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Benjamin Sorensen
Benjamin Sorensen covers jazz for the Arts & Life section of the Stanford Daily. He is a junior from Stanford, California studying political science with interests in Chinese and music. He enjoys playing guitar, talking about music, and wishing he could sing. Contact him at bcsoren ‘at’ stanford.edu.

The unexpected grace of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DAMN.’

Do we take Kendrick Lamar for granted? If so, Exhibit A might be the offhand way in which so many fans convinced themselves that the Compton emcee had another album in his pocket after releasing his latest full-length effort, “DAMN.,” earlier this month. The Twitter-born conspiracies were convincing in a harebrained way, requiring the mental…

A night at Bing with Vikesh Kapoor, American bard

On Saturday night, standing alone on a shallow stage in the new cabaret space at Bing Concert Hall, Vikesh Kapoor offered a breathtaking set of original music that felt at once both anachronistic and timely. With technical mastery and poetic storytelling, Kapoor breathed fresh life into the American folk tradition, and continued to carry the…

On ‘The Colour in Anything,’ James Blake reconsiders melancholy

On his third album, “The Colour in Anything,” British electro-soul singer and producer James Blake dares not leave the confines of the sparse, ambient world he has created over his celebrated six-year career. The haunting falsetto, wavering synths and minimalist production found on “Colour” are a familiar, perhaps expected, return to form, but they are…

Charles Bradley and the return of an old soul

James Brown was called the hardest working man in show business, but today, Charles Bradley is making his own case for that title, and he’s following Brown’s footsteps in more ways than one. They share looks, fashion sensibilities and most importantly, vocal prowess. But after a long career as an impersonator, Bradley is now his…

En route to Monterey, Stanford’s jazz’s next generation stops at CoHo

While the Stanford men don’t have a place in March Madness this year, another Cardinal underdog is quietly dominating a different scene. In a few weeks, Stanford’s top jazz combo will return to Monterey to compete in the Next Generation Jazz Festival for the second time in history, having made their inaugural appearance last year. With their sights set on taking home the top prize in April, they stopped for a Monday night performance at the CoHo as winter quarter came to a close.

Jazz night at CoHo puts spotlight on student combos

The smell of grease, the sound of jazz — the atmosphere at CoHo on Monday nights provides a total escape from the drudge of winter quarter. This week, the combos from the Stanford Jazz program took the stage, playing three tunes apiece for their end-of-quarter showcase. In contrast to the usual Monday night jam, this performance…

On ‘Shirley,’ an old soul says goodbye

“Shirley [1942-2016]” is a heartfelt eulogy, delivered without words but with plenty of soul. The instrumental EP is a tribute from Chris Russ ‘15, also known as faruhdey of the Outsiders, to his late grandmother, Mrs. Shirley Russ. Crafted in the weeks just before and after her passing, the project spins wistful soul samples with…

Nufonia Must Fall comes to life at Bing

An adorable marshmallow-headed robot falls in love with a beautiful human scientist. That’s the gist of the plot in “Nufonia Must Fall,” but it comes nowhere close to a justifiable summary. That’s because “Nufonia” is an intricate multimedia production, and the many layers of craftsmanship that go into its live performance are the backbone of…

T∆PE GHØST’s explorations of sound as eternity

“I do not want this album to tell a specific narrative, but to instead heighten the listener’s awareness of their own narrative.” This is the goal that David Grunzweig B.S. ’14 M.A. ‘16, also known as T∆PE GHØST, lays out when describing his most recent album, “[ ]” (pronounced “blank”). Like his previous projects, “[…

‘IDols’ and identity: Eli Arbor’s stunning debut

Eli Arbor raps as if it’s his last day on earth. “Shooting star / Here today, but gone tomorrow.” Arbor, also known as Elliot Williams ‘15, repeats this phrase often in his two-part debut album, “IDols,” which is available now on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. As a founding member of The Outsiders, Arbor is a familiar…

Noname Gypsy’s EBF takeover

The Chicago-based rapper Noname Gypsy (born Fatimah Warner) performed at EBF on Wednesday night. Earlier that day, she participated in a Q&A hosted by the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Harmony House, which overflowed with curious fans, spilling into the hallways and up the staircase. The late night concert, co-sponsored by the Stanford…

Raury’s ‘All We Need,’ and the indigo child’s shortcomings

Raury is the Atlanta music scene’s self-declared indigo child, an adept vocalist and songwriter with sweeping messages of peace, love and armageddon delivered in saccharine lyrics and warm acoustic productions. He thinks and creates differently. The 19-year-old’s debut studio album, “All We Need,” is a tangle of folk, hip-hop, R&B and electronic influences, and he…

A dream affirmed: CONNIE.K drops ‘Daylight Savings’

Compared to most rappers, CONNIE.K is pretty new to hip-hop. Growing up in a fairly conservative household in Cary, Illinois (part of the suburban sprawl he calls “Chicagoland”), Conrad Kisunzu ‘16 was surrounded by classical music and gospel — hip-hop and R&B didn’t really have a place in his life. Unlike many music-makers of his…

From the music desk: An open letter to the class of 2019

Originally published in print on September 15th, 2015. In the age of streaming and the collapse of copyright, finding music is not hard, but discovery remains a challenge. Too often we start our search knowing exactly what we’re looking for, and once we reach our destination, we stall. There are two ways to find music,…
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