Matt Silver

NPR's 50 Favorite Songs Of 1971

May 6, 2021

Today, NPR celebrates the 50-year anniversary of our first on-air original show. For five decades, NPR and our member stations have shared the responsibility — and privilege — to serve the individual listener and promote their personal growth. To honor our time spent together, we turned back the clock and reflected on the impeccable sounds of our genesis year.

May 3, 2021. Depending on what you’re most susceptible to, Sachal Vasandani’s Midnight Shelter will either break your heart or rock you to sleep. If you stay with it through all 11 singer-songwriterly tunes, chances are you’ll experience both.

April 12, 2021. Trigger warning: If having too much fun listening to music tends to send you spiraling out of control, take caution with Emmet Cohen’s Future Stride. With his natural feel and an ability to draw from a massive store of repertoire, it’s easy to see—and hear—why Cohen’s been a fast-rising star for a while now.

Courtesy of Michael Tilson Thomas

Before stepping down 10 months ago at age 75, the San Francisco Symphony’s (SFS) Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) owned the longest active tenure of any music director of a major American orchestra; he’d held the position since 1995. Though he’s played piano, composed, and conducted at an elite level since his teenage years, Tilson Thomas has always been more than the classical music wunderkind who grew up to become the great maestro. There was a piece of himself he’d inherited, a piece that hadn’t necessarily been ignored but hadn’t been foregrounded in his work either.

April 5, 2021. West coaster George Kahn is one of those melodic, easy-swinging pianists that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. He’s not edgy, nor experimental; he appropriates liberally from the Great American Songbook. He’s unabashedly straight-ahead, which, in this day and age, might be a revolutionary act in itself.

Courtesy of Peter Breslow Public Relations

The call to rescue Chris’ Jazz Café has sounded, and some of the biggest names in jazz have responded.

Courtesy of Chris' Jazz Café

The past nine months have been a nightmare for independent live music venues, and the one that looms the largest in Philadelphia’s jazz community, Chris’ Jazz Café, hasn’t been spared.

December 14, 2020. La Lucha’s Everybody Wants to Rule the World—with its ensemble cast and eclectic mix of Klezmer-flavored cumbias, Columbian bambucos, anthemic post-bop originals, and Jukebox Jazz-flavored covers—is among my favorite albums of 2020. So, imagine my delighted surprise to learn that they’ve taken it upon themselves to do for the Christmas album what Everybody Wants to Rule the World did for “Lullaby of Birdland.”

December 7, 2020. Some performers are so far from anonymous, they become mononymous—instantly recognizable by just a one-word name. In jazz: Duke, Satch, Miles, Coltrane, Bird, Monk...and Ella. First Lady of Song and all the other honorifics are nice but superfluous; "Ella" tells the entire story.

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