Artist Spotlight, Performances & Events »

Saturday, Aug 22: Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali & DJ Neil Sparkes at Grand Performances

Posted August 19, 2015 by | 0 Comments

I used to tell my listeners that Qawwali music was not music made by cute little furry Australian arboreal creatures, but rather, sufi gospel music from Pakistan.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my discovery and experience with the late Qawwali master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. When Nusrat passed away in 1997,  he left a musical vacuum, which his then-teenage nephews committed themselves to filling. …

Artist Spotlight, Interviews, Latin, Performances & Events, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Buena Vista Social Club’s Ibrahim Ferrer & the Havana Sugar Kings

Posted August 17, 2015 by | 0 Comments
BVSC - Ibrahim Ferrer

I first heard about the Buena Vista Social Club back in the mid-1990s, probably through Ry Cooder. The minute the album went on sale at Rhino Records in Westwood, I bought my import copy for $27.00 and fell in love with them from the very first notes. I was the first to air them on the radio.
Five years later in 2000, I was lucky to be …

Artist Spotlight, New Releases, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #120: New August Mix

Posted August 14, 2015 by | 0 Comments

This week on Rhythm Planet, I’ve got ten superb new albums to share with you.
We begin with a lovely, heartfelt version of the John Lennon classic, “Imagine,” sung by Filipina-American jazz-world vocalist, Charmaine Clamor. It’s a track from her new album of songs that were inspired by a Filipino festival she once attended that she told me “brought out the best in people.” Her …

Art, Literature & Film, Artist Spotlight, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Charlie Parker’s First Recording

Posted August 12, 2015 by | 0 Comments

For the past month, I’ve been learning (slowly and with difficulty) Charlie Parker’s “Anthropology” solo from a track which appeared on a Columbia LP that was recorded live from Birdland, a now defunct New York City jazz spot that was named after Charlie Parker himself. The recording was probably made by the mysterious Bird follower and recording maverick, Dean Benedetti. Captured in lo-fi mono, it’s an amazing performance. …

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, Jazz, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #119 Musical DNA: Influence, Inspiration & Cross-Pollination

Posted August 7, 2015 by | 1 Comment
Milticolored sine waves.

This week’s Rhythm Planet show is about cross-pollination, musically speaking. To paraphrase the English poet, John Donne, no musician is an island, apart from the main.
We begin with jazz composer/pianist Ahmad Jamal and his 1956 song, “New Rhumba,” which Miles Davis loved enough to include in his first big band collaboration with composer/arranger, Gil Evans and his orchestra. The 1959 version by these two follows. Miles loved Ahmad’s style, …

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 | 4 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 sung by Caetano Veloso called “Clarice.”    It was written by Capinam.
At first I thought maybe this song was about Lispector;  as it turns out, however, Clarice is a common …

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 …

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