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Bill Murray releasing a classical album & performing at Carnegie Hall

Bill Murray

Bill Murray is no stranger to musical performance. For example, he released a collaborative Christmas song with Phoenix, he sings Dylan in the film St. Vincent, and he once sang at a bar with Emma Stone (which Sharon Van Etten happened to witness), among other stuff.

On October 16, Bill Murray will appear at Carnegie Hall with cellist Jan Vogler to perform their new project, “New Worlds.” It has Bill singing Stephen Foster’s “Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair” and songs from West Side Story plus reading Whitman, Hemingway, and Twain. Last week, they rehearsed at a Manhattan studio and The New York Times was on the scene:

“Watch this.”

Bill Murray stepped back from the microphone and closed his eyes in bliss, as his pianist and violinist began a bluesy melody. Then he began singing, in a brassy growl, “It aaaaain’t necessarily so …”

Yes, it was that Bill Murray, the actor and comedian. And yes, he was singing Gershwin with classical accompanists, as part of a rehearsal and recording session in a Manhattan studio last week for his latest unexpected project: “New Worlds,” a program of songs and literary readings paired with chamber music led by the cellist Jan Vogler.

Sofia Coppola, who worked with Bill Murray on Lost In Translation and his 2015 Christmas special on Netflix, was at the rehearsal, and she told The Times: “This is very unexpected. But because it’s Bill, I’m not surprised. He is always surprising. That’s what’s fun about him.”

Talking about Jan Vogler and his band (which includes Vogler’s wife Mira Wang on violin and Vanessa Perez on piano), Bill Murray told The Times, ““When they start playing, the demand is so great that if you are attending to who you are right now, it brings out something that you couldn’t have visualized or planned for. You hear all those other voices saying, ‘That didn’t sound like Tony Bennett,’ or, ‘That B flat’s not going to break a light bulb.’ But they’re receding. They’re gone.”

Tickets for the Carnegie Hall show are on sale now.

The project is also set to be recorded and released as an album in August. Bill and Jan also have performances planed for Wolfsburg, Germany (June 2); Dresden Music Festival, Germany (June 4); Festival Napa Valley, CA (July 20); Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara, CA (October 6); McCallum Theatre, Palm Desert, CA (October 7); Christopher Cohan Center, San Luis Obispo, CA (October 8); Chicago Symphony Center (October 10); and The Royal Conservatory, Koerner Hall, Toronto (October 13).

Bill Murray also has a collaborative 7″ with Paul Shaffer & the World’s Most Dangerous Band coming out on Record Store Day, which is this Saturday (4/22). It’s a single for “Happy Street,” the Bill Murray collaboration on Paul Shaffer & the World’s Most Dangerous Band’s new guest-filled self-titled album. Other guests include Jenny Lewis, Shaggy, and Darius Rucker.

Paul Shaffer & the World’s Most Dangerous Band also have upcoming shows with a “surprise guest vocalist.” They play Montclair, NJ’s Wellmont Theatre on Friday (4/21) and Long Island’s NYCB Theatre at Westbury on Saturday (4/22) (tickets). All tour dates are listed below.

Here’s a preview of “New Worlds”:

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Paul Shaffer & the World’s Most Dangerous Band with guest vocalist — 2017 Tour Dates
APRIL
21 The Wellmont Theater Montclair, NJ
22 Theater At Westbury Westbury, NY

MAY

3 Centrepoint Theatre Ottawa, ONT
4 Wilbur Theater Boston, MA
6 Ridgefield Playhouse Ridgefield, CT

JUNE

9 Ryman Theater Nashville, TN
10 Seminole Casino Immokalle, FL
11 Cobb Energy PAC Atlanta, GA
29 Kresge Auditorium Interlochen, MI
30 Arcada Theater St. Charles, IL

JULY

1 Ames Center Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

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