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Seven Fun Facts About ‘Arab Idol’

February 27, 2017
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“In this region, we don’t have a lot of opportunity to show ourselves,” he said. The show held its first auditions in Turkey this year. His fans back home had limited electricity to watch him on TV. One contestant with Israeli citizenship got an honorary Palestinian passport. This year, it held its first-ever auditions in Turkey — in light of the millions of Arab refugees there. It was being projected on a large screen, set up in front of the Church of the Nativity, which tradition says marks the spot where Jesus was born. Goats and Soda
Born In Sudan, Based In Brooklyn. “Because if you do it, you become popular.” 6. When Shaheen was announced the winner, the crowd in the Bethlehem erupted in cheers, quickly dispersed from the square and danced in the streets through the wee hours of the night. 3. A Singer Remixes Her Identities

4. Still, some cafes have solar power or generators, and people gathered at cafes to watch the Yemeni contestant every week, said Anoud al Anasi in Sanaa. “We are losing in all ways,” said Tamara Abu Laban, a documentary filmmaker. Parallels
Cairo’s Islamic Art Museum Reopens 3 Years After A Car Bomb Damaged It

So what is a person like Ameer Dandan to do? Nearly everybody was smoking hookah. But, alas, he didn’t make it to the television. A Syrian singer won Arab Idol last year. “It’s for people who have belief in themselves, but they never had the opportunity to show it. “It’s entertainment, but it gives you hope,” she said of the show. So Shaheen’s fans set up a PayPal account to raise money for his win, and raised about $35,000 from places like Sweden, home to a large Assyrian community, said Marwan Saca, who handled his social media campaign. 25, 2017 at MBC studios in Zouk Mosbeh, north of Beirut. Speaking via Facebook Messenger, she said, “There was a Yemeni contestant, that’s why we had to watch.” She said despite the huge difficulties of life in Yemen, everyone wanted to vote in support of Ammar Mohammad Alazaki. While young Palestinians, mostly young men, cheered while watching the show, she ticked off all the reasons Palestinians have to feel like losers. The Palestinian Authority granted Dandan an honorary Palestinian passport, the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds reported. The show gave Palestinians a chance to feel like winners. 7. There’s the Palestinians’ floundering struggle to establish an independent state. “Why do I want to go on these programs?” he said. Goats and Soda
This Photographer Captures A Megacity’s Vibe In A Single Photo

Arab Idol
Middle East She was sitting with her husband and 4-year-old daughter at a café in Manger Square to watch the final episode of Arab Idol. Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images

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Arab Idol
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Middle Eastern viewers vote for their favorite contestant by sending text messages to their local cell phone provider, which passes along the votes to the Lebanese cable channel that broadcasts the contest. 5. One of the finalists was from Yemen. The Arab Idol finalist is from the village of Majd Al-Krum in Israel’s north, and holds Israeli citizenship. Kurd Idol In northern Iraq, Akar Jihangeer, working in a perfume store, said he watched Arab Idol every week — his whole family does, every year. But Shaheen has many fans outside the Middle East. In fact, he auditioned himself both for Arab Idol and for its newer cousin, Kurd Idol, which draws its participants from the ethnic Kurdish minorities in several countries. They are a musical family and at weddings, his father plays the violin while he plays drums and sings. Enlarge this image

Palestinian Arab Idol TV show winners Yaacoub Shahin (center), Ammar Mohammed (left) and Amir Dandan stand on stage during the final in the pan-Arab song contest on Feb. There’s the Palestinians’ own internal politics: Palestinian national elections haven’t been held in more than a decade; voting for their Palestinian compatriot in Arab Idol was a rare chance to vote at all. Daniel Estrin in Bethlehem, Abu Bakr Bashir in Gaza City, Alice Fordham in Erbil, Alison Meuse in Beirut, and Peter Kenyon in Istanbul contributed to this report. “We can’t forget the misery, but this is more like taking a break — a short one,” said one young man at the restaurant, 29-year-old Yousef al Ramlawi. “Of course it’s very popular in the Middle East,” he said, standing underneath a glittering gold-and-crystal chandelier and surrounded by ornate blue glass bottles of fragrances. Israel and its neighbor Lebanon are classified as enemy countries, and Lebanon does not allow Israeli passport holders to enter. The city he lives in, Erbil, has been relatively insulated from Iraq’s chronic security problems but has severe economic issues, and Jihangeer doesn’t make a lot of money. In the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, nearly two years of war have left people with limited food and fuel — and electricity to watch television. It was a disappointment. Each year, the show holds auditions across the Middle East. With the money, Shaheen’s fan campaign bought text messages in bulk from a Palestinian mobile phone company. Young men and women watched the show, taking a moment to forget the hardships of life in the Palestinian territory. “The usual Yemeni heart,” she said. “We are winning in a different thing.” Meanwhile, in Gaza, tables were fully booked at the Level Up restaurant. He made it through the first round of Kurd Idol — the judge said Jihangeer’s singing gave him goosebumps — and a film crew even came to follow him round his gilded perfumery for a day.

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On Its Latest Album, Foxygen Keeps A California State Of Mind

February 26, 2017
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Foxygen Rado and France spoke with weekends on All Things Considered about how the new album Hang, was inspired by a book about Hollywood scandals and murders. Whatever we get is what ends up being Foxygen.” Foxygen, as the two are now known, released its psychedelic breakthrough album, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, in 2013 — and had a hit with the song “San Francisco.” On their latest project, they’re still focused on California — but this time, on its dark side. “We’d just kind of play for like 30 minutes, and then chop the best bits down to a three-minute song.” “We would just get some idea and be like, ‘What if we did that?’ And it sounds insane at the time,” France adds. Hear the full conversation at the audio link. “We don’t always hit the exact vision that we have. Cara Robbins/Courtesy of the artist

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All Songs Considered
Foxygen Returns With A Strange, Epic Anthem For America

“I got really into buying cheap, cheap instruments on eBay — lots of xylophones and melodicas and kind of useless junk — and that was kind of everywhere,” Rado says. Enlarge this image

Foxygen is Sam France (left) and Jonathan Rado; the duo’s latest album is called Hang.

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Not My Job: Chance The Rapper Gets Quizzed On Saran The Wrapper

February 26, 2017
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(LAUGHTER)
CHANCE THE RAPPER: Yeah. CHANCE THE RAPPER: I’m going to go with B. CHANCE THE RAPPER: It’s a lot of steps, so you should definitely write that down. Yeah, yeah, yeah. SAGAL: You understand that whatever you say about this, everybody here will believe you. People like to come up with alternative uses for Saran Wrap, but one of them, according to scientists, never works. (APPLAUSE)
ROCCA: I should write that down. ROCCA: That’s great. ROCCA: I want to ask you – what is the rhyme that you’re most proud of? SAGAL: Yeah, great to have you. You’re only about – what, you’re 23? (SOUNDBITE OF BELL, APPLAUSE)
SAGAL: Bill, how did Chance the Rapper do on our quiz? SAGAL: And you took some time. Is it too late for me to become a rapper? You did, like, a couple shows? If people out there listening don’t know Chance the Rapper’s work yet, a great place to start is the video for “Sunday Candy.” Not only is it a great song, not only is it really different than what you’ve seen but he is quite a dancer. I… CHANCE THE RAPPER: Yeah. It’s that you were thrown out of school for a little while when you were in high school. I don’t know if you ever heard him say it, but he’ll tell you himself. SAGAL: Would you agree with that recommendation? As far as we see it, he’s the king of Chicago hip-hop. They write it with their feet. And yeah, I’ve been doing it for a while now. Next question – Cosmopolitan magazine, of course, includes Saran Wrap in one of their famous sex-moves-that’ll-blow-his-mind articles. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Awesome, awesome. Or – I would have to sit down with a rhyming dictionary and work for days. I’ll be 23 next year. SAGAL: So you’re a rapper – you’re one of the best out there, but you can’t keep leftovers fresh and tasty. SAGAL: It is, in fact. KURTIS: Chance the Rapper Meet Saran the Wrapper. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Well, there’s a strong chance that they’re here ’cause this is an NPR show. (APPLAUSE)
SAGAL: All right, here is your first question. (LAUGHTER)
CHANCE THE RAPPER: I’m going to go with A. CHANCE THE RAPPER: It did a lot for me, yeah. You get this last one correct, you win. CHANCE THE RAPPER: OK. CHANCE THE RAPPER: And yeah. (APPLAUSE)
CHANCE THE RAPPER: So I got in trouble for this (laughter) – for having marijuana, and I was suspended from school. SAGAL: Right now, you’re wearing a cardigan. FAITH SALIE: Hey… SAGAL: You are. BRIAN BABYLON: That was all you? And you – what did you do? (APPLAUSE)
ROCCA: Oh, my God. (SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: It doesn’t work. Yeah, people do this all the time. Only one she love as much as me is Jesus Christ and Taylor. CHANCE THE RAPPER: I’ll take that. I got a future, so I’m singing for my grandma. CHANCE THE RAPPER: No, I’d probably say thank you, shouts out to them for all the inspiration. SAGAL: So Bill, who is Chance the Rapper playing for? And this is the story we heard, which is that you’ve been performing since you were a kid, right? So less than 20 years ago, but yeah, pretty recently. You’ve put out some albums that have done tremendously well. ROCCA: Can I tell you my favorite rhyme? What is it? SAGAL: When we come back, getting high and doing crimes – seriously. Who cares about that Kanye guy? (LAUGHTER)
CHANCE THE RAPPER: Those are also ridiculous. SAGAL: You started making your name very quickly. ROCCA: There must be two words that you rhymed that you went… Yeah, I did do that at my kindergarten graduation. Not My Job: Chance The Rapper Gets Quizzed On Saran The Wrapper

