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. …

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
Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 22.28.07

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
Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 11.17.54

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 …

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