Search results for 'brilliant Songs'

Brilliant Songs #46: Rhiannon Giddens’ and Joey Ryan’s “At the Purchaser’s Option”

Every now and again an artist comes along who is seemingly hatched from a sky god who has incubated him or her for 500 years, carefully imbuing every last gene with wisdom, intelligence, beauty, enthusiasm, tenacity, curiosity, and a fundamental, overarching decency that makes their entire life a testimonial for the goodness of the human project.

At certain moments, we may experience these individuals as antidotes to whatever doubts and despair we harbor in the dark of our souls, little life rafts bobbing along in our psyche that we reach for through the storms of the world and our own thrashings of the night.

Rhiannon Giddens would likely crawl under a blanket of embarrassed protest if she heard herself described as one of those outsized, accomplished individuals, muttering something about just being a regular person struggling like so many millions of other people to raise a family, pay the bills and be ...

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Brilliant Songs #45: Josh Ritter’s “The Temptation of Adam”

I knew virtually nothing about Josh Ritter when I walked into the wonderfully named “Haw River Ballroom” earlier this month in the just-as-wonderfullly named city of Saxapahaw (2021 population: 1,671). I’d bought the tickets on a lark, because the blurb sounded interesting and I had a vague memory that Ritter is one of those artists with an intense following who had stayed under my radar over the decades for all the usual reasons (time, proximity, basic inattention) but who probably merited a listen.

It required maybe three or four guitar pickings and a few words out of his mouth on concert night for Mary and I to turn to each other with an unspoken, pursued-lip, “Whoa!”

And then it was off to the proverbial races for a two-hour concert set that ranks as one of a handful of “Best Concert Ever” nominees in my personal honor roll...

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Brilliant Songs #44: Arvo Pärt’s “Spiegel im Spiegel”

One plink of a C note on the piano, followed quickly up the scale by an F and then A note to complete a lovely little triad one could teach a child in a moment or two. Then a repeat, after which the left hand descends to a note on the lower register, and, depending on the particular arrangement, a violin, cello, or other accompanist joins in to commence one of the most contemplative pieces of music ever offered up to human ears.

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s “Spiegel im Spiegel” translates as “Mirror(s) in the Mirror,” suggesting an endless reflection of images, the triad of the initial notes forming a foundation that seems to stretch out and carry listeners along to infinity...

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Brilliant Songs #43: Damien Jurado’s “Silver Joy”

Sometimes I find myself wishing there were fewer supremely talented musicians and other artists plying their trade across the world so I could better keep up without feeling badly about missing out on as much as I do. Yes, I’m aware of the highly dubious logic of that statement, so I’ll drop it right now.

Instead, I’ll share yet one more jewel by a singer-songwriter there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of—unless you’ve been hanging around the Seattle club scene the past quarter-century or so. Or were doubly fortunate as I was this week in viewing the splendid and unlikely intergenerational road-buddy movie with a holiday backdrop, Alexander Payne’s  “The Holdovers,”

There, amidst a carefully curated soundtrack that ranges across multiple genres to support its 1970 setting, looms the beautiful and tender “Silver Joy,” from Seattle-based acoustic guitarist Damien Jurado.

Jurado, now 52, launched his c...

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Brilliant Songs #42: Duke Pearson’s “Cristo Redentor”

If I’m drawn to a piece of music, it usually begins to spin its magic on me in the first few notes. Doesn’t matter the genre or era, and doesn’t always require that I be listening closely at the time.

Maybe the radio or Spotify will be on low volume and I’ll barely hear a melodic snippet or phrase or emotional lilt and the next thing out of my mouth to whomever is close to the dial is, “Can you please turn that up?”

And so it was a few weeks ago when somewhere—so many inputs, such cluttered memory—the late trumpeter Donald Byrd’s name appeared on an exotically named tune called “Cristo Redentor.” Byrd’s was the first recording of the song in 1963, and it still reigns as the definitive version. It was written, however, by his pal and collaborator, the composer and pianist Duke Pearson. And as you’ll see and hear evidence of below, the song does right by a wide variety of practitioners.

…a song that tran...

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