Watch Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker cover John Prine’s “Summer’s End”

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Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker has taken to Instagram to share an intimate acoustic cover of John Prine’s “Summer’s End”, from his 2018 album The Tree Of Forgiveness. Watch below:

“I’m beyond grateful for the gift of his songs, sending love to his whole family,” writes Lenker.

Prine was hospitalised last week after contracting Covid-19, and on Sunday his family confirmed that his situation was “critical”.

Watch The National’s High Violet concert film

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The National will release a 10th anniversary expanded edition of their classic 2010 album High Violet on June 19.

In addition to the 10 original songs, the 3xLP package includes a disc of tracks never before available on vinyl, including “Wake Up Your Saints”, “Walk Off” and an alternate version of “Terrible Love”. You can pre-order it here.

To mark the announcement, The National have shared their concert film High Violet Live From Brooklyn Academy Of Music (BAM), directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. It was shot on May 10, 2010, the night before the release of High Violet. Watch below:

The National also announced this week that all profits from their webstore and fan club enrolment will be directed to subsidising the lost wages for their 12 crew members until the end of the coronavirus crisis. Go here to peruse their merch.

Arbouretum – Let It All In

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It might be because of the album’s frequent references to water, but there are moments during Let It All In where Arbouretum gain momentum and start to sound like a river flowing steadily towards the sea, growing in speed and size. The Baltimore band have a unique cadence. They swagger heavily like an elephant doing the boogaloo, and on tracks like “Headwaters II” or the immense title track, they seem to be descending from the hills through the rapids towards the sea, unstoppable but always in control, like the outpour from a broken dam: fast, deep, majestic.

Arbouretum are led by vocalist Dave Heumann, who plays guitar and writes most of the songs and lyrics. Since 2011’s The Gathering, the band have featured a solid core of bassist Corey Allender, keyboardist Matthew Pierce and drummer Brian Carey. The sound this quartet have worked up over the past few albums on Thrill Jockey – The Gathering, 2013’s Coming Out Of The Fog and 2017’s Song Of The Rose (there have also been a handful of self-released records) – occupies unusual sonic territory that embraces both folk and heavier rock but doing so with a restraint and thoughtfulness that makes their music almost stately. You can usually hear traces of Fairport Convention and Crazy Horse at the heart of what Arbouretum do, but they are also aligned with a mix of contemporary artists like Woods, Wolf People, Wooden Wand, Earth and Kevin Morby.

The band used to be a little more wild and woolly but over time the frills that featured on their earlier, more folky, albums – Rites Of Uncovering (2007) and Song Of The Pearl (2009) – have been eroded, leaving them with a more focused core. This doesn’t mean that heavy jams and cool solos are off-limits – the album’s title song goes on for 12 minutes – but their music is loaded with a different kind of energy, one that comes from the tension of reining back a beast and refusing to indulge in showy overplay. To this central sound, Let It All In adds additional flavours: the honky-tonk swing of “High Water Song”, the transcendent Middle Eastern raga of “No Sanctuary Blues”, a brilliant medieval waltz called “A Prism In Reverse” and the synthy instrumental palate-cleanser “Night Theme”, which bobs along like something from Eno’s Another Green World. Adding pep are guests Walker Teret and Hans Chew, while drummer David Bergander joins Carey on almost every track, playing complementary parts that gives the sound of a four-armed drummer at a single giant kit rather than two drummers playing separately. This in itself is very Arbouretum: they always sound like a team.

The general consistency of the band’s approach over time means that three tracks on this album – “Headwaters II”, “ Let It All In” and “Buffeted By Wind” – were initially written and recorded in 2016 for Song Of The Rose. It scarcely seems credible that they could sit on a song as fantastic as “Let It All In” for four years, but it now emerges as the album’s krautrock-infused centrepiece with splendid groove that sounds like something by The War On Drugs or Black Mountain. “Let It All In” provided Heumann with something to write around, and the rest of the album duly come together. Some of Arbouretum hold down other jobs, so the band only tour when they have a record to promote. Instead of testing material on the road, then, they held weekly rehearsals for a year before hitting the studio, slowly and methodically putting together the songs one part at a time. You can feel the steadiness of this approach in the record’s atmosphere, where everything feels worked through but not so overplayed that it loses its lustre.

