A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Lauryn Hill, "The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon." Her performance of the classic "Feeling Good," made famous by the legendary Nina Simone, sparked a firestorm of complimentary tweets for its musical magic. Hill, one of our best singers and interpreters of song, used her deep velvety voice, full of passion and raw energy, to successfully capture Simone's substance and spirit.
Jon Batiste profile, New Yorker magazine. This multifaceted New Orleans music man is a very different kind of artist. Not unlike Louis Armstrong, Batiste's currency just might be an ability to permeate that one-of-a-kind New Orleans "Let the good times roll" spirit by breaking the rules of audience engagement with his Stay Human band. The group will join him when he becomes the bandleader/pianist of "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" in September.
Don Cheadle's "Miles Ahead" movie. He has decided on a role — the larger-than-life world of iconic jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. Cheadle will star and direct, with the premiere set for October at the New York Film Festival.
Robin James, Minneapolis
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Prince, "Stare." In March, Prince said he didn't know what Spotify was. Then in July he pulled almost all his music from Spotify and other streaming services (except Tidal). Now, he has released his new single exclusively on Spotify — for free, no less. He never ceases to surprise. "Stare," a slice of minimalist bass-driven funk with jazzy horns, shows his humor, with tastes of his songs "Kiss" and "Sexy Dancer."
"Hamilton." Billboard magazine has a fascinating interview with the three creators behind this hip-hop Broadway musical about Alexander Hamilton: actor/writer Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Roots' Questlove and Black Thought. Can't wait to see it.
Rickie Lee Jones, Cedar Cultural Center. Not only was she in good spirits, but she was in good voice, especially on several songs from her 1979 debut that led to the Grammy for best new artist. She also focused on material from her new New Orleans-flavored album, "The Other Side of Desire," but those tunes didn't feel quite lived-in yet in concert.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune