The weather outside is kinda frightful especially if you’re walking in this winter wonderland, but inside the decked halls of the Library, we’ve got a wide selection of holiday music sure to warm you up.
Why there’s the Robertson’s clan, bringing you Duck the Halls (CD 781.723 ROB). Why indeed.
And just when you think Susan Boyle can’t perform any more miracles she gives us Home for Christmas (CD 781.723 BOY). The first track is a duet with Elvis, the first ever posthumous recording the King has done of “O Come, All ye Faithful.”
More of a traditionalist?
And finally, what blog post would be complete without providing some holiday magic from the Piano Guys on YouTube?
Soooo much talk about the “Music Scene” these days.
“CDs are dead.” (Not yet!)
“The Internet has killed the music industry.” (Not killed, but rather changed the industry.)
“No one even listens to music anymore.” (That’s just patently false.) Of course we listen!
Which brings me to YouTube. YouTube is today’s turntable. Those who were teenagers at some point between 1950-1980 had 2 choices for recorded music–vinyl or radio. Sometimes simultaneously if the spirit moved us. But that was then and now it’s YouTube, SoundCloud, Spotify, Pandora–lots of choices.
The great thing about the expanded universe is that you can find more than you ever even knew existed. The bad thing is there’s a lot of dreck. The good thing is it’s instant gratification (almost) and usually free. The bad thing is you can’t watch YouTube and clean your room at the same time. The good thing is you can listen to a CD or an iPod and get your chores done.
So here’s my recommendation for getting your chores done: Check out these CDs,
then rest awhile with a screen and watch this YouTube sensation, Kurt Hugo Schneider.
The award-winning documentary “The Gatekeepers” is about Shin Bet, Israel’s spy agency. Given the current situation in Syria, I thought it might be informative. It is. It’s also thought-provoking and difficult. After witnessing or causing a lot of targeted, as well as innocent, bloodshed, the former heads of Shin Bet seem to arrive at the conclusion that talking to the enemy is the only way to move forward and end the carnage. But how do they convince the citizens or the government that negotiation is their best weapon?
In a part of the world where there is no trust among anyone on any side of any border how can we find solutions? Presently we (USA) are putting our trust in a country (Russia) that most of us have been conditioned to be quite wary of. But if the deal works, our willingness to trust may save thousands of lives.
With the grand theme of trust on my mind, I decided to stock the Listening Station (LS) with CDs by musicians committed to bridging gaps and forging new friendships, using music as a means of education and community building. (If you’re over 3 1/2 feet tall you may not be aware of the LS. It’s mounted on the end of the first unit of CD shelving on the main floor of the Library.)
This week, the LS top spot goes to Yo-Yo “Venture Culturist” Ma with his “When Strangers Meet” Silk Road Journeys CD. Ma started the Silk Road Project years ago as an innovative and collaborative approach to education through the arts. Track 10, “Blue as the Turquoise Night of Neyshabur” features musicians from India, Iran, and the United States.
In the middle spot is Thunder & Lightning, a collaborative effort by Sir Georg Solti. The World Orchestra for Peace (Solti’s brainchild) plays a Rossini selection on Track 1. Listening to this famous piece of music lends a certain sense of urgency to the cause.
And finally, in the remaining LS spot is IZ: Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s 1993(!) Facing Future CD with his now famous mash-up of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” on Track 14. I had Israel on my mind and this album kind of makes sense to include with its title imploring us to face the future from an artist whose soothing vocals call on us to think about what we’re doing to each other and our environment.
Music can unify and inspire us and maybe even help us to put trust in our better nature. Take time to listen to these great musicians, and check out some of these other great works.
Maybe it is the warmish breezes. Maybe it’s the filing of taxes, the ides of April. Suddenly I’m in the mood for jazz–specifically piano jazz.
I must have listened to Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert about 100 times, so I thought I’d put Jarrett’s Rio in the top spot of the Listening Station in the Library. This CD came out in 2011 and is a complete document of Jarrett’s show at the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro. I’ve never been to Rio but I certainly get an impression of the place while listening to this evocative and imaginative CD. Beautiful. If you’re wandering by the Listening Station listen to track 5 and try not to think about Rio.
In the middle slot of the Listening Station I’ve chosen Voice by Hiromi. This 34-year-old, Japanese-born musician graduated from the Berklee School of Music and has already released nine CDs. That’s a lot. Per Allmusic.com, “Voice is best described as an electro-acoustic effort that is more post-bop than fusion but has its rock-influenced moments.” Right? Improvisational jazz can be difficult to define, which is part of its allure. Hiromi is praised for her eclectic taste and ability to incorporate different genres into her work. Listen to tracks 3 and 9 and you’ll get the idea.
Filling out the Listening Station we have Eric Reed and his CD Something Beautiful. Mr. Reed is in his early 40s and has been on the jazz scene since he was a teenager. A piano prodigy, he eschewed classical training for jazz. Can you blame him? Sorry Beethoven. He joined Wynton Marsalis’s band, replacing the great Marcus Roberts when he was only 19. He’s been inspired by Brubeck, Lewis, Blakey and a host of other geniuses. The CD is truly Something Beautiful. Tracks 1, 2 and 10 are favorites.
Just wanted to mention that we’ve received a copy of Rhonda Vincent’s latest CD, Rhonda Vincent: Sunday Mornin’ Singin’. Vincent is a bluegrass singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, whom the Wall Street Journal has proclaimed as “the new Queen of Bluegrass.” She is part of a bluegrass music resurgence, making bluegrass new for a younger generation, blending down-home sincerity with big-city style.
