Saturday, May 26, 2007
"Billy Collins writes lovely poems," John Updike has said. He does indeed. His books of poetry include Questions About Angels; The Art of Drowning; Picnic, Lightning; Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes; Sailing Alone Around the Room: New & Selected Poems; Nine Horses and his most recent The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems (Random House) and She Was Just Seventeen, a collection of his haiku poems (Modern Haiku Press). He edited two anthologies of contemporary poetry: Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry and 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. His works have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, American Poetry Review, The American Scholar, Harper's and many other magazines. Collins, who was twice appointed United States Poet Laureate and served as New York State Poet Laureate, has received the Oscar Blumenthal Prize, the Bess Hokin Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize and the Levinson Prizeall awarded by Poetry magazine. In 2004, he was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Poetry Foundation's Mark Twain Award for humor in poetry.
When The Wailin' Jennys first got together in 2002, it was supposed to be a one-time gig. But the collaboration proved such a success that within a few weeks the trio was on tour and people were calling them "a bona fide Canadian sensation." In the five years since, they have continued to wow audiences across North America and beyond. As one music critic wrote, "This is about as good as contemporary folk gets." The group's critically acclaimed CD 40 Days won a 2005 Juno Award for Best Roots and Traditional Album of the Year. Their latest recording, Firecracker, released last year on the Red House label, has their ever-widening fan base coming back for more. The Wailin' Jennys are soprano Ruth Moody, a pianist, songwriter and classically trained vocalist; mezzo Nicky Mehta, a poet and songwriter whose first album was nominated for a 2002 Canadian Music Award; and alto Heather Masse, a New England Conservatory of Music grad whose talent has taken her from performing with contemporary bluegrass band The Wayfaring Strangers to sharing the stage with the Boston Pops Orchestra. Vancouver-based fiddle and mandolin ace Jeremy Penner formerly of the Canadian quintet The Bills has recently become a full-time member of the band.Dave Bargeron
Dave Bargeron's first lead trombone job was playing with Clark Terry's Big Band. Then he signed on as bass trombonist and tuba player with Doc Severinsen's Band, before joining the pioneering jazz-rock group Blood, Sweat and Tears, with whom he recorded 11 albums. A break in BS&T's schedule allowed Dave to join the Gil Evans Orchestra in 1972, and he remains a member of that organization. He is both a sought-after session musician and a well-known jazz artist in his own right. A charter member of Howard Johnson's six-tuba group, Gravity, he has also recorded with Paul Simon, Mick Jagger, James Taylor and Eric Clapton, Gerry Mulligan and Dave Sanborn.Jon-Erik Kellso
Trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso says, "I want to find ways of bringing a younger audience to mainstream jazz." Of course he does. Kellso has lived and breathed music since his childhood in Detroit. At age 11, he was already doing big band work. Two years later, he joined the International Youth Symphony. And by the time he was 17, he was in a concert alongside famed cornetist Wild Bill Davison. He has played with a wide variety of groups, including the New McKinney's Cotton Pickers, J.C. Heard's Orchestra, James Dapogny's Chicago Jazz Band and Vince Giordano's Nighthawks. He's recorded with Marty Grosz, Milt Hinton, Dick Hyman, Linda Ronstadt, Maria Muldaur, Banu Gibson, Leon Redbone and many others. His 2005 CD, Kellso's BC Buddies (Gen-Erik), was the follow-up to his 1997 album, Chapter 2: The Plot Thickens (Arbors Records). His latest recording is Blue Roof Blues: A Love Letter to New Orleans, released this year on Arbors Records.Scott Robinson
Scott Robinson is a saxophone player. Ah, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. He is also a collector and player of rarely heard antique instruments, things like the double-bell euphonium, C-melody sax, ophicleide (an early relative of the tuba) and the humongous contrabass sax, which is taller than most people. (Fewer than 20 contrabass saxophones in playable condition are known to exist.) On his most recent CD, Jazz Ambassador: Scott Robinson Plays the Compositions of Louis Armstrong (Arbors Records), he uses these instruments and others to play a collection of Satchmo's tunes. In addition to his own albums, Robinson has recorded with dozens of artists, including Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, Paquito D'Rivera, John Pizzarelli and They Might Be Giants. He was named the U.S. State Department Jazz Ambassador for 2001.Andy Stein
Andy Stein (violin, saxophone) definitely has far-flung musical leanings, He collaborated with Garrison Keillor to create the opera Mr. and Mrs. Olson, and he's performed with artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Eric Clapton, Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles and Bob Dylan.
Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).