ellington’s song of that name. Ellington described Azure as “a little dulcet piece which portrays a blue mood.” Blue was Ellington's favorite color. When his autobiography, Music Is My Mistress, was published in 1973, its dust jacket was brown. That had been his least favorite since 1935, for he was wearing a brown suit on the day his mother died.

Professor Longhair
Will Howcroft / Will Holcroft Photgraphy

My passion for New Orleans music ramped up to infatuation on July 3, 1973, when I heard Professor Longhair for the first time in Central Park.  The experience still stands as the single greatest unanticipated musical discovery of my life.  I knew nothing about Fess at the time and it’s unlikely I’d heard him on record.  The bulk of the pianist’s recordings had been made two decades earlier and by the early 60’s he’d fallen into obscurity, spending the next decade working odd jobs and gambling.  But his single, “Go to the Mardi Gras,” remained a seasonal favorite in the Crescent City, and in

Nancy Wilson, 1937-2018

Dec 14, 2018
Nancy Wilson in 2007
Wikipedia

The famed vocalist Nancy Wilson died on Thursday at her home near Los Angeles. She was 81. The Chillicothe, Ohio, native was an elegant beauty whom I first knew of through her early 1960s television appearances as both a singer and actress. I remember feeling somewhat mesmerized by her, and as I've reviewed clips of her on YouTube in recent years, I've concluded that it was her stillness and self-possession that initially drew me in; compared with the outsized figures I was accustomed to seeing on TV, she seemed perfectly calm and composed.

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