Arts Desk

Check out stories and album of the week features by Susan Lewis, Debra Lew Harder, Kevin Gordon, Maureen Malloy, Matt Silver, and Bobbi Booker.

February 8, 2021. Trombonist Clifton Anderson calls his fourth and latest album as a leader Been Down This Road Before. At this moment in history, it’s a provocative title. But even more evocative—of promises broken, of dreams deferred, of spiritual exhaustion, and a vacancy of trust borne from generations of structural inequities and disparities of opportunity that persist to this day.

Courtesy of the artist

Jazz and community. Jazz and activism. Jazz and family. These aren’t just words for West Philadelphia drummer, composer, and educator Justin Faulkner. They’re life lines, ideas on which to act, interact and intercede, to work toward, play with, and pray for.

Getty Images/Bettmann

It's Black History Month, and on WRTI we're looking closely at bandleader, composer, and pianist Duke Ellington, who wrote over 1,700 songs, as well as longer orchestral suites and film scores. In this interview from 2013, WRTI's Susan Lewis speaks with biographer and blogger Terry Teachout, author of Duke, A Life of Duke Ellington.

Getty Images/ Gilles Petard/Redferns

It was 2008 when I authored the biography, "HAZEL SCOTT: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist from Café Society to Hollywood to HUAC." At that time, Hazel Scott’s name conjured fond but distant memories among an older generation.

Rollo Dilworth pours his heart into teaching, conducting, and writing music for choral singers—and the choral music world loves him back. Typically logging over 100,000 miles a year, he travels the world to conduct and work with choirs of all ages. In this TIME IN interview, he talks about how the shutdown has reinforced his purpose in life, to use music to bring people together and promote social justice.

Russell Frost

February 1, 2021. A collection of classical music written by African-American women over the last century is a jewel—an example of the depth and range of compositions that lie waiting to be discovered. As we begin Black History Month, Soulscapes is our Classical Album of the Week. First released in 2006, its message persists in 2021, awakening us to artists too long overlooked.

February 1, 2021. If you take the fabric of time apart and stitch it back together, you might just find yourself in the realm occupied by Jazz Is Dead, the time and genre-bending album series produced by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. The latest installment in the Jazz Is Dead series is centered around one of the baddest Hammond organists from the ’70s, who generated a cult following for the albums he released on Oakland’s Black Jazz label.

Courtesy of the artrist

When she was awarded a New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America in 2019, pianist/composer Sumi Tonooka found herself inspired by the root systems of trees; above ground they may appear self-sufficient, tall and majestic, but hidden underground there is often an intricate network of shared resources, not just within a single species but beyond the greater ecosystem.

Courtesy of Lawrence Brownlee

Acclaimed for his astonishing range and expressiveness in opera, concert performances, and recitals, tenor Lawrence Brownlee’s many honors include being named the International Opera Awards' “Male Singer of the Year” in 2017.  In this TIME IN interview, Larry talks about life during the pandemic—he's been busy with family, sports, his own interview show, and creating new works with Opera Philadelphia to share the joy of opera with more people.

January 25, 2021. The most recognizable tunes on saxophonist Cory Weeds latest, O Sole Mio! Music from the Motherland, are synonymous with the great Italian tenors of the 20th century. Which is ostensibly curious. Weeds isn’t an opera star; he’s a saxophonist. And most of the time his go-to instrument isn’t even the tenor but the alto.

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