Pick Six is a half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view.
Pamela Espeland, Minnpost.com columnist:
1 The Bad Plus for Christmas. The iconoclastic jazz trio has played a Christmas residency at the Dakota since 2000. Unable to bring the band there, club founder Lowell Pickett partnered with the Big Ears Festival to stream sets recorded earlier this year in Knoxville, Tenn.
2 Dan Tepfer's #BachUpsideDown. The New York pianist and composer is also a coder. He's written a computer program that records what he plays, then plays it back upside down. Here are the first 15 of Bach's Goldberg Variations, both ways: dantepfer.com/bachupsidedown.
3 Fred Hersch, "Songs From Home." With his calendar erased and his identity as a performing artist on hold, pianist/composer Hersch recorded an album at his home in Pennsylvania. Made in solitude, meant to be enjoyed in solitude, it's intimate, beautiful and comforting, a musical "Everything will be OK."
Jon Bream, Star Tribune critic:
1 Run the Jewels, "Walking in the Snow" video. To avoid the obvious story line about racial unrest, director Chris Hopewell creates an '80s fantasy vibe with Killer Mike and El-P as action figures who battle giant icy warriors. In the end, RTJ and associates triumph with the power of supersized hair dryers.
2 Nur-D discusses Kwanzaa on his Twitter feed. On @NurDRocks, the Twin Cities rapper has been sharing thoughts about this African American holiday, explaining the various principles, preaching unity, touting action and plugging his latest projects, "38th" and "Chicago Avenue," which could function as "The State of the City of Minneapolis" as we head into 2021.
3 Tyler Childers, "Long Violent History." The title track and finale on the Kentucky Americana hero's instrumental album is a fiddle/banjo tune that talks about protest, racism and violence. To appreciate his intent, check out Childers' spoken-word "liner note" before you listen to the song.