Gloria Gaynor Gives 'Testimony' With Gospel-Roots Groove Music
New Jersey-born and Grammy Award-winning superstar singer Gloria Gaynor might be best-known for her disco-era hits, but she has deep gospel roots and with her 2019 release, Testimony , she gives powerful voice to these roots. She cites as influences Blind Boys of Alabama, the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi and Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, and watching her brothers perform as a gospel quartet ( .)
While she had recorded a Christian music record to go with her 2013 book, We Will Survive: True Stories of Encouragement, Inspiration, and the Power of Song , it is just now in 2019 with Testimony , which was just nominated for a Grammy, that she partnered with producer Chris Stevens (TobyMac, Mandisa) to create a roots-gospel collection of songs. Blues-drenched and spiritual, there are soulful and brass-augmented originals that rely on Gaynor's songwriting interspersed with re-imagined versions of the classic "Amazing Grace" and "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," along with a funk-infused cover of Bob Dylan's "Man Of Peace." Gloria Gaynor sings some of these uplifting songs in-studio. - Caryn Havlik
Watch the session here:
Robbie Robertson Leans In the Direction of Noir
Canadian musician, film composer, and songwriter Robbie Robertson is probably best known as the lead guitarist in The Band. He’s written written a wide variety of music over the years, not just for The Band. On the release of both the score for The Irishman and his first solo record in years, Sinematic , Robertson talks us through several main events.
This past September, he released Sinematic , his first solo album since 2011, where he said he was “leaning in a direction of noir.” Robertson describes his songwriting process as stumbling,and yet at the same time, he was also working on composing the music for Martin Scorsese‘s latest film, The Irishman. Scorsese specifically requested something that didn’t sound like film music, and the main theme contains harmonica and spacious guitars.
Robertson then touches on the documentary “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band,” which is more or less a movie adaptation of Robertson’s 2016 autobiography, “Testimony: A Memoir.” He's now in the process of writing volume two of his memoir.
If that's not enough, 2019 has also seen the 50 th anniversary of the album The Band which was released with outtakes and alternate versions not heard before, plus the entire Woodstock set from 1969. Robertson talks us through all of these different balls he has had in the air, so to speak. - Caryn Havlik
Also, Robertson's latest single, “Happy Holidays,” is just out, and all profits from the single will be donated to the American Indian College Fund:
Jangle Rockers Real Estate, From Brooklyn Bowl
Brooklyn rockers Real Estate (their home state is New Jersey) are a self-admitted “indie band that should become a jam band.” Their bright and jangly songs are laid-back, with tidy clean guitars and “unfussy” drums ( ) that might evoke the sounds of R.E.M., Big Star or Teenage Fanclub, for some. There’s a new record coming in 2020, along with a tour, but this past June of 2019, Real Estate played a mighty set for New York Public Radio at Brooklyn Bowl. Here are some of their latest tunes, along with a few old favorites. – Caryn Havlik
Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, In-Studio
Grammy Award-winning drummer, producer, collaborator, and educator Terri Lyne Carrington is a drummer’s drummer whose laudable technique, creative choices, and tasteful flow speak to wide listening, and intense focus. Carrington is also the director of Berklee’s Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, working towards a vision of “jazz without patriarchy.” ( )
She’s played with countless jazz luminaries over her career, and has gathered many more for her new band, Social Science; pianist Aaron Parks and guitarist Matthew Stevens, Morgan Guerin (bass & sax), Debo Ray (vocals) and Kassa Overall (MC/DJ.) Together, they confront a wide spectrum of social justice i ssues in original tunes on their double album, Waiting Game . Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science play some of these new tunes in-studio. - Caryn Havlik
Watch the session here:
Saxophonist Matana Roberts Carves Out Her Own Musical Space
Composer, saxophonist, and mixed media artist Matana Roberts presents her latest in the multi-chapter work Coin Coin project which documents the African-American cultural and historical experience. “Memphis,” which is chapter four, mixes jazz, blues, traditional songs, free improv, and Afro-futurism into a heavy sonic quilt of “21st century liberation music.” ( Matana Roberts calls her approach “panoramic sound quilting.”) She "speaks memory," and "sings an American survival" in this chapter of the coin coin bloodline ( ), set in Memphis - home of Roberts’s grandmother- and around a story of a "wo(e)man chile named Liddie." Matana Roberts and her new band featuring Hannah Marcus on guitars, fiddle, and accordion; Ryan Sawyer on percussion; and Matt Lavelle on trumpet and bass clarinet, perform in-studio. - Caryn Havlik
Watch the session here: