Artist Spotlight »

Clarice Lispector & Caetano Veloso

Posted August 3, 2015 by | 2 Comments
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There is a new book of complete stories by Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector  (1920–1977) that was recently featured in the New York Times Book Review. Most people don’t know about her, though they might have heard a song by Caetano Veloso called “Clarice.”    
At first I thought maybe this song was about Lispector;  as it turns out, however, Clarice is a common name and that there are many …

African, Artist Spotlight, Performances & Events »

Bassekou Kouyati & Ngoni Ba Come to the Skirball Cultural Center—Thursday, July 30

Posted July 29, 2015 by | 4 Comments
Bassekou & Ngoni Ba

Bassekou Kouyaté and Ngoni Ba is authentic traditional Malian music at its best. Continuing a dynastic line of griot musicians, this exceptional family group has performed together for decades. This Thursday, July 30, the Skirball Cultural Center brings these artists to Los Angeles as part of their summer Sunset Concert series, which you won’t want to miss.
This group is one of my favorite bands from a stable of incredible …

Artist Spotlight, Interviews, New Releases, Performances & Events, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Me

Posted July 27, 2015 by | 2 Comments
Nusrat Forever

I first discovered Pakistani sufi maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in 1982 on one of Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD (World of Music and Dance) Festival benefit collection LPs, titled Music and Rhythm. It was the beginning of a 1980s phenomenon that would come to be known popularly as world music, right around the same time that King Sunny Ade would gain fame outside of Nigeria.
The most arresting track on the …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Music History »

Satchmo, Nixon and the Hidden Stash

Posted July 22, 2015 by | 2 Comments
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Some of you Rhythm Planet fans may recall my previous about Richard Nixon as an unwitting ‘mule’ for Louis Armstrong’s hidden stash, but I’ve just unearthed yet another version of this funny bit of jazz history that I just had to share.
By now, there are probably as many versions of this story—it’s too good to be apocryphal—as there are versions of the New Testament books in the …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz »

3 Jazz Pianists Who Deserve MacArthur Awards (While They’re Still Here)

Posted July 20, 2015 by | 0 Comments
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Over the years, I have seen many jazz musicians receive the coveted $625,000 MacArthur “Genius” Awards. Some recipients I wondered about, quite frankly; others, like pianists Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman, as well as the late saxophonist Steve Lacy, I was delighted to see win.
There are three great pianists on the scene whom I feel have demonstrated a lifetime of jazz excellence and innovation. Each artist …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, New Releases »

Tokyo Adagio: Charlie Haden & Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Posted July 15, 2015 by | 1 Comment
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This is music that comes straight from the heart. Two outstanding musicians who genuinely loved and respected one another, performing before a quiet, rapt audience in the intimate setting of the Blue Note Tokyo club. It is music to savor like a fine meal accompanied by a fine wine.
Some duet albums I find to be thin, lacking the presence of a solid drummer to …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Music History, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #115: That Timeless Gil Evans Sound

Posted July 10, 2015 by | 0 Comments
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Just like Miles Davis, Gil Evans’s timeless arrangements charted the course of jazz during the 20th century, influencing big bands to bebop to cool and beyond.
Ian Ernest Gilmore (Gil) Evans was born May 13, 1912 in Toronto. His family moved to Stockton, California, during his youth, where he was raised until relocating to New York in his twenties. The early part of his career …

Artist Spotlight, Classical, Middle East »

The Otherworldly Voice of Soeur Marie Keyrouz

Posted July 6, 2015 by | 1 Comment
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You may remember a post I did awhile back on singing nuns. I featured the big 1963 hit “Dominique,” sung by Soeur Sourire or ‘The Singing Nun,’ and then the Sicilian nun-rocker, Sister Cristina Scuccia.
Now I’d like to spotlight a nun of another order: Soeur (or Sister) Marie Keyrouz, who has recorded numerous albums over the years with her Ensemble de la Paix (Ensemble of Peace). Based now …

African, Artist Spotlight »

Senegalese Thione Seck is in Trouble

Posted July 1, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Thione Seck

I am a big fan of Thione Seck, a Senegalese singer who has been famous in Africa and Europe for more than 20 years. He is less well-known than other Senegalese superstars like Youssou N’Dour and Baaba Maal, probably because he doesn’t often travel outside of Senegal. Like his more famous compatriot, Seck has that amazing, big griot voice and a number of wonderful albums, though …

Artist Spotlight, Interviews, Jazz, MBE Archive, New Releases, Performances & Events, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #113: Branford Marsalis Quartet’s Tribute to John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”

Posted June 26, 2015 by | 0 Comments
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If I had to name a few of the greatest instrumental jazz records of all time, several artists would come to mind: Louis Armstrong, Ahmad Jamal, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis would be at the top of my list.
John Coltrane and his album, A Love Supreme, was music of an even higher order. It distinguishes itself from the rest by being not only …

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