Music

Cosmic Saxophones: Charles Neville and Charles Lloyd This week on American Routes, we give voice to the saxophone—an instrument revered by everyone from free jazzmen like Charles Lloyd to soul rocker Charles Neville, of the Neville Brothers. New Orleanian Charles Neville tells us how music carried him through his family, his neighborhood and a segregated South. Charles Lloyd, a real California dreamer, traces the roots of his modern, free style and musical collaborations back to the blues of Memphis.

Bob Boilen, the host of NPR Music's All Songs Considered podcast, sits down with John Paul White, formerly half of the Civil Wars, to discuss songs that changed the songwriter's life. The conversation takes place at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, and is part of AmericanaFest 2016.

Hip-hop artist Amisho Baraka, who performs as Sho Baraka, is one African-American man who feels left out by both major political parties — and he says this will affect his vote come November.

Tomorrow, two final works from composer James Horner will reach American ears: a concert piece being released on CD, and his score for the remake of the Western adventure The Magnificent Seven. The composer died a little more than a year ago in a plane crash, after creating more than 100 film scores over nearly 40 years.

Composer Julia Wolfe Awarded MacArthur 'Genius Grant'

Sep 22, 2016

American composer Julia Wolfe has won one of the biggest windfalls in the arts world. She is one of this year's MacArthur Fellows, recipients of the so-called "genius grants" given to a wide range of talented figures from the arts, humanities, sciences and social services. The 2016 class of fellows was announced early Thursday morning.

In 2009, musician and historian Elijah Wald published an overview of American pop from the 1890s to the 1960s he called How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll. The title was a bomb-throwing feint — as Wald told me in an interview, he knew that title would get much more attention than a drier one such as "American Pop From Sousa to Soul" — and as if on cue, one reviewer after another lined up to wave away its thesis.

Blue Man Group Is Coming To The Tiny Desk!

Sep 22, 2016

They came, they measured, they built and they plotted. But first, they had to borrow a few things from the NPR office.

Blue Man Group designed new instruments and a small-scale show solely for a one-time performance at the Tiny Desk. Celebrate the group's 25th anniversary with this musical and comical adventure, which you can watch this Monday, Sept. 26, at npr.org/tinydesk.

First Listen: Pixies, 'Head Carrier'

Sep 22, 2016

When the Pixies re-formed in 2004, expectations were high. As a live act, frontman Black Francis and crew — guitarist Joey Santiago, bassist Kim Deal and drummer David Lovering — more than delivered. But 10 years later, when the legendary band finally got around to releasing its comeback album, Indie Cindy, things didn't go so well. Largely lackluster and missing bassist-singer Kim Deal, who had just quit the group, Indie Cindy was a ding on the Pixies' otherwise spotless discography.

First Listen: John Adams, 'Scheherazade.2'

Sep 22, 2016

Violence against women is no modern tragedy. Composer John Adams found that out when he saw an exhibition about the tales of the Arabian Nights — ancient stories in which Scheherazade tells her murderous husband a new tantalizing tale each night for 1001 nights, thus sparing her life a day at a time. The composer, writing in Scheherazade.2's booklet notes, says he was surprised by how many of the stories included women suffering brutality.

Pages