If Let It All In feels musically unified, it is supported by Heumann’s lyrics, which repeatedly circle back to elemental themes, particularly related to water. This interest in nature has been a feature of all Arbouretum albums, with Heumann reaching for metaphors that he feels will resonate deeper and longer. Similarly, he’ll often write about travel (in time as well as along roads and rivers), night, and rite and rituals. To take just a couple of examples, on The Gathering’s 11-minute “Song Of The Nile”, Heumann had a narrator “wandering down in Egypt, dressed in beggar’s clothes”, while Song Of The Rose’s typically slow-burning and graceful “Call Upon The Fire” offered a typical vision of a future where “rust has spread to everything/And weeds have choked the garden.”

Water and the sea dominate Let It All In. The album’s opening lines feature a man contemplating the ocean on “How Deep It Goes”, a CSNY-style folk rocker, and the album ends with the lines “Can’t fight the wind/Can’t dry the rain/Can’t reach the sea, except by following a stream down all the way to the end,” on “High Water Song”, a track that curls round Hans Chew’s country piano. In between we encounter creeks, lakeshore, “unwinding spools of rapids and pools” and a fair amount of rain. “Headwaters II” follows a river flowing through a timeless landscape, while “High Water Song” focuses on a narrator whose “low-lying town” has been washed away by floods and who is now trying to establish himself on higher ground among suspicious strangers: “Now I’m here singing this hill people song/You won’t get caught if you just hide your eyes when you sing along.”

Like the protagonist in “High Water Song”, Heumann’s characters often find themselves taking part in communal or cultish rituals. On “A Prism In Reverse” we are transported to colonial-era Pennsylvania where some sort of religious meeting is taking place involving singers whose voices join “like a prism in reserve”. Among the grey-robed group is a woman,
who seems to have joined them in disguise (“hair tucked under… gentle form obscured”) and who beckons the narrator into a “dark unending wood”. It’s a narrative marvel, economical and enigmatic, with just a trace of unsettling Wicker Man/Kill List folk-horror.

“No Sanctuary Blues” and “Buffeted By Wind” are less clear in their setting. “No Sanctuary Blues” has a restless narrator and meandering rhythm, with Middle Eastern flourishes laced with stabs at space rock. The unsettled singer wakes up “hearing war drums and feeling nearly dead” and ends the song confronting “gates of the sun and land of dreams” with Telesphorus, the Greek dwarf god of recovery from illness. By contrast, “Buffeted By Wind” unfolds in a clean but jangly tangle of guitar. It sounds like a Simon & Garfunkel track, and acts as a break between the twin gales of “Headwaters II” and “Let It All In”. It’s the latter that packs the most muscle, taking a minute to build up steam before Heumann’s vocal comes in.

The song was recorded with Bergander’s percussion ensemble Drums Of Life, while Pierce supplies a rich and sonorous organ part like something from Deep Purple. Heumann’s lyric – one of a handful written with his occasional collaborator Rob Wilson – spins round themes of trust and confusion, but as the music heads dynamically towards its conclusion, you feel as if you are in safe hands, a life raft bobbing on a wave of crushing power.

Watch Michael Stipe perform new song, “No Time For Love Like Now”

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Michael Stipe has released a video of him performing a new song, “No Time For Love Like Now”.

He writes: “First take! A new song with Aaron Dessner. This is the demo track. Echoing Love xxx Michael”. Watch it below:

Michael Stipe has been a great hero and friend to me (and The National),” added Dessner on Instagram, “and I never in my wildest dreams imagined writing songs together…but here is the demo of one in progress…coming to you from Michael in isolation at home — hope it raises some spirits. The lyrics and sentiment in the music feel tied to this time.”

