Category: New Discoveries

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New Music Without Borders

Genres and categories are cool when you’re trying to sell something. But some of our most compelling musical artists don’t pay attention to the imperatives of the marketplace. They make what they make, and the grand bazaar of culture must sort out where to file the “product.” Ian Faquini (guitar) and Paula Santoro (voice), native Brazilians, explore the traditional...

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Kasher in the Rye

Onstage, the celebrated stand-up comic Moshe Kasher is self-assured, commanding, and blazing with intelligence. So accomplished (and justly celebrated) is he as a comedian that it’s sometimes hard to reconcile the juvenile delinquent author-narrator of Kasher in the Rye, his 2012 recovery memoir, with the smooth-talking raconteur in performance. Can this really be Kasher’s childhood? Two...

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Sara Serpa & Andre Matos: All the Dreams

The Portuguese duo of Sara Serpa (vocals) and Andre Matos (guitar), make music that invites a torrent of adjectives: ethereal, shimmering, poetic, hypnotic, and, yes, dreamy. Imagine if J.S. Bach and Joao Gilberto collaborated — while tripping on opium. “All the Dreams” is an album that invites repeated listening. (Our household has enjoyed the record...

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Thomas Frank’s “Swat Team”

If you don’t subscribe to Harper’s magazine, you might have missed Thomas Frank’s must-read essay, “Swat Team: The media’s extermination of Bernie Sanders, and real reform.” After our nation has gone to the polls, “choosing” between two horrible candidates that represent nothing remotely salutary, it’s important to remember that once, not long ago, we had a...

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Ricardo Grilli: 1954

The Brazilian-born, New York-based guitarist Ricardo Grilli’s new album, 1954, is a kind of inter-stellar journey through the cosmos. With our without a high concept to cohere the tracks, 1954 is one the best jazz records we’ve heard this year. Featuring cats like Aaron Parks (piano), Joe Martin (bass) and the magnificent drummer Eric Harland, you know the...

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Bo Burnham: Make Happy

To call “Make Happy,” the genius comedian Bo Burnham’s current one-hour show, “modern stand-up” is like calling the Super Bowl “a football game”: true, but only to a point. There’s singing, dancing, rapping, philosophizing and miming.  There’s crowd work. There’s jokes. With complicated light and sound cues, it feels more like a rock-and-roll concert, and Burnham...

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Oddsong: “Jailhouse Doc with Holes in Her Socks”

Esteemed jazz composer Darrell Katz has a new ensemble called “Oddsong,” which is how many first-time listeners might describe every track on “Jailhouse Doc with Holes in Her Socks.” No drums. No bass. No piano. Instead, a chamber music melange of strings, saxophones, marimba and voice (the elegant Rebecca Shrimpton). Most of the arrangements are...

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Tenth of December

George Saunders writes stories about regular people who aspire to be better. Better fathers, better husbands, better achievers. They almost never succeed. Their heartbreak, their delusions — this is the crux of Saunders’ work, and although his stories are laugh-out-loud funny, they’re never cruel. He writes about America — about us — with unwavering compassion....

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Andrew Cockburn on America’s Role in Yemeni Slaughter

It’s not a fun read. Most will avert their eyes, as we tend to do when confronted with imagery and information that contradicts the comforting stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what we stand for. But Andrew Cockburn’s “Acceptable Losses” article in Harper’s magazine should be mandatory for all American citizens, especially those...

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Francisco Pais: Verde

Guitarist Francisco Pais comes from a small town in Portugal where every shade of green seems to burst forth from the land. On his new album “Verde,” numerous threads from guitar history comprise the compositions, weaving an aural quilt of engaging sounds. You hear shades of Hendrix, Waters, Clapton — and all the jazz titans...