Aditya Prakash Ensemble: Diaspora Kid

Aditya Prakash describes his Los Angeles childhood as “socially American and culturally Indian” and observes that growing up the two aspects of his life were largely separate. He began studying Carnatic music—the classical vocal style of South India—at age five; by the time he was 10 he was shuttling between LA and Chennai in pursuit of his music education, and by 15 he was touring with Ravi … More Aditya Prakash Ensemble: Diaspora Kid

Che Apalache: Rearrange My Heart

Joe Troop doesn’t so much play fusion as embody it: Since his North Carolina childhood, every sound he ever heard seems to have become part of his music personality. At 14 he was inspired when he saw Doc Watson perform, but as much as young Troop covered himself in bluegrass he didn’t think his home turf was the best place for a gay artist, so he opted for world pastures. In Seville he learned … More Che Apalache: Rearrange My Heart

Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn

“Pity the nation,” wrote Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “that knows no language but its own.” Far more satisfying than pity is listening to Wu Fei and Abigail Washburn, who know one another’s languages and express their familiarity in profoundly local and transcendently global music. Wu is a Beijing-born composer, singer and master of the 21-string guzheng; Washburn an Illinois-born, Grammy winning singer-songwriter and clawhammer banjo … More Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn

Lakou Mizik: HaitiaNola

Iko Iko is a much-covered song about the collision of two Mardi Gras Indian tribes. On their second album, the Haitian ensemble Lakou Mizik reworks it as Iko Kreyòl, leaving the cryptic chorus intact but applying new verses about pride in the Creole heritage that also stamped both New Orleans and their own land (video 1). It’s part of an electrifying collaboration of the acclaimed roots band with an illustrious roster of Big Easy musicians … More Lakou Mizik: HaitiaNola

Flor de Toloache: Indestructible

Imaginary exercise: Build an album around three quotes that express enduring truths. 1) “All you need is love;” 2) “Immigrants strengthen the fabric of American life;” 3) “A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” Okay, this isn’t the real origin story of Flor de Toloache’s intoxicating third album, but it does reflect how neatly and profoundly their … More Flor de Toloache: Indestructible

Mariachi Los Camperos: De Ayer Para Siempre

The U.S.-Mexican border looms large in American discourse these days, but when it comes to the mariachi landscape the frontier barely exists. From Guadalajara to Hollywood to the facing shores of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, one of the most venerated bands performing traditional Mexican music is Los Angeles-based Mariachi Los Camperos. The Grammy-winning ensemble has played Carnegie Hall, the … More Mariachi Los Camperos: De Ayer Para Siempre

Carrie Newcomer: The Point of Arrival

In a recent social media post, Carrie Newcomer described an unexpected layover at O’Hare Airport: In a comfortable Starbucks booth she opened a book, but didn’t get much read because of a barista singing mini arias. “He was obviously a trained vocalist,” she wrote, “and a seriously fine baritone …. singing out orders in soaring melodies, lattes and … More Carrie Newcomer: The Point of Arrival

Kronos Quartet, Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat: Placeless

Can art and politics remain separate? Can musicians avoid banning? Can corrupt leaders escape satire? Freedom is everywhere in the imagination and often scarce in the real world. Songs from a beautiful album like Placeless ought to navigate auditoriums, airwaves and digital channels everywhere; and yet, doesn’t conflict pump … More Kronos Quartet, Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat: Placeless

Kany García: Soy Yo

The personal and the universal, the yin-yang of human connection. Artists strive for the formula—individual experience finding broad audience—and the Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Kany García has scored with her perfect fifth album. The elements of Soy Yo (It’s Me) are her velvety voice, elegant melodies and intimate lyrics about life and love, family and friends, fear and courage. Soy Yo is also the culmination of a journey that took the artist from … More Kany García: Soy Yo