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Show #187: Cuban Classics–A Personal Selection Part 1

Posted December 2, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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With Fidel’s passing I wanted to play some Cuban music I really love. This is a personal selection, and if you’re wondering why there’s no Buena Vista Social Club, Cachao, or Gloria Estefan, we’ll have a sequel next week with more sizzling Cuban music.
We start with a Coca-Cola commercial from 1952. The beverage giant was a player on Cuban soil back …

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Cuban Music: Wonderful but Complicated by Politics!

Posted November 30, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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Cuba is such a musical country, and it’s hard to find a Havana street that doesn’t have music coming out of a storefront. The rich brew of Cuban music consists of African rhythms, Spanish décima poetry that dates back to the 16th century, American jazz, plus other ingredients that together provide synergy, power, and flavor. The many styles of Cuban music include mambo, timba, bolero, guaracha, rumba, contradanza, trova, classical, danzón, son …

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The Musical Elixir of Singer and Oud Diviner Dhafer Youssef

Posted November 28, 2016 by | 1 Comment
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I first heard Tunisian singer and oud virtuoso Dhafer Youssef’s music on his 2010 release, Abu Nawas Rhapsody. It spurred me to buy an earlier record, Divine Shadows (2006), on which he works with a string quartet. Youssef’s vocal training is evident on both albums—his impressive voice has religious power, similar to that of great gospel singers, Pakistani sufi singers (think qawwali singer Nusrat …

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Show #186: In the Thanksgiving Spirit — Music from Hawai’i and Cape Verde

Posted November 25, 2016 by | 2 Comments
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I just returned from an idyllic vacation in Hawai’i—down on the Gold Coast of Oahu near Diamond Head—and felt the spirit of aloha in my heart and soul. Aloha means many wonderful things, all of them good:  kindness, compassion, affection, farewell, greetings, grace, hello and goodbye. No wonder that in surveys of happiness, Hawaiians often say they’re the “most contented with …

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Artists You Should Know: Zsofia Boros

Posted November 23, 2016 by | 1 Comment
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I have been completely smitten by the young guitarist Zsófia Boros. On the Hungarian guitarist’s 2013 ECM album, En Otra Parte (Elsewhere), she celebrates the music of Cuban, Brazilian, and Argentine composers. Her subtle touch on the acoustic guitar seduces the listener. The guitar, already a very personal instrument, never sounded so intimate or beautiful. She plays with a quiet passion and clearly loves the music she chooses. …

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Jazz Musicians the Beat Poets and French Existentialists Loved

Posted November 21, 2016 by | 3 Comments
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When the word “beat” is used in the context of the arts, it’s usually in reference to the Beat Generation writers: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, and William S. Burroughs are the most well-known. Michael McClure won fame for writing the poem “Mercedes Benz” that Janis Joplin popularized, Gary Snyder was a forest ranger who wrote while stationed in treetops, …

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Show #185: Remembering Mose Allison and Claus Ogerman

Posted November 18, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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Two musical giants have passed: Mose Allison and Claus Ogerman. Actually, Ogerman shuffled off this mortal coil eight months ago, but nobody knew it because the family kept it a secret. Old Man Mose died on Monday, November 15, 2016, at the age of 89.
Mose Allison (1927-2016)
Mose Allison was one-of-a-kind, to put it mildly. Growing up in the backwoods town of Tippo, Mississippi, he would …

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Paul Desmond: That Dry Martini Sound

Posted November 16, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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Paul Desmond, an alto saxophonist, once said he tried to sound like a dry martini. He succeeded in that. Many people know jazz pianist Dave Brubeck‘s work, especially the famous 1959 Columbia session, Time Out. Fewer know that the most famous song on that million-selling album, “Take Five,” was written by Desmond. Desmond balanced the heavy-handed chords of Brubeck with a light, airy sound that was …

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Show #184: Past and Present Voices

Posted November 11, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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This week’s playlist is just a crazy mix of songs from past and present that I love. Jumping right in, we start with a 1980’s U.K. group called The Flying Lizards, from an album of cover songs and their stiff-upper-lip version of James Brown’s “Sex Machine.” A Lebanese cover of Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s “Somethin’ Stupid” follows. Then we’ll hear a cut by …

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Tchaikovsky’s Powerful Sixth Symphony Gets Great New Reading

Posted November 9, 2016 by | 1 Comment
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I’ve been listening to a new recording of Tchaikovsky’s last symphony, the Sixth–named the Pathétique–paired with the romantic masterpiece Romeo & Juliet. It is a wonderful recording, with Russian conductor Semyon Bychkov leading the Czech Philharmonic on the Decca Classics label, which is famous for the quality of their recorded sound. This is the first volume of “The Tchaikovsky Project” recording cycle that will eventually cover all of the …

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