Chicago hip-hop superstar Chance the Rapper got his name because nobody believed a guy named Chancelor Bennett could rap. SAGAL: So I’m thinking, are you, like, nice-boy rap? You probably know it. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Thank you guys so much. Definitely check out “Sunday Candy,” guys. Yes, you all did it. DON’T TELL ME. Give it up. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Two words, back-to-back? SAGAL: And not – and you haven’t been growing up for very long. It’s totally sexy. You grew up in the South Side. (LAUGHTER)
CHANCE THE RAPPER: No, I don’t think so. KURTIS: Good. CHANCE THE RAPPER: (Laughter). MO ROCCA: Oh, my God. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information. We’re going to ask you three questions about actually wrapping things. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Yeah. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Thank you. It’s from “Funny Girl,” and one of the characters says – well, my heart ain’t made of marble, but your rhythm’s really horrible, rhyming marble and horrible. CHANCE THE RAPPER: You asked. CHANCE THE RAPPER: I feel like that’s something Cosmo would tell people to do. I definitely would take nice-boy rap. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)
SAGAL: And now the game where we ask very cool people about very lame things. Sometimes, Saran Wrap can save the day, as when what happened last year in Chile? And yeah, I mean, I’ll take nice-boy rap for sure ’cause I think, like, that’s what women are into, is nice-boy rap. CHANCE THE RAPPER: I am. CHANCE THE RAPPER: I wrote this song in the late ’80s called “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And… Mine’s is handmade, pan-fried, sun-dried, South Side and beat the devil by a landslide – praying with her hands tied, president of my fan club, sayin’ to her… All rights reserved. Did he live up to your expectation? Chance the Rapper, welcome to WAIT WAIT… (APPLAUSE)
CHANCE THE RAPPER: Great to be here. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Yeah, I started out doing talent shows and open-mic programs and youth programs around the city. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Thank you, guys. (LAUGHTER)
SAGAL: I’m sorry. (LAUGHTER)
CHANCE THE RAPPER: It’s a certain experience. I think there’s a lot of premeditation, if you will, to making a rap. SAGAL: They’ll be going home and be like – wow, I heard the most amazing thing about this hip-hop music. DON’T TELL ME from NPR. You singing too, but your grandma ain’t my grandma. (LAUGHTER)
SALIE: I think I’ve heard that one. I’m 46. SAGAL: You’re going to go with A? PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Last summer, we did our show outdoors at Chicago’s Millennium Park in front up to 20,000 people. And you’ve performed with him, right? ROCCA: Yeah. A – wrapping yourself tightly in Saran Wrap to lose weight, B – stretching it down a stairway to make an in-home waterslide, or C – eating it so you make a funny crinkling noise when you walk. (LAUGHTER)
SAGAL: Chance the Rapper got his name because nobody would believe a guy named Chancelor Bennett could rap. I write – I like to write about whatever is closest to my heart at the time. SAGAL: Yes. I know that one of your big hits is a song about your grandmother, “Sunday Candy.”
CHANCE THE RAPPER: Yeah. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Yeah. SAGAL: So you’re a Chicago guy. SAGAL: You have figured this out. (APPLAUSE)
SAGAL: Now I – I know there’s, like – there’s different schools of rap – there’s gangster rap; there’s West Coast rap. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record. NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. (LAUGHTER)
SAGAL: …B – take nude pictures of yourself for him with Saran Wrap over the lens so they’re blurrier and not quite so accurate, or C – pull out a long length of Saran Wrap, twist it into a rope and tie yourselves tightly together and see what you can do. CHANCE THE RAPPER: And that was- yeah, that’s one of the ones that I’m most proud of. (APPLAUSE)
SAGAL: Hey, I’m going to make my suggestion, and you tell me if I’m wrong. CHANCE THE RAPPER: I’m 22. You should check this out. So when I was a senior in high school, I got suspended for having marijuana around the school. And my understanding is you put that on the internet – you worked on it for a while, put it on the internet when it was ready and it kind of took off. A – wrap yourself in Saran Wrap like leftovers, hide in the refrigerator and wait until he gets hungry for a midnight snack… Her nieces and her nephews are just pieces of the layers. Don’t try it. KURTIS: Meg Sharma of Chicago, Ill. What do they recommend you do with Saran Wrap? I’ll wear that for sure. You’re headlining festivals. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Yes, sir – West 79th. Like, a rhyme that you went – wow, that is really cool that I just pulled that off? BILL KURTIS: But they weren’t there for us. And then, you know, you take off your socks and shoes, put a pencil between your toes and you start writing. CHANCE THE RAPPER: I’d agree with that. You know, you got to sit down, focus on your breathing, you know, you want to do a good workout, push-ups, maybe sit-ups, play cards, think about your taxes, think about all the people that you’ve met, you know, in this life and possibly a past life, if you believe in that. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Yeah, definitely. SAGAL: So – but the thing – the story we heard is that is that you have an origin story like a superhero. SAGAL: We heard you – at one point, you did a fine Michael Jackson impersonation. Did you know that? I am the thesis of her prayers. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Yeah. SAGAL: Yeah. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Wow, that’s crazy. SAGAL: (Laughter) For throwing you out of school. Some people might say it’s too soon for you to become a rapper, you know what I’m saying? It wasn’t even really in the school. SAGAL: You’re 22? They should. Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! That means you won, Chance. SAGAL: No, Cosmo told them to do C, to tie themselves together with the Saran Wrap so you can’t move or separate or get up and get out of there. That’s coming up in a minute on WAIT WAIT… SAGAL: Oh, you’re going to work out great, I can tell. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m a young guy. But how does it come to you? Like he’s such an… Are you so talented that rhymes just come to you? And you’ve got a masterpiece. (APPLAUSE)
SAGAL: Could hurt you if you wrap yourself too tightly. SALIE: Chance, how do you actually compose a rap? I think it’s A. They say take the Saran Wrap, put it over the lens of the camera to make it blurry so your flaws might be blurred out. (Unintelligible). Like, if you’re there, it’s like – in context, it’s like, OK, I see what this guy’s doing. (APPLAUSE)
SAGAL: One of the coolest things that I have read about you is that you grew up idolizing Kanye – right? I just – yeah. That’s deep. (LAUGHTER)
SAGAL: If they’re not here, they’re listening. What would you say now, if he or she were here, to the principal of the high school who suspended you? (LAUGHTER)
CHANCE THE RAPPER: D. CHANCE THE RAPPER: I’m trying to think of a good two words ’cause I’m actually super into that, is trying to rhyme words that people don’t use all the time. ROCCA: Would you please give it to me straight? They were there for our guest, Chance the Rapper. A – a mugger on the street was captured by bystanders and held by wrapping him to a lamp post naked with Saran Wrap, B – a man was saved from a house fire when he jumped into a makeshift Saran Wrap net or C – a desperate surgeon used Saran Wrap instead of a skin graft, creating the world’s first transparent man. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Yeah. And we are delighted to have him with us today. Copyright © 2017 NPR. CHANCE THE RAPPER: That’s a great question. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Hey, Chicago. Oh, recently I rhymed – very recently, I rhymed the words growth spurt with tippy toes hurt. If you get two right, you’ll win on behalf of one of our listeners. So on that 10-day break, I started recording a project called “10 Day,” which was my debut project and put a lot of people onto what I was doing. It is A. CHANCE THE RAPPER: (Laughter) Yeah. CHANCE THE RAPPER: I’m sure A is the right one, right? SAGAL: Chance the Rapper, thank you so much for joining us here. (LAUGHTER)
SAGAL: Well, Chance – Chance, we have asked you here to play a game we’re calling… Originally broadcast Aug 1, 2015. SAGAL: You’re going to go with B? Accuracy and availability may vary. SAGAL: D? This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. SAGAL: So – go ahead. CHANCE THE RAPPER: Yeah. Kanye West is, like, one of the greatest human beings of all time. SAGAL: So you’re touring in hip-hop shows. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “SUNDAY CANDY”)
CHANCE THE RAPPER: (Rapping) She can say in her voice, in her way that she love me – with her eyes, with her smile, with her belt, with her hands, with her money. SAGAL: Yeah. ROCCA: That’s kind of – it’s clever. KURTIS: Well, he got 2 out of 3. (APPLAUSE)
SAGAL: In Chicago’s Millennium Park, Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper. All right, this is exciting.

