We lost some of my favorite artists in 2013. I’ve been listening to them most of my life. Here are some in this pantheon of exceptional musical talent.

Richie Havens (1941-2013)

The gravelly-voiced singer got his start at Woodstock. He was on stage singing his classic ode, “Freedom” when the act after him didn’t show up. Festival organizers just told him to keep singing, which he did for hours. My first album of his was Something Else Again, and I still have that vintage LP, worn from years of play. I also had him perform on my former KCRW show, Cafe LA. Click here to listen. We’ll hear a short excerpt from that legendary Woodstock performance.

Bebo Valdes (1918-2013)

The patriarch of a family of Cuban piano virtuosos (Chucho, Chuchito), Bebo got his start in the 1950s, lead the orchestra at the fabled Havana nightclub The Tropicana, and inspired the sexy animated film Chico & Rita. He moved to Sweden after Castro took over, and won a Grammy for his duo album with Diego El Cigala, Lagrimas Negras. We’ll hear a swinging song from an earlier album, Bebo Rides Again.

Tabu Ley Rochereau (1940-2013)

One of Congolese rumba’s greatest singers got his start in the heady, optimistic period just after independence in 1960, working with the fabled African Fiesta and Africa Jazz groups lead by Joseph Kabasele.  He sang on immortal songs like “Independence Cha-Cha” and others.

Jim Hall (1935-2013)

He had a touch as light as a feather, but as he showed when a part of Sonny Rollins’ band, could cook as strongly as anybody. He influenced a lot of guitarists along the way. We’ll hear a cut he recorded with pianist John Lewis called “2 Degrees East, 3 Degrees West”, named after the 2 east coast musicians and 3 east coast musicians who recorded this album in an empty LA church (original album title was Grand Encounter). Jim Hall shows restraint in his classic solo, where he does so much with so few notes, his hallmark style.

Chico Hamilton (1921-2013)

Chico Hamilton grew up in Los Angeles, and changed the sound of jazz music with the addition of cellist Fred Katz, a young Paul Horn just out of Oberlin Conservatory, and later worked with Charles Lloyd, who’d just graduated from USC. We’ll hear a burning cut called “El Toro”, from the cd The Dealer, which introduced another young guitarist, Larry Coryell, into the jazz world.

Oscar Castro-Neves (1940-2013)

Oscar Castro-Neves is part of a royal bossa nova family; he was there at the very inception of the bossa nova movement in Brazil, culminating in the big Carnegie Hall concert of 1963. He lead many groups on Brazil nights at the Hollywood Bowl, and I’m fortunate to have known him as a personal friend. He had a soft but persuasive and virtuoso touch on acoustic guitar which made him an in-demand player of all Brazilian music. He also was a great producer: Yo-Yo Ma’s album The Soul of the Tango, which he produced, won a Grammy.

Donald Byrd (1932-2013)

One of Blue Note Records great trumpet players, Donald Byrd was a classically trained virtuoso who was equally adept in jazz. His fiery solos ignited many a Blue Note side. He later became popular after forming the jazz-funk band Blackbyrds in the 1970s.

Click to stream via KCRW Radio App

Rhythm Planet Playlist: 12/27/13

  1. Richie Havens / Freedom / Resume / Rhino
  2. Bebo Valdes / To Mario Bauza / Bebo Rides Again / Messidor
  3. Tabu Ley Rochereau / C’Est Comme Ca La Vie / C’Est Comme Ca La Vie / Sono Disc
  4. Oscar Castro-Neves / Double Rainbow / All One / Mack Avenue
  5. John Lewis (Feat. Jim Hall) / 2 Degrees East 3 Degrees West  / Grand Encounter / Pacific Jazz
  6. Chico Hamilton / El Toro / The Dealer / Impulse
  7. Donald Byrd / FuegoFuego / Blue Note

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  • Charles Carney

    Let’s not forget Yusef Lateef.

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