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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, …

Featured, Music Evolution »

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, Uncategorized »

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. …

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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 …

Featured, Music Evolution, Music History, Music Phenomena »

How to Warm Up a Frosty February Wedding in Moscow

Posted August 19, 2013 by | 0 Comments

This video of a late-February wedding in Moscow is circulating the internet. It’s a crowd of young, connected people, but what’s interesting is that the music is not the latest hip hop song by Kanye West or Jay Z, but an eight-decades old song which was penned in 1929 by a famous tin pan alley song by Irving Berlin. Berlin (Israel Isidore Baline) was …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Headline, Music Evolution, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Bands Influenced by Groovy Ethiopian Sounds

Posted June 7, 2013 by | 1 Comment

A few weeks ago Rhythm Planet did a feature on the colossal 28 volume Éthiopiques collection covering jazz and pop music from the 1970s and 1980s.  Now we look at some modern groups, both Ethiopian and Western, that have been inspired or smitten by the classics.
We start (and finish) with the Either/Orchestra, a big jazz band let by sax player Russ Gershon.  After that …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Music Evolution, Music History, Music Phenomena »

Lutoslawski’s Symphonies: Abstract Experience or Lugubrious Listening?

Posted June 6, 2013 by | 2 Comments

As I listen to a recent recording covering the symphonies of Polish composer Witold Ludoslawski (1913-1994), I am filled with foreboding.  The music is lugubrious and gloomy, dissonant and disturbing, perhaps a reflection of modern European history and the horrible politics of the last century.  Or maybe Polish history during WWII and the aftermath.  Lutoslawski’s writing has traces of Bartok’s eeriness in it, but–to …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Headline, Music Evolution, Music Phenomena, New Releases, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Reissued Rare Afro-Classic Grooves

Posted May 31, 2013 by | 0 Comments

I’ve been following African music for a long time, starting when I lived in Paris in the 1970s. I was music director of KCRW during the first big wave of African music, starting with Nigerian superstars King Sunny Ade and Fela Kuti in the early 80s. Since then, Americans following world music have gotten a good dose of African music, both on the radio, …

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