Rhonda began her music career at the age of five, playing drums with her family’s band, the Sally Mountain Show, and went on to learn the mandolin and fiddle, performing with the family band at bluegrass festivals. She has won a string of seven Female Vocalist of the Year Awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association, and has turned her group “The Rage” into a bluegrass institution.
As for Sunday Mornin’ Singin’, the New York Times notes that “it would have been easy for this impeccably gifted bluegrass singer to make her version of a gospel album in the studio, with a choice array of guests. Instead she recorded “Sunday Mornin’ Singin’ ” live at a historic Methodist church in Greentop, Mo., with no reinforcements outside of her working band, the Rage. Smart move: the album has a rough spark, against which Ms. Vincent’s composure shines all the more vividly.”
When one thinks of the Chicago rock scene, Smashing Pumpkins may come to mind. If you enjoy listening to the Smashing Pumpkins, it might be ideal to look into Madina Lake. Madina Lake was founded by twin brothers Nathan and Matthew Leone. The twins were in another Chicago band but had this vision of creating a story through three albums. To earn the money to start Madina Lake, the twins competed, and won, all three competitions on the reality game show Fear Factor.
From Them, Through Us, to You is Madina Lake’s first full length album produced on the RoadRunner label, and the first album to tell the story of the fictional town of Madina Lake. The music is described as “alternative hard rock with pop undertones.” Some of the songs included on the CD are “Here I Stand,” which is about not giving up on your dreams, and “Adalia,” the fictional character created by the band who has “disappeared,” and needs to be found by the fans of Madina Lake. With their blend of rock and pop, guitars and drums, the band molds an entire town battling good and evil in the search for Adalia.
This post is from Joanna B., guest blogger from the the SCPL IT department.
There seems to be an award show on every 15 minutes. Seriously, how many country music awards can one possibly get? Maybe there’s an abundance of awards shows because there isn’t a lot with which we Midwesterners can concern ourselves during the cold, grey days of January and February. Why not crank up the Victrola or slap on your Beats to hear what’s up for an award this year? Maybe the music will transport you to a sunny beach, a verdant mountainside or inspire an energetic walk around the neighborhood–just watch out for black ice.
The 2013 Grammy Nominees CD pretty much sums up pop/rap Grammys. We’ve got four copies on the way, so get your name on the list. What it doesn’t include are the nominees for everything else, i.e., jazz, classical, and musical theater.
Here are some of those folks:
And if, after listening to all this music, you just need to relax, try this:
‘Tis the season when it’s so much more festive baking cookies, festooning the foyer or checking your credit card limit whilst Bing or Sufjan croon beloved yuletide tunes in the background.
This year, as in any year, we’ve added some sure-to-be-classics to the collection. Come and behold them!
Yes, that’s an odd arrangement of CD covers. Consider it a holiday craft gone awry. If it turns out you can’t get your hands on any of the above CDs, please consider this gift of free music: Download Handel’s Messiah using just three of your five weekly downloads from Freegal. You don’t even have to send me a thank-you note for that.
The local vocal talent positively echoes off the banks of the Fox River!
We have the renowned St. Charles Singers led by Jeff Hunt. We have Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame bass, Eric Halfvarson. American Idol semi-finalist Leslie Hunt, grew up near the mighty Fox River. We’re blessed with Carl King, pastor of the Calvary Pentecostal Church on Walnut Avenue who just released a CD of hymns. And, St. Charles is home to a young rapper, Jack Larsen, who is getting attention on the national level. You’ll have to search the digital marketplace for Jack’s music, but the other artists are can be checked out at the Library. Just click on the images below for availability.
Frank did it, Ray did it, even Doris in her day did it! Did what? Duets.
There’s something irresistible about harmonizing with your homies. From opera to bluegrass, there is an abundant array of musical collaboration to behold. Here are some CDs from the collection I recommend:
Under the Stars(CD 782.1 UND). Opera greats Renee Fleming and Bryn Terfel offer a thoughtful selection on this CD. Yes, it’s annoying when opera folk venture out of their repertoire and overpower regular old songs with their big voices, but on this CD that thankfully doesn’t happen. Best tracks: “So in Love,” ” Not While I’m Around” and “Wheels of a Dream.”
If, after listening to Renee and Bryn, you hanker for the highbrow, try Great Operatic Duets (CD 782.1 GRE), The #1 Opera Album (CD 782.1 NUM), or Placido Domingo’s gem, Duets (CD 782.1 DOM).
America’s top crooners have recorded duets. They all seem to pick the same succinct title: Duets. Sinatra is CD 781.64 SIN, Streisand is CD 781.64 STR, Bennett is CD 781.64 BEN.
The country singers have been very chummy. Emmylou Harris has CDs of duets and trios, (CD 781.642 HAR). It seems everyone (Sting, James Taylor and Brad Paisley among others) wants to work with Alison Krauss: A Hundred Miles or More(CD 781.642 KRA). Reba put a lot of thought into this title: Duets (CD 781.642 MCE) and she got Justin Timberlake to help her out on one of the cuts.
One last suggestion: –Featuring Norah Jones (CD 781.65 JON). This CD is loaded with talent. I love the Jones/Parton rendition of “Creepin’ in,” but there are many tracks worth hitting the replay button on.