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Show #47: The Bass

Posted April 11, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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I love basslines and good bass players, whether upright, Ampeg “baby basses” as used in tropical latin music, or electric basses used in most pop, blues, and rock music. In hip hop, basslines have given way to synth bass samples which you can hear a mile away. Musicians listen to the basslines when hearing a group.
The old joke goes like this, “A couple goes …

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Show #46: The Hang

Posted April 4, 2014 by | 1 Comment
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Some instruments when you see them don’t look like what you had thought. The steel pan from Trinidad and Tobago is one. The Jew’s harp is another. And then there is the hang.
It was invented a decade or so ago by a Swiss pair, Felix Rohner and Sabina Scharer in Bern. The hang is made of two pieces of metal, then tuned by heating …

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Show #45: The Kora, Africa’s Beautiful Harp Lute

Posted March 28, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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The 21-string kora is West Africa’s traditional harp lute. It is part of West African musical history in Senegal, Guinea, Mali, and other countries.  It is a beautiful hand-crafted instrument: a large gourd is fashioned, a round neck is added, and the gourd part is covered in goatskin and ornamented with patterned beadwork. Kora players typically wear the flowing robes that make up traditional …

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Show #44: John Coltrane’s Timeless Ballad

Posted March 21, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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John Coltrane recorded his classic ballad “Naima” on his 1959 album Giant Steps. He named the song after his first wife, Juanita Naima Grubbs (quite a combo of names). The song has been covered countless times; my recorded show features eight different versions.
It uses a variety of chords over a bass note, as well as a number of modes: dorian, mixolydian, phrygian, lydian, and …

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Rhythm Planet #43: New Releases

Posted March 14, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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This week Rhythm Planet features thirteen new releases, covering African, reggae, Brazilian, Moroccan, guitar maestros, and two great LA bands.
A bunch of good new album releases have been filling up my bag lately, so I want to give them some love and share them. I get sent a lot of music and screen new albums by auditioning them first. As the U.S. Marines slogan …

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Show #42: Short Geneology of the Tenor Saxophone

Posted March 7, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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On this week’s Rhythm Planet program, we focus on the modern evolution of that most jazzy of instruments, the tenor sax.

Years ago I saw an ad in Down Beat magazine for knit shirts of the Lacoste variety where you could have a logo of a musical instrument sewn on. I play flute, so first I chose a flute. But then I thought, ‘why do …

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Show #41: Carnival Celebrations

Posted February 28, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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Carnival is here again beginning this weekend and continuing until next Wednesday, which is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.
Although Carnival (Brazil spells it Carnaval) may seem like one big Bacchanalian orgy,  it has a religious origin: the Catholic church allowed this once-pagan ritual to precede Lent (the 40 days of abstinence, fasting, etc., that mirrored the 40 days Christ spent in the …

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Show #40: A Dozen Choice New Releases

Posted February 21, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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This week Rhythm Planet celebrates a dozen new albums from many places: Cuba, Brazil, Tuva, Mali, Brazil, and Haiti. Plus a couple of jazz albums and a retro album of Viper rag.
We begin with the new album from the Northern Mali tuareg group Tinariwen. Years ago they were mercenary soldiers riding the Sahara who gave up their guns for guitars and formed a band. …

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Show #39: The Dark Side Of Love

Posted February 14, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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Valentine’s Day is the last of the holidays that begin with Halloween: Turkey Day, Christmas, and now Valentine’s Day. “V-Day” is a mixed bag: a celebration of love (if you have it now) or a reminder of past conquests, failures, and mistakes. In the latter case, many will be happy to just see it go away for another year.
With this in mind, and after …

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Show #38: Women Poets Celebrated in Music

Posted February 7, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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Pictured above from left to right: Emily Bronte, Emily Dickinson, Sara Teasdale.
A recent album by Swiss singer Susanne Abbuehl has really captivated me. It features her musical settings of poetry by Victorian poets Emily Dickinson (U.S. 1830-1886), Emily Bronte (U.K. 1818-1848), and Sara Teasdale (U.S. 1884-1933).
These women wrote poetry that expressed strong but bridled passion: in spite of their living in an age of …

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