80 episodes

WNYC, New York Public Radio, brings you Soundcheck, the arts and culture program hosted by John Schaefer, who engages guests and listeners in lively, inquisitive conversations with established and rising figures in New York City's creative arts scene. Guests come from all disciplines, including pop, indie rock, jazz, urban, world and classical music, technology, cultural affairs, TV and film. Recent episodes have included features on Michael Jackson,Crosby Stills & Nash, the Assad Brothers, Rackett, The Replacements, and James Brown.

Soundcheck WNYC Studios

    • Arts
    • 4.5 • 129 Ratings

WNYC, New York Public Radio, brings you Soundcheck, the arts and culture program hosted by John Schaefer, who engages guests and listeners in lively, inquisitive conversations with established and rising figures in New York City's creative arts scene. Guests come from all disciplines, including pop, indie rock, jazz, urban, world and classical music, technology, cultural affairs, TV and film. Recent episodes have included features on Michael Jackson,Crosby Stills & Nash, the Assad Brothers, Rackett, The Replacements, and James Brown.

    From the 2024 New York Guitar Festival: Marc Ribot and Leyla McCalla

    From the 2024 New York Guitar Festival: Marc Ribot and Leyla McCalla

    The duo of Marc Ribot, the New York guitarist, and Leyla McCalla, the New Orleans cellist and banjo player, may seem unlikely at first. Ribot is known for his work with Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, his own avant-noise trio Ceramic Dog, and much more; McCalla writes songs that draw on the African-American string band tradition, Cajun music, and her own Haitian heritage. But Ribot was also a student of the Haitian classical guitarist/composer Frantz Casseus, and the two musicians share a strong genre-agnostic streak. Together they play a set at the 25th Annual New York Guitar Festival, recorded in June of 2024 at Kaufman Music Center and co-presented by the World Music Institute. 

    Set list: Kamen Sa Ou Fe (trad Haitian); Petro (Frantz Casseus); City Called Heaven (trad American); Lavi Vye Neg (Gesner Henry); Sun Without The Heat (Leyla McCalla); Non Fon Bwa (Casseus); Peze Café (trad Haitian); Tree (Leyla McCalla)

    Marc Ribot has released over two dozen records on his own, ranging from Cuban dance music to free jazz, Haitian classical guitar to political avant-folk. His playing – elegant, edgy, and sometimes, somehow, both at once – has made him the go-to guitarist for artists like Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Tom Waits, Laurie Anderson, McCoy Tyner, and so many others. He has been a regular part of the New York Guitar Festival over the years. 

    Leyla McCalla was the cellist in the Grammy-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, before moving on to writing her own songs. She is a member of Our Native Daughters, a quartet of Black women who all play the banjo (and other instruments), and has recorded four albums on which she also plays guitar. Her new record, Sun Without The Heat, came out in April. 

    • 42 min
    Pulsing, Percussive, Layered Minimalism By Akusmi, In-Studio

    Pulsing, Percussive, Layered Minimalism By Akusmi, In-Studio

    Akusmi is the name of the recent project by the French-born London-based producer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Pascal Bideau. His work blends the churning rhythms of minimalism with the sounds of jazz and, occasionally, the gamelan music of Indonesia. Mostly he plays sax and piano, but in a pinch he’ll play bass guitar, flute, synthesizer or percussion too. Some Akusmi songs can be ethereal and atmospheric, but more often they’re pulsating and almost danceable. In live performance, Akusmi becomes a band, in this case a trio with violinist/composer Christopher Tignor and trombonist Rick Parker. They play in-studio.

    Set list: 1. Divine Moments of Truth 2. Oblique 3. Concrescence

    • 36 min
    Deep and Fiery Cuban Mambo, Salsa, and Soul by Orquesta Akokán, In-Studio

    Deep and Fiery Cuban Mambo, Salsa, and Soul by Orquesta Akokán, In-Studio

    The vintage sounds and energy of Cuban dance music of the mid-20th century live on in the music of Orquesta Akokán, a group of Cuban and American musicians who made a big splash with their debut record just six years ago. The band’s name, Akokán, is from Africa; it’s a Yoruba word meaning “from the heart.”  And this group’s collective heart beats to the rhythms of Havana (and Miami, and Brooklyn), which means salsa, rumba, and soul in addition to mambo. Orquesta Akokán has a brand new album called Caracoles, and it brings the band back to our studio to play some of these new songs. 

    Set list: 1. Con Licencia 2. Pan con Tibiri 3. Caracoles 4. Suave Suave

    • 30 min
    Road-Tested Songs by Sō Percussion and Caroline Shaw, In-Studio

    Road-Tested Songs by Sō Percussion and Caroline Shaw, In-Studio

    Sample collaborative music by Pulitzer Prize-winning vocalist/composer Caroline Shaw and the versatile quartet Sō Percussion from their latest release, Rectangles and Circumstance, as played in-studio.

    Composer/vocalist/violinist Caroline Shaw, who has produced for Kanye West and Nas, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for her Partita for 8 Voices, which was written for and performed with the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth; she also teaches at NYU. Brooklyn-based Sō Percussion (Eric Cha-Beach, Adam Sliwinski, Josh Quillen, Jason Treuting) is a force of music and noise-making comprised of composer/percussionists/instrument builders/finders who beat, shake, bow, immerse, and rip all kinds of things – home goods and instruments - both acoustic and electric; they also compose. 

    Listen to some of these songs with contributions by Caroline Shaw, and with her band Ringdown, together with Sō Percussion, as played live, in-studio.

    • 33 min
    Bandleader and Timbalero Ivan Llanes Brings the Dance Moves, In-Studio

    Bandleader and Timbalero Ivan Llanes Brings the Dance Moves, In-Studio

    Cuban singer, percussionist, and bandleader Ivan Llanes is now based here in New York, and on his debut LP, called La Vida Misma, you hear a reflection of Ivan’s musical interests, which begin with Cuban salsa and go on to include R&B, Brazilian music and more. He's fluent in Latin, Caribbean, and jazz traditions and is a prolific composer and sideman. Ivan’s band is similarly expansive, an 8-piece ensemble who perform new music from Ivan's debut record, in the round, in-studio.   

    See Ivan Llanes and his band in Times Square on July 11 at 5PM

    Set list: 1. La Mejor Mujer 2. Cubahia 3. Respira y Siente

    • 33 min
    Marissa Nadler Sharpens Her Elegant and Eerie Dream-Folk (Archives)

    Marissa Nadler Sharpens Her Elegant and Eerie Dream-Folk (Archives)

    Boston-based Marissa Nadler writes intimate, sweeping dreamy and eerie songs, that shimmer with gothic melancholy. On her 2018 record, For My Crimes, she enlisted accomplished musicians: harpist Mary Lattimore, drummer Patty Schemel (Hole), experimental multi-instrumentalist Janel Leppin, and Eva Gardner plays additional bass. Guest vocals came from Angel Olsen, Kristin Kontrol (Dum Dum Girls), and Sharon Van Etten, plus saxophonist Dana Colley (Morphine) was also a collaborator. These bittersweet and sharp slow burning tunes have a piercing intensity, driven home by Nadler’s gripping voice. Marissa Nadler performs some of these songs in their stripped-down form, in-studio (from the Archives, 2018.) -Caryn Havlik

    Set list: 1. For My Crimes 2. Said Goodbye to That Car 3. I Can’t Listen to Gene Clark Anymore

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
129 Ratings

129 Ratings

Hattiehein ,

Insightful & great

John the host actually listens to music, & asks thoughtful questions. He doesn't just read the publicity sheet.
The in-studio live sessions interest me less than the conversations. I miss the conversations with critics, biographers, & comedians about music history, especially the "THAT was a HIT?" recurring segment.

JLSpring ,

Find new favorites here

I love this wide ranging show and the contribution it makes to my ongoing music explorations. John and his team obviously love what they do, and the artists sound happy to be there.

Nucleargetaway ,

A great show

This is a great way to explore and discover new artists. A broad array of styles, genres, flavors, philosophies and stories, from people that care deeply about creating music.

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