African, Artist Spotlight, Performances & Events »

Skirball Concert Review: Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba = Ngoni Power!!

Posted August 5, 2015 by | 0 Comments

The ngoni is the Malian ancestor of the banjo (the word banjo itself being of Congolese origin). In the Malian Manding language, ‘Ba’ means ‘power.’ Bassekou Kouyaté and his band, Ngoni ba, deliver exactly that: massive musical power—organic and acoustic. It’s African power at its greatest.
Malian ngoni virtuoso Bassekou Kouyaté’s concert last Thursday at the Skirball Cultural Center was—for me—not only the best concert of this summer …

Artist Spotlight »

Clarice Lispector & Caetano Veloso: Fascination with Language

Posted August 3, 2015 by | 2 Comments
Clarice Lispector - 160

There is a new book of complete stories by Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector  (1920–1977) that was recently featured in the New York Times Book Review. Most people don’t know about her, though they might have heard a song by Caetano Veloso called “Clarice.”    
At first I thought maybe this song was about Lispector;  as it turns out, however, Clarice is a common name and that there are many …

African, Jazz, Latin, Middle East, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #118: Tom’s Friday Groove

Posted July 31, 2015 by | 2 Comments

So many new releases, so little time, as they say…
We begin this week’s Rhythm Planet show with the fabulous Malian band, Les Ambassadeurs (The Ambassadors), which came together at a Bamako rail station. With their roots in traditional griot music, they blended elements of blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll, making them the voice of West African independence in their years from 1970–1985. Les Ambassadeurs gave Salif Keita, Mory Kanté and others …

African, Artist Spotlight, Performances & Events »

Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba Come to the Skirball Cultural Center—Thursday, July 30

Posted July 29, 2015 by | 4 Comments
Bassekou & Ngoni Ba

Bassekou Kouyaté and Ngoni Ba is authentic traditional Malian music at its best. Continuing a dynastic line of griot musicians, this exceptional family group has performed together for decades. This Thursday, July 30, the Skirball Cultural Center brings these artists to Los Angeles as part of their summer Sunset Concert series, which you won’t want to miss.
This group is one of my favorite bands from a stable of incredible …

Artist Spotlight, Interviews, New Releases, Performances & Events, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Me

Posted July 27, 2015 by | 2 Comments
Nusrat Forever

I first discovered Pakistani sufi maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in 1982 on one of Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD (World of Music and Dance) Festival benefit collection LPs, titled Music and Rhythm. It was the beginning of a 1980s phenomenon that would come to be known popularly as world music, right around the same time that King Sunny Ade would gain fame outside of Nigeria.
The most arresting track on the …

New Releases, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #117: What I’m Listening To

Posted July 24, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Tom Schnabel - 500 x 500

When you’re a DJ, one of the questions you get asked most often is: “What are YOU listening to right now?” So this week on Rhythm Planet, I share my own personal playlist. It’s a mix of several cuts from around the world, as well as some special new releases that have just stuck with me.
We begin with Cristina Pato, a gaita (Galician bagpiper or the instrument …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Music History »

Satchmo, Nixon and the Hidden Stash

Posted July 22, 2015 by | 2 Comments
Satchmo & Nixon 2

Some of you Rhythm Planet fans may recall my previous about Richard Nixon as an unwitting ‘mule’ for Louis Armstrong’s hidden stash, but I’ve just unearthed yet another version of this funny bit of jazz history that I just had to share.
By now, there are probably as many versions of this story—it’s too good to be apocryphal—as there are versions of the New Testament books in the …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz »

3 Jazz Pianists Who Deserve MacArthur Awards (While They’re Still Here)

Posted July 20, 2015 by | 0 Comments

Over the years, I have seen many jazz musicians receive the coveted $625,000 MacArthur “Genius” Awards. Some recipients I wondered about, quite frankly; others, like pianists Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman, as well as the late saxophonist Steve Lacy, I was delighted to see win.
There are three great pianists on the scene whom I feel have demonstrated a lifetime of jazz excellence and innovation. Each artist …

Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #116: Songs of Summer

Posted July 17, 2015 by | 0 Comments
Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 22.31.44

With July already halfway through, and summer almost half over—the sun already has a different position than it did on the June 21st solstice—I thought it was high time for some summer music.   Here are just a few summer songs I like.
Let’s begin with a Quincy Jones 1973 track, titled, “Summer in the City,” a bouncy, feel-good song that has become a classic. Then, French …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, New Releases »

Tokyo Adagio: Charlie Haden & Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Posted July 15, 2015 by | 1 Comment

This is music that comes straight from the heart. Two outstanding musicians who genuinely loved and respected one another, performing before a quiet, rapt audience in the intimate setting of the Blue Note Tokyo club. It is music to savor like a fine meal accompanied by a fine wine.
Some duet albums I find to be thin, lacking the presence of a solid drummer to …

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