Chris Greene Quartet isn’t the first music act to drop a surprise album; over the past several year’s we’ve seen out-of-nowhere releases from everyone from Beyoncé to Wilco. As a marketing gimmick, it’s got something to recommend it; you can’t really listen to “PlaySPACE,” for instance, without ending up wanting to go see CGQ …, well, play SPACE.
For more than a decade now, the band—as ever, led by Gary Brooker—has enjoyed a consistent lineup, and has toured widely. And in 2017, the almost-unthinkable happened: Procol Harum roared back with a new album.
Bradlee’s musical approach is deceptively simple: take mainstream pop hits of today and recast them in the style of earlier pop forms. Leveraging the well-established axiom that a good song transcends genre, the group (featuring a rotating cast of top-notch vocalists) breathes new life into pop songs that one might have thought past their sell-by date.
Bobby McFerrin’s vocal virtuosity is still a jaw-dropping wonder; in “Circlesongs,” he and his a cappella ensemble Voicestra run a gamut of grooves, including call-and-response with the audience.
The pieces in this concert have been selected for their musical excellence and demonstrated compositional craft, not out of any desire to paint a contemporary portrait of the nation; and it’s not like the composers are particularly concerned with this either. But it’s hard not to be inspired by the sheer range of works and composers in the “Discover America” canon.
On her latest album, “Campfire,” the Australian singer-songwriter uses the tried-and-true “unplugged” approach, exploring the sources of her musical inspiration—from America, Australia and beyond—in an evening full of songs and stories.
Kessler’s debut album, “About Memory,” unveiled two irresistible selling points, the first being Kessler’s gorgeous high tenor—which he employs in a kind of crooning so intimate, the mic might sue for emotional abandonment afterward. The other major quill in his quiver is his songwriting chops—particularly his lyrics, which, again, right from that first cut, knock you to the ground, then plump a pillow beneath your head.
Two much-loved Chicago ensembles—Sons of the Never Wrong and The Flat Five—go head-to-head as 2019 kicks off with a month of must-see music acts.
Paul McCartney is still writing, still recording, still touring, and in his live sets he happily gratifies fans by performing a fair number of his Beatles hits. But it’s questionable whether hearing the septuagenarian McCartney sing “Help!” or “Penny Lane” has the same totemic power as hearing them performed by a McCartney avatar who is expressly seeking to pull the audience down a temporal rabbit hole to the precise moment in the sixties when those tunes first achieved world conquest.
Most of the tracks from Dave Matthews’ unreleased album have long been accessible online, and it’s revelatory to hear, for instance, Walker’s more nuanced take on “Grace Is Gone,” the rhythmic sophistication and jazz-infused sax line he brings to “Big Eyed Fish,” and his hauntingly beautiful vocals on “Grey Street.”