Category Archives: Music

Oysterband’s Rise Above

Vonnie Carts-Powell penned this review. “Get your head up, gonna rise above!” The title song of Rise Above would make an Oysterband fan of me, even if I’d never heard another song by the British folk-rockers. It isn’t the sound that … Continue reading

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Nap Eyes’ Snapshot of a Beginner

Frontman, singer and songwriter Nigel Chapman gives himself a good talking to on Snapshot of a Beginner, the new album by Nap Eyes. And what he tells himself is something that we all might learn from too. This is the … Continue reading

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Avishai Cohen and Big Vicious’ Big Vicious

This debut recording by Avishai Cohen’s Big Vicious is such a fun record. It’s a bit unexpected after the rather serious affairs of his quintet album Into The Silence (2015), and his quartet’s album Cross My Palm With Silver (2016), … Continue reading

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The Unthanks’ Diversions Vol. 5 – Live And Unaccompanied

Rachel and Becky Unthank grew up in a musical family in Tyneside, North East England, and came up singing unaccompanied traditional folk songs. With Diversions Vol. 5 they’ve come full circle, making their first album of unaccompanied songs as a … Continue reading

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Anna Lynch’s Apples in the Fall

Anna Lynch has been around a bit, even though by some standards she’s still quite young. Starting in small-town California, she’s since lived in Alaska, where she honed her songwriting craft; and Portland, Oregon, where she first recorded her songs … Continue reading

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Wolfgang Muthspiel’s Angular Blues

Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel continues his run of top-notch dates for ECM with Angular Blues. He leads a trio that’s new in the sense that this particular threesome of Muthspiel, Scott Colley on double bass and Brian Blade on drums … Continue reading

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Moby’s Innocents

I admit, it took me a couple of days to get a handle on Moby’s Innocents. Maybe that’s because it arrived when I was just coming down with a bug that pretty much knocked me out for two or three … Continue reading

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Divahn’s Shalhevet

Through the ages many traditions have sung hymns and worship songs based on the popular music of the day with the  secular lyrics replaced by religious themes and words. It’s also a tradition called piyyut among the Mizrahi, the Jews … Continue reading

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Nous’s NOUS III

Experimental music composer Christopher Bono is a busy man. This latest recording from his Nous ensemble dropping in late February is already his second release of 2020. (The first was from his all-acoustic ambient drone Tsyphur Zalan project.) It follows … Continue reading

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Sunny Jain’s Wild Wild East

Brooklyn-based jazz drummer Sunny Jain dives deep into what it means to be an immigrant, a first-generation American of South Asian descent, and a member of the global community of marginalized people, in Wild Wild East. It’s as wild a … Continue reading

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Machtelinckx/Badenhorst/Cools/Gouband’s porous structures

porous structures was the third part of a 2019 triptych for Belgian multi-instrumentalist and avant garde composer Ruben Machtelinckx. First came the debut album of Poor Isa, his duo with his countryman Frederik Leroux, who also plays guitar, banjo and … Continue reading

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Oded Tzur’s Here Be Dragons

Oded Tzur, a New York based, Tel Aviv born tenor saxophonist, has been intensively studying Indian classical music since 2007 with Hariprasad Chaurasia, master of the Indian bamboo flute known as the bansuri. He and his jazz quartet bring that … Continue reading

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Johnny Clegg’s King of Time

In the fall of 2017, South African singer Johnny Clegg released what he knew would be his last album.  Clegg had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and while he’d already managed to complete a world tour after getting the diagnosis, … Continue reading

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Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67, Symphony No. 6 in F, Op. 68

There isn’t much to be said about Beethoven: there he is, take it or leave it. It is doubtful that anyone had more influence on the music of the 19th century than he did — even the archenemies Brahms and … Continue reading

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Carla Bley Trio’s Life Goes On

In addition to her prodigious output of composing, performing and recording in a wide variety of settings, 81-year-old Carla Bley has been playing in this trio with bassist Steve Swallow and saxophonist Andy Sheppard for some 25 years. This is … Continue reading

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Squirrel Flower’s I Was Born Swimming

Squirrel Flower is the stage name of the Boston-based singer-songwriter Ella O’Connor Williams, making her recording debut with the beautifully realized I Was Born Swimming. She has a singing voice that conveys heartache and steely determination in equal measures, an … Continue reading

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Joe Russo’s phér•bŏney

This debut solo album by drummer Joe Russo was released digitally in the summer of 2019, but I’m just catching up with it in time for its release on vinyl. phér•bŏney is the most eclectic set of tunes I’ve reviewed … Continue reading

