SoundcheckAuthor: WNYC Studios
14 Apr 2021


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Live performances and conversations in which artists talk about their work, their process, and themselves. Genre-blind but open-eared. Hosted by John Schaefer.

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    Angelique Kidjo From Live With Carnegie Hall (April 2020)

    Angélique Kidjo is a force of nature. The globetrotting Beninese singer has won numerous Grammys, collaborated with Alicia Keys, David Byrne, Philip Glass, and Branford Marsalis, and curated a recent Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall. But the finale in that series was cancelled in March 2020 – it was supposed to celebrate both Kidjo’s 60th birthday and the anniversary of the independence movement in West Africa. From the online "Live with Carnegie Hall" series recorded in April 2020, Angélique performs several songs, including "Afirika," her tribute to the African independence movement.

    Set list:
    “Afirika” | Written by Angélique Kidjo and Jean Hebrail | Spirit Two Music, Inc. obo Ayeile Music Inc. (ASCAP) 

    “Malaika” | Written by Fadhili William | Figs D Music (BMI) / Sanga Music Inc (BMI) | By arrangement with Concord 

    “Bemba Colora” | Written by José Claro Fumero | Peer International Corporation (BMI) 

    Watch the whole episode of "Live With Carnegie Hall: Angélique Kidjo" 

  • Posted on 12 Apr 2021

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    Pianist Neil Cowley Envelops Himself in Sound

    “Noise gives me comfort,” says BBC Jazz Award-winning pianist Neil Cowley, whose long and varied career ranges from early classical training to stints in triphop and funk bands, and his acoustic groove jazz piano trio (dissolved in 2018). Oh - and there was that turn as Adele’s pianist on some of her biggest hits.

    Neil’s new album Hall of Mirrors is a solo effort, for piano and lots of electronics – treatments, field recordings and other surprising textures enabled by contact microphones, televisions, and pickups. "The nicest place to hide is inside the noise," Cowley shares, and adds that "enveloping himself in sound has always been the desire." Surrounded by lots of gear, Neil Cowley plays some of these mesmerizing new solo pieces remotely from his home in London, and describes his reunification with the piano at Nils Frahm’s Berlin studio. 

    Set list: “String Think”, “Prayer”, “Don’t Walk Alone”

    "String Think":


    "Don't Walk Alone":

  • Posted on 08 Apr 2021

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    Cellist Alisa Weilerstein Shares the Optimistic Wisdom of J.S. Bach

    Bach’s unaccompanied cello suites are an essential rite of passage for all cellists, being "some of the most frequently performed and recognizable solo compositions ever written for cello" (Wikipedia.) Alisa Weilerstein discusses what she finds to be the therapeutic and hopeful nature of Bach and her approach to the cello suites while making music at home.

    Weilerstein offers two movements of the suites as part of her “36 days of Bach,” where she shared one movement from each of the six suites, recorded with an iPad, for 36 days in a row. This was recorded in May, 2020, as part of a special “Live With Carnegie Hall” Series.

    Set list: J.S. Bach: Cello Suite No. 6, Prelude; J.S. Bach: Cello Suite No. 6, Sarabande

    Watch the entire session at Carnegie Hall's site

  • Posted on 05 Apr 2021

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    Femi Kuti: Social Conscience with a Beat (Archives)

    Nigerian musician Femi Kuti famously hasn’t listened to another artist’s music in over a decade. It’s tempting to think that’s because he’s the son of one of Nigeria’s greatest musical minds, the late superstar Fela Kuti—the weight of history, expectations, etc. But Femi says he keeps his ears quiet as a way to get in touch with his own deepest creative impulses. Femi Kuti's latest release is a 2021 double-album, with his son, Made Kuti, called Legacy+, and Femi’s half, Legacy+, Stop the Hate, "honors Fela in a traditionally fun, sharply political, and affirming way." (Bandcamp) (This session was recorded in 2016.)

    Set list: "Day by Day", "One People, One World", "Nothing to Show For It"

  • Posted on 01 Apr 2021

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    Guitarist/Singer Benjamin Booker's Potent Cocktail of Punk & Soul (Archives)

    Full of buzzing energy and ready to burst, guitarist Benjamin Booker is a punk & grit-infused songwriter whose ecstatic and soulful sounds channel vintage soul-rock, gospel and blues. The Tampa-born musician recently took up residence in Mexico for inspiration, then had a crisis of conscience while observing from abroad the news of police shootings and Black Lives Matter protests. His second record, Witness (ATO Records) is an outlet for his examination of self and society, with collaborators ranging from producer Sam Cohen (Resistance Radio: The Man In The High Castle Album, Yellowbirds, Pavo Pavo, Apollo Sunshine), engineer Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes), and the great Mavis Staples. The fiery Benjamin Booker plays for us, in-studio. (From the Archives, 2017.)

  • Posted on 29 Mar 2021


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