Murhaballadeja features a striking photo on the cover: Two beefy, big-jawed men with cruel eyes are in prison garb, shackled with heavy chains at the neck, wrists, knees and feet. Turns out they're legendary 19th century murderers from Finland. These are the kinds of characters you'll find in a collection of murder ballads from Kimmo Pohjonen.
The saxophonist Dayna Stephens, originally of the San Francisco Bay Area, has built up an impressive educational pedigree: Berkeley High, Berklee College of Music, the Thelonious Monk Institute's masters program. But he's really flourished by backing up greats like Kenny Barron and Idris Muhammad, and being a first-call player on both the East and West Coast. Blessed with a warm, enveloping tone, he's made two records as a bandleader, including this year's Today Is Tomorrow.
Pianist, composer and teacher Pete Malinverni is a multifaceted player known for his attention to melody and delicate phrasing. Spiritual influences radiate throughout his arrangement of "Deep River," and Malinverni and host Marian McPartland end a delightful hour as they join together in a performance of the Harold Arlen standard "Get Happy."
Pokey LaFarge and his backing band The South City Three make their first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Paramount Theater in the border town of Bristol, Tenn./Va., in partnership with the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance. Hailing from St. Louis, LaFarge mixes the sounds of a bygone era: early string-band music, ragtime, country blues and Western swing.