Nick Mason on Syd Barrett: “He was pushing in a weirder direction”

The new issue of Uncut – in shops now and available to buy online by clicking here – features an extensive reminiscence by Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason about the early years of the band and the mercurial brilliance of Syd Barrett.

“In late 1966, Peter Jenner and Andrew King discovered us and we started a residency at All Saints Church Hall in Notting Hill,” Mason tells Tom Pinnock. “Syd was writing then, but I still remember a review saying that what we were doing was interesting but that we really should drop ‘Louie Louie’ from the setlist. They were probably correct.

“We started playing extended pieces at the Hornsey College Of Art. All the stuff we did there was weird – it was not suited to songs or a regular repertoire! Because of working with their light and sound workshop, we made these early versions of psychedelic music. That was developed further at UFO at the end of the year.

“I think Syd was beginning to use LSD by the time we played All Saints. When we got to UFO, he was doing a lot more of it. But it’s not something that you can see – you can see someone smoking or snorting or injecting – so you’d never know. Us and The Soft Machine were both seen as being house bands at UFO – though we had slightly more status within the industry. We had produced a minor hit record at least, whereas Soft Machine never got close to doing anything quite that crass! They were proper grown-ups. But it meant that we pulled in a bigger audience because of that.

“Syd got on really well with Joe Boyd when we recorded ‘Arnold Layne’. He was happier with him than working with Norman Smith on Piper…. Joe was much more part of the counterculture, and Andrew and Peter were absolutely supportive of Syd, too. Joe worked for Elektra, which behaved more like an indie label, whereas EMI was a full-on commercial operation – Manchester Square, A&R departments, marketing department, £25 for the cover of a record, that’s how it worked. Of course, they had had The Beatles, which made them top dog.

“Just a month after ‘Arnold Layne’, we were in Studio 3 at Abbey Road recording Piper. It was very quick. Roger and I had been in college most days, and then suddenly we had become professional, and we were spending seven hours a day doing music rather than an hour and a half. Initially, Syd was pleased about all this – in the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A there was a letter he wrote, saying how excited he was by the whole thing, by us getting our own van.

“The rest of us realised that it didn’t really work with Norman Smith when we were doing A Saucerful Of Secrets later on. But I suspect that even with Piper, Syd was thinking that he didn’t particularly want Norman’s control on it. I can imagine Syd thinking, ‘I know how I want to do this, I don’t want Norman trying to turn it into a hit single…’ Which I think Norman felt some obligation to try and do, whereas Syd was pushing in a weirder direction. ‘Interstellar Overdrive’, say, was a genuine jam: at any point it could have gone off in any different direction! Then again, Syd knocked out ‘The Gnome’ or ‘Scarecrow’, something that was so not psychedelic and more English, bucolic, rural.”

You can read much more of Nick Mason on Syd Barrett in the May 2020 issue of Uncut, out now with George Harrison on the cover.

The Ballad Of Shirley Collins

This fine documentary about one of the great voices of British folk music opens at the bonfire-night celebrations in Lewes, East Sussex, where she lives. The footage includes a menacing procession of burning effigies and martyrs’ crosses. Elsewhere, the nearby South Downs countryside appears as a fierce, lonely and strange place, wreathed in winter mist. Collins has lived in Sussex all her life, and her work carries the rich folkloric history and song of the region. “When I was singing my best, I was the essence of English song,” she says. “I sang it better than anyone else, and understood it better than anyone else.”

