Airs Monday, May 12 at 8 p.m. Amir ElSaffar grew up around Chicago as something of a trumpet prodigy, in both jazz and classical. He was winning competitions and beginning to make a go of it in New York. Then he started investigating his Iraqi heritage in music, and studying the hammered dulcimer and the modes of various Middle Eastern musics. This band splits the difference, using microtonal techniques to investigate the blues. They'll have new tunes too, commissioned for Newport and supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Airs Thursday, May 8 at 8 p.m. For many people, college is a place to study subjects that will prepare you for the next step in life, as well as a time to create new friendships. Such was the case for Woody Platt, Mike Guggino, Graham Sharp and Charles Humphrey, who began playing music together in 1999 while studying at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Fourteen years later and with the addition of one more musician, the five members of the Steep Canyon Rangers have become known as one of the finest bluegrass ensembles in our time.
Airs Monday, April 5 at 8 p.m. This year actually marks three dozen years since the first incarnation of the group coalesced to resurrect a then-disappearing tradition — and infuse it with both bebop and funk. One of the original new-school New Orleans brass bands ignites dancing in the aisles and guarantees a good time. As with many a show since '77, there was dancing and handkerchief-waving aplenty, and several original members were present to anchor the proceedings.
Airs Saturday, May 3 at 12 noon. The 2013-14 Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast season continues with a live broadcast of Bellini’s I Puritani. Acclaimed Russian soprano Olga Peretyatko will make her network broadcast debut as Elvira, the Puritan maiden who slips in and out of madness after being abandoned at the altar. The revival also stars tenor Lawrence Brownlee as Elvira's beloved Arturo, baritone Mariusz Kwiecien as his rival Riccardo, and bass Michele Pertusi as Elvira's uncle, Giorgio; they are led by the rising Italian conductor Michele Mariotti, who is married to Peretyatko. I Puritani will be heard live over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.
Airs Monday, april 28 at 8 p.m. Guitarist Rez Abbasi's new electronics-enhanced trio is driven by what its leader calls "textural surprise." As heard on the 2012 album Continuous Beat, the Pakistani-born guitarist's newest repertoire was inspired by the late drummer Paul Motian. On wax, that's a point of departure to explore material as diverse as tunes by Motian's contemporaries, Indian ragas and "The Star-Spangled Banner." Abbasi returns to Newport with a set of original compositions — and one Keith Jarrett tune.