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Show #47: The Bass

Posted April 11, 2014 by | 0 Comments
barre phillips

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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Karol Conka Hits São Paulo, Brazil

Posted April 7, 2014 by | 2 Comments

Karol Conka, né Karoline dos Santos Oliveria, is the leading exponent of a new Brazilian style, called, “Funk Ostentação”, also called, “Funk Paulista”, and “Funk of Ostentation”. Conka was born in Curitiba, Brazil in 1987. I just came across her music the other day. I didn’t know quite what to make of it.
I consulted with Robert Rogness, my go-to expert on all things Brazilian, …

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Show #46: The Hang

Posted April 4, 2014 by | 1 Comment

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

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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World Music Teaches You Everything

Posted March 26, 2014 by | 2 Comments
world music 5

I majored in Humanities as an undergraduate because it was broad-based and I could take many courses, from California Geography to Entomology to history, philosophy,  languages and literature. Later, I took an MA in Comparative Literature for similar reasons: I could read the great writers from around the world, learning from epistolary novels (novels of letters e.g. Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Goethe’s Sorrows of Young …

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Songs About March & Spring

Posted March 19, 2014 by | 2 Comments

We’re now in the middle of March with Spring–at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere–right around the corner.  The Vernal Equinox is tomorrow, 3/20.
Here are two songs about that, but each with a twist. The first is Antonio Carlos Jobim’s song Águas do Março, Waters of March. Jobim was learning English at the time of the writing in the early 1960s; …

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Hampton Hawes: Jazz Great Pardoned by JFK

Posted March 12, 2014 by | 0 Comments
everybody likes hampton hawes

 A few months ago, I read with interest a New York Times article a story about how a jazz pianist and a great American president’s lives coincided in a small bit of history. The article was called, The President of the Cool.
Hampton Hawes (1928-1977) was one of the great jazz pianists; fiercely independent, he learned everything, improvisation, technique, harmony, theory, music history, on his …

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Jennifer Grout Wows Judges On TV Show Arabs Got Talent

Posted March 10, 2014 by | 0 Comments
jennifer_grout 1

I was fascinated by this article a few months ago in the New York Times by Lindsay Crouse.
With Jennifer Grout, you get a 23 year old singer and oud player that is competing in the finals of the Arab version of Simon Cowell’s Britain’s Got Talent, called Arabs Got Talent. Grout sings classic Arabic songs by Oum Kalsoum, even though she doesn’t speak a …

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Arabic Twist On The Theme From Shaft

Posted March 5, 2014 by | 0 Comments
malik adouane

Years ago on PRI’s The World’s end-of-program feature called Global Hit, Marco Werman featured a tantalizing version of the Isaac Hayes classic, complete with the wah-wah pedal and drum riff that opens the song. This version was by an French artist of both Algerian and Celtic parentage named Malik Adouane. The version of the song I got was on an collection called Beur-FM, a …

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Don’t Miss Cirque de Soleil’s Totem

Posted March 3, 2014 by | 0 Comments

Cirque de Soleil’s new production, Totem, is here in LA just 2 more weeks until March 16th; the familiar blue and yellow big tops are just north of the Santa Monica Pier as usual.
The new production is has a grandiose conception: the history of humankind from beginning to present. As usual there is a rapid sequence of amazing acts, trapeese, rings, clowns, acrobatics, and …

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