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A collage of 7 album covers featured in this article.
A collage of 7 album covers featured in this article.

Tenebrae, Nigel Short — Charles Villiers Stanford: The Blue Bird
William Peacock

While there is a firmly cemented legacy of excellence in the British musical sphere following the works of composers like Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, and Herbert Howells (among others), there are plenty of gems that came before, and more recently before those composers hit the scene than you might think – enter "The Blue Bird," by Charles Villiers Stanford (their teacher!). A part of his set of eight part-songs, this work is a simple yet sublime work of stunning choral beauty set in a breezy four minutes. This recording with Tenebrae sets new standards for the English choral sound, bar none.

Jamie McMenamy — Gnosis
John Shanahan

The entirety of Jamie McMenamy's Piano Space is an amazing aural zone to fall into, but "Gnosis" came up on shuffle on a recent morning as I sat looking out over an autumn-browned salt marsh, with leaves dancing quietly downward, and it was like a custom-made soundtrack for the moment.

Jazzmeia Horn — Out The Window
Julia Marcus

When I was studying jazz singing in grad school, I was quickly humbled by first attempt at scatting. Curses! How do singers do it and sound so natural? Why am I stuck saying the same "beep, boop, bop" over and over again??

These past two weeks, I've been playing Jazzmeia Horn's 2019 album Love and Liberation on repeat and she is the QUEEN of scatting. I'm still not great at it, but maybe the more I listen to Jazzmeia, the better I'll become through osmosis... Her scat break on her song "Out The Window" is especially inspirational.

Adrianne Lenker — ingydar
Edyn-Mae Stevenson

It’s time to talk about one of my go-to comfort albums. It’s the first thing I reach for on these raw, chilly mornings. Last fall, while listening to this song, I came across a herd of cows happily munching on a patch of pumpkins in a foggy field. It’s been my favorite ever since.

Aamina Camaari — Rag Waa Nacab Iyo Nasteexo (Men are Cruel and Kind)
Russ Gershon

Choosing only one song from the album Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa was not easy — I find the entire collection absolutely mesmerizing.

While Ethiopian jazz and pop have become known in the West over the past few decades, music of their neighbor to the south, Somalia, remains elusive. The political turmoil in that country has made the preservation of art and culture challenging, to say the least. This album is collected from a huge stash of tapes that were rescued from the archives of Radio Hargeisa. Hargeisa is the capital of the breakaway Republic of Somaliland, bombed by Somalia under the direction of their strongman leader Siad Barre, but this musical record of the 70's and 80's has fortunately survived.

Ostinato Records makes an excellent selection of songs and they are available to stream, download or buy in CD form. If this music appeals, I recommend the CD – it's a beautiful package and an obvious labor of love.

Rodrigo y Gabriela — Diablo Rojo
Emily Marvosh

As it gets colder — and darker — I sometimes need a little energy during the early evening and Rodriguo y Gabriela always deliver. They collaborated with Hans Zimmer on the soundtrack to the 4th installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean, and this album came out the same year. It will keep you dancing during the long winter evenings.

Severija — Zu Asche, Zu Staub
Katie Ladrigan

I first watched Babylon Berlin around this time three years ago — it's a gritty German-language television series about the Weimar Republic, the time in Germany between World Wars I and II; a wannabe detective (who happens to be a woman) and a shell-shocked veteran of WWI working together to navigate the corruption and graft of the era to solve a series of political murders. It’s an engrossing story, with a brilliant soundtrack — this song was written for the pilot episode, and captures the feel of the era (and story) brilliantly.

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Listen to this month's playlist, and find thefull, cumulative playlist here.