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Son Little’s aloha

“We don’t have to suffer, you and I … we don’t have to wait in the shadows for the sunshine.” Thus goes the hooky chorus of “suffer,” a standout track on Son Little’s new aloha. The song was inspired by … Continue reading

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Emmi Kujanpää’s Nani

Finnish folk singer, composer, teacher and researcher Emmi Kujanpää continues her ongoing exploration of the intersection of Finnish and Balkan music with her first “solo” recording Nani. I put solo in quotes because this album includes the contributions of Le … Continue reading

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David Dondero’s The Filter Bubble Blues

The Cuyahoga River was the subject of scathing satire in the 1970s, when it was so polluted it actually caught fire where it passed through Cleveland, Ohio. That hasn’t happened again, yet. But David Dondero imagines it won’t be long … Continue reading

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Tautumeitas’s Songs from Auleja

This stirring album presents a studio version of music sung by the Tautumeitas ensemble at a concert that was founding member Asnate Rancāne’s project for a bachelor’s degree at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music. Fortunately, it’s a lot … Continue reading

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Gary’s favorite music of the 2010s

The 2010s have been a turbulent decade, and for me a life-changing one. In the closing months of 2010 I received a kidney transplant that transformed my life. And at about the same time, after a couple of decades of … Continue reading

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Swåp: Swåp, [SIC], Du Da

Somehow, we’ve never reviewed any recordings by the Anglo-Swedish folk-roots group Swåp here at GMR. The four musicians who compose Swåp (Ola Bäckström, fiddle; Ian Carr, guitar and vocals; Carina Normansson, fiddle and vocals; and Karen Tweed, accordion and vocals) … Continue reading

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Mal Waldron Trio’s Free At Last

This 50-year-old recording sounds like it could have been made this year. That’s partly because of the playing of pianist Waldron and his trio, which was so forward-looking at the time that its effect is to be timeless. This is … Continue reading

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Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonatas for Piano

No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2 [“Moonlight”] No. 26 in E Flat, Op. 81a, [“Les Adieux”] No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13 [“Pathétique”] No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 [“Appassionata”] The history of Western … Continue reading

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Foreigner’s The Very Best and Beyond

Sometimes it takes a while to catch on, for me at least. On a whim, I purchased Foreigner’s all-time best album, The Very Best and Beyond. (It wasn’t really a whim – I had this song in my head and … Continue reading

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Nous’s Nous II

What first attracted me to this recording was the presence of Shahzad Ismaily, the New York-based multi-instrumentalist whose playing, composing and arranging skills have made him a valued contributer to projects by so many musicians it’s impossible to list them … Continue reading

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Various artists’ Down In Jamaica – 40 Years Of VP Records

VP Records has released a definitive set chronicaling its 40 years of bringing Jamaican music to the world. Down In Jamaica is a 94-track box set with 24-page booklet and art cards detailing the hits, rarities, and history of the … Continue reading

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Lumen Drones’ Umbra

Let’s see, how many of my musical buttons does this new release by Lumen Drones push? Hardanger fiddle? Check. Folk-based experimental music? Check. Nordic music? Check. And of course the big one, right there in the name: drones, drones, drones! … Continue reading

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Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s Big Band Holidays II

For more than a decade the Big Band Holidays concerts have been a New York City holiday tradition for jazz lovers and families. Every December the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and an all-star roster of guest … Continue reading

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Blato Zlato’s In The Wake

I went to a good number of musical events in 2019, and one of the most enjoyable was a performance and dance put on by the New Orleans-based Balkan band Blato Zlato. They’re a superb folk ensemble playing mostly Bulgarian-style … Continue reading

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Eivør Pálsdóttir’s Eivør

Eivør Pálsdóttir has an astounding voice. I was speaking with two of my folk-music heroes at a folk festival the first time I heard her sing, and I stopped mid-conversation to find out who had hit that range of notes … Continue reading

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Locobeach’s Psychedelic Disco Cumbia

This album’s title Psychedelic Disco Cumbia pretty much says it all. Danceable cumbia music with a combination of analog and electronic instruments and a psychedelic edge. Locobeach is a New York City-based supergroup with members from bands like Los Amigos … Continue reading

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Various artists’ Too Late to Pray: Defiant Chicago Roots

I’ve been a fan of Bloodshot Records, the Chicago insurgent country label since not quite the beginning, but sometime in the late 1990s. They’re celebrating their 25th anniversary this month with some live music events as is their wont, but … Continue reading

