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

The Musician’s Magical Touch

Posted March 25, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Elvin Jones

I once interviewed Elvin Jones (b. 1927–2004), the legendary powerhouse drummer who fueled the great John Coltrane Quartet with his incredibly complex polyrhythms, on Morning Becomes Eclectic back in the mid-1980s. I often wondered how he pulled it altogether, but he did. Elvin was a massive guy with a fierce look, who went only by his first name: Elvin—it was all he needed. At the end of our interview, I tried …

Art, Literature & Film, Artist Spotlight, Blues, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Sister Rosetta Tharpe: May You Never Be Forgotten

Posted March 23, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Sister Rosetta - Steamin' & Dreamin'

Sister Rosetta Tharpe making her grand entrance before performing “Didn’t It Rain” in Manchester, England, in 1964.
Spring is officially sprung, and my fellow journalist/music critic, Steve Hochman, reminded me that March 20 would have marked the centennial of the late Sister Rosetta Tharpe (b. 1915–1973). Born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, her parents were cotton pickers by day. Her mother was a singer, mandolin player, and an evangelist preacher, who …

African, Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Music History, Performances & Events »

“The Voice” of South African Freedom

Posted March 16, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Hugh Masekela & Vusi Mahlasela

This past weekend, a South African triple header graced the LA stage in a sold-out performance: trumpeter Hugh Masekela, Sotho singer-songwriter Vusi Mahlasela, and the all-male chorus, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Together, they’ve been on the road since last year, touring 20 Years of South African Freedom, which culminated in one final, spectacular celebration of ‘freedom, justice, and harmony’ at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Each of the three are musical …

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

Show #98: Black is the Color: Unusual Song, Interesting History

Posted March 13, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Rhiannon Giddens

Singer Rhiannon Giddens, a member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a group specializing in old-timey music, just released her first solo album. On it is her amended cover of a well-known classic that goes way back in time, “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair.” Giddens new version is uptempo, feel-good, and infectious. Her solo debut is auspicious; she is a fabulous singer with a …

Art, Literature & Film, Artist Spotlight, Classical, Music History »

Jan Swafford’s Essential Beethoven Biography

Posted March 9, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Jan Swafford

“What Beethoven wanted from pianos, as he wanted from everything, was more: more robust build, more fullness of sound, a bigger range of volume, a wider range of notes. As soon as new notes were added to either end of the keyboard, he used them, making them necessary to anyone wanting to play his work. From early on, piano makers asked for Beethoven’s opinion, and they …

Artist Spotlight, Asia, Middle East, Music History, Performances & Events, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #97: Ghazal Ensemble Brings Indo-Persian Fusion to SoCal—Mar15 & 17

Posted March 6, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Kahlor & Khan

With Nowruz just around the corner, The Skirball Cultural Center and the Irvine Barclay Theatre will celebrate the Persian New Year with two very special concerts by the Grammy-nominated Ghazal Ensemble on March 15 and 17. Kamancheh (traditional Iranian fiddle) player Kayhan Kahlor and sitarist, Shujaat Hussain Khan, reunite to perform their dazzling blend of classical Persian and Indian music traditions and debut new works, joined this time by Sandeep Das on tabla.
The Ghazal Ensemble take their name from the ancient, pre-Islamic …

Art, Literature & Film, Artist Spotlight, Classical, Music History »

Reflections on Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”

Posted March 4, 2015 by | 0 Comments
op. 27, 2 - Cappi, 879

A wonderful box set of all 32 of Beethoven’s Complete Piano Sonatas, performed by the veteran Italian virtuoso, Maurizio Pollini, has been issued on Deutsche Grammophon/ Universal Classics. His version of the Piano Sonata No. 14 in C# minor, Op. 26, more commonly referred to as the “Moonlight Sonata,” is nothing short of spectacular.
Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” has long been my favorite of all his piano sonatas. While …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Music History »

Mike Ledonne & the Hammond B-3 Organ

Posted March 2, 2015 by | 1 Comment
Michael LeDonne

The Hammond B-3 organ, with its Leslie speaker, is an odd beast, usually associated with the deep dish soul jazz of Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, Shirley Scott, Don Patterson, Johnny ‘Hammond’ Smith, and Freddie Roach. The B-3 was also common along what some once called ‘the chitlin circuit,’ and is still popular today with gospel music and church functions. Jimmy Smith was the most …

African, Artist Spotlight, French, Latin, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #96: Dance to the World Beat of DJ ‘Selecta’ Tom Schnabel

Posted February 27, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Ghanaian Dance

I would never claim to be a beat-matcher with a big Traktor controller rig. Rather, I’m an old school selector, deeply ensconced in old school vinyl, rare CDs, and classic 12″ sides. But I am also always on the lookout for new stuff, and that includes dance sides.
So what is a selector or, colloquially, a ‘selecta’? It’s a reggae dancehall term referring to the person who selects the …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Music History, RIP »

How Jazz Trumpeter Clark Terry Kept On

Posted February 25, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Clark Terry

My first introduction to the musical genius of Clark Terry happened back in 1964 during a surfing trip to Oahu. I was 16 at the time. I had purchased the Oscar Peterson Trio + One LP at a record shop in the Ala Moana shopping center. The album featured jazz trumpeter Clark Terry doing a funny song called, “Mumbles,” which sounded exactly like the title implies: Terry mumbling—rather, scat singing …

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