Artist Spotlight, Classical, French, Jazz, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

The Musician’s Magical Touch

Posted March 25, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Elvin Jones

I once interviewed Elvin Jones (b. 1927–2004), the legendary powerhouse drummer who fueled the great John Coltrane Quartet with his incredibly complex polyrhythms, on Morning Becomes Eclectic back in the mid-1980s. I often wondered how he pulled it altogether, but he did. Elvin was a massive guy with a fierce look, who went only by his first name: Elvin—it was all he needed. At the end of our interview, I tried …

Art, Literature & Film, Artist Spotlight, Blues, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Sister Rosetta Tharpe: May You Never Be Forgotten

Posted March 23, 2015 by | 1 Comment
Sister Rosetta - Steamin' & Dreamin'

Sister Rosetta Tharpe making her grand entrance before performing “Didn’t It Rain” in Manchester, England, in 1964.
Spring is officially sprung, and my fellow journalist/music critic, Steve Hochman, reminded me that March 20 would have marked the centennial of the late Sister Rosetta Tharpe (b. 1915–1973). Born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, her parents were cotton pickers by day. Her mother was a singer, mandolin player, and an evangelist preacher, who …

Art, Literature & Film, Jazz, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

How to Speak Hip

Posted March 18, 2015 by | 0 Comments
How to Speak Hip - cover

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Jazz Humor. A reader named Jim Hickson responded with a favorite CD of his, How to Speak Hip, by Del Close and John Brent. This cleverly done, tongue-in-cheek spoken word album was new to me, so thanks for the recommendation, Jim!
Originally released by Mercury Records back in 1959, it’s since been remastered into digital format by …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Music History, New Releases, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Show #98: Black is the Color: Unusual Song, Interesting History

Posted March 13, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Rhiannon Giddens

Singer Rhiannon Giddens, a member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a group specializing in old-timey music, just released her first solo album. On it is her amended cover of a well-known classic that goes way back in time, “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair.” Giddens new version is uptempo, feel-good, and infectious. Her solo debut is auspicious; she is a fabulous singer with a …

Jazz, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries, Uncategorized »

Revisiting: Cannonball Adderley’s Nippon Soul

Posted March 9, 2015 by | 2 Comments
Cannonball Adderley - Nippon Soul

I recently bought a good vinyl cleaner and have been enjoying pulling out vintage vinyl, cleaning when necessary, and spinning it on the turntable. I also recently upgraded my phono cartridge and am rediscovering a treasure trove of musical delights hidden in the grooves.
One of the LPs I pulled out is Nippon Soul: Cannonball Adderley, recorded live at Tokyo’s Sankei Hall in 1963. It …

African, Artist Spotlight, French, Latin, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #96: Dance to the World Beat of DJ ‘Selecta’ Tom Schnabel

Posted February 27, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Ghanaian Dance

I would never claim to be a beat-matcher with a big Traktor controller rig. Rather, I’m an old school selector, deeply ensconced in old school vinyl, rare CDs, and classic 12″ sides. But I am also always on the lookout for new stuff, and that includes dance sides.
So what is a selector or, colloquially, a ‘selecta’? It’s a reggae dancehall term referring to the person who selects the …

Jazz, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Some Jazz Humor for You

Posted February 16, 2015 by | 3 Comments
A Great Day in Harlem - Latecomers

Jazz has its own type of humor. Tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd once told me that he was with a bunch of musicians in Thelonious Monk’s big early 1950s Buick with Monk at the wheel, when he almost crashed the car, spinning it around a full 360 degrees. Recovering from the shock, they heard him say, “Ain’t ya glad I’m driving.”
Pioneering jazz violinist Joe Venuti …

Artist Spotlight, Latin, Music History, Performances & Events, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Rubén Blades’ “El Padre Antonio y Su Monaguillo Andrés”

Posted February 11, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Ruben Blades Archbishop Romero

Grammy Award-winning Rubén Blades is a wonderfully gifted Panamanian poet and songwriter whose works often take on a political tinge. Raised in a progressive family, his grand-uncle was a revolutionary during the Cuban War of Independence against Spain. His mother was an actress, his father a musician, and the girls in his family attended college. Ruben himself studied international law at Harvard on a full scholarship.
I knew Rubén back when he lived in …

Art, Literature & Film, Artist Spotlight, Blues, Classical, Interviews, MBE Archive, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries, Uncategorized »

Sundance Report: What Happened, Miss Simone?

Posted January 29, 2015 by | 1 Comment
Nina Simone - Thumbnail

“But what happened, Miss Simone? Specifically, what happened to your big eyes that quickly veil to hide the loneliness? To your voice that has so little tenderness, yet flows with your commitment to the battle of Life? What happened to you?” —Maya Angelou
So wrote the erudite Maya Angelou, following a 1970 Redbook interview she did with the mercurial ‘High Priestess of Soul’ herself, Nina Simone (b. 1933–2003). Echoing …

Audiophiles, Jazz, MBE Archive, Recollections & Rediscoveries, RIP »

Director David Greene on John Coltrane

Posted January 12, 2015 by | 0 Comments
David Greene

I am once again listening to a glorious reissue of my gateway jazz LP, John Coltrane‘s Impressions remastered by the great German label, Speakers Corner Records. They do a fantastic job reissuing the classics on 180 gram vinyl.
The terms, ‘virgin,” heavyweight,’ or ’180 gram’ refer to the mass of vinyl used in the pressing of the cut. Whereas most standard LPs are either 120 …

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