Directors Rob Curry and Tim Plester follow Collins as she prepares to release Lodestar, her first album in 38 years. She is a sprightly, game interview, whose own secret history is as enticing as the lost, esoteric music she has championed. Comedian Stewart Lee – an aficionado – shows her a sheaf of old government files on the ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, her former partner and a “convicted Communist”. Another long-standing admirer, Current 93’s David Tibet, presents her with three different-coloured Russian bootleg flexis of Collins singing “Polly Vaughan”. In the remote, converted horse trailer belonging to folk singer Elle Osborne, Collins drinks homebrewed elderflower vodka and muses on her new recording. “It might be a mistake, but in a way I don’t care. At least I’m going to do it.”

It’s been a life well lived, and accordingly Collins seems fazed by very little, though inevitably she still keenly feels the absence of her collaborator and sister, Dolly, who died in 1995. “It’s funny being without your sister, even now I don’t think it’s true,” she says. The final shot is Collins, having said “Toodle-oo” to her latest musical collaborators, sitting back on her sofa, her eyes shining; reconnected with the earth and her music.

Watch the film here and read about Shirley Collins’ next project in the May 2020 issue of Uncut, out now.

Watch Neil Young’s Fireside Sessions 2

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Neil Young has released the second instalment of his Fireside Sessions, comprising filmed acoustic performances captured live at his home during lockdown.

It features new acoustic renditions of “Birds”, “On The Beach”, “Words” and more, with Young accompanying himself on guitar, harmonica and piano.

After playing “Four Strong Winds” outside in the snow, Young delivers a short message to camera: “Hope you’re all doing well out there everybody – it’s a different situation…” The video also features him demonstrating how to properly wash your hands.

Watch Fireside Sessions 2 here – although you need to be signed up to Neil Young Archives first, which you can do here.

Hear Bob Dylan’s epic new song, “Murder Most Foul”

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In the early hours of this morning (March 27), Bob Dylan surprised the world by taking to social media to share an astonishing new song, “Murder Most Foul”.

It’s his first new material since 2012’s Tempest, and at nearly 17 minutes, it’s the longest track he’s ever released. Listen below:

“Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty across the years,” wrote Dylan. “This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you.”

No details of the date and location of the recording, or the other musicians involved, have been revealed.

“Murder Most Foul” is broadly about the assassination of John F Kennedy, which he recounts in arrestingly stark terms: “Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car”. However, it goes on to take in numerous aspects of 20th century culture, referencing The Beatles, Tommy, Woodstock, Altamont, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Gone With The Wind, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Charlie Parker, Nat King Cole, Marilyn Monroe, John Lee Hooker, Patsy Cline, Houdini, “Wake Up Little Suzy”, “Let The Good Times Roll”, Play Misty For Me and even Nightmare On Elm Street.

Do let us know what you think: letters@uncut.co.uk

Hear Bright Eyes’ new song, “Persona Non Grata”

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Following the announcement of their reformation earlier this year, Bright Eyes have released their first new song since 2011.

Hear “Persona Non Grata” below:

In an accompanying message, the band say they will release a new album in 2020 “no matter what”:

Paul Weller and Bobby Gillespie lend support to #loverecordstores campaign

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Paul Weller, Bobby Gillespie, Tim Burgess and Simon Pegg are among the big names lending their support to a new campaign to encourage people to shop online with their favourite independent record stores.

With physical stores closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many outlets are relying on online sales over the next few months in order to stay afloat.

Says Paul Weller: “I’d be lost without my favourite record shops; Rough Trade, Sounds Of The Universe, Honest Jon’s and all the other independents. Let’s all keep them all going in this very strange time. Music will lift our spirits and soothe our souls.”

“Could you please support your local independent record store,” said Bobby Gillespie in a video message (below). “Record stores are the lifeblood of the music scene in this country and guys like me need somewhere to go!”

Below is a list of some of Uncut’s favourite UK record shops – it’s by no means comprehensive, so seek out your local shop online. Some already have sophisticated mail-order systems, some are adapting to the lockdown by offering a more personal collection service. But please do support them by continuing to buy records.

Resident, Brighton

Friendly Records, Bristol

Rough Trade

Sounds Of The Universe, London

Norman Records

Jumbo Records, Leeds

Bear Tree Records, Sheffield

Piccadilly Records, Manchester

Monorail, Glasgow

Assai, Edinburgh

Crash Records, Leeds

The Book And Record Bar, London

Drift Records, Totnes

Bleep

Earworm, York

Probe, Liverpool

World Of Echo, London

Dragon Records, Belfast

Sister Ray, London

Sleeve Notes, Richmond

Vinyl Cafe, Carlisle

Transmission, Margate

Union Vinyl, Inverness

Vox Box, Edinburgh

Slide, Bedford

South, Southend

Spillers, Cardiff

Truck Store, Oxford

Honest Jon’s, London

Phonica, London

Lorenzo’s Record Shack, London

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott announce free show for NHS workers

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Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott will play a free show for 9,000 NHS frontline and auxiliary staff at the Nottingham Motorpoint Arena on October 13.

Says Heaton: “The Coronavirus pandemic should remind everyone, and let no-one forget, that our National Health Service is the most brilliant and significant institution in our lives. The men and women who serve us and care for us, give us hope and sacrifice for their own wellbeing, can never be thanked enough. We are just musicians, so there is little we can do but sing for you. By way of appreciation, we announce the following gig for all the frontline NHS staff. From the porters, the cleaners and the drivers, to the doctors and the nurses; thank you.”

Those eligible for tickets will be all NHS frontline staff that work within NHS hospitals across the United Kingdom including, but not limited to, doctors, nurses, support workers, porters and cleaners.

Tickets will be limited to two per person and will be available from Tuesday (March 31) at 7pm. Further details to follow from Paul Heaton’s official site.

The show will form part of Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott’s rescheduled 2020 tour, full dates below:

October
Sat 10th Newcastle Utilita Arena
Sun 11th Glasgow SEC Armadillo
Fri 16th Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
Sun 18th Hull Bonus Arena
Mon 19th Hull Bonus Arena
Tue 20th Stoke-on-Trent Victoria Hall
Thur 22th Leeds First Direct Arena
Fri 23th Birmingham Arena
Sat 24th Liverpool M&S Bank Arena
Mon 26th Dundee Caird Hall
Tue 27th Leicester De Montfort Hall

November
Fri 6th Dublin 3Arena
Sun 8th Killarney INEC
Weds 11th London Palladium
Thurs 12th London Palladium

Jackson Browne discusses Covid-19 diagnosis

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Jackson Browne has tested positive for coronavirus, although he says his symptoms are “pretty mild” and he’s currently recuperating at home in Los Angeles.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, he reveals that he took a test after developing a small cough and temperature ten days ago. He suspects he contracted the virus on a trip to New York for the annual Love Rocks benefit at New York’s Beacon Theatre on March 12, noting that several other attendees have since tested positive.

“I feel lucky that I’m not really badly affected,” says Browne. “I guess I’ve got a really strong immune system. There’s so much we don’t know. The one thing you can do is not go anywhere, not show up anywhere. Now, I wish I hadn’t gone to New York and done this benefit.”

“I hope that nobody has got it bad,” he adds. “The thing we should all be very aware of is by traveling around the city and moving this germ from place to place, inadvertently, you are risking the lives of everybody, including the most vulnerable, people who have asthma or people who are really old.

“It’s important for us all to be pretty forthcoming about what we’re going through. Our experiences will be helpful for others to know. I don’t think my case is that important, but it might be helpful to know that some people don’t get this really bad. The idea that we can contribute to the overall herd immunity. You get over this as quickly as you can and be available to help others.”

DAF’s Gabi Delgado-López has died, aged 61

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Gabi Delgado-López of influential electronic duo Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft has died, aged 61.

The news was confirmed yesterday (March 23) in a social media post by his bandmate Robert Görl.

Delgado-López grew up in Córdoba, Spain, but his family moved to Germany in 1966. He formed DAF with Görl and several others in in Düsseldorf in 1978. They slimmed down to a duo soon after moving to London in 1980, and released a string of striking albums on Mute and Virgin.

