Category Archives: Music

Vaughan Williams’s Orchestral Works

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) is certainly one of the foremost English composers of the twentieth century. Like many of his contemporaries – Bartók and Copeland come immediately to mind – he drew a great deal of his inspiration from folk … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Vaughan Williams’s Orchestral Works

Rachel Baiman’s Thanksgiving EP

A lot of American holidays have their own music, and every musician’s fallback is the Christmas album. But I can’t think of any Thanksgiving records, although I’m sure there are some in the contemporary Christian catalog. But we won’t go … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged | Comments Off on Rachel Baiman’s Thanksgiving EP

Folk Underground’s Buried Things

I must confess that Cat, our fearless editor-in-chief, handed me this CD and said, “You’ll like this, they’re fun”, or something to that effect. He knows my weird taste well enough that I could tell by the way he spoke … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged | Comments Off on Folk Underground’s Buried Things

Flash Girls’ Maurice & I

Judith Gennet penned this review. Emma Bull is a science fiction and fantasy writer, having published a number of sometimes odd works including War for the Oaks, Territory, and Bone Dance: A Fantasy For Technophiles. Lorraine Garland is a “comic … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Comments Off on Flash Girls’ Maurice & I

Duchas’ Solstice

Naomi de Bruyn penned this review. Duchas, pronounced “du-kuss,” is an Irish Gaelic word meaning “heritage.” And this is what this high energy group from Connemara is playing: their musical heritage. This is their second release, and it is filled … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Comments Off on Duchas’ Solstice

Burach’s Born Tired

Chuck Lipsig penned this review. Many forms of music have been fused with Celtic — hard rock, new age, jazz, and South American, just to name a few — with varying success. With Born Tired, Burach fuses with several styles, … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Comments Off on Burach’s Born Tired

Jakob Bro at The Old Church, Portland, Oregon, October 28, 2018

The music that Danish guitarist Jakob Bro makes with his trio is paradoxical, such that much better music writers than I have difficulty describing it. He’s currently working with two Americans, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Joey Baron, with whom … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Jakob Bro at The Old Church, Portland, Oregon, October 28, 2018

Kathryn Tickell’s Borderlands and Kathryn Tickell Band’s Kathryn Tickell

Kathryn Tickell has made a name for herself as well as working tirelessly to promote her instruments, the Northumbrian smallpipes. Coming from a family of musicians, she has extended her work into academia through her position at Newcastle University as … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Comments Off on Kathryn Tickell’s Borderlands and Kathryn Tickell Band’s Kathryn Tickell

Kathryn Tickell & Ensemble Mystical’s Ensemble Mystical

Naomi de Bruyn penned this review. I was looking forward to reviewing this CD with an anticipation I usually reserve for live gigs. The reason — a carynx is actually played on it! And I’ve wanted to hear this elusive … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Comments Off on Kathryn Tickell & Ensemble Mystical’s Ensemble Mystical

Kathryn Tickell Band’s Air Dancing

In a far distant past (1986) I saw the then very young Kathryn Tickell charm an audience at Sidmouth Folk Festival with her Northumbrian pipes and her fiddle. She was named as one of the bright hopes for the future … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Comments Off on Kathryn Tickell Band’s Air Dancing

Bert Jansch’s Just A Simple Soul

Bert Jansch was one of the most iconic and influential folk musicians to come out of the U.K. in the 1960s. It’s shocking that it’s taken until now for the release of a career retrospective, but very welcome indeed is … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Bert Jansch’s Just A Simple Soul

Icehouse’s Great Southern Land

First, a bit of history is in order: I first ran across Icehouse in the early ‘90s. One of the bartenders at my then-favorite watering hole had added “Love in Motion (No Promises)” to his mix, and the song just … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Icehouse’s Great Southern Land

Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel

The idea of making an opera out of a fairy tale was not unique to Engelbert Humperdinck (this is the nineteenth-century composer I’m talking about, not the mid-twentieth century crooner). Actually, in the case of Hansel und Gretel, it wasn’t … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel

