David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle
"It's taken a long time for the Bay Area's Talbot Players and producer Steve Talbot to get the new music documentary series "Sound Tracks" on the air, but as the show's Friday premiere shows, it was well worth the wait."
"... Hosted by Public Radio International's Marco Werman, Friday's show begins with a fascinating profile of Julie Fowlis ... Just hearing her exquisite voice communicates worlds of heart and Scottish soul. And even if you don't know the meaning of the lyrics, the words themselves are like the finest musical poetry."
"Closer to home, "Sound Tracks" gives us a revealing profile of a very well-known figure in American jazz and classical music, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis ... it's the mark of a thoughtful and probing documentary that can take a familiar figure like Marsalis and make us feel as though we are learning new things about him. "Sound Tracks" does that, by focusing on his passion for jazz education as a necessary tool for ensuring the future of the genre."
Press on Pilot Episode
David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle
"...the often fascinating PBS pilot, Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders, premiers Monday...What makes it special is that it moves beyond the obvious observation that our musical world is growing smaller to the realization that opening ears to new sound can also open minds to greater cross-cultural understanding."
"The show...seems to pay stylistic homage to some great TV magazines of the past and present, notably "Omnibus" in the '50s, and the continuing "CBS News Sunday Morning"...The secret to the success of those two shows and perhaps to the success of Sound Tracks, if it continues as it deserves to, is simple: Find a good story, and tell it well."
Chloe Veltman, New York Times
"The Talbot Players' Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders series...tell[s] engrossing tales by focusing on key characters."
"The tried-and-true storytelling formulas clearly work. The Sound Tracks documentary comprises three distinct and fascinating narratives about the intersection of music, travel and politics. The segments provide fresh angles on relatively well-known subjects by offering miniature character studies."
"Sound Tracks makes a virtue of its three-part structure; the individual narratives come together cumulatively to make its resounding overall point: music is a powerful agent of community building and social change."
Ellen Cushing, East Bay Express (Oakland, CA.)
"Call it 60 Minutes for the MTV generation: A new Bay Area-produced show is putting a captivating new spin on music television and, in the process, just may succeed in revitalizing PBS."
"It's an intriguing premise, and almost unerringly well executed by a cast and crew of veteran journalists and self-described music fanatics."
"What's great about Sound Tracks is the fluidity with which performance and storytelling are integrated and the deftness with which they are balanced."
"And even if it can't exactly turn the entire YouTube generation on to the same channel that broadcasts Masterpiece Theater, the format and tone of Sound Tracks — down to the appealingly young and diverse set of reporters and the title sequence, set to music by none other than Vampire Weekend — certainly has the potential to bridge the gap between boomers and their children."
Roger Catlin, Hartford Courant
"A new series we can get behind, Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders surveys the wealth of contemporary world music. Produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting and hosted by Marco Werman of Public Radio International's "The World," it travels the globe to report on musical high points."
Nancy Keefe Rhodes, Syracuse City Eagle
"Unusually well-made and combining astute cultural and political analysis with some terrific world music, the arrival next week of PBS' music magazine Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders is good news indeed."
"The editing, semi-animated graphic design that bridges segments, music themes and sound design are all crisp, graceful and bright. But beyond that, Sound Tracks asks in each of its segments questions about music's purpose — and art's — that go well beyond the insular assumption of mere entertainment. How delightful that Sounds Tracks also manages to provide such first-rate entertainment."
Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
"Tonight PBS airs a pilot for a new music-oriented program called Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders. The hour-long show is hosted by Marco Werman, a longtime fixture both as a producer and an anchor on the Public Radio International show The World. I've seen the first episode already, and while it isn't perfect, it sure would be nice to have a TV program about music with a range broader than the Sundance Channel series hosted by Elvis Costello.
"The variety of subjects is impressive, but none of the features digs very deep."
"My quibbles aside, the show has real promise, and if it racks up good viewership numbers tonight it will likely be rewarded with a proper run—which ought to provide time enough for its producers to work out the kinks."
"If you unfortunately found yourself like me and was too tired from the daily grind to tune into PBS' special on Fela Kuti "Black President" from their Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders series this past Monday, then you're in luck. Although the video below is just a teaser, the full episode can be viewed here. It's an interesting one, especially since it also focuses on Fela's youngest son Seun Kuti who is carrying his father's musical legacy. The documentary also shows the birthplace of Afrobeat, the Kalakuta Republic...Get your revolutionary spirit on and immerse yourself in some Afrobeat below to shake the winter chill away."