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Hip Hop In Mongolia

Posted July 20, 2014 by | 0 Comments
mongolian rap

I was doing full-time radio when hip hop started gaining popularity with artists like Grandmaster Flash, Kool Moe Dee, Run DMC, and the Sugar Hill Gang. Major labels were initially reluctant to issue the music, but you could find it on smaller labels. Now, of course, hip hop is a main stream American genre and has been dominating American music award shows in past years.
Hip …

Artist Spotlight, Literature, Music Evolution, Music History, New Releases »

Verve: The Sound of America

Posted June 4, 2014 by | 2 Comments

I thought I knew Norman Granz and his successive record labels Clef, Norgran, Verve, and Pablo pretty well. I’ve had records on these labels in my collection for years. Granz founded Verve Records in 1956, a time of change not only in music but in domestic politics and race relations as well.
Like Francis Wolf and Alfred Lion (Blue Note’s founders from Germany), Phil and …

Featured, Music Evolution, RIP »

RIP: Juan Formell and Dennis Kamakahi

Posted May 12, 2014 by | 0 Comments
juan formell

Two more musical giants have passed. Dennis Kamakahi, called the “Ambassador of Aloha”, died from lung cancer at 61. He was part and parcel of the Hawaiian renaissance that began in the 1970s, when cultural traditions were saved from extinction and celebrated again. He was a master of the slack key guitar; the guitar was brought to Hawai’i in the 1800s by Mexican cowboys, …

Audiophiles, Featured, Music Evolution, Music Phenomena »

CDs and Vinyl: An Odd Pas de Deux

Posted May 7, 2014 by | 1 Comment

When CDs started coming out in the early 1980s, they promised everything: cleaner sound, no surface noise, easier to use, more convenient. Early CDs also enabled record companies to resell their existing catalog, at higher prices of course, and sell the hardware to play it. Some of the early recordings eliminated the tape hiss inherent in analog recordings, ruining the upper octaves, harmonics, and …

Featured, Music Evolution, Music History, RIP »

RIP: Frankie Knuckles, Godfather of House Music

Posted April 2, 2014 by | 2 Comments

The world of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) was shocked to learn today of Frankie Knuckles‘ death at just 59 years of age of complications from diabetes.
Knuckles moved from New York and started deejaying in the late 1970s in Chicago. His influence has been enormous and spread worldwide. Electronic Dance Music superstars like Daft Punk, Paul Oakenfold, the Dutch duo Kraak and Smaak, DJ Cam, …

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Tango Queer in Buenos Aires

Posted October 28, 2013 by | 0 Comments

An article appeared in the LA Times about Tango Queer, a gay tango club in Buenos Aires. The above photo taken from the article depicts men dancing with male partners and women dancing with their inamoratas as well. It’s nice to see gender roles breaking down anywhere and in this club event, couples enjoy the most passionate of dances.
Tango started in the late 19th …

Featured, Headline, Music Evolution, Music History, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Blues DNA: From West Africa to America

Posted October 18, 2013 by | 0 Comments

As American as the blues is, its DNA takes us back to Africa. To Mali, Mauretania, Senegal, Niger, and other countries in what is known as the Sahel, the region of Africa between tropical Africa (Congo, Cameroun) and North Africa. Unfortunately, it was the through the slave trade that the musical and cultural influence spread.
Brazil, which got more Africans than the U.S., got most …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Music Evolution, Music History »

Wu Man’s Smashed Pipa

Posted October 16, 2013 by | 0 Comments

I hold the view that world music musicians are great when they take a regional music and expand it so that it becomes internationally known, even concert music. Ravi Shankar did that with Indian raga. Segovia with Spanish guitar. Astor Piazzolla with tango. Chinese virtuoso Wu Man is doing that with the pipa, the elegant Chinese lute whose history goes back thousands of years. …

Featured, Headline, Music Evolution, Music History, New Releases »

Gypsy Voices: Music of Passion, Resilience & Joy

Posted October 11, 2013 by | 0 Comments

My friend Donald Cohen has written a new book about Gypsy Music called Gypsy Voices: Songs from the Romani Soul. It is his third book about music; his earlier books include Fado Português: Songs from the Soul of Portugal and Tango Voices: Songs from the Soul of Buenos Aires and Beyond.
Like the earlier volumes, Gypsy Voices is filled with wonderful photographs, commentary on all …

Featured, Music Evolution, Music History, Music Phenomena, New Releases »

Two Great New Jazz Books from Taschen

Posted August 26, 2013 by | 0 Comments

Two wonderful books have just been published by Taschen, known for its beautiful coffee table productions.
The first, Jazz Life, chronicles a three month trip in 1960 across America by German jazz journalist and record producer Joachim Berendt and photographer William Claxton. Berendt wanted to experience jazz and American culture first hand and Claxton set up the tour, from New York City, through the South, and …

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