Pick Six is a half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view.
Ross Anderson of Marshall, Minn.:
1 "Candide Overture" by the CNSMDL Clarinet Class. This is a great arrangement of the joyful Leonard Bernstein piece performed by an international group of clarinetists, both young and old, all staying at home around the world. youtube.com/watch?v=Savmr25KKTE
2 "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" (Coronavirus edition) by Avalon Jazz Band. An amusing updated arrangement of this Duke Ellington classic by the always swinging New York combo. youtube.com/watch?v=TcW3vY0XWBY
3 Scott Colley Quartet, New York City. At the Village Vanguard in January, I experienced this dynamic quartet performing original material, with superb Golden Valley native son Craig Taborn on piano.
Jon Bream of the Star Tribune:
1 X, "Alphabetland." On its first studio album in 35 years with its original lineup, Los Angeles' definitive punk-rock quartet sounds as urgent as ever. Dig the slashing guitar, driving rhythms, smart lyrics, hot-and-cold harmonies and uncompromising passion that evoke X's early LPs (save for Exene's spoken-word finale). A-bop-bop, a-loo-mop, a-lop-bam-boom in overdrive but more poetic.
2 Jason Isbell interview, New York Times. The remarkable Americana singer-songwriter candidly opens up to writer David Peisner about how self-doubts affected his new album ("Reunions"), marriage, sobriety and life with his young daughter. His wife and bandmate, Amanda Shires, thinks "Reunions" is his best album ever.
3 Fergus Falls High School's Scott Kummrow, "Pomp and Circumstance." With no in-person graduation ceremonies possible during the pandemic, this high school band director got inventive and resourceful and performed 22 parts on 13 different instruments (wearing different school-spirited outfits for each part) in a two-day recording process and posted it on YouTube to honor graduates. Final grade: A-plus. youtube.com/watch?v=V7NBfLdbxiU&