African, Artist Spotlight, 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, 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. …

African, Artist Spotlight, Music History, music phenomena, Recollections & Rediscoveries, RIP, world music »

Malick Sidibe, the “Eye of Bamako”, 1936-2016 RIP

Posted April 18, 2016 by | 0 Comments

Malick Sidibé, Malian photographer, has died at 80. Sidibé’s black and white photos captured the golden era of Malian music and culture during the 1960′s, a time of optimism, pride, pan-africanism, and joy. With the death of fellow Malian photographer Seydou Keita (1921-2001), Sidibé had been the only remaining photographic chronicler of a golden age.
Sidibé’s photos are full of post-independence joy. People came to his …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Latin, Recollections & Rediscoveries, RIP »

My Afternoon with Gato Barbieri in 1977

Posted April 6, 2016 by | 0 Comments

Latin jazz saxophonist Leandro “Gato” Barbieri passed away recently at 83. When I heard the news, I rummaged through my old tapes and pulled out a cassette of my interview with him, which I did in a noisy room at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 1977.
I love Gato Barbieri and have most of his albums in my music collection. Under Fire and Fenix are terrific, as is his soundtrack …

Artist Spotlight, Classical, Jazz, Music History, RIP »

David Baker (1931-2016): Musical Polymath Succeeded Despite Racism

Posted April 4, 2016 by | 0 Comments
David Baker practicing the trombone in the 1950s.

David Baker was a true polymath: writer, educator, trombone and cello virtuoso, conductor, composer. When I read his recent obituary in the New York Times, I was also reminded of Nina Simone.
After earning both bachelor and master’s degrees, Baker auditioned for the trombone chair in the Indianapolis Symphony. He was told, “You’re probably the best one we’ve heard, but we can’t employ you because …

RIP, world music »

Manuel Agujetas, Flamenco Great, 1939-2015 RIP

Posted January 20, 2016 by | 0 Comments

There have been some notable musician obits over the past month. David Bowie, Natalie Cole, Pierre Boulez, and most recently, Glenn Frey of the Eagles. Soul/r&b singer Otis Clay died on January 8th at the age of 73. Even Brett Smiley got some print love: he was the Bowie look-alike who never rose to fame. He died two days before his famous contemporary.
There was …

Jazz, RIP »

Paul Bley (1932-2016) RIP

Posted January 6, 2016 by | 0 Comments

I’ve written about Paul Bley because he is one of the most interesting jazz pianists to come of age in the early 1950′s, when so much was happening in the jazz idiom.  Paul Bley was a pianist’s pianist, a pianist that other jazz artists respected, especially those bassists and drummers who were lucky enough to work with him.  Bley was the archetypal New York …

Artist Spotlight, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries, RIP »

Holly Woodlawn, Theresa, & Early Days, Late Nights @ KCRW

Posted December 14, 2015 by | 0 Comments

Holly came from Miami F.L.A.
Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side,
Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side.
So go the lyrics to Lou Reed’s famous song, “Walk on the Wild Side”.  The Holly here was Holly …


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 | 3 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. …

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