Audiophiles, Featured, music phenomena, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Am I a Music Dinosaur?

Posted September 26, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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When I walk down the CD and album-lined hallway at my home, I sometimes wonder if I’m like a dinosaur — a species about to go extinct. My record collecting habit started a long time ago in high school. I would go into town with my music and surfing buddies to record stores that carried jazz. Crane’s and Sam’s on Adams Boulevard were two …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Interviews, Jazz, MBE Archive, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Gil Scott-Heron: Speed Kills….Crack Enslaves

Posted September 12, 2016 by | 2 Comments
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My ears always perk up when I hear a Gil Scott-Heron song. His early poetry was so poignant, and his Flying Dutchman albums like Pieces of a Man are still so moving.
Gil Scott-Heron was already a published author with a master’s degree in creative writing when he started making records. He had a keen sense of history, both musical and generalized, which he alluded to …

African, Classical, Featured, Headline, Recollections & Rediscoveries, Rhythm Planet Music Show, world music »

Show #175: Timeless Gems – Tom’s Personal Selection Part 1

Posted September 9, 2016 by | 3 Comments
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Deejays are always sampling new releases, but occasionally, it’s great to go back to recordings that have withstood the test of time. This is the first in a short series of programs that does just that. I hope you enjoy this eclectic selection!
We begin with a song from Leon Thomas, a progenitor of what people now call “Spiritual Jazz.” Kamasi Washington is the current embodiment of …

Classical, Featured, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Thibaut de Navarre: The Mysteries and Wonders of Medieval Music

Posted September 5, 2016 by | 1 Comment
Initial A: David Playing the Psaltery, about 1460 - 1480, Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment. The J. Paul Getty Museum. Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.

The other day veteran music journalist Steve Hochman reminded me of a wonderful album of music by the French trouvère Thibaut de Navarre (1201-1253) on the Harmonia Mundi label. This 1979 album, featuring the classic Harmonia Mundi cover art and format, is one I used to spin during my Morning Becomes Eclectic days. It’s in the category known as “Early Music,” i.e. pre-Renaissance music that goes back to …

Artist Spotlight, Asia, Featured, Headline, Recollections & Rediscoveries, Rhythm Planet Music Show, world music »

Show #174: Qawwali Music: The Mystical, Peaceful Side of Islam

Posted September 2, 2016 by | 2 Comments
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I first heard the Sufi devotional music called qawwali around 1982 on a WOMAD (World of Music and Dance) album. WOMAD was Peter Gabriel’s world music label and brainchild. This was right about the time when a bunch of Brit record executives coined the term “world music” as a category for retail sales purposes. The five-minute excerpt I heard was powerful, enthralling. I was transfixed. …

Artist Spotlight, brazilian music, Featured, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Clementina de Jesus: A Legendary Brazilian Singer

Posted August 1, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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With the world’s attention focussed on the upcoming summer Olympics in Rio, I thought I’d shine a spotlight on a lesser-known Brazilian singer, Clementina de Jesus (1901-1987). She was an unlikely diva: Born south of Rio in Carambita in 1901, she worked as a maid for decades before being discovered in 1963 by a record producer and composer named Herminio Bello de Carvalho. How many singers …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Jazz, MBE Archive, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Wayne Shorter: A Love for the Abstract, the Mystical

Posted July 27, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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I listened again to Miles Davis‘s album Nefertiti the other day. Like Davis’s album Water Babies, all the compositions were by saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Tracks like “Fall” are ambiguous and strange; does the title refer to the fall of man or just the season? Will we ever know?
Wayne Shorter wrote amazing compositions, which is probably why an artist as egotistical and controlling as Miles Davis let …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Interviews, Jazz, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Artists You Should Know: Drummer Tony Williams

Posted June 22, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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Drummer Tony Williams (1945-1997) isn’t exactly a household name; probably only jazz fans of Miles Davis‘s quintet from the 1960’s know about him. He joined Miles’s group at the age of 16, and Miles always held him in high esteem. So did Herbie Hancock, who learned a lot from him. In his autobiography, Possibilities, Herbie praised Tony Williams for his musical inventiveness, openness, and curiosity about all forms …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Latin, Recollections & Rediscoveries, world music »

How a Teenage Astor Piazzolla Escaped the Tragic Fate of Tango Giant Carlos Gardel, and So Tango Was Saved, Too

Posted June 15, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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When I was working on my second book, Rhythm Planet: The Great World Music Makers (Rizzoli, 1998) and started to listen to my interview with tango giant Astor Piazzolla, I thought I was going to have to translate it from the Spanish. To my surprise, he spoke in perfect, unaccented American English. I then recalled that Piazzolla spent his first ten or so years …

Featured, MBE Archive, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

More Anecdotes From the Basement

Posted June 8, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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Last week, KCRW held a celebration and launch for our new “Morning Becomes Eclectic” photo book, From the Basement, which features musicians and artists who have visited our basement studios over the past 30 years. (Big thanks to Bill Turner for letting us use his gallery at Bergamot Station for the party. And it was great hearing the train whistle and the Expo Line rolling by.) At the …

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