WHEN A POP SINGER/SONGWRITER JOINS FORCES with classical musicians, we usually know what to expect: luxuriant remakes of the artist's hits, augmented by lush strings, burbling woodwinds, and coloristic splashes of percussion. But when Ben Folds ventures into classical terrain, something far more compelling occurs.
WITH 15 YEARS OF INSPIRED GIGS in the '90s and '00s, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals earned a reputation as one of the world's great roots-rock bands. Harper's accomplices conveyed the range and nuance of his passionate songs while bringing out the best in Ben's explosive guitar work. But after years of relentless touring, the band needed a break.
ABSTRACT KEYBOARD TEXTURES COLLIDING with blissful pop vocals. Raucous guitars duking it out with complex acoustic-electronic beats. That’s the creative yet catchy sound of The Rocket Summer’s recently released sixth studio album, Zoetic.
ERIC WORTHAM IS A PIANO VIRTUOSO of the highest order, skilled in both classical and jazz playing. Yet he feels no musical limitations performing pure pop on tour with Adele.
BILLY SHEEHAN IS ONE OF HISTORY’S MOST INFLUENTIAL electric bassists. With stunning virtuosity, he brings a guitar hero’s flash and flair to the instrument, exploring countless new techniques in his work with Talas, David Lee Roth, Steve Vai, Mr. Big, and Niacin. Yet Sheehan never loses touch with the bass’ foundational rhythm section role. His playing is a savvy blend of fretboard wizardry and good old-fashioned groove.
For all the great music that came out of the 1980s, it wasn’t the most inspiring era for players whose passion was jamming and improvisation. When the young members of Blues Traveler first ventured from their Princeton, New Jersey hometown to play New York City clubs, their raw, blues-based performances were far from fashionable. But the band had the right idea at the right time.
OCCASIONALLY A GREAT SONG MATERIALIZES fully formed in a songwriter’s head. But more often, songwriting is about discipline and persistence. At least that’s been Gabe Dixon’s experience.
WHAT DO THE TOP 10 HITS of pop diva Halsey have in common with the virtuosic and metrically complex jazz-fusion of the band Polyrhythmic? Not much—except for the inspired participation of keyboardist/composer Greg Spero.
IT’S NO SURPRISE THAT THE BAND RIVAL SONS WAS PICKED TO TOUR with such classic rock acts as Aerosmith, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath. The band’s music harks back to an era when all you needed to rock the world were a muscular rhythm section, a leather-lunged singer, and blazing blues-rock guitars.
IT’S BEEN A HECTIC FIVE YEARS for Will Wells. Since arriving in Los Angeles in 2011 after studying at Berklee College of Music, he’s worked with Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, RZA, John Mayer, and many other artists. He completed a tour as keyboardist for Imagine Dragons and recently scored his first songwriting hit after co-writing “Can’t Sleep Love” for the a cappella group Pentatonix. Meanwhile, he helped make Broadway history as a sound designer for the smash show Hamilton.