KWIT

NPR Staff

A band from the fertile Latin alternative scene in Los Angeles is poised to break out in a big way. Their sound is laid-back lounge grooves, R&B with flavors from Mexico or Brazil and a funky swagger. Their look is matching puffy tuxedo shirts and bow ties, like they're playing a prom in 1976. Even their name is unforgettable: Chicano Batman.

The band Tennis has again taken to the high seas.

Shelby Earl's new album, The Man Who Made Himself A Name, features a song called "Strong Swimmer." She says it started out as a song about herself getting over a relationship — but became more about her stepmother, who had just suffered a brain injury.

Nora McInerny is tired of small talk. "I don't want small talk ..." she says on her podcast. "I want the big talk."

McInerny's show is called Terrible, Thanks for Asking, and she begins each interview with the same question: How are you? The responses she gets go way beyond the typical "I'm fine."

McInerny deals with death, loss and coming through trauma. But her approach to these tough subjects is saturated with love and humor.

It's become an annual tradition for NPR to host a live band in our studios for a full day. This year, we upped the ante and invited around 70 musicians from Washington, D.C.'s National Symphony Orchestra to play the musical interludes between stories on All Things Considered.

It's been five years since the death of Trayvon Martin — and the outrage that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.

Martin — 17 years old, black and unarmed — was shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla.

Jonathan Rado and Sam France were in eighth grade when they first met and began making music together. Their tastes were simple at first — straight-ahead rock songs banged out on drums and guitars in a garage. But a dramatic shift happened when they decided to take a less linear approach to recording their work.

"I got really into buying cheap, cheap instruments on eBay — lots of xylophones and melodicas and kind of useless junk — and that was kind of everywhere," Rado says. "We'd just kind of play for like 30 minutes, and then chop the best bits down to a three-minute song."

Bill Evans was a genius: The jazz world, which can be roiled by factions and jealousies, usually agrees on that. He was a composer and pianist with a light, lyrical touch that was once described as what you might hear at the gates of heaven. But like many geniuses, Evans died too young — in 1980, at the age of just 51, after years of cocaine and heroin addiction.

A new documentary by filmmaker Bruce Spiegel helps capture that genius with interviews of musicians, family members, and archival footage of Bill Evans himself.

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