Art, Literature & Film, Artist Spotlight, Classical, Jazz »

Herbie Hancock on Possibilities

Posted December 17, 2014 by | 1 Comment
Young Herbie

Herbie Hancock’s memoir, Possibilities, has just been published, painting a revealing picture of one of the most influential jazz pianists ever. I recently read the book while on vacation and just could not put it down.
Along with fellow jazz pianist, McCoy Tyner, Herbie rewrote the book on modern jazz piano stylings. He eschewed the 2-5-1 harmonic changes characteristic of bebop (think Charlie Parker & Bud Powell), introducing …

Art, Literature & Film, Artist Spotlight, Blues, Holiday, Jazz, New Releases »

5 Holiday Gift Book Ideas

Posted December 15, 2014 by | 0 Comments

Some of you have asked me about suggestions for holiday gift ideas for the music lover. It’s a matter of musical preference, of course, but if it were all about me, below are several book ideas that would definitely make it onto my wish list for Santa.
Blue Note: Uncompromising Expression. This is the story of the iconic jazz label, Blue Note. It’s a fascinating read, spanning the label’s 1939 …

New Releases, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #85: More New, Noteworthy Releases

Posted December 11, 2014 by | 0 Comments
Ten Cities

It’s time again to survey a bunch of recently released albums that have caught my attention. Some of you might even consider adding these to your holiday shopping lists!
We begin with the a cappella Moipei Quartet from Nairobi, Kenya, adapting the John Denver classic, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” into a love song for their African homeland. Another African side follows from Cameroonian Bébé Manga, with her …

Art, Literature & Film, Latin, Performances & Events, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Carlos Saura’s “Flamenco Flamenco” Masterpiece—in LA but Not for Long

Posted December 10, 2014 by | 0 Comments
Flamenco, Flamenco

Carlos Saura is a renowned Spanish filmmaker hailed for his documentaries celebrating the performing arts traditions along the Iberian peninsula. Spanning his prolific 60-year career, Saura has received countless honors directing such works as Tango (1998), Fados (2007), and Flamenco (1995), just to name a few. Perhaps his greatest film of all, Flamenco Flamenco, a sequel to its Flamenco predecessor, had its original debut back in 2010, but is re-screening for a …

Art, Literature & Film, Audiophiles, Holiday, Jazz, Music History, New Releases »

Blue Note Records: Uncompromising Expression

Posted December 8, 2014 by | 0 Comments
Blue Note - Uncompromising Expression

Just in time for the holidays, Blue Note and Chronicle Books have published Uncompromising Expression, a gorgeous, 400-page hardcover tome celebrating the record label’s 75th anniversary. Authored by Richard Havers, this book takes readers through the evolution of Blue Note’s music-making history. It is a must-have for any jazz (or graphic design) fan, along with its companion box set of five CDs.
Blue Note Records was founded back …

Artist Spotlight, Classical, Interviews, Music History, Recollections & Rediscoveries, Rhythm Planet Music Show, RIP »

Show #84: Nicolas Slonimsky, Amazing Musical Iconoclast (1894–1995)

Posted December 5, 2014 by | 1 Comment
Slonimsky Autographed 1988

This week, Rhythm Planet reprises the 100th birthday tribute I did back in 1994 for one of the most extraordinary men I’ve ever met: Nicolas Slonimsky, the Russian composer, conductor, musicologist, and lexicographer. Born in 1894 in czarist St. Petersburg to a family of intellectuals, he was singled out as a boy “genius,” who would, indeed, be destined for greatness.
Slonimsky learned music theory, composition, and …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Middle East »

Maalouf Masters of the Quarter-Tone Trumpet

Posted December 2, 2014 by | 0 Comments
Ibrahim Maalouf

Lebanese-born father Nassim Maalouf and son Ibrahim Maalouf are two unusual trumpet players, who play quarter-tone trumpets to achieve the “notes between the notes”—half-sharps and half-flats—characteristic of Arabic melodies. The classical Arabic maqamat is comprised of 55 different melodic scales and modes that utilize both quarter- and three-quarter tone intervals, which standard trumpets are unable to reach.
Take a look at this quarter-tone trumpet, and you’ll notice four valves …

Audiophiles »

Passive vs Active (Focused) Listening

Posted November 30, 2014 by | 3 Comments
Tom Pulling Vinyl

When Frances Anderton and I visited Henry Rollins a few weeks ago at his massive man-bunker, we talked about being completely immersed in the listening experience. Henry and I are both active listeners and music fanatics…but most people aren’t as crazy as we are.
It’s like texting while someone is trying to have a conversation with you, or texting during a concert. You’re distracted and probably won’t hear …

Asia, Performances & Events »

Aratani World Series: “Cup of Java”

Posted November 28, 2014 by | 0 Comments
Cup of Java Dance

The Aratani World Series (formerly the World Festival of Sacred Music) launches into an exciting, new chapter tomorrow night (Saturday, November 29), presenting “Cup of Java,” an exquisite night of Indonesian ceremonial gamelan music and courtly dance.
Ten classically-trained master dancers from the prestigious Institute Seni Indonesia, Yogyakarta (ISI) will be accompanied by the complex polyrhythms of LA’s very own CalArts Javanese Gamelan Kyai Doro Dasih Ensemble, under the …

Holiday, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #83: Songs of Thanksgiving

Posted November 24, 2014 by | 0 Comments
Beach Thanksgiving

This week, we feature some Thanksgiving music to celebrate this special holiday. Thanksgiving dates back to 1621, when hard-pressed pilgrim colonists broke bread and shared a late autumn harvest meal with the Massachusetts Wampanoag tribe. The Pilgrims, humbled by the bitter cold and their lack of food, were befriended by the Native Americans who so generously shared with them their survival knowledge and whatever …

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