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Oasis in the City: Juno-winning alto saxophonist Allison Au brings her pastoral jazz to Blue LLama

Fri, 10/18/2019 - 12:00pm by christopherporter

Allison Au Quartet

Saxophonist Allison Au said her 2016 album, Forest Grove, was inspired by the Toronto neighborhood where she grew up. But it's not city life she's referring to; it's a place where trees and nature provided the vista, not concrete. 

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Common Cause: The long-running experimental music event Edgefest fosters a sense community

Wed, 10/16/2019 - 3:00pm by christopherporter

Edgefest

The 2019 Edgefest (Oct. 16-19) has been on my calendar for months and I've been meaning to write a preview of this Ann Arbor experimental-music institution for weeks.

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Moon Hooch explores consciousness with a knockout combo of jazz and dance music

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 1:45pm by christopherporter

Moon Hooch

Moon Hooch's music has all the manic energy of a city. The Brooklyn group's drums-sax-sax lineup rumbles like the New York City subway system, where the trio spent many hours busking when it formed in 2010. The way the band combines dance beats and avant-garde jazz is akin to a metropolis' relentless forward rhythm that's being intersected by speeding cabs running red lights.

But the nervous energy Moon Hooch exudes in its simultaneously catchy and edgy music is in direct opposition to the way drummer James Muschler and saxophonists Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen live their lives off the stage.

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Long-running folk duo Annie and Rod Capps coalesced with a great band for its new album, "When They Fall"

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 9:45am by christopherporter

Rob and Annie Capps

Photo by Jennifer Prouty.

For fans of heartfelt and well-played acoustic roots music, a new album from Ann Arbor duo Annie and Rod Capps is always a treat. But with their latest, When They Fall, something’s a little different.

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Double Date in Kerrytown: William Bolcom, Joan Morris, Amy Burton, and John Musto paired up for cabaret

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 9:15am by christopherporter

Bolcom & Morris with Burton & Musto

Top: Joan Morris and William Bolcom. Bottom: Amy Burton and John Musto.

A crowd of concert-goers buzzed with excitement last Sunday as they packed into the seats of Kerrytown Concert House, excited for an afternoon of music with a cabaret duo that over the years has emerged as a community favorite. 

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Milestones: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Celebrates its 50th Anniversary at Rackham

Wed, 10/02/2019 - 8:30am by christopherporter

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

Clockwise from the upper left: David Finckel by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco; Gloria Chien by Tristan Cook; Kristin Lee and David Shifrin by Tristan Cook; Matthew Lipman by Tristan Cook.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS) is celebrating its 50th anniversary, a milestone. So, co-artistic director and cellist David Finckel says it was fitting that CMS begins this season with milestones in the art of chamber music. “We identified pieces of music that have somehow influenced the way chamber music evolved,” he says.

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Wires and Waves: Synthesizer pioneer Suzanne Ciani comes to Ann Arbor

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 12:30pm by christopherporter

Suzanne Ciani

You can debate who the best guitarist is all day and still not carve out a consensus. Braaap all you want about who's the finest trumpeter and the winner's horn will never sound. Argue about pianists and you'll be talking in circles about tickling the ivories even though a title-holder will never be crowned.

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Seeing Clearly: Singer-songwriter May Erlewine's new album, "Second Sight," is filled with political fire

Mon, 09/30/2019 - 11:15am by christopherporter

Mae Erlewine by Michael Poehlman

Photo by Michael Poehlman.

The much-loved singer-songwriter May Erlewine begins a fall tour this week in support of her powerful and poignant new album, Second Sight, and one of the first shows she has scheduled is on Friday, October 4 at The Ark

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Sonic Cinema: Hydropark's "Circuit 2" features 18 songs to score your imaginary movie

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 4:30pm by christopherporter

Hydropark at the Blind Pig, Fuzzfest 2018

Hydropark at Fuzzfest 2018 at The Blind Pig. Photo by Christopher Porter.

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Retired U-M professor Bruce Conforth co-authored the definitive biography of blues legend Robert Johnson

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 11:45am by christopherporter

Bruce Conforth and his book Up Jumped the Devil

Decades of painstaking research and meticulous attention to detail have led to the 2019 book Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson, which aims to rewrite and correct the story about the legendary bluesman. Co-authored by retired U-M professor Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow, this book entertains with facts, cut through myths, and lets readers learn about a man who has for too long been reduced to a single (and impossible) anecdote about trading his soul to the devil down at the crossroads in order to play the blues.

“When Columbia released its Thesaurus of Classic Jazz [in 1959], it was the first chance for most country-blues artists to have their recordings on a major label," Conforth says. "Most people didn’t even know that these folks existed. And on this record was Robert Johnson. … The liner notes said that he was the greatest blues musician there ever was, but we had nothing to compare him to and didn’t know anything about him. Almost immediately this mystique formed around Johnson while at the same time people were saying, ‘Oh, we’ll never know anything about him.’”