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Roscoe Mitchell is one of six jazz musicians awarded the Doris Duke Artist Award for 2014. (Courtesy of the artist)

13 Jazz Artists Awarded Over $1.7 Million

by Patrick Jarenwattananon
Apr 23, 2014

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Yesterday, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation announced the recipients of its 2014 Performing Artist Awards, including 13 jazz and improvising musicians, who will receive at least $1.7 million in unrestricted grants in total.

The awards were given in two tiers. Six jazz musicians were given Doris Duke Artist Awards, worth an unrestricted grant of $225,000 over a 3-5 year period, with the potential to earn an additional $50,000. They include alto saxophonist Oliver Lake, alto saxophonist Steve Lehman, multiple woodwind player Roscoe Mitchell, harpist Zeena Parkins, pianist Craig Taborn and pianist Randy Weston.

Seven jazz musicians were given Doris Duke Impact Awards, worth an unrestricted grant of $60,000 over 2-3 years plus the potential of an extra $20,000. They include pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, alto saxophonist Steve Coleman, guitarist Ben Monder, pianist Aruán Ortiz, alto saxophonist Matana Roberts and vocalist Jen Shyu.

All Doris Duke Artist Award winners have won at least three designated national grants or fellowships over the past 10 years, including one which was funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Artist Awards are given to what the organization calls "generative" artists — those who often create new works — and as such, highly favoring jazz performers who are also noted composers.

By comparison, the recipients of Doris Duke Impact Awards were nominated by previous winners of Doris Duke Artist Awards. They may be either "generative" or "interpretive" artists, meaning that musicians who are not necessarily known as composers may receive the prize.

For more information, visit the Doris Duke Performing Arts Awards website.

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Game of Thrones: spoiler magnet. (Courtesy of HBO)

The Joys Of Spoiling

by Lauren Katz
Apr 23, 2014

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In the age of the Internet, the act of spoiling is easier than ever before. Through live tweeting and message boards and comment sections, the information is out there and spreads quickly.

But why do some people enjoy revealing certain information about stories - surprises and finales and more - before others have had the opportunity to experience?

We could tell you what we think now. But that would spoil the rest of this story.

Spoliation Nation

There are various ways to avoid spoilers online — like don't go online — and some people go to great lengths to do so. And there are many ways to signal that a secret is about to be revealed - through Spoiler Alerts, for example.

But there are also countless opportunities for people who like to spoil things to pretty much ruin everything for everybody.

Television critic and reviewer Alan Sepinwall of HitFix constantly runs into readers who spill the plot twists of popular shows prematurely. Game of Thrones, for instance.

People blurt out Game of Thrones surprises. They give away secrets. The truly devious create Twitter accounts with spoilers in the names of the accounts. When a death happened in a recent episode, for instance, at least a half-dozen different accounts appeared with some variation of @CharacterDiesInThisCircumstance as the name.

To spoil plot points, Alan says, people would use the accounts to send him seemingly innocuous messages like What's up?

Is Spoiling Always A Bad Thing?

Nicholas Christenfeld, a psychology professor at the University of California, San Diego, says that the consequences of spoiling may not all be negative.

His 2011 study at UCSD — with co-author Jonathan Leavitt — used short fiction to look at the effects of spoilers. Their experiments involved participants reading stories that were either as-is, with a spoiler paragraph in the beginning or with the spoiler included in the story.

The findings suggest that plot is overrated, NPR reported. The experiment found that knowing the end — ahead of time —actually enhanced overall enjoyment. The researchers did not predict the finding, but Nicholas says that in retrospect, the answer seems obvious.

He points to Shakespeare plays, which are sorted by their endings, as examples of how knowing the plot in advance does not diminish the experience. The same goes for operas, too, where the audience is wise to familiarize themselves with the story before the show.

Director Kevin Smith has even reveled in revealing movie tidbits on his Hulu original series: Spoilers.

The Reasons For Spoiling

Alan Sepinwall still has a hard time understanding the psychology of spoilsports. "Surprise isn't the single most important part of a story," he says. "I liked this week's Game of Thrones even though a bunch of jerks had spoiled it for me in advance — but it's also not something that should be discarded if the storyteller intended for things to be surprising."

So what does drive the spoilsport? We have a few notions:

  • Showing off. Some spoilers simply enjoy being know-it-alls. The UCSD study, according to Nicholas Christenfeld, suggests that people who know the way a story turns or ends enjoy an insider status, in the same way that gossip and telling people secrets might be exclusive. "You know something that makes you special," Nicholas explains. "and the only way you can demonstrate that you know it is to tell it to people, regardless of the effect it has on them."

  • Intimidation. Writing on the Gaia message board, a user called Legend of the Moon says: "I enjoy spoiling the ending for people. And scaring away noob fans. These things bring me joy." In this case, spoiling - and frightening neophytes —is like a mild form of online bullying.

  • Respect for the storyteller or the genre. At the start of the new season, reviewer Alan Sepinwall had a tough time dealing with the two camps of Game of Thrones fans - the readers of the books and the watchers of the TV series. "It got so ugly that I turned off comments on all reviews," Alan says. "and set up separate message boards — for the readers and the non-readers." That experiment lasted about a half-hour into this new season, he says, before a book reader went in and posted spoilers on every major upcoming plot development. Alan says that some people who have read the books feel that those who have not are somehow unworthy and deserve to be punished by having things spoiled for them constantly.

Bottom Lines

Though Alan has had a fairly strict anti-spoiler policy throughout his blogging years, he says it's not always possible, or practical, to avoid spoilers. And there are differences of opinion about what exactly is or isn't a spoiler. For instance, Alan doesn't consider casting news to be a spoiler because it's information that is available to everyone.

