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 …

Artist Spotlight, brazilian music, Classical, music phenomena »

The Saudade of Frederic Chopin, Alexander Scriabin, and Baden Powell

Posted June 13, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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I find it interesting when other languages have words denoting or describing things that the English language has no equivalent for. Saudade is a Portuguese-language word difficult to translate adequately, one which describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which is lost. It may have come from the Portuguese musical form of fado; that word …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Latin, Music History, music phenomena »

How Dizzy Gillespie and U.S. V.P. Dan Quayle’s Business Card Saved A Great Cuban Trumpeter

Posted June 6, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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It’s not easy to be a jazz musician – or anything but a classical musician - in Cuba.  It’s like the former Soviet Union, where jazz was forbidden and banned. Stalin sent Russia’s Louis Armstrong, Eddie Rosner, to the gulag (Soviet jazz fans called Satchmo the American Eddie Rosner). It’s hard enough to even get a decent instrument if you’re a young Cuban musician; and since you have …

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 …

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