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A New Documentary Explores The Troubled, Brilliant Life Of Pianist Bill Evans

February 25, 2017
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Hear more of their conversation at the audio link. But in the course of making the movie I played [Evans] for them, and they say, ‘Jesus, that’s pretty good.’ So I think it’s interesting that people are rediscovering Bill, and part of the reason I’m doing this is because I want people to rediscover Bill. NPR thanks our sponsors

Bill Evans I think he’s a great American artist, and I think more people should listen to him and respect the beauty that he was able to create.” Spiegel spoke with NPR’s Scott Simon about the eight-year process behind Bill Evans: Time Remembered. Courtesy of the artist

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Jazz Night In America
Jazz On Film And The Problem Of The Mad Creative Genius

“When you listen to some of the songs that he plays, some of the intros that he plays, some of the long compositions, they’re emotionally wrought. They just take you to a different place than most normal piano players would go,” Spiegel says. “I got a couple kids; they aren’t really into jazz. Enlarge this image

Jazz pianist Bill Evans (seen here as he appears on the cover of the 2016 legacy release Some Other Time) is the subject of a new documentary called Bill Evans: Time Remembered.

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The Ones Who Dream: A Guide To 2017’s Bold, Unconventional Oscars Music

February 25, 2017
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His scores all bear an unmistakable DNA, a deft blend of quirky instrumentation and rhythmic play with nostalgic, emotive melody. Composers Dustin O’Halloran, who writes the neoclassical piano music for the Amazon series Transparent, and Hauschka (a.k.a. For my money, it’s the best, most daringly and essentially used score of the lot. A timid, unsteady waltz for flute and strings follows Jackie around a sepulchral White House. Truthfully, the film asks too much of its score — the eye-rolling dialogue and undercooked effects leave much to compensate for — but by doing the heavy lifting, Newman shines in his own right. Violins shake violently on a sudden recall of the gunshot that upended her life in Dallas. The music softens and sweetens in a tender moment Jackie shares with her friend Nancy Tuckerman — a flute darting birdlike over simple string chords trudging toward light. In some ways, the sci-fi adventure Passengers has the most traditional score on this list, but only because the composer has become a cinematic tradition. The one major melody in the score not taken from the songs is a wistful waltz, which first lures Emma Stone’s Mia into the restaurant where Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian is gigging like a siren song. Levi’s music avoids biopic clichés and gives new insight into the broken, disoriented but still elegant first lady, as imagined by star Natalie Portman and director Pablo Larraín. David Bornfriend/A24

