Classical, Featured, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Thibaut de Navarre: The Mysteries and Wonders of Medieval Music

Posted September 5, 2016 by | 1 Comment
Initial A: David Playing the Psaltery, about 1460 - 1480, Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment. The J. Paul Getty Museum. Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.

The other day veteran music journalist Steve Hochman reminded me of a wonderful album of music by the French trouvère Thibaut de Navarre (1201-1253) on the Harmonia Mundi label. This 1979 album, featuring the classic Harmonia Mundi cover art and format, is one I used to spin during my Morning Becomes Eclectic days. It’s in the category known as “Early Music,” i.e. pre-Renaissance music that goes back to …

Artist Spotlight, Asia, Featured, Headline, Recollections & Rediscoveries, Rhythm Planet Music Show, world music »

Show #174: Qawwali Music: The Mystical, Peaceful Side of Islam

Posted September 2, 2016 by | 2 Comments
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I first heard the Sufi devotional music called qawwali around 1982 on a WOMAD (World of Music and Dance) album. WOMAD was Peter Gabriel’s world music label and brainchild. This was right about the time when a bunch of Brit record executives coined the term “world music” as a category for retail sales purposes. The five-minute excerpt I heard was powerful, enthralling. I was transfixed. …

Classical, Featured, film, music phenomena »

Talent Has Hunger…This 3 Year-Old Kid Sure Does!

Posted August 31, 2016 by | 2 Comments
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I recently watched the film Talent Has Hunger, directed by Josh Aronson. It follows cello virtuoso Paul Katz of the Cleveland Quartet and the New England Conservatory of Music as he teaches and inspires young students at the Conservatory. He instructs them in technique, inspiring them to achieve and improve. The film shows lots of one-on-one instruction, with Katz coaching students on bow technique, fingering, and also on just …

African, Artist Spotlight, Featured »

Sister Deborah and Ghana Jollof: Tasty Rice

Posted August 29, 2016 by | 4 Comments
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This is a culinary tale–or rather competition–West African style.
Last Sunday morning, I heard a story and song on NPR’s Weekend Edition about a rice rivalry in West Africa, particularly Ghana vs. Nigeria, surrounding a ubiquitous rice dish in the region (Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal) called Jollof. The tune’s nice grooves and rhymes caught my ear, as did the conversation between host Linda Wertheimer and …

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

Show #173: Potpourri

Posted August 26, 2016 by | 6 Comments
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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
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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
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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, Asia, Classical, Featured, Middle East, Performances & Events, world music »

A Joyous Evening with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble

Posted August 22, 2016 by | 1 Comment
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I feel honored to have hosted the fabulous show last night of Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble at the Hollywood Bowl, part of the KCRW World Festival Series this summer. The performance exceeded my highest expectations. The Silk Road Ensemble is a musical United Nations, with the renowned cellist working with musicians from China, India, Japan, Syria, Iran, Russia, Spain, Central Asia and …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Headline, reggae, Rhythm Planet Music Show, world music »

Show #172: Jamaican D.J. Junor Francis Does Reggae Proud in L.A.

Posted August 19, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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Jamaica has been in the news lately because of Usain Bolt and the great Jamaican track and field athletes. To celebrate Jamaica, know that there’s a reggae oasis here on Saturday night and his name is Junor Francis. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the genre and delivers the goods with verve and authentic Jamaican flavor. Junior arrived to the U.S. from the island in …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Jazz, RIP »

Jazz Vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, 1941-2016, RIP

Posted August 17, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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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 …

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