music

Courtesy of Mackenzie McAninch/Alex Crick

Ross Reynolds interviews and plays the music of Seattle guitarist, singer and songwriter Ayron Jones. Jones talks about his musical inspirations and the themes of his lyrics.

His band Ayron Jones and the Way was formed four years ago. The group were regional champions at a worldwide battle of the bands called Hard Rock Rising. They gained the attention of Seattle hip hop hero Sir Mix-A-Lot, who produced the band's first album, "Dream,"  last Fall.

The great outdoors is a perennial theme in classical music, usually expressed through bucolic or picturesque works. But the Seattle Symphony knew that to appear on Spring for Music — an annual festival of adventurous programming by North American orchestras — it required a more unusual, daring take on this theme.

The Atlanta-based rapper named Future has become an influential figure in hip-hop and pop over the last couple of years, writing songs for Rihanna and Ciara, and landing guest spots from Miley Cyrus, Pharrell and Drake. Just before he put out his brand new album, titled Honest, he spoke with Frannie Kelley and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the hosts of NPR Music's Microphone Check, about standing out from the crowd and his apprenticeship with Atlanta's long-standing Dungeon Family.

Billie Holiday will not be singing unless she "feels it." That's practically her thesis statement in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Lanie Robertson's play about a drug-ravaged nightclub show near the end of Holiday's tortured life. War stories and bawdy jokes are never a problem — and neither is pouring a drink — but if the audience wants a show, they have to wait until Lady Day can give them something real.

Holly George-Warren's book, "A Man Called Destruction."

Ross Reynolds talks with author Holly George-Warren about her new biography of musician Alex Chilton, "A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man."

13 Jazz Artists Awarded Over $1.7 Million

Apr 23, 2014

Yesterday, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation announced the recipients of its 2014 Performing Artist Awards, including 13 jazz and improvising musicians, who will receive at least $1.7 million in unrestricted grants in total.

Flickr Photo/Derrick Coetzee (CC BY-NC-ND)

Composer John Luther Adams was as surprised as anybody when the Pulitzer Prize committee called him Monday, April 14, to let him know he'd won the prize for his composition "Become Ocean."

Ke$ha says that to start the day she'll brush her teeth with a bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey. Nicki Minaj likes to "have a drink, have a clink" of Bud Light. And the party-rockin' hip-hop duo LMFAO like Ciroc, and they love Patron. "Shots, shots, shots, shots everybody!"

All that name-checking of alcohol brands encourages teens to drink, researchers say. Adolescents who liked songs like these were three times as likely to drink, and were twice as likely to binge than their peers who didn't like those songs.

Over the weekend, soprano Kristine Opolais sang her heart out — and died twice.

Friday evening she had sung the lead in Puccini's Madama Butterfly. It was her debut in that role at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. It was a big deal. Opolais was so excited about it that she stayed up until five the next morning.

New Obama administration rules aimed at protecting African elephants are causing widespread anxiety in the music world. From country to classical, working musicians say the policy will make them think twice about touring abroad.

The proposed regulations would place a near-total ban on anything made with ivory moving in and out of the U.S.

KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

William Crawford had a passion. During his lifetime, he collected rare, first edition vocal musical scores. By the time he died in 2013, he had amassed more than 700 scores by such famous composers as Beethoven, Bach and Wagner. Now those scores have found a home in Seattle.

Terry Teachout's book "Duke."

Ross Reynolds talks with Wall Street Journal drama critic Terry Teachout about his book, "Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington."

Ellington is regarded as perhaps the greatest jazz composer of the 20th century. The conductor Andre Previn once compared him to Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Prokofiev.

This interview originally aired on October 16, 2013.

One of the hottest new bands out of Birmingham, Ala., doesn't sound new at all. On the new album, Half the City, St. Paul and The Broken Bones hits all the marks of a classic Southern soul band, complete with a fiery lead singer. Speaking with NPR's David Greene, bassist Jesse Phillips recalls the first time he experienced the voice of frontman Paul Janeway.

The most frequently asked question of The Swing Years and Beyond is “What is your theme?”

Played at the top of each Swing Years show, it’s "Royal Blue" from "The Pink Panther" soundtrack. The film came out in 1963 and the album was released in 1964, featuring lounge and lush instrumentals by Henri Pancini … er, Mancini!

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