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Henryk Wienawski, Henryk Wieniawski

Henryk Wieniawski, like his countryman Frédéric Chopin, was in great demand as a soloist — so much so that his performance schedule seems to have seriously impacted his work as a composer. Another prodigy, he entered the Paris Conservatory at … Continue reading

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Los Pirañas’ Historia Natural

The three musicians who comprise Los Pirañas have been playing together since they were in high school, 25 years ago, but they only formed this power trio in 2009. The three are based in Bogotá, Colombia, and guitarist Eblis Alvarez, … Continue reading

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Jens Carelius’s Opsi

Norwegian guitarist, singer and songwriter (and visual artist) Jens Carelius has turned a legendary figure in his ancestry into a unique album. Opsi is a song cycle based on the diaries of Carelius’s great-great-grandfather Fritz Doerries (known to his family … Continue reading

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BaBa ZuLa’s Derin Derin

It’s only been a couple of years since BaBa ZuLa first blew my mind with their 20th anniversary retrospective two-disc set XX, so it’s a real treat to have a new studio album already. Derin Derin is something like ninth … Continue reading

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10,000 Maniacs at the Iron Horse Music Hall

Meredith Tarr wrote this lovely look at this concert. On Saturday, March 6, 10,000 Maniacs performed at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Massachusetts. A friend and I had traveled through the snow from New Haven to see the … Continue reading

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Terry Riley’s A Rainbow in Curved Air, Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band

A Rainbow in Curved Air is a hard piece of music to describe, in part, perhaps, because although easy to listen to (at this point in history, at least), it’s not really very easy to make sense of. In part … Continue reading

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Aly Bain’s Aly Bain & Friends

Pat Simmonds penned this review. This is a selection of 16 tracks recorded in 1988 for Scottish TV live in front of a studio audience. Aly has the benefit of having anyone he wants at his sessions such is his … Continue reading

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Leopold Stokowski, Rhapsodies

No one who ever saw Disney’s Fantasia can forget Leopold Stokowski, who in many ways was the star of the film, even though he shared conducting honors with Mickey Mouse. Stokowski’s reputation as one of classical music’s greats is still … Continue reading

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Linkin Park’s A Thousand Suns

Full disclosure: as much as I am ever a “fan” of anything, I am a Linkin Park junkie. I suspect that’s only partly because they do loud, obnoxious rock and roll; it’s also partly because they are very sophisticated musicians … Continue reading

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Susan McKeown and the Chanting House and Kíla at the Towne Crier Cafe,

Meredith Tarr wrote this splendid review. The Towne Crier Cafe is a surprising venue: nestled off route 22 in rural Pawling, New York (about a mile past the point where you think you’ve gone too far), on the outside it … Continue reading

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Kerstin Blodig’s Valivann

Tom Hoke penned this review. Celtic-Scandinavian acoustic fusion is what Kerstin Blodig calls her music. On Valivann, I hear most of that, especially the “fusion” part, but I’m too much of stickler to call it “acoustic”, with all of the … Continue reading

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Gianluigi Trovesi and Gianni Coscia’s La misteriosa musica della Regina Loana

It was on a particularly melancholy night as summer faded to autumn that I first heard the exquisite, sad and slow rendering of “Moonlight Serenade” by Gianluigi Trovesi and Gianni Coscia on their 2019 album that is a tribute to … Continue reading

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Altan at Massey Hall

Altan were one of the first truly traditional groups I came to love, and they will always be one of my favorites! I hadnít seen Altan in five years or so–last time was at the World Theater in St. Paul–so … Continue reading

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Dori Freeman’s Every Single Star

In the three years since her self-titled debut took the Americana world by surprise and garnered critical and popular acclaim, Dori Freeman has gone through a lot of changes. The songs on Dori Freeman mostly centered around the breakup she … Continue reading

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Ethan Iverson Quartet’s Common Practice

I took in a set of avant-garde acoustic jazz by trumpeter Tom Harrell and his piano-less quartet at the Village Vanguard in 2018. It was a mesmerizing but at times puzzlingly opaque (for me) set from Harrell, who was voted … Continue reading

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Enrico Rava and Joe Lovano’s Roma

Italian jazz is a world all its own, one which I’ve only barely begun to explore. But even I know and love the great Enrico Rava, the 80-year-old flugelhornist and composer and eminence gris. In late 2018 he joined up … Continue reading

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