Artist Spotlight, Jazz, MBE Archive, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Wayne Shorter: A Love for the Abstract, the Mystical

Posted July 27, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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I listened again to Miles Davis‘s album Nefertiti the other day. Like Davis’s album Water Babies, all the compositions were by saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Tracks like “Fall” are ambiguous and strange; does the title refer to the fall of man or just the season? Will we ever know?
Wayne Shorter wrote amazing compositions, which is probably why an artist as egotistical and controlling as Miles Davis let …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Music History »

Miles Davis Wouldn’t Have Envied Sly Stone Later On

Posted July 25, 2016 by | 1 Comment
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Miles Davis once groused that in big Bill Graham-type rock shows in the late 60′s and early 70′s, that he was only making $10k per appearance and not the $50k that Sly and the Family Stone were getting. Davis also once said that Sly Stone “was my only peer.” This was during the Betty Mabry days when Miles was making funk/pop records, to the …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Music History »

Morton Gould and John Coltrane

Posted July 18, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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Mosaic Records is a company that produces amazing box set reissues under the watchful eye of jazz curator and “spelunker” Michael Cuscuna, who goes deep into the record company jazz vaults to recover buried treasures and share them with other jazz fans. Thanks to a tip on Mosaic’s blog, I learned the origins of a seminal John Coltrane recording, one that started me on a jazz …

Artist Spotlight, Music History, world music »

For Victor Jara, Chile’s Nueva Cancion Martyr, Justice Might Finally Come

Posted July 6, 2016 by | 0 Comments
By Rec79 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8702009

I have followed the nueva canción (new song) movement for a long time. It championed human rights and freedom against the backdrop of dictators and police brutality in Argentina and Chile in the 1970′s. Mercedes Sosa was exiled to Spain after being threatened by the Argentine junta with death. Sosa gave us immortal anthems like “Soy Paz, Soy Pan, Soy Más” and the great …

Artist Spotlight, Asia, RIP, world music »

Amjad Sabri, Qawwali Great, RIP

Posted June 29, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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I am saddened by the murder of Amjad Sabri, who was part of the Sabri Brothers qawwali family in Pakistan. Qawwals are singers and performers of qawwali music (the word ‘qawwali’ means ‘utterance’ in Urdu), sufi devotional music by a mystical sect of Islam. The band was founded in 1958 by the late Ghulam Farid Sabri, whose periodic repeat use of “Allah” during songs was …

Artist Spotlight, music phenomena, Performances & Events »

Ludovico Einaudi & Greenpeace Team Up for Arctic Concert: Amazing!

Posted June 27, 2016 by | 1 Comment
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I’ve been a fan of composer/pianist Ludovico Einaudi ever since I first heard his stunning album Divenire in 2008.  Actually, I liked his kora-piano duet album Diario Mali with kora player Ballaké Sissoko, which came out before that in 2006. He is a big star now, with fans around the world, and is busy scoring movie soundtracks and commercials as well.
Einaudi comes from a prominent Italian family. His …

Artist Spotlight, Interviews, Jazz, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Artists You Should Know: Drummer Tony Williams

Posted June 22, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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Drummer Tony Williams (1945-1997) isn’t exactly a household name; probably only jazz fans of Miles Davis‘s quintet from the 1960′s know about him. He joined Miles’s group at the age of 16, and Miles always held him in high esteem. So did Herbie Hancock, who learned a lot from him. In his autobiography, Possibilities, Herbie praised Tony Williams for his musical inventiveness, openness, and curiosity about all forms …

Artist Spotlight, Classical, French, Music History »

Hector Berlioz: Fame Started with Defenestration

Posted June 20, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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I recently saw a bottle of red wine with the name “Fenestra.” It made me think of one of Russian musicologist/lexicographer Nicolas Slonimsky’s favorite oddball words, “defenestrate,” which means to jump out of or throw something or someone out of a window. “Fenestra” is Italian for window; in French it’s “fenêtre.” (The English word “window” has a Norse origin).  According to Wikipedia:  the term was coined around …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #163: The Soprano Sax – Unpopular Instrument Brought to Greatness by 3 Jazz Titans

Posted June 17, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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The soprano saxophone, unlike the clarinet or tenor sax, was never popular in jazz until Sidney Bechet, who was the first jazz musician to use it exclusively. A contemporary of Louis Armstrong and like Satchmo a New Orleans native, Bechet moved to Paris and became a famous exile. He recorded, among other things, the first instrumental cover of Gershwin’s classic “Summertime.”
The soprano sax …

Artist Spotlight, Latin, Recollections & Rediscoveries, world music »

How a Teenage Astor Piazzolla Escaped the Tragic Fate of Tango Giant Carlos Gardel, and So Tango Was Saved, Too

Posted June 15, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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When I was working on my second book, Rhythm Planet: The Great World Music Makers (Rizzoli, 1998) and started to listen to my interview with tango giant Astor Piazzolla, I thought I was going to have to translate it from the Spanish. To my surprise, he spoke in perfect, unaccented American English. I then recalled that Piazzolla spent his first ten or so years …

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