Music

From jazz, to classical and world music, NEPR 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 Facebook.

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Stavans Tertulia
NEPR

Tertulia's guest on September 17, 2017, was Ilan Stavans, professor at Amherst College as well as an editor, translator and essayist. In celebration of the National Hispanic Heritage Month, he read poetry by poets Pablo Neruda, from Chile and César Vallejo, from Perú, in Spanish and it's English translation. He also expressed his concern about the future of the Dreamers and the DACA program.

Duo Orfeo guitarist Joseph Ricker (left) & NEPR's John Nowacki (right)
Joyce Skowyra / NEPR

Guitarists Joseph Ricker and Jamie Balmer comprise the Duo Orfeo. They've been described as "brilliant" and "wild-thinking artists," and are known for bringing to life an eclectic and relevatory classical guitar repertory. 

Illinois Jacquet
Illinois Jacquet Foundation

Scott Hamilton, the great tenor saxophonist and keeper of the flame, posted concert footage of Illinois Jacquet playing “Blues for Louisiana” on Facebook on September 6. 

Walter Becker at the Beacon Theater, New York City, on November 16, 2016
Gregory Pace / /BEI/Shutterstock /AP

Leave it to Marian McPartland to host a relaxed, conversational hour with Donald Fagen and the late Walter Becker, and to foster the novel experience of hearing them ask questions of her. It should come as little surprise to fans of Steely Dan to know that the band's co-founders were jazz heads throughout their lives, and that their meticulously crafted records employed such jazz greats as Jerome Richardson, Phil Woods, Wayne Shorter, Victor Feldman, Plas Johnson, Pete Christlieb, and Supersax with Warne Marsh, Bob Cooper, and Med Flory. 

John Perkell and John Nowacki
Joyce Skowyra / NEPR

What do you do after a 35-year career as an orchestral librarian for symphony orchestras? For John Perkel, the answer was simple, if not a little daunting. You start a chamber music series in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. John Nowacki talks with Perkel about how it all came about…

Credit Ken Howard

A year ago the Berkshire Opera Festival brought its first production, Madama Butterfly to the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, restoring fully-staged opera to the region after a hiatus of almost a decade. It was a very promising beginning to what we can only hope will become a tradition lasting many more decades.

Lester Young was born 108 years ago, on August 27, 1909, in Woodville, Mississippi. The state's been the birthplace of countless blues legends, but very few jazz artists, and fewer still who grew up there. (What's up with that?) Two of those few, Gerald Wilson and Teddy Edwards, got out early, as both moved on to benefit from the excellent music education curriculum in the Detroit public schools. As for Lester, Woodville wasn't much more than a dateline in his life, as Algiers, Louisiana, which sits across the river from New Orleans, became his family's primary residence until he was ten.

It doesn’t require more than a casual knowledge of blues to know that there were two prominent figures in the music named Sonny Boy Williamson. On his new album, Brain Matter, Randy Newman declares unequivocally for one of them, John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson, as the one true owner of that moniker. In his song, "Sonny Boy," a sprightly cadence drives the pianist's dreamy narrative about the Jackson, Tennessee, native's short, productive life.

Jimmy Rowles
Sy Johnson / All Music

Tomorrow is Jimmy Rowles's 99th birthday anniversary. The Spokane, Washington, native was quirky, unpredictable, and utterly compelling, making even the most hackneyed standard sound fresh, alive, and better than you'd remembered it. He had a unique harmonic sense that left plenty of room for surprise. He's reputed to have known more tunes than anyone else in the business, and he knew potential when he heard it. Diana Krall took lessons with him in 1983 before she enrolled at Berklee, and he (and bassist Ray Brown) encouraged her to sing.

Jane Ira Bloom at the Dickinson Homestead in 2016
Emily Dickinson Museum

Last Friday, I had the honor of presenting to Jane Ira Bloom the Jazz Journalists Association 2017 Award for Soprano Saxophonist of the Year. Jane was at Amherst College to perform her new work, "Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson." The August 11 concert was sponsored by the The Emily Dickinson Museum in conjunction with a Dickinson conference.

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