Music News 2/22/24




Rufus Reid & Sullivan Fortner, IT’S THE NIGHTS I LIKE (Sunnyside, $17.98) – Veteran bassist Rufus Reid duets with pianist Sullivan Fortner on a collection of standards and Mr. Reid’s originals. I got to see Mr. Fortner with Cécile Salvant this past December, and he is a superb pianist full of infectious joy. Highlights of the set include “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Sweet Lorraine,” “Memories of You,” and “The Peacocks.”


NOTE: Mr. Fortner will be a part of the National Symphony’s Symphony Swing!: An Evening of Duke Ellington, on Friday and Saturday, March 15 & 16.


Hurray for the Riff Raff, THE PAST IS STILL ALIVE (Nonesuch, $16.98) – Alynda Segarra AKA Hurray for the Riff Raff is back with more songs from the heart.


Matmos, RETURN TO ARCHIVE (Smithsonian Folkways, $17.98) – Matmos is the Baltimore-based duo of sound artists Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt. Matmos mined the “non-musical” archive of Folkways Records to do sound collage “remixes” from these fascinating documents. Return to Archive uses classic Folkways titles like Sounds of North American FrogsVoices of InsectsSounds of Medicine, and Sounds of the Junk Yard.

This past summer, Daniel and Schmidt presented a three-hour performance of this music around the fountain of the Hirshhorn—in sensurround!


THE SCHUMANN TRILOGY: Concertos & Pianos Trios (Harmonia Mundi, 3 CDs & 1 BluRay, $32.98) – Violinist Isabelle Faust, cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, and pianist Alexander Melnikov just played a fantastic concert last week at the Library of Congress. They played piano trios by Brahms, Carter, and Schumann (No. 2, and, as an encore, the slow movement from No. 3, dedicated to Alexei Navalny).

In 2015 and 2016, they released three albums: each featured one of the trios—played on period instruments—and one of the concertos, with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado. Each also featured a DVD of performances.

The Schumann Trilogy collects all three albums, and it is highly recommended. The box set also contains a BluRay of the live performances of the Cello, Piano, and Violin Concertos, as well as the Overture, Scherzo and Finale in E major, Op 52, recorded in Berlin.


AFRICATOWN, AL: Ancestor Sounds (Free Dirt, $16.98) – Ian Brennan is a music producer (Tinariwen, Zomba Prison Project, Good Ones) and author (How Music DiesSilenced by SoundMuse-Sick) has done field recordings all over the world, seeking out music that is overlooked in the commercialized industry. His latest project, conceived with Marilena Umuhoza Delli, took him to the Africatown neighborhood of Mobile, Alabama, featuring “descendants form the Clotilda.”

Connecting to the “ancestor sounds” of Africa, there is music, testimony, and ambient sounds from the surrounding factories.


NOTE: Ian Brennan’s new book, Missing Music: Voices from Where the Dirt Road Ends, with photos by Marilena Umuhoza Delli, comes out in April.




Our Director of Programs, Bob Attardi, who worked with Reuben on classes, wrote the following:


“For those who did not hear, we lost an especially remarkable person this past weekend. Reuben Jackson, a longtime customer, and our beloved music class instructor, passed away at the relatively young age of 67. He was part of the P&P family.  


I knew Reuben from my days at Olsson’s Books and Records, the Library of Congress Folk Archive, Smithsonian Folklife Festivals, and I asked him to do classes for us starting in 2020. He taught revelatory classes on the giants of music: Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Bessie Smith, Marvin Gaye, Quincy Jones, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, and, most recently, Paul Simon’s ode to mortality, Seven Psalms.


He was a music scholar and a poet, who felt and could explain music on another level. As jazz archivist for the Smithsonian Duke Ellington collection, Reuben would share insightful, funny and touching stories of all the famous musicians who passed through their doors.


May the eyes and ears of the world remember his one-of-a-kind genius. He will be missed. To learn more about his life, I am including Reuben's obituary below.”


I want to add the following:


I loved talking music with Reuben whenever he came by P & P (He worked down the street heading the Felix Grant Jazz Archives at UDC).

He spoke like the poet he was, full of insights, often stated with sly, oblique humor. His last collection of poems, Scattered Clouds, was published in 2019.


Every other Sunday afternoon, he hosted the radio show on WPFW, The Sound of Surprise (alternating with its founder, Larry Applebaum). Those shows always conveyed Reuben’s love of music, both classic tracks, and brand new finds (and snippets of heartfelt biography).


I remember attending a book conversation Reuben hosted with Aidan Levy, author of the Sonny Rollins biography, Saxophone Colussus, just about a year ago at UDC. He deeply admired Sonny (and this book), and, as usual, his questions were probing and very personal.


When you read the remembrance in the link above, watch the 9-minute film about him.


You’ll get a feeling for this shy and sweet man—poet, teacher, radio DJ, archivist, and good soul.

-- András