Joni Mitchell Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970

Joni Mitchell’s 1970 Isle of Wight performance is captured in Both Sides Now, a fascinating historical document of the artist amid the chaos of this iconic festival. This film showcases Mitchell’s performance interspersed with behind the scenes footage, and gives … Continue reading

Posted in Film, Music | Comments Off on Joni Mitchell Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970

Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard’s Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes, 1965-1969

The first time I listened to this CD with headphones, I nearly fell out of my chair when the second track, “Tell Me That You Love Me” began. I don’t believe I’d ever heard this old song before, although perhaps … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard’s Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes, 1965-1969

Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel

The idea of making an opera out of a fairy tale was not unique to Engelbert Humperdinck (this is the nineteenth-century composer I’m talking about, not the mid-twentieth century crooner). Actually, in the case of Hansel und Gretel, it wasn’t … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel

Philip Glass’ In the Penal Colony

Philip Glass, bless his heart, keeps turning out operas, and with a couple of near-misses, they’re among the best in the contemporary canon. In the Penal Colony takes as its foundation Franz Kafka’s chilling short story of the same title. … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Philip Glass’ In the Penal Colony

Qntal’s Qntal III: Tristan und Isolde

I long ago gave up apologizing for being a sloppy romantic. At my age, I figure I’m entitled. I also have a tendency, when the lists of CDs available come out from GMR, to get a little crazy and go … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Qntal’s Qntal III: Tristan und Isolde

Jakob Bro’s Bay of Rainbows

One of my favorite recordings of 2016 was the Jakob Bro trio’s Streams, which made me a big fan of this Danish guitarist. It also introduced me to the up-and-coming American bassist Thomas Morgan, who lately is on seemingly everybody’s … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged | Comments Off on Jakob Bro’s Bay of Rainbows

Maddy Prior, Hannah James and Giles Lewis’ Shortwinger

Maddy Prior has been in the public eye for about 50 years. Starting out in a duo with Tim Hart, they both took part in starting Steeleye Span, the only folk rock band to make an impact on the singles … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Maddy Prior, Hannah James and Giles Lewis’ Shortwinger

John Corigliano’s The Red Violin Concerto

John Corigliano is widely considered one of the leading American composers of his generation, which includes such luminaries as Morten Lauridsen, Terry Riley, and Ned Rorem. Commentators have characterized his style as “highly expressive,” “compelling,” and “kaleidoscopic.” In addition to … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on John Corigliano’s The Red Violin Concerto

Courtney Hartman & Taylor Ashton’s Been On Your Side

Courtney Hartman and Taylor Ashton’s debut recording is an intimate affair, born of their close friendship and harmonious ideas about how they want to make music. Ashton, a Canadian, is a visual artist as well as a singer and songwriter … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged | Comments Off on Courtney Hartman & Taylor Ashton’s Been On Your Side

Benjamin Britten’s Death In Venice

Many consider Benjamin Britten the most important British composer since World War II; indeed, some think him the most important since Henry Purcell. Although often thought an uneven composer, most writers in the area concede that his operas Peter Grimes, … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Benjamin Britten’s Death In Venice

Aallotar’s Ameriikan Laulu

To me, the sound of a fiddle and accordion together is exemplary of folk dance music. So many European-based cultures have dance music traditions that feature these two instruments, from the Roma, Italians and French, to the English, Irish and … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Aallotar’s Ameriikan Laulu

Arvo Pärt’s Da Pacem

The music of Arvo Pärt, one of the best known contemporary composers, is something I’ve always found attractive. From my first recording of Passio, which was, believe it or not, my beach music for a whole summer way back when, … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Arvo Pärt’s Da Pacem

Ian Anderson at the Beacon Theater

Fifty years ago, a group of young musicians from Blackpool released a record called This Was, launching the career of Jethro Tull, one of the most influential and original rock bands ever. This year, Ian Anderson is out on the … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Ian Anderson at the Beacon Theater

