Utne Playlist

Recommended recordings

| January/February 2002

O Sister! The Women’s Bluegrass Collection (Rounder). Rounder’s ambrosial collection of some of the most talented and powerful musicians in bluegrass—from Wilma Lee Cooper to Alison Krauss—will leave you hummin’, grinnin’, and tappin’ your feet.
—Karen Olson

Gone Polka by Jimmy Sturr (Rounder). This fun-loving introduction to America’s most overlooked style of roots music features Willie Nelson and Brenda Lee sitting in with Sturr’s band, winner of 11 Grammy awards. Together, they cover musical terrain from Texas to Poland, all done with an infectious polka bounce.
—Jay Walljasper

Inside Out by Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, and Jack DeJohnette (ECM). This trio transcends jazz convention with telepathic interplay and improvisational oomph. After a bout with illness, pianist Jarrett is back with a passion that flows straight to his fingertips.
—Keith Goetzman

Not All Who Wander Are Lost by Chris Thile (Sugar Hill). This mandolin whiz kid’s main gig is with young bluegrass band Nickel Creek, but he roams much broader territory as a solo artist. Folk, classical, and near-jazz flourishes color his taut, graceful instrumentals. —K.G.

Songs in a Northern Key by Varnaline
(E Squared/Artemis). Lonesome but dignified, the songs of Anders Parker ring with a hushed power. His fleeting lyrical images and eclectic sounds are never predictable, keeping his vignettes perennially interesting. —K.G.

The American Seasons by Mark O’Connor with the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra (Sony). Working in the fertile seam where classical meets folk, the masterful fiddler enriches both musical traditions while offering up a modern alternative to Vivaldi. —K.G.

Totally Hep: The Best of the Heptones and Stay Loose: The Best of the Ethiopians (both Music Club). The sheer exuberance and sweetness of the ’60s and ’70s Jamaican music scene shine through in these compilations, where 'rude boys' and a rock-steady beat rule.

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