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In Moonlight, composer Nicholas Britell ties together three chapters of the protagonist’s life with a gossamer theme that gradually slows and deepens as the character ages. As for the other composers, they all have full, exciting careers ahead of them. The orchestration is clean and transparent, showcasing trilling woodwinds, classical guitar and a whole cast of idiophones — and there’s a sparkling, nostalgically fizzy quality that’s hard to find outside of a Disney movie these days. La La Land will no doubt get swept up in the film’s suction of gold, minting Hurwitz (like his school pal, director Damien Chazelle) as one of the hottest properties in Hollywood. The result is a patchwork of variations on these melodies, operating like afterimages or foreshadows to keep the musical pot boiling and the stars’ feet nimble between numbers. Hurwitz evolves that theme in a parade of developments, until it quite literally takes flight in a romantic fantasia inside the Griffith Observatory planetarium. Levi largely stayed away from the film while composing, guided instead by her own impression of the kind of music Jackie Kennedy would have liked. LA LA LAND

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For obvious reasons, music matters more than usual in La La Land, the clear frontrunner in this category and many others this year. For a story that could have easily invited sentimental mush and overbearing orchestration, O’Halloran and Hauschka’s score succeeds by being emotionally direct: lyrically, delicately and unoppressively capturing Saroo’s internal state. PASSENGERS

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The one familiar name on the ballot is Thomas Newman, a perennial bridesmaid with 14 Oscar nominations over the past 22 years — including The Shawshank Redemption, American Beauty and last year’s Bridge of Spies — and zero wins. LION

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Lion’s music shares a narrative function with that of Moonlight — binding chaptered portions of a character’s life — as well as an aesthetic, built around fragile, tactile, solo instrument sounds. Despite the interstitial nature of the score cues, these aren’t lazy, muzak interpretations of Hurwitz’s songs: The composer dresses up his tunes in a boundless wardrobe that includes jazz combos, Latin ensembles and romantic classical orchestras. Written mostly for strings and a few solo instruments (flute, piano, snare drum), the music throbs and invades the story in unexpected ways, beginning with a queasy, melting chord that cascades before the first image flickers onscreen. These themes, arranged for vibrato violin and gentle, arpeggiating piano, resurface in Saroo’s adult life in Australia, hovering like ghosts and calling him back to a location he can’t identify. Violinist Tim Fain gives voice to “Little’s Theme,” the melody in its childhood phase, with such lightness and intimate mic placement that you can hear the scratch of fibers between bow and string. In the tradition of his childhood hero, Disney legend Alan Menken, 31-year-old Justin Hurwitz crafted a score that mines every inch of possibility from the film’s showtunes, which he also wrote. Still, even where the film itself fumbles, his music lends subtlety to its spectrum of moods — desperation, moral quandary, sensuality and, finally, clock-ticking action — and the score is one of the composer’s most mature and sophisticated from his 21st-century period. And in the film’s long, dreamy denouement, non-diatonic notes complicate an otherwise hopeful adagio. There’s even a spiritual cousin to WALL-E’s “Define Dancing” sequence for Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence’s own starry-eyed spacewalk, a romantic serenade for piano and blossoming strings. Enlarge this image

Moonlight tells its protagonist’s story in three chapters — and as the character ages, the music of Nicholas Britell’s Oscar-nominated score slows and deepens. Newman will likely have to wait another go-round for his first statue. As Indiewire critic Ben Croll has noted, the score moves the way grief does — arriving in waves out of nowhere, then retreating just as suddenly. Volker Bertelmann, the German artist best known for his use of prepared piano) set up melodies of melancholy and loneliness in the film’s first half, which traces hero Saroo’s childhood in India and separation from his home and family. Elsewhere, digital effects turn the ordinary into poetry. Inspired by director Barry Jenkins’ love of “chopped and screwed” music — a remix style from Southern hip-hop that digitally slows down a track to reveal, in the composer’s words, “hidden sonic worlds” — Britell decelerates the theme for each progressive chapter, to the point where the adult character, “Black,” is accompanied by celli and basses, moving with a masculine, glacial weight. As he did in WALL-E, Newman paints a mysterious cosmic soundscape for the lonely occupants of a futuristic world, combining his usual bag of wispy woodwinds and clustered brass with cool electronics and a high synthetic voice (something he’s jokingly called “a bit of a star child thing”). JACKIE

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Mica Levi, the English composer alternately known as experimental pop artist Micachu, surprised audiences with her itching, quivering score for the 2013 sci-fi drama Under the Skin. There’s no overture in this musical, but Hurwitz effectively works one in with his fireworks spectacular “Epilogue,” in which the main tunes are reprised and decked out in their evening best, including a Menken-esque chorus. In the “baptism” scene where Mahershala Ali’s character teaches Little to swim in the ocean, the tails of Fain’s lightning arpeggios are manipulated by the composer to create a sense of tidal overlapping. Although Jackie tells a more grounded story — about the grieving process of Jacqueline Kennedy in the wake of her husband’s assassination — its score is almost equally unnerving. The score is one of two nominations for a film derided by critics and rejected by audiences, and the confluence of circumstances almost undoubtedly spells another empty-handed year for Newman. With his spare but virtuosic score, Britell helps elevate this quiet story of a very interior (and nearly speechless) gay black youth in Miami to near-religious heights.

