Artist Spotlight, Featured, Music History, Recollections, RIP »

Ray Manzarek 1939-2013

Posted May 23, 2013 by | 0 Comments
"When You're Strange" - 2009 Sundance Portrait Session

Ray Manzarek died this past Monday in Germany, where he was being treated for bile-duct cancer.
I wasn’t into too many popular bands of the 1960s, but I was a fan of The Doors.  They were a quintessential LA band.  The founding members, Ray and Jim Morrison, met on the beach in Venice.  Their song lyrics contained references to Los Angeles.  The band got their …

Featured, Music History, Music Phenomena, Recollections »

RCA Living Stereo LP’s: Some of the Best Vinyl Ever Made

Posted May 14, 2013 by | 0 Comments

RCA Living Stereo, along with Mercury Living Presence and the Decca classical catalogue, have been and will always be some of the best vinyl ever produced.  Vinyl is special: you never quite hear the sizzle of the drum cymbals and other frequencies the same way on most digital, especially the horrendous sound of early digital, which Neil Young once compared to nails being driven …

Artist Spotlight, Headline, Music History, Recollections »

The Amazing Fela

Posted May 3, 2013 by | 0 Comments

A friend sent me this video of a 1971 concert of Fela with Cream drummer Ginger Baker.  It was most likely lifted from a great documentary, Ginger Baker in Africa, a must-see for any Fela fan.   The show overflows with dionysian energy, an African counterpart to love-in shows of the countercultural 1960s.  For anybody in LA considering going to the Ahmanson Theater to …

Featured, Music History, Recollections »

Louis Armstrong, Jazz Ambassadors, Richard Nixon and the Return from Ghana

Posted April 18, 2013 by | 2 Comments

I’ve written earlier about the 1950s U.S. State Department policy of using jazz musicians as American ambassadors spreading good will around the world in the 1950s, during the cold war. A great example is Louis Armstrong’s trip to Ghana in 1957, shortly after the West African country’s independence from Britain:

Artist Spotlight, Featured, MBE Archive, Music History, Recollections »

Fela! Returns to LA

Posted April 13, 2013 by | 10 Comments
Fela and Tom Schnabel at KCRW 1986

The musical Fela! returns to Los Angeles at the end of this month. It’s amazing to me that there is a Broadway musical devoted to the dynamic Nigerian musician, let alone one that its coming back to LA by popular demand.
KCRW has a long relationship with the Nigerian firebrand known as Fela Anikulapo (one who carries death in his/her pouch) Kuti. It started in …

Artist Spotlight, Music History, Recollections »

Nina Simone: Little Girl Blue, Tempestuous Diva, We Will Always Love You

Posted March 19, 2013 by | 0 Comments
Nina Simone April 85 photo by Gia

I was fortunate to get to know Nina Simone while Music Director and doing Morning Becomes Eclectic.   I’ve always loved her music, and sometimes would listen to her classic songs when I needed a good cry.    ”Little Girl Blue”, “Plain Gold Ring” and “I Loves You Porgy” always worked.  ”You Can Have Him” worked even better when hurting from a  breakup.
I interviewed …

Artist Spotlight, Music History, Recollections »

The Perpetual Magic of Erik Satie’s 3 Gymnopédies

Posted March 11, 2013 by | 0 Comments

Today I heard–for the thousandth time– Satie’s famous solo piano tryptic  3 Gymopedies—the title refers to an ancient Spartan dance performed by naked men.  Satie was an eccentric who gave his compositions crazy names, never formal ones like études or sonatas.    He even used a typewriter on his ballet Parade,  first performed in 1917 with sets and costumes by Picasso.
Like many, I first …

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

Freshly Ground: Not a Coffee, Just a Great South African Band

Posted February 11, 2013 by | 0 Comments

Freshly Ground is now the most popular band in South Africa, even though they’re not that well known here in the U.S.. They did perform at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa a couple of years ago, but their star has yet to ascend most other places.  They have a new tour of the U.S. in March, so that may change things somewhat.
The …

Artist Spotlight, Recollections, RIP »

Donald Byrd, Great Jazz Trumpeter 1932-2013 RIP

Posted February 9, 2013 by | 0 Comments

Another jazz titan has left us.  He passed away this past week at 80.  Byrd came up with beboppers and hardboppers in the 1950s and 60s.  One of my first albums was his hardbop Blue Note side, Fuego.  Later came classics like the breezy san souci lp Fancy Free, New Perspective–which had the sweeping choral work “Cristo Redentor”(Christ the Redeemer), and Electric Byrd, which …

Artist Spotlight, Music History, Music Phenomena, Recollections »

Beethoven (1770-1827) : Beauty, Pathos, Anguish

Posted February 4, 2013 by | 0 Comments

The other night I pulled out Herbert Von Karajan’s 1961-2 Beethoven Symphonies, all of them on vinyl in a box set I’ve had for years.  My cd player is getting an upgrade so I’m now revisiting my lp collection.
I tend to like the 6th, 7th the most.   It’s been said that the even-numbered symphonies are slower and more meditative;  and the odd-numbers are …

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