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What Are You Listening To?

Shannon Bentz
Shannon Bentz

From time to time All Things Considered sets out to learn what you're listening to -- music you've hunted down, music that haunts you, music that you can't stop thinking about. For this installment of the series, NPR's Steve Inskeep hears from Shannon Bentz, a biology lab coordinator in Tempe, Arizona.

Bentz picks three instrumental tracks from across the musical spectrum. His first choice is jazz trumpet player Maynard Ferguson's song "Coconut Champagne" from the album Live from San Francisco. Bentz admires Ferguson's unabashedly over-the-top sound -- what he calls "the biggest of big bands." On this song, his favorite part is a baritone sax solo by Denis DiBlasio, one of Bentz's musical heroes when he was in high school. Bentz and his brother (a trumpet player) used to entertain and annoy the neighborhood by playing this exuberant song over and over again.

A different mood can be found in Bentz's second choice, "Untitled Version 1" by Del Piero. The song appears at, a Web site for homemade electronica. Musicians (including Bentz) upload their songs for anyone to listen to and download. For Bentz, Del Piero's song operates as a kind of sonic area rug. It can transport him, but can also serve as a background soundtrack while he's working in the lab.

Finally, Bentz goes retro with Arthur Lyman's "Quiet Village" from The Very Best of Arthur Lyman. This track is pure kitsch in the Tiki realm; it features bird calls and vibraphone. Bentz says he really likes instrumental music best, because as a musician, he feels involved in it and can imagine himself playing along with the songs.

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Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.