NPR Music Essentials
Dec 22, 2012 — The albums that sum up our year span genres and borders. From Astro to Wadada Leo Smith, Fiona Apple to Frank Ocean, here are 50 albums that made 2012 great.
May 23, 2013 — The great composer and bandleader was distraught over the 1967 death of Billy Strayhorn, his songwriting and arranging partner of 28 years. But Ellington took Strayhorn's passing as an impetus, born of necessity, to increase his own productivity. Here are five examples.
May 16, 2013 — He was a soulful reedman, an amazing talent scout for decades and a bandleader of one of the country's most popular acts. Born in 1913, Herman led "Thundering Herds" that were both big draws and well-respected by the likes of Igor Stravinsky. Here are five recordings which still sound fresh today.
May 2, 2013 — In this installment of Heavy Rotation, we partner with KCRW to bring you an exclusive download from Laura Mvula's Morning Becomes Eclectic session, as well as music from the post-punk band Savages, Portland songwriter Nick Jaina, Baltimore rapper Ellis and funk guitarist Shuggie Otis.
Apr 26, 2013 — Bremen may be best known for its love of soccer and Beck's beer. But in April, more than 20,000 jazz fans and industry professionals descend upon the German port city for a festival designed specifically to showcase new acts from across Europe.
Apr 18, 2013 — The advent of bebop added a fresh sound to American music. It also added new voices to some metropolitan radio stations: the late-night jazz DJs who specialized in presenting this new music to their fellow hipster nightflies. Appreciative musicians often wrote them tributes like these.
Apr 16, 2013 — For centuries, the country turned its back on black musicians — including the jazz artists whose creations embodied freedom and empowerment. Today, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is one of Africa's largest musical gatherings. Here are five musicians who played the festival this year.
Apr 9, 2013 — Download new music from hip-hop veteran N.O.R.E., indie-rock favorites Telekinesis and Phosphorescent, soul man Charles Bradley, folksinger Samantha Crain and many more in this special edition of Heavy Rotation.
Mar 29, 2013 — Musicians like Lil Hardin Armstrong, Carla Bley and Mary Lou Williams didn't just make it in the historically male-dominated field of jazz: They were the driving forces behind their own bands. Hear five pioneering examples of women who composed for and directed their own groups.
Mar 28, 2013 — Before Easter, hear five powerful and diverse musical portrayals of Jesus' last days and crucifixion, from Bach's monumental St. Matthew to Golijov's brilliant Latin American mashup to a dark and terrifying Russian vision from Sofia Gubaidulina.