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The Beatles in America
This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America for an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9th. They then played their very first concert at the old Washington Coliseum on February 11th. As Beatlemania took hold, Capitol Records reconfigured many of the early British LPs for the American market. If you remember titles like Meet the Beatles, Something New, and Beatles ’65 from your past, you can now find all the American releases in a grand box set, The U.S. Albums (Capitol, 13-CDs, $189.98). It comes with re-mastered, high-quality mono and stereo mixes, with facsimile mini-LP covers (including the infamous “butcher” cover for Yesterday and Today).
You can also relive history with The Complete Ed Sullivan Shows (Sofa Entertainment, DVD, $19.98), the four programs that the Beatles appeared on.
Originally from Benin, Angélique Kidjo has been an international star for many years. Her advocacy and fierce stances on issues are heard in her songs, whether sung in Fon, Yoruba, Goun, Mina, French or English. She also has a new memoir out, Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music (HarperCollins, $27.99) as well. Listen to her in a very insightful Diane Rehm interview last week, where you’ll also hear her sing some great a capella.
NOTE: Angélique Kidjo will be performing at Lisner Auditorium on Sunday, February 16.
Tanya, Rachel and Petra Haden are the daughters of the legendary jazz bass player Charlie Haden—who started his performing life as part of a family country music act on local Missouri radio. The family harmony-singing tradition continues on this outstanding album of songs associated with the Carter Family, Bill Monroe, Kitty Wells, and the Louvin Brothers, among others. The sisters (who also double on violin and cello) are accompanied by Ry Cooder, playing superb guitar and mandolin and his son, Joachim, on drums.
Philippe Jaroussky is my favorite countertenor, and he consistently puts together intriguing recitals on CDs. For this project, Jaroussky sings arias from operas by the Neopolitian composer Nicola Porpora written for his student—the famed castrato Farinelli. (Porpora and Handel were contemporaries, both writing hit operas for the London stage.) Jaroussky recorded seven world premiers for this project, and has two duets with mezzo Cecilia Bartoli. They are supported by the outstanding Venice Baroque Orchestra, led by Andrea Marcon.
Pianist Momo Kodoma makes fascinating east-west connections as she links the two major works on the album, Ravel’s cycle, Miroirs (1904-1945) and Messiaen’s Fauvette des Jardins (1970), with Rain Tree Sketch (1982) by Toru Takemitsu, the Japanese composer much influenced by French composers.
Conguero and bandleader Pedrito Martínez will bring his quartet to the Atlas this Saturday, February 8. Mr. Martinez is a master on the conga and the bata drums (sacred in Afro-Cuban religions), and had two great albums last year: first, Rumba de la Isla (Sony Masterworks, $12.98) and The Pedrito Martinez Group (Motema Music, $15.98). He was also the lead percussionist and singer on my favorite Cuban jazz album from last year from Michele Rosewoman’s New Yor-Uba group, A MUSICAL CELEBRATION OF CUBA IN AMERICA (Advance Dance Disques, 2 CDs, $25.98).