Artist Spotlight, Classical, French, Music History »

Hector Berlioz: Fame Started with Defenestration

Posted June 20, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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I recently saw a bottle of red wine with the name “Fenestra.” It made me think of one of Russian musicologist/lexicographer Nicolas Slonimsky’s favorite oddball words, “defenestrate,” which means to jump out of or throw something or someone out of a window. “Fenestra” is Italian for window; in French it’s “fenêtre.” (The English word “window” has a Norse origin).  According to Wikipedia:  the term was coined around …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #163: The Soprano Sax – Unpopular Instrument Brought to Greatness by 3 Jazz Titans

Posted June 17, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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The soprano saxophone, unlike the clarinet or tenor sax, was never popular in jazz until Sidney Bechet, who was the first jazz musician to use it exclusively. A contemporary of Louis Armstrong and like Satchmo a New Orleans native, Bechet moved to Paris and became a famous exile. He recorded, among other things, the first instrumental cover of Gershwin’s classic “Summertime.”
The soprano sax …

Artist Spotlight, Latin, Recollections & Rediscoveries, world music »

How a Teenage Astor Piazzolla Escaped the Tragic Fate of Tango Giant Carlos Gardel, and So Tango Was Saved, Too

Posted June 15, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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When I was working on my second book, Rhythm Planet: The Great World Music Makers (Rizzoli, 1998) and started to listen to my interview with tango giant Astor Piazzolla, I thought I was going to have to translate it from the Spanish. To my surprise, he spoke in perfect, unaccented American English. I then recalled that Piazzolla spent his first ten or so years …

Artist Spotlight, brazilian music, Classical, music phenomena »

The Saudade of Frederic Chopin, Alexander Scriabin, and Baden Powell

Posted June 13, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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I find it interesting when other languages have words denoting or describing things that the English language has no equivalent for. Saudade is a Portuguese-language word difficult to translate adequately, one which describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which is lost. It may have come from the Portuguese musical form of fado; that word …

Cape Verde, Classical, Jazz, New Releases, Rhythm Planet Music Show, world music »

Show #162: New Releases: A Mixed Bag

Posted June 10, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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This week we sample some more new jazz, world, and classical jams. We begin with an improbable labor of love, a Lollywood (Pakistan’s version of Bollywood) group called The Sachal Ensemble that was mostly out of work due to the political situation in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s movie industry. The group members recall a visit to Lahore by Dizzy Gillespie (think jazz diplomacy …

MBE Archive, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

More Anecdotes From the Basement

Posted June 8, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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Last week, KCRW held a celebration and launch for our new “Morning Becomes Eclectic” photo book, From the Basement, which features musicians and artists who have visited our basement studios over the past 30 years. (Big thanks to Bill Turner for letting us use his gallery at Bergamot Station for the party. And it was great hearing the train whistle and the Expo Line rolling by.) At the …

Artist Spotlight, Jazz, Latin, Music History, music phenomena »

How Dizzy Gillespie and U.S. V.P. Dan Quayle’s Business Card Saved A Great Cuban Trumpeter

Posted June 6, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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It’s not easy to be a jazz musician – or anything but a classical musician - in Cuba.  It’s like the former Soviet Union, where jazz was forbidden and banned. Stalin sent Russia’s Louis Armstrong, Eddie Rosner, to the gulag (Soviet jazz fans called Satchmo the American Eddie Rosner). It’s hard enough to even get a decent instrument if you’re a young Cuban musician; and since you have …

brazilian music, Jazz, Latin, New Releases, Rhythm Planet Music Show, world music »

Show #161: New and Noteworthy Releases

Posted June 3, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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Once again I’d like to feature some new albums that caught my ear. We start with Michael Franti & Spearhead’s latest release Soulrocker. I’ve followed Franti ever since he fronted the Disposable Heroes of Hipoprisy in the late 80′s. He formed Spearhead a few years after that. Franti is one of the smartest lyricists around, writing committed and intelligent music, usually with a strong affirmative spirit. …

Jazz, Latin, Performances & Events »

Upcoming Music Events with a Latin Twist

Posted June 1, 2016 by | 0 Comments
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Regular listeners of KCRW probably already know about the station’s “Summer Nights” events – featuring an abundance of free performances throughout the summer all over L.A. Those are sure to draw crowds, but I’d like to highlight some other events–shows with a latin twist and great for dancing. Thanks to my peripatetic Cuban friend, journalist, and dance pro Humberto Capiro, I’m reminded of these events you salseros …

Asia, Music History, music phenomena »

Sony’s Pocket Radio: Grand Theft Gives Birth to a Top Japanese Brand

Posted May 30, 2016 by | 1 Comment
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  President Obama  just returned from a historic trip to Japan, including the first visit to Hiroshima by a sitting U.S. President. It got me thinking about Japan’s recovery from the devastation of WWII. During the U.S. occupation that followed the war’s end, General MacArthur helped rebuild Japan; divine Emperor Hirohito became a person, not a god; and MacArthur’s master plan brought Japan out of the …

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