Artist Spotlight, Classical, Performances & Events »

Eric Whitacre, Choral Composer, Returns to LA

Posted May 25, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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Eric Whitacre writes choral music that would make anybody a believer, including those who think classical music is stuffy and overly formal. His music is levitational, rising and floating, transporting you into another dimension. When I opened the shrink wrap on his CD Cloudburst years ago, I initially thought, “Yawn, here comes another boring choir album.” A minute or two later, I was blown away. So much …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

John Coltrane’s Funeral Service – July 21, 1967

Posted May 18, 2016 by | 4 Comments
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My music teacher Joe Nazzaretta recently sent me John Coltrane’s funeral service program. I am still moved by anything having to do with this genius of modern music. I recall sitting in a Will Rogers State Beach lifeguard tower on July 17, 1967, when I heard the news of Coltrane’s death on the local jazz station, KBCA 105.1 FM. I didn’t even know he was sick with …

Artist Spotlight, Classical, New Releases, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #158: Music for Serenity and Dreaming

Posted May 13, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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This is a quiet show; it won’t rock your world or make you shake your booty. It would be good to accompany yoga, meditating, or reading a book though. Or maybe to listen to while taking a leisurely walk.
French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet has just come out with an Erik Satie box with all the eccentric French composer’s solo piano music. The gymnopedies are Satie’s most …

Artist Spotlight, Classical, New Releases »

The Big Brendel Box: Rich, Heavy, Stupefyingly Great

Posted May 2, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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I recently opened the biggest box set of music I’ve ever seen: Alfred Brendel:  The Complete Philips Recordings. It takes a bit of time to listen to all 114 CD’s (!), especially if you want to savor each one, which you should. The box is so heavy it also could probably be used for weightlifting in home gyms. But joking aside, we get the complete portrait of …

African, Artist Spotlight, Recollections & Rediscoveries, RIP »

My 1989 Interview with Papa Wemba

Posted April 27, 2016 by | 1 Comment
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As I wrote in a blog post earlier this week, Congolese rumba great Papa Wemba performed in L.A. a few times in the late 1980′s, first at the Executive Club and later as a star in an African musical at the Pantages Theater, in a show called Africa Oye. That’s where I caught him in 1989.
Africa Oye was extended into a two-week run, an …

African, Artist Spotlight, RIP »

Papa Wemba, Congolese Soukous Superstar and Sapeur RIP

Posted April 24, 2016 by | 2 Comments
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While most people are mourning the tragic death of Prince, I just found out that another great musician died earlier today. Congolese superstar Papa Wemba was performing onstage in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Saturday night when he collapsed. He was 66. It’s always sad to see one of your heroes die, and it’s even more poignant when they are younger than you.
I met Wemba (b. …

Artist Spotlight, Classical, Music History, New Releases, Recollections & Rediscoveries, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #155: Bach Cello Suites Celebrated by 8 Great Cellists

Posted April 22, 2016 by | 3 Comments
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This is kind of an experimental show. Bach wrote six beautiful suites for solo cello, and I want to showcase two of them through interpretations by eight different cellists. The cello is probably the closest instrument to the human voice in terms of range and pitch. The form even resembles a human body (think Man Ray’s 1924 photo of …

African, Artist Spotlight, Music History, music phenomena, Recollections & Rediscoveries, RIP, world music »

Malick Sidibe, the “Eye of Bamako”, 1936-2016 RIP

Posted April 18, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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Malick Sidibé, Malian photographer, has died at 80. Sidibé’s black and white photos captured the golden era of Malian music and culture during the 1960′s, a time of optimism, pride, pan-africanism, and joy. With the death of fellow Malian photographer Seydou Keita (1921-2001), Sidibé had been the only remaining photographic chronicler of a golden age.
Sidibé’s photos are full of post-independence joy. People came to his …

Artist Spotlight, Classical, French, Jazz, Latin, New Releases, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #154: New and Noteworthy Releases

Posted April 15, 2016 by | 2 Comments
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This show features some of my favorite new releases, starting off with that most-Cuban of all New York tropical latin outfits, Los Hacheros (The Hatchets). The vocalist reminds me of all that I loved about Ibrahim Ferrer, the late star vocalist with the Buena Vista Social Club. The new album is filled with that catchy, soulful, sabor cubano that …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Music History, New Releases »

Duke Ellington Celebrated in New Rizzoli Book

Posted April 13, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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April is Jazz Appreciation Month, Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake’s classic 1921 musical Shuffle Along is about to hit big on Broadway, so it’s only fitting that I praise a wonderful and timely new book about Duke Ellington. Duke Ellington: An American Composer and Icon, written by Mercedes Ellington and Steven Brower, a beautifully illustrated gem just published by Rizzoli.
There have been many books about the great jazz composer …

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