Friday, April 27, 2012

Mountain Music

Before Ralph Stanley was featured on the "O Brother Where Art Thou" soundtrack, and before he was the grand old man of bluegrass, he was part of an innovative and influential band with his brother Carter. In the 1940s the Stanley Brothers began to record the rural music, pioneered by Bill Monroe and others, that would come to be known as bluegrass. From Charles K. Wolfe's liner notes: "Though dozens of young bands were doing their best to emulate the new sound, it would be the Stanley Brothers who would take it to its next stage of development. [It was] a style that at once harkened back to the mountain music of the past, and looked forward with innovative harmonies and haunting new songs." The haunting ballads and gospel songs which make up The Complete Columbia Stanley Brothers continue to define this style of music and their echoes are heard in the work of contemporary artists like Alison Krauss as well as revivalists like Old and In The Way. Old sounds that remain vital - and fun. Stop in the library's Media department for this and an array of other important recordings, both historical and contemporary.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Orleans Style

Singer, pianist, arranger, producer and New Orleans voodoo king Dr. John has a new recording (Locked Down) that harkens back to some of his spooky/funky earlier work. Produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach (who has in turn been produced by Danger Mouse), the record sizzles with organ, funky guitar licks, layers of percussion and Dr. John's inimitable vocal style. An ideal antidote to bland, generic, mass-produced pop music, this mashup of blues, rock, New Orleans rhythm and electro grooves will not be found in the frozen aisle of your chain grocery store. A spicy stew indeed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jazz Appreciation Month

"In April 2001, the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution launched the first Jazz Appreciation Month to honor both the legacy of America's original art form and its relevance and importance as a part of modern American culture. Throughout the nation, schools, organizations, and local governments celebrate JAM with diverse events and concerts. This year, JAM highlights the role of jazz and jazz advocates in crossing musical and other cultural borders to support freedom, creativity and unity." -

Jazz Appreciation Month is a great time to swing by the library and grab some classic jazz recordings. There's big band, bebop, and West Coast jazz. There is jazz from almost every decade of the 20th century - from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington through John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock and Dave Brubeck. The are singers: Johnny Hartman, Billie Holiday, Sara Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. There are brilliant pianists from Art Tatum to Bill Evans, guitarists from Wes Montgomery to John McLaughlin, saxophone players from Art Pepper to Sonny Rollins. Stop by the library's Media Center and browse our jazz collection: celebrate our great American art form and get your groove on at the same time!

For more on jazz appreciation check here