Blues, Featured, Interviews, Jazz, Music History, RIP »

Phil Chess, Co-Founder of Chess Records, RIP

Posted October 24, 2016 by | 0 Comments

Phil Chess, co-founder of Chicago’s legendary Chess Records, has died at the age of 95. Born Fiszel Czyz in Motol, Poland, in 1921, he changed his name after moving to Chicago, a city with a large Polish population and a home of the blues. With his brother Leonard, he founded Chess Records in 1950. Just a year later, one of the first great rock and roll records, Ike …

Artist Spotlight, Blues, Featured, French, RIP »

Buckwheat Zydeco’s Stanley Dural, Jr., RIP

Posted September 28, 2016 by | 2 Comments

Accordionist Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr., leader and founder of the funky New Orleans band Buckwheat Zydeco, passed away Saturday, September 24, in his hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana at the age of 68.
Zydeco is cajun-creole funk music. It’s about as funky as you can get, a blended musical analog for gumbo and other spicy cajun cuisine. The word Zydeco is believed to be a creolized version of …

Featured, Music History, reggae, RIP »

Prince Buster, Early Blue Beat and Ska Great, RIP

Posted September 14, 2016 by | 3 Comments

Jamaican singer-songwriter and producer Prince Buster (1938-2016) died on September 8 in Miami at the age of 78. Born Cecil Bustamente Campbell in a rough neighborhood of Kingston, Jamaica, he came of age in the early 1960’s, cutting classic Jamaican sides in the Blue Beat and ska styles, precursors of the rocksteady and reggae styles that came a few years later.
I’ve always loved ska, …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Headline, Jazz, Latin, New Releases, Rhythm Planet Music Show, RIP »

Show #173: Potpourri

Posted August 26, 2016 by | 6 Comments

This week I’ll mostly feature new releases, but I’ll also play a little Cuban son and remember two musicians, Toots Thielemans and Irving Fields.
We start with a wonderful guitarist based in Los Angeles, Wolfgang Schalk. He has a new album I keep returning too, and it’s on CD and vinyl. After that, a track from busy Bronx bass player Carlos Henriquez, …

Artist Spotlight, Audiophiles, Featured, Jazz, Music History, RIP »

Rudy Van Gelder, Legendary Jazz Engineer (1924-2016) RIP

Posted August 25, 2016 by | 2 Comments

I have been dreading the day I would hear this news. But it’s true, Rudy Van Gelder (RVG) has died at the age of 91. He became legendary, but started out recording late-night sessions in his parents’ living room in the early 1950’s while attending optometry school by day. Thank goodness he didn’t pursue an optometry career!
The other day I pulled out his 1953 recording for Prestige, Bag’s …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Jazz, Latin, RIP »

Toots Thielemans and Irving Fields, RIP

Posted August 24, 2016 by | 4 Comments

Two musicians I like passed away recently. Harmonica legend Toots Thielemans died on Monday, August 22 at 94; composer and pianist Irving Fields died Saturday, August 20 at the age of 101. Their longevity aside, they couldn’t have been more different.
Toots Thielemans (1922-2016)
Thielemans was by far the better known musician of the two. Born in Brussels in 1922, over his long life he worked with …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Jazz, RIP »

Jazz Vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, 1941-2016, RIP

Posted August 17, 2016 by | 0 Comments

Bobby Hutcherson, a superb vibes and marimba player and star of the Blue Note roster, passed away on Monday, August 15, at his home in California. He was 75, and had suffered from emphysema since 2007.
Saxophonist Dexter Gordon once said, “Bobby’s the baddest,” referring to the edge and modern style that characterized Hutcherson’s compositions and improvisations. Bobby fell in love with the vibes after hearing the music …

Artist Spotlight, Asia, Featured, RIP, world music »

Amjad Sabri, Qawwali Great, RIP

Posted June 29, 2016 by | 0 Comments

I am saddened by the murder of Amjad Sabri, who was part of the Sabri Brothers qawwali family in Pakistan. Qawwals are singers and performers of qawwali music (the word ‘qawwali’ means ‘utterance’ in Urdu), sufi devotional music by a mystical sect of Islam. The band was founded in 1958 by the late Ghulam Farid Sabri, whose periodic repeat use of “Allah” during songs was …

African, Artist Spotlight, Featured, Recollections & Rediscoveries, RIP »

My 1989 Interview with Papa Wemba

Posted April 27, 2016 by | 1 Comment

As I wrote in a blog post earlier this week, Congolese rumba great Papa Wemba performed in L.A. a few times in the late 1980’s, first at the Executive Club and later as a star in an African musical at the Pantages Theater, in a show called Africa Oye. That’s where I caught him in 1989.
Africa Oye was extended into a two-week run, an …

African, Artist Spotlight, Featured, RIP »

Papa Wemba, Congolese Soukous Superstar and Sapeur RIP

Posted April 24, 2016 by | 2 Comments
wemba - tom

While most people are mourning the tragic death of Prince, I just found out that another great musician died earlier today. Congolese superstar Papa Wemba was performing onstage in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Saturday night when he collapsed. He was 66. It’s always sad to see one of your heroes die, and it’s even more poignant when they are younger than you.
I met Wemba (b. …

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