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Doug Wamble On Piano Jazz

February 24, 2017
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James Infirmary” (Mills) “You Don’t Know What Love Is” (DePaul, Raye) “Naima” (Coltrane) “St. Louis Blues” to John Coltrane’s “Naima.” Originally broadcast in the fall of 2005. Set List “Come Rain Or Come Shine” (Mercer, Arlen) “Stardust” (Carmichael, Parish) “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise” (Hammerstein, Romberg) “Lonely Woman” (Coleman, Guryan) “St. Along the way, he discovered his off-the-cuff singing was a hit with fans and critics alike. Guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Doug Wamble grew up listening to the Southern gospel, country and blues traditions of his Tennessee home. In this 2005 Piano Jazz session, Wamble and host Marian McPartland perform a number of genre-spanning standards, from “St. Louis Blues” (Handy)

[+] read more[-] less Once he developed his love for jazz, Wamble began to soak up the sounds of jazz masters like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Ornette Coleman.

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Jazz On Film And The Problem Of The Mad Creative Genius

February 24, 2017
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Well, I was thinking of some of the movies of the past that have sort of been jazz-based: I think of Cabin in the Sky, or Stormy Weather, or Carmen Jones, or A Man Called Adam, or ‘Round Midnight, or Mo’ Better Blues, or Love Jones, or Miles Ahead. We have some sort of fixation with that. We are musicians, but we are also professional people. Musicians who want to play their own music, or they want to play music that moves them — a lot of times, it’s not that easy to do that. So they might have to take a gig in a band that they may not necessarily want to play in, stylistically. The couple’s tragic story is the subject of the documentary I Called Him Morgan, directed by Kasper Collin. I do need to pay my bills.” And musicians are confronted with that all the time. I suppose, but the thing is: There’s so many mad creative geniuses who’ve never gone through that. I think what it’s trying to give an example of is: Here’s this young, as you say, evangelist for traditional jazz. And at one point he joins a band led by John Legend, who’s doing something a little more, let’s say, complicated. That’s not necessarily what they may want to do, but they have to work. Because the Ryan Gosling character, he kind of considers himself this evangelist for the music — teaching her to love it, complaining about people not listening to it anymore. Well, a little more commercial, shall we say. And it’s happened throughout generations, too. Enlarge this image

Trumpeter Lee Morgan and wife Helen in 1970. You take another movie like The Man With The Golden Arm, where Frank Sinatra plays a heroin-addicted drummer, and I’m thinking, “Wow, OK — it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white.” You just have to be a jazz musician, and they’re gonna put you on something: heroin, cocaine, something. It is a backdrop, you know? So that would be a nice, victorious, wonderful, interesting story to see. I want put to you the criticisms that I’ve heard of this movie — number one, that it’s got too simple an idea of what jazz is, almost like a trapped-in-amber ideal of the music. I’m not sure I focus too much on the race thing as I concentrate on, the jazz musician is always despondent, the jazz musician is always the underdog, the jazz musician is always the one who has these drug problems or alcohol problems or problems with violent relationships. They may play in pit orchestras, or in a TV band. He’s one of the greatest mad creative geniuses ever and he never went though that. But the most important thing, which I hope happens, is that someone will get curious to actually go back to find out about Lee Morgan’s music. Somehow, the story of the jazz musician who ends up victorious, who kinda strays away from the drugs or the violence or the alcohol or that sort of lifestyle — that’s not fun to watch, somehow. I’m not an expert, but I remember sitting there and thinking, this is nothing like what young, up-and-coming jazz artists are doing at all — who are getting commercial success. There is that issue in the history, but I wonder if it has to do with the broader stereotype of the mad creative genius. It’s about the music that he made that touched people, that inspired people and inspired a whole generation of trumpet players. So then, John Legend offers him a gig: “Look, it’s not straight-ahead jazz, but hey — you need a gig.” And at some point he decides, “Yeah, you’re right, I do need to work. I don’t think anybody is going to see this movie and their first, second or third thought is “jazz.” To me, this is a love story. It happens more often than not. Jazz Night In America: Video Episodes And Shorts
A Jazz Fact Check Of ‘La La Land’

I don’t think that scene was really made to depict what’s happening now. We want to see a movie where a jazz musician actually wins in the end. You know, after I saw this movie, my first thought was, “Who would focus on how jazz is portrayed in this film?” To me, the story of “jazz,” quote-unquote, is not as important as the story of these two young people trying to pursue their dream. Finally, the unspoken thing, I think, has been about where you have movies about jazz and there are not people of color at the forefront of it. He’s trying to be the most dedicated jazz pianist that he can be — but he’s not getting any work. Maybe one day someone will make a movie about Wayne Shorter. So you’re fine with it being a backdrop. But I think at a certain part of the film, there is this discussion. This is a story of a couple that falls in love: He’s a jazz pianist, she’s an aspiring actress. This brings me to La La Land, because that movie been talked about so much in the context of its music. Kasper Collin Produktion AB/Courtesy of the Afro-American Newspaper Archives and Research Center

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More than anything else, I think it depicts our interest in always wanting to find the jazz musician who was on drugs or has been in violent relationships.