Rachel Button’s Long Way Round

Rachel Button is a singer, songwriter, fiddler and vocal coach. She was born and raised in Britain but she has also lived in Vancouver and Nashville, where this EP was recorded. Rachel started out as a folk performer, but here … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged | Comments Off on Rachel Button’s Long Way Round

Mark Turner & Ethan Iverson’s Temporary Kings

I was sad and a little concerned in 2017 when pianist Ethan Iverson left The Bad Plus, the modern jazz trio he helped found nearly 20 years ago. Not to worry, though. He left that ensemble in good hands with … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Mark Turner & Ethan Iverson’s Temporary Kings

Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 7, “Toltec”

Philip Glass was invited to compose a work for conductor Leonard Slatkin’s 60th birthday season with the National Symphony Orchestra in 2005; the result was the Symphony No. 7, “A Toltec Symphony”, based on the wisdom tradition of the ancient … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged | Comments Off on Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 7, “Toltec”

McDermott’s 2 Hours v Levellers, Claws and Wings

If you’re thinking this a strange name for a band, you’re not alone, because so did I. But it’s the music that’s important, not what they want to call themselves. In fact, the album appears to be a collaboration between … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on McDermott’s 2 Hours v Levellers, Claws and Wings

Primus’ video of Charlie Daniels’ ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’

Primus, a rock band from San Francisco, recorded this version of Charlie Daniels’ classic, which was released as a Claymation music video on their 1998 Rhinoplasty EP and its companion Videoplasty video album, and also re-released on their 2003 EP … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Primus’ video of Charlie Daniels’ ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’

McDermott’s 2 Hours vs Levellers, World Turned Upside Down; Disorder

Fuckin’ A! I thought that I’d never hear the equal of The Band of Hope, a Leftist protest band; I noted on their sole album to date, Rhythm & Red, that ‘these are great songs full of piss and vinegar … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on McDermott’s 2 Hours vs Levellers, World Turned Upside Down; Disorder

Cliff Westfall’s Baby You Win

Been listening to the Cocaine & Rhinestones podcast and wonder where you can find some modern honky-tonk music like they used to make back in the mid-20th Century? Or maybe you just love the stuff and can’t seem to find … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Cliff Westfall’s Baby You Win

Very Be Careful’s Daisy’s Beauty Salon

Anyone who’s paying attention to world music in the past 20 years or so knows about cumbia. This Colombian folk music style has taken the world by storm in the 2000s. But its cousin vallenato (“vai-yeh-NAH-toh”) is less well known … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Very Be Careful’s Daisy’s Beauty Salon

The Tallis Scholars Sing Josquin

Josquin des Pres (1450?-1521) was born Josquin Lebloitte, either in Hainault (modern Belgium) or in France. (The “des Pres” was a nickname, as they understood such things in the fifteenth century.) He seems to have been a choirboy at Saint-Quentin … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on The Tallis Scholars Sing Josquin

Morton Feldman’s Piano and String Quartet

I’ve remarked before on Morton Feldman’s propensity to shape sound with silence, a tendency he shares with Toru Takemitsu. Listening to Feldman’s Piano and String Quartet, a late work, written two years before his death in 1987, I realize that … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged | Comments Off on Morton Feldman’s Piano and String Quartet

Clay Parker and Jodi James’s The Lonesomest Sound That Can Sound

Clay Parker and Jodi James are a music-making couple from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This album, which looks like it’s maybe their second or third, is a superb collection of country-leaning folk, which I guess these days is called Americana. The … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged | Comments Off on Clay Parker and Jodi James’s The Lonesomest Sound That Can Sound

John Prine’s The Tree of Forgiveness

John Prine is the folk singer America deserves. And needs. Since his debut self-titled album in 1971 he has been ministering to our malaise with his unique blend of humor and pathos, comedy, tragedy and tragicomedy that perfectly reflects and … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , , | Comments Off on John Prine’s The Tree of Forgiveness

