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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Herbie Hancock at the Kimmel Center, Pouty at Everybody Hits, Daniel Johnston at the Tower Theater

Herbie Hancock | via The Kimmel Center

Jazz legend Herbie Hancock takes the stage at the Kimmel Center tonight for what’s sure to be a sweeping musical journey — the pianist and composer has 41 studio albums to pull from, after all. The groundbreaking musician got his start back in the 50s and 60s and is known for his ever-changing innovative style. Hancock is currently in the midst of an extensive world tour and reportedly prepping for a new album. Get a taste of Hancock’s current touring tunes via the NPR video below, and find tickets and more information on tonight’s show on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Jazz Legend Herbie Hancock to perform at Verizon Hall

Herbie Hancock | via The Kimmel Center

The legendary Herbie Hancock began as a child prodigy in the 50’s, was sought after by Miles Davis to join his Second Great Quartet in the 60’s, and in the decades since has released 41 studio albums, picked up 14 Grammy awards, and added a star to the Hollywood Walk of Fame while reshaping the landscape of jazz along the way – and these are only the highlights of the highlights. Continue reading →

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Philly producers Small Professor and Arcka release Herbie Hancock tribute

cover Philly producers Small Professor and Arcka have released a tribute to the legendary jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock. Presented by The Find Magazine, Hancock features both producers on five songs each. Hancock fans will recognize samples from Hancock classics like “Watermelon Man,” and “Come Running To Me,” and Small Pro and Arcka manage to capture the warm soul and grooves of Hancock’s incredible work. Download the collection here, or listen to it below.

Here’s the story in the words of Small Professor:

“Hancock” was originally conceived by myself in 2009, a project inspired by rapper/producer Blueprint’s “Blueprint Vs. Funkadelic” album from 2008. Intended at first to be a solo offering, fellow Philly producer Y?Arcka (aka Arcka this time around) was asked to come on board. The idea was to showcase the contrasting styles between us; I’ve often joked about how I will use samples from 5 songs to make one beat, and Y? will sample 1 song and make 5 beats. Herbie Hancock’s vast discography was perfect for this exhibition, spanning many different style of music over the course of his career and already being a go-to source for samples for years. Personally, I’m partial to Arcka’s ‘side’ of this release, but there’s a little something for every beat lover on this short but sweet piece of instrumental hip-hop pie…enjoy.

Listen to Hancock below.

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Eternal Summers talks owning your weaknesses in the new single “Contenders”

Eternal Summers
Eternal Summers | photo by Tom Daly | courtesy of the artist

How does a band return to indie pop when the world is crumbling around them? How does a lyricist who previously related their thoughts in abstract, poetic observations turn to addressing urgent issues and emotions that are impossible to cloud in mystery?

That was the challenge for Roanoke, Virginia power trio Eternal Summers when working on their new album, Every Day It Feels Like I’m Dying…, which comes out May 4th on Nevado Music. The band’s new single, “Contenders” — which we’re thrilled to give you a first listen to today — addresses feelings of power versus powerlessness through searing guitar tones and urgent rhythms, with frontwoman Nicole Yun crafting lyrical images of competitions and precipices that leave no doubt where the anxiety is coming from.

In a wide-ranging conversation, Yun delves into the importance of embracing your vulnerabilities; shares the outside-the-box influences seeping into Eternal Summers’ music as she approaches her second decade working with bandmates Daniel Cundiff (drums) and Jonathan Woods (bass); ponders the role music should play in confronting societal troubles; and discusses the solo album she hopes to release later this year.

Read on for more, and give a listen to “Contenders” while you’re at it.
Continue reading →

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XPN’s Greatest Guitarists of all time #38 – #33

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#38 – Nels Cline

– Wilco guitarist Nels Cline could solidify his place in the greatest guitarist playlist based on his solo on “Impossible Germany,” or “Spiders,” or impressive contributions to “Art of Almost,” yet he brings so much more to the band’s sound. On his own, Cline is known for his improvisational work and recording, and the diversity of his work. From jazz and country to punk and rock, Cline is one of the new guitar gods, indeed.

#37 – Pat Metheny

From his early playing days with Gary Burton to his side work with artists as diverse as Steve Reich, Herbie Hancock, Ornette Coleman, Joni Mitchell, Bill Frisell, David Bowie, and many others, the award winning jazz guitarist has become recognized for his trademark sound and recordings with the Pat Metheny Group, his trio, the Unity Band, several records with Naná Vasconcelos, and various collaborations with Brad Mehldau, Jim Hall, and Charlie Haden.

