Author Archive

Album Review: Martin Denny — Exotic Moog

Introduced in the middle 1960s, Dr. Robert A. Moog’s invention – the Moog Modular synthesizer – changed the musical landscape. Groundbreaking releases like Switched on Bach made it plain that the formidable instrument was more than a cold mass of technology, more than a gimmick. But that didn’t stop a rush of artists charging into

Eleanor Underhill: Honoring and Obliterating Tradition

In late 2018, Eleanor Underhill released her debut solo album, Navigate the Madness. While she didn’t – and still doesn’t plan to – abandon her popular and widely admired duo Underhill Rose, the Asheville musician made plain her desire to expand her musical vision to encompass a wider vision. But even the eclectic collection of

Yes’ ‘Drama’ at 40: A Critical Look Back at the Band’s Most Controversial LP

It’s accepted conventional wisdom now that the 1980s were a tough time for progressive rock. The subgenre enjoyed its heyday – commercially and critically – beginning in the very late 1960s and continuing into the mid- to later part of the ‘70s. And while the revisionist notion that punk “killed” prog is wildly overstated –

Ben Folds Five’s Debut at 25

In 1997, Ben Folds Five’s second album, Whatever and Ever Amen took the charts by storm. By ’90s measures as unlikely an act as could be imagined, the North Carolina-based group succeeded with a piano-led (and guitar-free) approach at the height of the grunge era. The band’s second full-length was buoyed on the strength of

Album Review: Big Bill Broonzy — The Midnight Special

Big Bill Broonzy’s musical influence is incalculable. And even though he recorded prolifically, a new archival release is an important addition to his body of work. A solo acoustic performance, Midnight Special: Live in Nottingham 1957 showcases Broonzy’s myriad assets. Foremost among those are his fine and expressive voice, his peerless selection of material, his

30 Days Out, August 2020 #2: Jazz Night, Lovely World, Consider the Source, Steep Canyon Rangers

This edition of “30 Days Out” features four shows in or near Asheville. The roundup is a mix of live-in-person and livestream events. For the non-virtual ones, the standard caveat continues to apply: check your local listings before heading to the venue. You never know what’s going to happen these days. Artist: Jazz Night at

Crime and Spy Jazz on Screen: A Conversation with Derrick Bang (Part 2)

Continued from Part One … Bill Kopp: I think it’s interesting the number of times in the books when you end discussion of a given film and its music from, say, the ‘70s by saying, “A soundtrack finally appeared in 2006,” or something. It only came out many many years after you’d think that even

Crime and Spy Jazz on Screen: A Conversation with Derrick Bang (Part 1)

One of the many benefits of being a music journalist is that I come into contact with all manner of creative types. So it was that my friend Cheryl Pawelski of Omnivore Recordings introduced me to Derrick Bang. A film critic and author, Bang has written a two-volume work that digs deep into a subject

Album Review: ‘Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones’ Soundtrack

There are at least three categories of film soundtrack albums. One is a collection of songs, scores, cues and the like, often by a single composer/artist, music created expressly for a film or television show. Another is what my esteemed colleague Derrick Bang (author of the new two-volume book series on Crime and Spy Jazz)

Album Review: Various Artists — Saving for a Custom Van

Grammy Award-winner Adam Schlesinger died on April 1 of complications from COVID-19. The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist gained fame for his work as a member of power pop band Fountains of Wayne, indie pop combo Ivy and other projects. He also wrote music for other artists and for television and films. Among his most celebrated