Cowboy Junkies’ All That Reckoning

Cowboy Junkies’ latest release marks the 30th anniversary of the Canadian folk-rockers’ breakthrough album The Trinity Session. All That Reckoning, all these years later, still is built around Margo Timmins’ hushed vocals, but this one seethes with a barely suppressed … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Cowboy Junkies’ All That Reckoning

Tim Clement and Kim Deschamps’ Wolf Song Night

Classifying things seems to be, for some reason, a basic human need. And it is axiomatic that our systems for classification have built-in limits and conceptual gaps: Archaeopteryx lithographica is, therefore, a bird. And Wolfsong Night, a collaboration between Tim … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Tim Clement and Kim Deschamps’ Wolf Song Night

Jefferson Airplane’s The Essential Jefferson Airplane, Red Octopus and Blows Against the Empire

Psychedelic music was originally so named because it sought to recreate musically the mind-expanding experience of LSD. “Psychedelic, man!” The center of this music was unquestionably San Francisco, with bands like the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and the Jefferson … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Comments Off on Jefferson Airplane’s The Essential Jefferson Airplane, Red Octopus and Blows Against the Empire

Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff and Vassilis Tsabropoulos’ Chants, Hymns and Dances

The name Gurdjieff calls up images of mysticism, esoteric spiritual doctrines, perhaps to some extent a certain wild-eyed fanaticism. Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff was, in point of fact, one of those restless wanderers in the realm of ideas who crop up … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff and Vassilis Tsabropoulos’ Chants, Hymns and Dances

Olivier Greif’s Sonate de Requiem, Trio avec piano

Olivier Greif was one of those musicians: he entered the Paris Conservatory at age ten, and in 1967, at the age of seventeen, won the first prize for composition. The bulk of his output is chamber music, largely sonatas for … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Olivier Greif’s Sonate de Requiem, Trio avec piano

Harold Budd’s Lovely Thunder

Harold Budd is one of those composer/performers who pops up periodically and wanders around like a medieval jongleur just doing his thing and collaborating with everyone. Noted for his piano improvisations, he has worked with the Cocteau Twins and Brian … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged | Comments Off on Harold Budd’s Lovely Thunder

Oliver the Crow’s self-titled album

Cellist Kaitlyn Raitz and fiddler Ben Plotnick perform as the folk duo Oliver the Crow. These classically trained musicians based in Nashville make a progressive, stripped-down Americana that draws on everything from Appalachian ballads to classic rock on their beguiling … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged | Comments Off on Oliver the Crow’s self-titled album

Norma Waterson & Eliza Carthy’s Anchor

The mother-daughter duo of Norma Waterson & Eliza Carthy are members of the first family of English folk music. Although Norma has been recording since the ‘50s and Eliza the ’90s, they hadn’t recorded as a duo until 2010’s award-winning … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged | Comments Off on Norma Waterson & Eliza Carthy’s Anchor

The Rails’ Other People

Other People is The Rails’ second album, but the first to be widely circulated and promoted in the U.S. It was released in the U.K. in October 2017 but is being released in the U.S. for the duo’s first stateside … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged | Comments Off on The Rails’ Other People

Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham’s Spring The Summer Long

Yawn, another bloody brilliant album from a duo, Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, who can do no wrong. So why should you get excited? Are you completely daft, man? This is Aly Bain on fiddles and Phil Cunningham on damn … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged | Comments Off on Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham’s Spring The Summer Long

Chancha via Circuito’s Bienaventuranza

“Digital cumbia.” It’s a new thing for me, but it’s been going on in Argentina for the past decade or so. This musical style combines Colombia’s highly popular folkloric music, cumbia, one of the most popular in Latin America, with … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged | Comments Off on Chancha via Circuito’s Bienaventuranza

Ants Ants Ants‘ Why Why Why? and Red Yarn’s Old Barn

Ants Ants Ants’ Why Why Why? I picked up Ants Ants Ants‘s new album Why Why Why? because it straddled a nice sweet spot, music I can share with my godkids, ages 6 and 8, on roadtrips without anyone’s sanity … Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Comments Off on Ants Ants Ants‘ Why Why Why? and Red Yarn’s Old Barn