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‘La La Land’ Composer Justin Hurwitz On World Cafe

February 24, 2017
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I remember I got goosebumps seeing them run it for the first time,” Hurwitz says. If La La Land does take home the honors, Justin Hurwitz, who wrote the music that is so central to the film, will probably take to the stage alongside director Damien Chazelle, his friend since their college days at Harvard. “The work that we had been doing for years — that I had been doing on the music side of it — finally realized with all these dancers and props … Hear the full interview at the audio link above. Only one is a musical — and it has a good chance of winning. (Hurwitz is also nominated for three Oscars himself: for Best Original Score and twice for Best Original Song.) In our conversation with Hurwitz, he says he’s thrilled about how his and Chazelle’s vision came out — particularly in the spellbinding opening scene, which they shot in two takes on a closed Los Angeles freeway exit. NPR thanks our sponsors Lionsgate

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World Cafe
Oscars Weekend LISTening: Take Our Movie Music Challenge

There are 10 films nominated for Best Picture at this Sunday’s Academy Awards. Enlarge this image

La La Land composer Justin Hurwitz on set with star Ryan Gosling.

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Oscars Weekend LISTening: Take Our Movie Music Challenge

February 24, 2017
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Say what you will about Jon Cusack in Say Anything…, but the man knew how to incorporate music into his romantic gesture. Twentieth Century Fox

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Find the complete list of movie answers here.

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Leon Ware, Songwriter Behind Several R&B Powerhouses, Dies

February 24, 2017
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he was a preacher of sensuality in his pulpit.”
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His last commercial release in the U.S. Enlarge this image

Songwriter, producer and singer Leon Ware at the 2016 ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. In 2014, he was credited as the “creative producer,” as well as a featured artist, composer and producer on Theophilus London’s album Vibes. YouTube

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In a review of a Leon Ware show at New York’s Blue Note club in 2008, The New York Times’ Jon Pareles wrote that his performances were “incantations delivered in weightless, improvisatory vocals above undulating grooves; they’re entreaties of yearning and devotion … This is a developing story and will be updated. in June 2016. was made for Stax/Concord: the 2008 solo album Moon Ride. Ware died TKTK. Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

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Ware’s work also became a staple source of samples for major hip-hop artists, including Tupac Shakur, A Tribe Called Quest and Jay Z; in 1996, he collaborated with Maxwell in writing the tune “Sumthin’ Sumthin’,” a single on the landmark neo-soul album Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite. In 2012, he released the album Sigh in Japan.

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Predicting The Future: With ‘HNDRXX,’ Mixtape Culture Infiltrates The Music Industry

February 24, 2017
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1 on the Billboard 200. When Drake and Future collaborated to release What A Time To Be Alive later in 2015, it was planned as a mixtape. Courtesy of the artist

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The industry has finally seen the light… at least, that’s one way to interpret Future’s second major-label release in the span of two weeks. (Tupac was first in 1996, with the posthumous release of The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory nine months after double-album All Eyez On Me.) DMX garnered a $1 million bonus from his label for doubling up with the release of It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood in one year, helping to drive up the value of Def Jam and putting in the perfect position to negotiate a then-hefty $100 million buyout from Universal Music Group the following year. That in itself was different from classic label strategy, which typically forces artists to craft more rhythmic and radio-friendly songs for stronger commercial appeal. The cover art of Future’s HNDRXX, released just one week after his chart-topping self-titled album. Article continues after sponsorship

Even before the internet, the immediacy of mixtape culture has always been an inseparable part of its appeal. The notoriously prolific and independent-labeled Lil B has released more than 50 in the past decade (and only one album). If so, multiple album drops truly could become the wave of the future. Multiple releases within short windows — traditionally viewed skeptically by an industry which saw them as potentially devaluing and shortening a given album’s lifespan — have always been embraced in hip-hop’s mixtape culture. (As the existence of this article shows, it’s clearly working to some degree.) Hip-hop certainly isn’t new to multiple album releases — but it looked a lot different 20 years ago. That second album, HNDRXX, is the “album I always wanted to make,” he wrote in an Instagram post and, as its famous features including Rihanna and The Weeknd seem to show, is said to be more radio-ready than last week’s FUTURE. While this windfall means plenty of new Future for fans to digest, it also begs a question: What does this disruption to old release strategies suggest about the present and future of the industry? Toronto rapper Tory Lanez kicked off 2017 by releasing two mixtapes on New Year’s Day, repeating the same trick from one year prior. And get this: There are already unconfirmed reports that the Atlanta rapper and his label Epic will follow up this second release with a third album. Reid learned this lesson after trying that approach on Future for his sophomore album Honest, which generated disappointing first-week numbers a year prior to DS2. Epic’s L.A. 1 on the Billboard 200. But the strategy could also signal the industry’s growing desperation to command attention in a saturated market. In 1998, DMX became the first living rapper to release two albums in the same calendar year, both of which debuted at No. Last week, FUTURE became the fourth. Now that unannounced album releases have become the norm, multiple drops could be the new way to grab attention. Reid and Epic are certainly banking on HNDRXX repeating that success — which would be unprecedented. The digital market is essentially built on the same innovation. After years of pushback, the suits in the c-suites may be ready to take their lead from the streets by flooding the market with product. But Reid, smartly, insisted it be sold as a label release — as a result, it became Future’s third to debut at No. Future heightened his own stock with a three-mixtape buildup to his third major-label release, DS2, in 2015 — the preceding tapes were so popular that the album itself was essentially a best-of-the-three compilation. The industrywide shift to streaming which has almost fully supplanted the model of selling music in units, has enabled — and required — labels to become nimbler. Listen to HNDRXX:

Future

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‘The Hired Hands’ Recognizes Bruce Langhorne, One Of Modern Guitar’s Hidden Heroes

February 24, 2017
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There are also plenty of non-guitar tracks that help extend Langhorne’s unnamed influence beyond six strings. Steve Gunn offers his first solo acoustic piece in what seems like years (or at least since he started singing more), Daniel Bachman warbles lo-fi blues, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo creaks out a quiet ballad, Tom Carter takes an amber-burnt guitar solo over a western sky motif, while both Scott Tuma and Loren Connors smear grainy hues of unknown blues. Susan Alcorn’s “Hello Goodbye Hello” has the pedal steel guitarist hearkening back to her country roots, with an atmospheric sprinkling of dissonance. Put together by Dylan Golden Aycock, Loren Connors and Suzanne Langille, the compilation features an incredible cast of artists both covering and reinterpreting tracks from The Hired Hand. There’s even an archival John Fahey recording of “Red Cross, Disciple Of Christ Today,” a woozy bit from his electric guitar phase that likely had Langhorne’s lonely ambience in mind. There are a few banjo-based tunes; Paul Metzger’s “Opening” raga, Nathan Bowles’ minimalist bowed strings, Tim Rutili’s ambient cloudscaping, Eugene Chadborne’s skittering avant-bluegrass holler. Enlarge this image

Bruce Langhorne’s soundtrack for the 1971 film The Hired Hand has inspired musicians for decades, even when it was hard to find. Bruce Langhorne would go onto play with the Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji in the ’80s and incorporate more synths into his work, but his patient sense of the guitar can be heard in these modern musicians — and should be recognized as more than a hired hand. Courtesy of the artist

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Out now via the ever-reliable Scissor Tail Records, The Hired Hands: A Tribute To Bruce Langhorne not only seeks to acknowledge Langhorne’s influence, but also donates proceeds of the double-album to cover his medical expenses while in hospice. The Hired Hands: A Tribute to Bruce Langhorne by Various Artists

Bruce Langhorne
Dylan Golden Aycock
Nathan Bowles
Chuck Johnson
Daniel Bachman
Steve Gunn
Scott Tuma
John Fahey
Wooden Wand Bedded by a shruti-box drone, Chris Corsano’s percussive “For Bruce Langhorne” captures the unnerving movement lying just beneath the original soundtrack, while free jazz drummer Marc Edwards hits the kit like rain drops on a tin roof on “Riding Thru The Rain (Response).” This is the rare tribute that understands the musician being honored and channels him as a continuous presence. The guitarists alone are a who’s-who of folk, blues, experimental and psychedelic music.

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Paul McCartney Shares Studio Footage From ’80s-Era Elvis Costello Session

February 24, 2017
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Paul McCartney on tour in 1989 for his album Flowers In The Dirt. Rob Verhorst/Redferns

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Paul McCartney is giving fans a preview of what to expect from the upcoming deluxe reissue of Flowers In The Dirt, an album he originally released in 1989. We did virtually what John and I did which was just make up a song a day.”
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The deluxe version of Flowers In The Dirt is due out March 24. Paul McCartney
Elvis Costello “Elvis came down to my studio and we sat opposite each other with our guitars because I had said to him early on that this is how I’d written with John, with me being left handed and him being right handed, it was almost like looking in a mirror. YouTube

Last week, McCartney shared a demo of “Twenty Fine Fingers,” one of several songs he did with Elvis Costello for the album and, today, McCartney has shared footage of another Costello collab, “My Brave Face.” The video includes rare footage of McCartney’s time in the studio with Costello. The newly remastered version will include rare outtakes and demos from the recording sessions, snippets and goodies from which McCartney has been sharing in the build-up to its release. On his website, McCartney writes:”I was looking for someone to work with, trying to think of something imaginative to do and one day my manager said, ‘Do you fancy writing with Elvis Costello?'” McCartney goes on to compare his late-’80s sessions with Costello to McCartney’s legendary partnership with John Lennon, which the recording bears out to some degree.

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