Their powerful electronic sound and anti-rock’n’roll approach was a key influence on acid house and techno, as well on bands such as Primal Scream, who sampled “Der Mussolini” on “Kill All Hippies”.

DAF split up and reformed several times but were still performing together up until this year. Delgado-López also released three solo albums and another three with the group DAF/DOS.

Stream Father John Misty’s new live album, Off-Key In Hamburg

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Father John Misty has today released a new live album called Off-Key In Hamburg.

It was recorded live at the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie on August 8, 2019 with his long-time touring band and the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt. It is available for streaming and download via Bandcamp here, with all proceeds donated to MusiCares Covid-19 relief fund.

Hear a live recording of “Holy Shit” below:

Hear Lucinda Williams’ new song, “Lost Girl”

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Lucinda Williams has written a song for Liz Garbus’s thriller Lost Girls, which launched on Netflix on Friday (March 20).

The nine-minute “Lost Girl” plays over the film’s closing credits. Listen below:

Speaking of the track, Williams says: “We were very lucky with the amazing band that we were able to put together on very short notice. Within two or three days we had Benmont Tench and Steve Ferrone from the Heartbreakers and Val McCallum, who plays in Jackson Browne’s band, as well as Blake Mills, who used to play in my band several years ago. It was truly an amazing band. I think it was all just meant to be.”

“Lost Girl” doesn’t appear on Williams’ new album Good Souls Better Angels, due out April 24 on Highway 20/Thirty Tigers. However, you can read an extensive interview with Lucinda Williams in the new issue of Uncut, in shops now or available to buy online by clicking here (free P&P for the UK).

Kenny Rogers has died, aged 81

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Country music star Kenny Rogers has died, aged 81.

According to a statement, he “passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family.”

In a career spanning more than six decades, Rogers released 39 albums and 80 singles, more than 20 of which reached No. 1 on the American country music charts. Two of them also reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100: “Lady” and “Islands In The Stream”, his 1983 duet with Dolly Parton.

He also won six Country Music Association awards and three Grammys.

The statement said that Rogers’ family are planning “a small private service at this time out of concern for the national Covid-19 emergency. They look forward to celebrating Kenny’s life publicly with his friends and fans at a later date.”

Charlie Parker – The Savoy 10-Inch LP Collection

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Incredible as it might seem to us today, the recording industry’s near-total failure to document the bebop revolution of the 1940s was caused by industrial action. Twice during that decade the American Federation Of Musicians successfully imposed a ban on all commercial recording, in pursuit of an attempt to persuade record companies to compensate musicians for the threat posed by radio broadcasts to opportunities for employment in clubs and concert halls. Among the boycott’s principal victims were Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and their comrades, whose music was captured scantily and erratically in the period in which they were propelling jazz into the future at warp speed.

Parker had made his first studio recordings in 1941, as a member of the Jay McShann Orchestra. His short solos gave vivid evidence that this was a 21-year-old musician with a radically different approach: hugely adventurous in his attitude to stretching harmony and subdividing rhythm, disdaining clichéd phrases and banal moods, setting puzzles for the listener. By the time he made his first recording for the Savoy label, as a member of the guitarist Tiny Grimes’s quintet in New York in September 1944, he had emerged as the totemic figure of a new idiom which was becoming a platform for virtuosos with a gift for the oblique.

Savoy was founded by the owner of a New Jersey electrical-goods store called Herman Lubinsky, who had spotted a market for records appealing predominantly to black audiences. By all accounts he was not a man inclined to generosity towards his jazz, blues and gospel artists. But at least he had the good sense to trust the taste of a group of keen-eared A&R men employed to scout, sign and supervise the recording of new talent.

