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Stromae: Belgian Singer Takes Europe by Storm

Posted June 23, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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A few months ago, my old friend Redha Hazourli sent me a video of a new Belgian musician named Stromae–an anagram for Maestro–singing a song, “Formidable” (translates to “great” in French) out on the streets during the early morning commute. He pretends to be drunk as he tells everybody, “Tu etait formidable,” (“You are wonderful”).  All this started when he observed a clochard (French …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Headline, Rhythm Planet Music Show, RIP »

Show #59: Remembering Little Jimmy Scott

Posted June 20, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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Little Jimmy Scott was a singer’s singer. Let’s start with what Nancy Wilson said about him:
“There would be no Nancy Wilson were it not for Little Jimmy Scott. I owe all that I am and all that I have to this man’s singing style…when I hear Jimmy, he touches me with his unique ability for phrasing. The emotions riding on the timbre of his …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, New Releases, Performances & Events »

Billy Hart Quartet at The Blue Whale

Posted June 18, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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I don’t often promote local appearances by visiting jazz superstars, but I’m going to make an exception. Billy Hart Quartet: Mark Turner (tenor), Ethan Iverson (piano), Ben Street (double bass), and Billy (drums) is a sensational and beautiful group. I can’t stop listening to the new ECM album, One is the Other. I mentioned it in a recent Rhythm Planet show as music that’s part …

Artist Spotlight, Featured, Performances & Events »

Pipa Player Wu Man

Posted June 16, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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Chinese born and U.S. based Wu Man has taken the pipa (a traditional Chinese lute) and brought it to concert stages around the world as well as introducing it into Western pop and other music styles. She was cited by the Los Angeles Times as “the artist most responsible for bringing the pipa to the Western World.”
The pipa (pronounced pee pah) is one of China’s oldest instruments. …

Featured, Headline, Latin, Music History, Performances & Events, Recollections & Rediscoveries, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #58: Brazilian Futebol & Music

Posted June 13, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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I bought a caxirola the other day. This is the official noisemaker for the 2014 World Cup games hosted in Brazil. Alas, they’ve already been banned from the games because supposedly they can be hurled like missiles and could hurt somebody. Nonetheless, it’s time for World Cup! This week’s show celebrates Brazilian Futebol and its music.
I’ve been to Brazil numerous times. Once I went up to …

Featured, Music History »

What’s Lollywood and Nollywood?

Posted June 11, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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First there was Hollywood. In the 1940s came Bollywood, the prolific Bombay film industry. But what about their lesser-known cousins Nollywood and Lollywood?
“Nollywood” refers to the Nigerian film industry. Like Bollywood, Nigeria pumps out several films, much more than Hollywood but just shy of Bombay’s huge output. It has exploded in the last decade, generating $286 million into the Nigerian economy. According to the …

Featured, Recollections & Rediscoveries »

Record Sleeves as Time Capsules

Posted June 9, 2014 by | 0 Comments
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Old albums on vinyl can be time capsules. You can’t put much into a CD jewel case and can’t do anything with a digital music collection. When my CD player was in the shop, I went through my vinyl collection in search of analog LPs I haven’t visited in a long time. Some funny things turn up in LP jackets. A friend of mine …

African, Featured, Headline, Recollections & Rediscoveries, Rhythm Planet Music Show »

Show #57: African Sax Kings

Posted June 6, 2014 by | 6 Comments
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Many of us know the great guitarists of Africa: Mali’s Ali Farka Toure, Guinea’s Sekou “Diamond Fingers” Diabate, the great bass players of South Africa (Bakhiti Kumalo who played with Paul Simon on Graceland, Sipho Gumede who worked with Dollar Brand and others). But we don’t know much about African saxophone players. I had to do some thinking about this too.
The impetus was a …

Art, Literature & Film, Artist Spotlight, Music History, New Releases »

Verve: The Sound of America

Posted June 4, 2014 by | 2 Comments
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I thought I knew Norman Granz and his successive record labels Clef, Norgran, Verve, and Pablo pretty well. I’ve had records on these labels in my collection for years. Granz founded Verve Records in 1956, a time of change not only in music but in domestic politics and race relations as well.
Like Francis Wolf and Alfred Lion (Blue Note’s founders from Germany), Phil and …

Featured, Music History »

The 3 F’s of Portugal: Fado, Futbol, Fatima

Posted June 2, 2014 by | 2 Comments
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I was recently on a plane en route from Praia, Cape Verde to Lisbon and was sitting next to a Cape Verdean who’ve I’ve known for many years. He was the tour manager of the late Cesaria Evora, who visited KCRW many times. He told me that “Fado, Futbol, and Fatima are the 3 F’s of Portugal”. We know about the first F, “Fado”–that …

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