Pano: Listening to the Story – The Santa Barbara Independent

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The following list of 2021 releases reflects my faith in the power of music.

“Art is not a mirror held out to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.

—Bertolt Brecht

Dinosaur Jr., Sweep it in space (Jagjaguwar)

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Sometimes you need to rock. J. Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph never sounded better or had bigger hooks than they do on this late period masterpiece produced by Kurt Vile.

Jason Isbell and Unit 400, Georgia Blue (South East)

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Isbell promised in 2020 that if Georgia chooses Biden and Harris, he will record and release a tribute to the great musicians of that state. Here it is, and what a job he did on it. Guest artists like Chris Thile and Béla Fleck on REM’s “Nightswimming” and Isbell’s fabulous 400 Unit keep things flamboyant throughout. Track to sample first: “Suddenly Salvation”.

Vikingur Ólafsson, Mozart and contemporaries (Deutsche Grammophon)

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Transcendent tales by Mozart alongside works by Haydn, Galuppi and Cimarosa make this solo piano outing one of the most enchanting outings of the year.

Vijay Iyer / Linda May Han Oh / Tyshawn Sorey, Worry (GUY)

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Three of contemporary jazz’s greatest players come together in a musical meditation on social injustice that is swinging, lyrical and enduring.

This edition of Pano was originally emailed to subscribers on December 15, 2021. To receive Charles Donelan’s Arts Newsletter to your inbox, subscribe at

Chrissie Hynde, Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde sings Bob Dylan (BMG)

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During the lockdown, Hynde swapped files with The Pretenders guitarist James Walbourne to create this understated and haunting album of Dylan covers. None of them are predictable, and some of them are unforgettable.

Charles Lloyd and the wonders, poem of your (Blue note)

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The Lloyd’s Marvels are entirely instrumental on this beautiful album which goes from Ornette Coleman (“Ramblin ‘” to the Beach Boys (“In My Room”).

Attacca Quartet, Of all the joys (Sony Classic)

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This daring album programs contemporary works by Philip Glass and Arvo Pärt alternating with string quartet arrangements of Renaissance music for a breathtaking and highly listenable effect.

Various artists, I’ll Be Your Mirror: Tribute to Velvet Underground and Nico (Verve)

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The late Hal Willner’s latest project brings together a star cast (Michael Stipe, Bill Frisell, St. Vincent) to build on one of music’s most influential and exciting catalogs. To begin with, check out the sonic damage Matt Sweeney and Iggy Pop inflict with “European Son”.

John Coltrane, Supreme Love: Living in Seattle (Impulse!)

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The most believable and accessible religious music of our time in an extended live performance. Unequal? You bet. Irresistible? Absoutely.

Wiki, Demigod (Wikset Enterprises)

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New York is back. Wiki, a 27-year-old Manhattan resident (birth name Patrick Morales) and his production partner Navy Blue have made a full-length hip-hop album that’s smart, funky, and truthful. I don’t often listen to new rap, but I want it to sound like that when I do.

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