Among them was Teddy Reig, who produced Parker’s first session under his own name for Savoy in November 1945. The six tracks featured a quintet billed as Charlie Parker’s Ree-Boppers, including a young and slightly unsteady Miles Davis on trumpet, with Gillespie occupying the piano stool and Max Roach on drums. Two pieces stick out in particular, both of them composed by Parker. One, “Now’s The Time” is a medium-tempo 12-bar blues based on a simple, swaggering riff recycled, four years later, into an R&B smash for Paul Williams, a saxophonist of baser instincts, under the title “The Huckle-Buck”.

The other, for which Davis stepped aside and Gillespie switched to trumpet, is “Ko-Ko”, a hurtling, high-velocity tune that encapsulated bop’s prevailing characteristic perhaps better than any other single recording: the fiendish technical complexity – more oblique angles than a geometry textbook, more weird accents than a Hungarian dictionary – intended to keep squares at bay. The speed and clarity of Parker’s articulation, his audaciously asymmetrical phrasing and the bittersweetness of his tone were all completely new, disconcerting his elders but irresistible to a legion of young followers.

A troubled sojourn in California – incorporating six months of treatment in a psychiatric hospital – took him away from the real action. On his return to New York in the spring of 1947 he resumed recording for Savoy, again under Reig’s supervision. A series of quintets featured the fast-maturing Davis with the damaged genius Bud Powell, John Lewis or Duke Jordan on piano, Tommy Potter, Nelson Boyd or Curley Russell on bass, and always the irreplaceable Roach on drums. The titles they recorded included Parker originals which became bop classics, including “Donna Lee”, “Cheryl” and “Steeplechase”. On one four-track session, released under Davis’s name, Parker switched to tenor sax, presumably at the trumpeter’s behest, in pursuit of a different front-line sound. It was a final Savoy session, in September 1948, that gave birth to one of his masterpieces: a medium-slow 12-bar blues titled “Parker’s Mood”, on which the altoist brought all his inventiveness and humanity to bear in a performance
of disciplined emotional intensity.

He had flown the Savoy coop by 1950 when Lubinsky, keen to exploit the new market for vinyl long-players, bundled together the Grimes, Parker and Davis sides, plus one track from a Bird-and-Diz concert at Carnegie Hall, into four 10-inch albums, released separately under Parker’s name and the title New Sounds In Modern Music – As Played By Its Creator, with a rather untypical portrait of a beaming and zoot-suited Parker on the front. If you wanted a set of the originals, you’d be fighting off Japanese collectors with very deep pockets. Instead, anticipating the celebration of his centenary this coming August, Savoy’s current owners have done a slap-up job of restoring the music and reproducing the original sleeves and labels, all enclosed in a stout slip-case.

Recorded in fairly rudimentary conditions, this music generally sounds its age. But if it’s true that Parker’s flame usually burned brightest in a live setting, inspired by a sense of competition, his Savoy studio masters – which his disciples bought on 78s and played at a slower speed in order to work out what it was that he was doing – are among the foundation stones of a movement that changed almost everything, marking the end of jazz as a purely recreational music.

Nadia Reid – Out Of My Province

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With Out Of My Province, Nadia Reid has created a folk-rock symphony from a spartan seed. Writing amid the alternate freedom and isolation she felt during extensive touring for 2017’s breakthrough Preservation, Reid channels the personal to universal effect. “They say that suffering will make a woman wiser/I have been asked if I am some sort of survivor,” she sings on “High & Lonely”, just one in a series of portraits where conflict gives way to enlightenment, and wisdom is revealed in an economical few lines. “All I know is I have kept myself steady/I walk that line between the darkness and the ready,” she concludes. Hers is just one woman’s journey, but this tightrope act between cautious hope and abject despair is a tale of every woman, a precarious balancing act that comprises our everyday modern existence.

