When I was younger, growing up in the South Bay Area/Silicon Valley, my mom always had KDFC on, a local classical station. In the car or at home, we loved their musical variety of popular classics from Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, but also lesser known works/composers, too. And around Christmas time you couldn’t beat their selection of Canadian Brass or choral selections—”new” and old—that set the tone for the holidays. I still subscribe to their newsletter and read about the winners from their latest contest, the Monte Vista High School Chamber Singers from Danville, CA. I’d say it’s pretty clear why they were the winners. Enjoy.

Kate Tempest is a poet/MC with some heady, heavy rhymes. Her style is very much spoken word and in this video, works well with KwAke Bass’s disjunct, electronic beats. She covers some very sombre and sobering topics and her delivery is a little mesmerizing. Even though the content wasn’t happy per se, I found myself really enjoying how nimbly she wove her phrases together, floating above the beat at times then locking right into it with powerful repetition.

This type of music takes me back to childhood. We listened to a lot of classical as well as rock, but folk music was always intertwined in there. My mom used to play folk music on the guitar, singing in Harvard Square her junior year of high school, so it’s in my blood in a way.

There’s something in folk music, too, a simplicity that cuts right to what matters. Especially in this recording, Parr gets to the very root of life in America, and I love the fullness of his sound on the 12-string acoustic. His picking is pretty incredible, a perfect accompaniment to his down-to-earth voice and lyrics.

Red Cedar Grows and Red Cedar Flows
Long after you’re gone…
It’s outlasting you.

This may be the only country I post for #musicthursdays. Kacey Musgraves popped up in some article I read a couple years ago and I decided give her a listen—and I was pleasantly surprised. I guess she’s kind of pop-country (maybe), but there’s enough musicianship and authenticity here for me to ignore that. I also enjoy her witty, sort of “classic country” lyrics that flow together in surprising ways. The subject matter of Musgrave’s songs are modern enough to give her a little edge and many of her songs are catchy as hell. In my quest to give my own daughters a variety of female musicians/vocals, Kacey Musgraves has not disappointed as one of the only country acts you’ll hear in our house.

Everything about this production is tight. From the band to the beats to the flow to the recording, it’s damn near flawless. I always have extra respect for hip-hop artists that are backed by live bands, and this production is especially fun to watch because it’s just so damn tight, from beginning to end. It’s a compilation of three songs that just meld together without a single hiccup. If you like hip-hop and you don’t know Black Milk yet, after watching this, you’ll definitely be hooked. Enjoy.

Just discovered this group thanks (again) to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Series. There’s a lot to like about And The Kids—their songs are thoughtful, joyful, and a little bit sad all at once. Each song sort of evolves, dynamically and texturally, and although the music is simple, they do a nice keeping the listener hooked in through catchy melodies, vocal harmonies, extra percussion (i.e. glockenspiel), and of course, attitude. Two of the members have been playing together since they were in seventh grade and I think that experience and bond shows through in the music—really looking forward to digging in to their music more.

A luminary in jazz has died today—Mr. Ornette Coleman. If you know anything about his music, you’ll know that it’s pretty out there, tonally and rhythmically, even by many jazz-fan standards. He had this idea that jazz could be much more harmonically and conceptually “diverse” than it had been—that people in the band could play in different keys and still be together. I love this quote from trumpeter Roy Eldridge from the memorial piece in The New York Times today,

“I listened to him high, and I listened to him cold sober,” he said. “I even played with him. I think he’s jiving, baby.”

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Eligh has solo stuff, but is part of the Living Legends Crew and other configurations. One of his solo albums, Therapy at 3 is a collab with AMP Live and has really struck a chord with me, musically, but content-wise as well. I haven’t always been an avid Eligh fan, but I’ve always enjoyed and appreciated his fast, steady, rhythmic flow that has a bent towards the positive.

I’ve been a Galactic fan for years, but just recently realized one of their main driving forces is drummer, Stanton Moore. He is one of the funkiest drummers I have ever heard and his timing and style are straight out of New Orleans. After just a few measures, you can really hear his influences, and while there are many funky drummers, something about his playing has me hooked. Be sure to check out his first album as a leader, All Kooked Out!, for some classic, New Orlean’s funk.

Where to begin with this one? I discovered this through an article on Herbie Hancock’s influence on early hip-hop. It’s taken from a 1983 performance at the Grammys where he was recognized for his breakout hit, “Rockit.”

He’s definitely one of my all-time favorite jazz pianists, but admittedly, he gets a little out there (and not in a good, free-jazz sort of way). Many fans love his early forays into funk and of course his seminal album, Head Hunters, but this is a whole other level. The music here has to be appreciated, but in addition, there’s so much going on in this video culturally, it could probably be the basis for a whole thesis in several subject areas. I would love to know what you think.