Celebrating the life of Allen Toussaint, a ‘musical Matterhorn’

Posted November 10, 2015 by | 2 Comments

Allen Toussaint died yesterday in Madrid. He was 77, and had just performed a concert in the Spanish city when he collapsed from a heart attack.
New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, rhythm & blues, and rock ‘n’ roll.  It was the port of entry for African rhythms that entered its harbor with Cubans, Haitians, and Dominicans who brought their music with them. Allen Toussaint …

Jazz, RIP »

Celebrating Mark Murphy, Jazz Singer Extraordinaire: 1932-2015

Posted October 26, 2015 by | 2 Comments

Mark Murphy died at the age of 83 last Thursday, Oct. 22. I am saddened by the news. He was a personal hero. I’ve been a fan of Mark Murphy ever since high school, which is a long time ago. KBCA, 105.1 fm — the great commercial jazz station I was glued to in the 1960s — played his album Rah! all the time. …

Artist Spotlight, Classical, French, Jazz, RIP »

My Week Chez Francis Paudras

Posted September 16, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Francis Paudras

Most people have never heard of Francis Paudras (1935–1997). I, however, will never forget him and the days we spent together in Antigny, a small village in Western France in the waning days of summer, 1981. A classic Frenchman in so many ways, he was just as well-versed in old world culture as he was in the American new: Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy were on …

Artist Spotlight, Interviews, RIP »

RIP: Lucina Agbabian-Hubbard (1928–2015)

Posted September 10, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Lucina Agbabian-Hubbard

Two luminaries were recently lost: Oliver Sacks and Wes Craven, for whom many tributes poured out. But in the smaller print, hidden in the back pages, I discovered the passing of another person from whom I had learned so much. Her name was Lucina Agbabian-Hubbard.
Lucina Agbabian-Hubbard (b. 1928–2015) taught Armenian and culture for decades at USC and was choir conductor of the Armenian Evangelical Church, bestowing …

Art, Literature & Film, Recollections & Rediscoveries, RIP »

Monica Lewis, Chiquita, United Fruit & All Things Banana

Posted August 10, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Monica Lewis

Everyone remembers Carmen Miranda (b. 1909–1955) as the woman with the tutti-frutti hat (made famous by the Busby Berkeley musical, The Gang’s All Here). The video’s banana-themed choreography is still just as amazing today as it was back in 1943.
But the voice of Chiquita Banana has officially left the building. Monica Lewis (b. 1922–2015) got her start at the swanky Stork Club in New York City before a radio appearance led …

Artist Spotlight, Latin, Music History, RIP »

RIP: Fernando Brant, Lyricist for Milton Nascimento

Posted June 24, 2015 by | 0 Comments
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Música Popular Brasileira or MPB, a popular song form that followed bossa nova in the 1960s, often paired singers with poets and lyricists. Vinicius de Moraes penned lyrics for Antônio Carlos Jobim and Baden Powell. Vítor Martins for Ivan Lins. Aldir Blanc for João Bosco and others. We’ve seen similar musical partnerships here in the U.S. between George and Ira Gershwin, Kurt Weill and Ira …

Artist Spotlight, Blues, Music History, RIP »

The Zydeco Legend of Amédé Ardoin

Posted June 17, 2015 by | 0 Comments
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The great musicologist Alan Lomax weighs in on Amédé Ardoin’s music and tragic death.
I recently read an article in the New York Times by Campbell Robertson about a New Orleans musician lost in time. His name was Amédé Ardoin (b. 1898–1942). With his virtuosic talent as an accordionist, he woud cross white Cajun and black Creole lines at a time when it was otherwise unthinkable. Ardoin is credited …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, RIP »

RIP: Ornette Coleman, Jazz Visionary (1930–2015)

Posted June 11, 2015 by | 1 Comment
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Cézanne. Picasso. Stravinsky. Schoenberg. Pollock. Derrida. Ornette Coleman. They all rewrote the books.
Ornette Coleman (b.1930–2015) died this morning of cardiac arrest in Manhattan at the age of 85. He burst upon the jazz scene in 1958, not in New York but here in Los Angeles when he recorded his first album, Something Else!!!, for Lester Koenig’s great Contemporary Records label. Coleman had come to Los …

Artist Spotlight, Latin, RIP »

L.A.’s Latin Dance Community Loses Ron Arciaga & Johnny Polanco

Posted June 3, 2015 by | 4 Comments

When you’re young like I once was and reading Camus, Hemingway, Plath, Ibsen and others, you ponder death and think you understand it. You don’t. It’s when we get older and bear witness to our friends and family shuffle off this mortal coil, that we actually understand that death can come, as the Bible says, “like a thief in the night.” The silver lining is that …

Jazz, Music History, RIP »

In Passing: Bernard Stollman, Iconoclast Founder of ESP-Disk

Posted May 4, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Bernard Stollman

What other label would release LPs by Timothy Leary, The Fugs, Giuseppe Logan, Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, Burton Greene & Patty Waters, and Pharoah Sanders—not to mention Bob James’s first wild album, Explosions. People remember the 1960s as being about The Doors, Hendrix, and Janis Joplin, but let’s not forget ESP-Disk. It was the wonderful lunatic fringe on the other side of the coin.
ESP-Disk was …

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