New Zealander Reid is known for her arresting guitar-and-voice recordings, sounding as if they could have been tracked in 1969, 1999 or 2019. Her singing falls somewhere between the lithe grace of Tramp-era Sharon Van Etten and the power and drama of North Star Grassman-era Sandy Denny, alternately hushed and breathy, vibratory and meteoric. And Out Of My Province retains the earthen quality of her previous works, but with an added confidence, her words enunciated with a newfound assurance. “Since making my first record in 2014, I’ve become a more confident singer,” she explains. “The vocals, clarity and diction are a result of a clearer vision in the studio, too. We all agreed ‘song’ and ‘voice’ would be the main events.”

Reid traveled to Richmond, Virginia to record at the home studio of Matthew E White’s Spacebomb Records, under the guidance of producer Trey Pollard, who’s worked with White, Natalie Prass, Helado Negro and others. Both Reid and the Spacebomb operation have distinctive and readily identifiable sonic fingerprints: she is somber and minimal, while the Richmond collective lean towards the robust and groovy. Backed by the Spacebomb house band, and longtime guitarist Sam Taylor, the two sides meet in an effortless sublimity. Reid fleshes out her stripped-down origins with whispers of instrumentation and experiments with vocal phrasing, while Spacebomb’s signature multi-layered grooves are heard throughout, but in a folky paired-back form. Each of the album’s 10 songs manage to elegantly teeter without toppling into the overly referential or experimental sides of the sonic canyon. They recall the greats while also plotting a map of the future.

“Get The Devil Out”, about self-mutilation and self-acceptance, is a bare-faced soliloquy sung out in front of guitar picking and silken strings, spotlighting Reid’s full-throated lyrical promise that the forces of the world will, “never take it from me.” On “Oh Canada” we find her narrator in the momentum of love, galloping alongside drums, organ, bass, electric and acoustic guitar, and gentle brass accents. “I Don’t Wanna Take Anything From You” places her voice over a cinematic orchestra of electric guitar picking, brushed drums, bursts of strings and slivers of slide guitar, a dramatic rendering of nostalgia and hope for love and home. Reid’s talent for slyly flipping the lyrical script is evident throughout the album, but perhaps most gloriously in “The Future”. Over a march of acoustic guitar and snare taps she sings of women – a sister, a mother, a friend – and what they have experienced and shared, their anger, worry and hope. “I was waiting for you,” Reid repeats in between these character sketches. “To be better,” she concludes after the last recitation.

Above all else, Out Of My Province is an album of reflection and rebirth, of a woman finding her footing amid change and life’s big questions. Reid not only traveled extensively during its making, she also navigated a break-up, a move and the bridge between her mid- and late-twenties. Amid such rapid transformation, it happened that the only reliable constant was herself, and her maturing sense of that self. There are times when being alone prompts loneliness, but there are also times when it leads to a deluge of riches.

Watch the first instalment of Neil Young’s Fireside Sessions

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Neil Young has released the first instalment of his promised Fireside Sessions, featuring a number of acoustic performances recorded live at his home by his wife Daryl Hannah.

The six-song session kicks off with an outdoor rendition of “Sugar Mountain” before Young moves inside to play “Vampire Blues”, “Love Art Blues”, “Tell Me Why” and “Razor Love” on acoustic guitar and harmonica, before he moves to piano for a final “Little Wing”.

Along the way, he also reveals how he built his bespoke harmonica stand. Watch the full video here (you need to be subscribed to Neil Young Archives to watch).

Hear Dirty Projectors’ cover of John Lennon’s “Isolation”

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Dirty Projectors’ Dave Longstreth has released an apposite cover of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band’s “Isolation”. Listen below:

The song is available for streaming and purchase exclusively on Bandcamp, with proceeds through April 3 going toward MusiCares’ Covid-19 relief fund to support musicians and music industry workers whose work has been disrupted by the crisis. Longstreth writes: “I encourage you to buy it (pay-what-you-wish) so we can be a part of helping combat this together”.

Today (March 20), Bandcamp is waiving its proceeds on music downloaded from the site in support of independent artists whose revenue streams may be affected by the pandemic. More details here.