#36 – Bonnie Raitt

As a guitarist, Raitt was inspired by a handful of blues players including Son House, Skip James, and Mississippi Fred McDowell. In her slide work you can also hear touches of Lowell George and Ry Cooder, who Raitt says she was influenced by. As Rolling Stone magazine put it: “When guitar was still considered a man’s game by many, Raitt busted down that barrier through sheer verve and skill.” Amen.

#35 – Django Reinhardt

A jazz giant, hugely influential, Reinhardt started out as a violinist first and then moved to guitar. Born Jean Baptiste Reinhardt, he grew up in a gypsy camp near Paris and was born in 1910. He was caught in a caravan fire in 1928 and badly burned his left hand, depriving him of the use of the fourth and fifth fingers. His biography at All Music states:

According to one story, during his recovery period, Reinhardt was introduced to American jazz when he found a 78 RPM disc of Louis Armstrong’s “Dallas Blues” at an Orleans flea market. He then resumed his career playing in Parisian cafes until one day in 1934 when Hot Club chief Pierre Nourry proposed the idea of an all-string band to Reinhardt and Grappelli. Thus was born the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, which quickly became an international draw thanks to a long, splendid series of Ultraphone, Decca and HMV recordings.

#34 – Angus Young

– Young has been responsible for some of the most iconic rock and roll riffs of all time. There’s no denying who this is at the strike of the first power chord.

#33 – Bruce Springsteen

To think there was a time when The Boss was the only guitar player on stage with the E Street band is hard to imagine, but it’s true. And back in the early days, before Miami Steve and Nils Lofgren, and Patty Scialfa, Bruce played lead and rhythm and it was actually hard to pick which one he was better at. He could bust out soulful Steve Cropper-esque riffs and burn our serious solos on “Kitty’s Back,” or “Rosalita.”

Click here for #XPNGreatest guitarist of all time #32 – #28.

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After 25 years at the World Cafe, David Dye’s role is changing

David Dye | photo by Joe Del Tufo for WXPN
David Dye | photo by Joe Del Tufo for WXPN

After a quarter century at the helm of NPR’s World CafeDavid Dye announced today that he is stepping down on March 31st, 2017, as the full time host and producer of the show. He’ll continue hosting WXPN’s weekly Funky Friday show and will have a continued role on World Cafe as a special contributor.

“On one hand, it is extremely hard to picture my life without hosting the World Cafe on a daily basis,” says Dye. “It is the best job in radio, working with the most talented people. For years I have had the opportunity to sit in the same room talking with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock and thousands of others. Our 25th anniversary seems like the perfect juncture to get off the treadmill of daily radio and see what is next.” Continue reading →

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Sleepy Hollow remembers the essential sounds of Rudy Van Gelder

Rudy Van Gelder | via the Smithsonian Institute

Few recording engineers have had as large or lasting an impact on popular music as Rudy Van Gelder. The New Jersey native, who passed away on August 25th at the age of 91, not only helped to define the sound of (arguably) jazz’s most creative and influential period (from roughly 1950 to 1975), he also worked to develop modern recording approaches and techniques that are still being used today across a multitude of music genres.

Van Gelder’s most prolific work would come after 1959, when he opened his famed recording studio at 442 Sylvan Avenue in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. His career, however, began years earlier when he, working as an optometrist, began recording jazz sessions at his parents’ house in Hackensack. Among many other classics, 1954’s self-titled album by Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers, 1955’s Afro-Cuban by Kenny Drew, 1956’s Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins, and a legendary session that same year recorded with the Miles Davis Quintet that spawned the Steamin’, Workin’, Cookin’ and Relaxin’ with… albums — all recorded there for some of the most successful record labels in jazz, including Prestige and Blue Note. Continue reading →

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Q&A: Charlie Hall talks Miles Davis and his Get Up With It project

get up with it
Charlie Hall | photo courtesy of the artist

Charlie Hall is many things. He’s a drummer (you might recognize him from The War on Drugs), he’s the leader of an incredible a cappella group (check out The Silver Ages next January), and he’s a pretty knowledgeable Miles Davis enthusiast. On Wednesday, August 24th, the Philadelphia resident will combine two of those talents when he performs with Get Up With It, a group of musicians from Philly and NYC who will bring Davis’ music to Johnny Brenda’s for a rare live appearance.

We caught up with Hall over email to hear about his nearly life-long exploration and education of Davis’ catalog, how that morphed into a live ensemble and where he finds Davis’ legacy in contemporary music; read what he has to say below, and pick up tickets for the 21+ show here. Continue reading →