The pipa is one of the key instruments in Chinese music, with its origins tracing back over two-thousand years. One of the masters of the pipa instrument is Min Xiao-Fen, who is preparing the release of her new album "White Lotus" on June 25. She is joined on the album by guitarist Rez Abassi and it is the featured original score for the 1934 Chinese silent film "The Goddess." The twelve track album slowly re-introduces you to Min and the sounds of the pipa in the gentle picking of the opening track "Anicca." The speed that Min is able to strum the pipa is present in the next song "Bija," as her performance is supports by the subtle hint of acoustic guitar. Next, its Rez's turn to take the lead with the wonderful guitar work in "Champaka." The two experiment by stepping beyond the boundaries of the normal use of their instruments with the many different sounds of "Emaho." The pipa is once again featured on the magical sounding "Gassho," before Min Xiao-Fen wraps up the album with the blues of "Hatha," along with the energetic strumming of "Karuna" and the quiet, atmospheric touch of "Lotus." To find out more about Min Xiao-Fen and her latest release "White Lotus" featuring Rez Abassi on guitar, please visit minxiaofenbluepipa.org.
Next, lets travel back in time to 1960's, when peace, love, hope and change were in the air, with the latest release from vocalist Judy Wexler. On her new album "Back To The Garden," she takes some of the most well-known songs from that era and reimagines them for these modern times, when we can all use some hope, love and peace. The new ten song release begins with her rendition of The Youngbloods' anthem "Get Together," by adding a jazzy backdrop to the song, while her smooth, warming vocals makes you feel that everything will be alright. Next, she dives into the true meaning of "Up On The Roof," as she expresses every word for you to understand that there is always somewhere you can go to escape the pressures of the world. The energy picks up with her jazzy rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi," before reaching the first of two Bob Dylan tunes, a soft balladry version of "The Times They Are A-Changin'." Judy Collins' "Since You Asked" is the perfect match Judy's vocal style, while "Everybody's Talkin'" is a slow, swaying, laid-back rendition of the song. She finishes her new album with an uplifting version of Dylan's "Forever Young" and the gentle plea of "Who Knows Where The Time Goes." To find out more about Judy Wexler and her latest release "Back To The Garden," please visit judywexler.com.