He adds: "I do what I can to avoid active spoilers — like tweets or article headlines — but at a certain point you have to live in the world."

Lauren Katz is a social media intern at NPR. You can follow her @Laur_Katz.

The Protojournalist: Experimental storytelling for the LURVers - Listeners, Users, Readers, Viewers - of NPR. @NPRtpj

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An officer from Brazilian Police Special Forces took aim Tuesday during the violent protest that broke out in one of Rio de Janeiro's slums. People there blame police for a young man's death, and say authorities are clamping down too hard in advance of this June's World Cup soccer matches and the 2016 Summer Olympics, both of which will be held in Brazil. (AFP/Getty Images)

Seven Weeks Before World Cup, Rio Is Rocked By Riot

Apr 23, 2014

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"A Rio de Janeiro slum erupted in violence late Tuesday following the killing of a popular local figure, with angry residents setting fires and showering homemade explosives and glass bottles onto a busy avenue in the city's main tourist zone," The Associated Press writes.

CNN says that "residents from the Pavao-Pavaozinho favela took to the streets of Copacabana after a young male dancer was found dead, state-run Agencia Brasil said. The residents told Brazilian media they blame the police for the death, accusing authorities of mistaking the dancer for a criminal."

The protests led to at least one other fatality. According to the BBC, "a man was shot dead during the violence on Tuesday night."

The violence came just seven weeks before the start of soccer's World Cup, which is being staged in Brazil. The clashes with police were also just a few hundred yards from the venue where Olympic swimming events are due to be held in 2016.

As NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro has reported, in advance of those high-profile competitions authorities have been concerned about security and the possibility of protests during the events.

Last November, she noted, gangs of youths swarmed over Rio's tourist beaches, committing mass robberies. "Add to that the possibility of massive protests by an angry public that has had to finance the hugely expensive construction of the stadiums and you have a litany of woes that isn't showing Brazil in its best light," she said on All Things Considered.

The AP reminds us that:

"Police began an ambitious security program in 2008 to drive the gangs from such slums and for the first time set up permanent posts. It is part of Rio's overall security push ahead of the World Cup that begins this June and the Olympics the city will host.

"So far, 37 such 'police pacification units' have been created covering an area with a population of 1.5 million people.

"But there have been repeated complaints of heavy-handed police tactics that have ended in the deaths of residents, and that is what set-off the latest clashes, resident said. More than two dozen police face charges from a high-profile case in a different shantytown, when investigators said a local man died while being tortured by police."

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"Girl" is the fourth solo single by producer Jamie xx. (YouTube)

Hear A New Solo Song By Jamie XX

by Otis Hart
Apr 23, 2014

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The xx's epochal debut album thrived on a blueprint almost as simple as the band's name: seduction and ... wait for it ... suspense. The marriage of spacious production and sultry vocals seems like a cliché today, but when singers Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft and producer Jamie xx came together in 2009, it was a revelatory combination. In the five years since, Jamie xx appeared to resist any urge to hone that same vibe on his own singles — "Far Nearer" and "Beat For" in 2011, and "Sleep Sound" from earlier this year - but on his latest song, "Girl," the sexual tension is back, and for the better. This doesn't exactly sound like The xx — the tempo is higher and the bass has more bounce — but while Jamie xx's shift in aesthetics ensured he wasn't pigeonholed, this corner of the bedroom seems to be where he's most comfortable. "Girl" is his best tune yet.

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Jazz June. ( )

Song Premiere: The Jazz June, 'Over Underground'

by Lars Gotrich
Apr 23, 2014

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Christie Front Drive, Texas Is the Reason, Knapsack, The Promise Ring, Cap'n Jazz, Gauge, Sunny Day Real Estate, American Football, The Casket Lottery, The Get Up Kids, Braid — no, this isn't a dream Emo Diaries compilation. These are the '90s emo bands that have, in recent years, reunited for tours or even recorded new material after long silences. (Mineral and Rainer Maria... we're waiting.) It's been a bane to those annoyed by a tossed-off hashtag, but mostly it's a boon to those who never stopped listening, to the kids just now discovering teenage feelings, and the excellent young bands working within that sound now.

In the late '90s and early '00s, The Jazz June was the odd band out. The members came from hardcore, but loved John Coltrane and Dave Brubeck, which resulted in an aggressive and structurally complicated discography released mostly on the Louisville hardcore label Initial Records. (If the band is new to you, 2000's raucous The Medicine is a good place to start.) Twelve years after its last album, "Over Underground" marks the studio return of The Jazz June from a split 7" with Dikembe.

Whatever happened in the intervening years, "Over Underground" isn't the scrappy, nails-dug-in emo of The Jazz June's past, but rather the kind of song Built to Spill might have written if it had gone power-pop. It's bright and sunny, but not without a touch of regret. (Gotta keep it emo somehow, y'all.) Guitarist and vocalist Andrew Low says it marks the "next phase of the band."

To be honest, I borrow a lot of lines for songs from my good friend, Will Edmiston, who is a rad poet in Brooklyn and former Jazz June tour manager. I sent an acoustic version of "Over Underground" to him for his birthday a few years ago because we were both feeling a distance between some of the people and ideas that had once been so integral to our everyday lives. Fast-forward a couple years and we're releasing it with The Jazz June, our first release in over 10 years. It feels like some of those pieces have been put back in place.

The Jazz June and Dikembe split 7" comes out in May on Tiny Engines and Topshelf Records.

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