Jazz, Popular and Other
Singing For Freedom

Singing For Freedom

Local Anti-Slavery concert rings out the news One of the most persistent delusions of human existence is the belief that one person has the right to enslave another.  Few people attempt to justify the practice publically, yet it thrives in its various forms virtually everywhere. According to Free the Slaves, a non-governmental organization/ lobby group...
Ode To An Everly

Ode To An Everly

Remembering a radiant voice   Phil Everly is the man who introduced harmony to rock ‘n’ roll.  People habitually refer to him and brother Don as if their voices were interchangeable.  Dead wrong.  Funky Don is the lyrical acid-voiced one, while celestial Phil is the one with a honey-voice.  Don’s twisted soul kept Phil’s airiness...
Best Albums of 2013

Best Albums of 2013

Inside out, Outside in for year’s Pop music  IMO, the most significant moment in 2013 pop wasn’t a song, album, or music video. It was an unforgettable turn of events embedded in yet another best-forgotten controversy surrounding Miley Cyrus. When Miley responded to Sinead O’Connor’s open letter – which strongly suggested the music industry was...
Merry Gentlemen, Rejoice!

Merry Gentlemen, Rejoice!

Erasure turns seasonal songs into radical praise in Snow Globe At Christmas time we forget that seasonal songs can also be praise songs. This comes clear in Erasure’s new release Snow Globe, a Christmas album built around the tradition vs. modernity tension of the holiday season–and yet an evergreen subject. Praise songs suit singer-lyricist Andy...
Soul for Foodies

Soul for Foodies

The Cecil cooks up Harlem Jazz history    Former Time-Warner CEO Richard Parsons and his wife opened two new restaurants in Harlem, Minton’s and The Cecil as a neighborhood restoration to bring back the local legendary 1930′s/1940′s jazz club Minton’s Playhouse and its aura. The revived Playhouse also resides in the original location uptown but...
Orchestral Rock

Orchestral Rock

Digging the deep roots of rock and roll  Until musicians Vernon Reid and Greg Tate and producer Konda Mason established the Black Rock Coalition in New York in 1985 the African American origins of rock music and its roots in the music of Bessie Smith, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Muddy Waters were...
Slippery Keyboard King

Slippery Keyboard King

Terry Waldo swings the blues for locals at JALC   Midway through the second session of keyboardist/writer/producer/author Terry Waldo’s four-part course on early 20th century ragtime pianist James P. Johnson (Tuesdays, 6:30-8:30 at Jazz at Lincoln Center), he scans the room from his perch at the piano. “Is there anybody here who wants to play the...
Anniversary Songs

Anniversary Songs

 Revisiting a Costello classic 30 years on  1983…Elvis Costello’s Punch the Clock was born to be misunderstood and underestimated.  After all, following the incendiary explosions of his first four albums and his successful “experimentation” into Motown, club, and country western stylings, Costello had released Imperial Bedroom the prior year.  Towering in literary emotional exhaustion, that...
Klezmer in the Ghetto

Klezmer in the Ghetto

Krakauer expands the klezmer’s repertoire Growing up in New York City, clarinetist David Krakauer drew his inspiration from classical, jazz, and rock music. Twenty-five years ago, he got hooked on an “identity exploration thing” and began to study klezmer, the music of his Jewish Eastern European forebears. Today he’s known around the world not only...
Serenading the Little Sparrow

Serenading the Little Sparrow

Tribute to Edith Piaf on the 50th anniversary of her death  Few singers have won so many the hearts as French songstress, Edith Piaf. Known as “The Little Sparrow” because of her diminutive stature and nervous energy, she became a universal symbol of love, loss and sorrow from the 1940s until her death in 1963...
From Ghetto to Gallery

From Ghetto to Gallery

Jay-Z  and Romanek bifurcate performance art in Picasso Baby  Rappers were always welcomed by the art world–a fact of the downtown avant-garde as captured in Blondie’s 1981 Rapture music video–even before Kanye West and Jay-Z deliberately sought art world approval. Jay-Z’s new music video Picasso Baby not only crosses the Black Curtain of limited, ghettoized...
Likemind Creates Alike

Likemind Creates Alike

  A new collective debuts at Jazz Standard Jazz musicians couldn’t be more individualistic. It’s the nature of the art. If you’re not your own man or woman, who are you? Every gig is another chance to explore a new direction, find a different sound, mesh with another group. The downside is you are truly and...
Speaking Swaghili

Speaking Swaghili

Why Kanye West’s New Slaves matters as cinema and music  Performance Art is dead. At least it felt that way until Kanye West’s New Slaves–an in situ projection that played in 66 cities around the world. Kanye’s single-take recitation of his song “New Slaves” stared back at its spectators, a rare, unexpected video reminder of...
Praise Yeezus

Praise Yeezus

Kanye West’s Idylls of Self-Projection It’s fitting Kanye West kicked off the promotional campaign for his new album Yeezus with a series of 66 projections, many of which were reportedly unsanctioned by authorities, of the New Slaves video onto landmark buildings throughout the world. Yeezus is all about projection. Just ask Lou Reed, whose July...
Resurrection Rock

Resurrection Rock

 Punk pioneers discovered in Motown  With Detroit being the epicenter of music during the 1960’s and ‘70s one wonders how many unsung music phenoms will eventually be discovered.  This year we saw an Oscar win for a film depicting the unknown musical genius of Detroiter Sixto Rodriguez in Searching for Sugarman.   Now, as if being...
Sharecropping Sirens

Sharecropping Sirens

A radiant documentary honors the background singer   In Greil Marcus’ original review of the Rolling Stones’ 1969 “Gimme Shelter,” he wrote about “women who can shout like Mary [sic] Clayton–gutty, strong, and tougher than any of the delightful leering figures that are jumping out of the old Stones’ orgy. She can stand up to Mick...
Music of the Heavens

Music of the Heavens

Musica Mundana’s transcendent New York performance Mundana is the worst kind of false cognate:  it pretends to mean its opposite.  Musica mundana is not, as one would expect, mundane music at all but the music of the spheres, the sounds the planets make as they revolve in limitless space, a heavenly noise we could hear...
Magnetic Musicianship

Magnetic Musicianship

Terence Blanchard brings jazz to opera Terence Blanchard takes big risks. Ever since his early years with drummer Art Blakey’s legendary Jazz Messengers, the 51-year -old trumpeter has stepped out to try new things, winning five Grammys along the way, most recently for the heartrending song cycle A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for...
Knee Deep in 20/20 Experiences

Knee Deep in 20/20 Experiences

Timberlake defines himself and today’s pop Justin Timberlake’s enduring commercial, critical, and street-level success can perhaps best be explained with an insight from Sigmund Freud: There is no “negative” in the unconscious. Ironically, though, in our messed-up culture JT’s shameless lack of negativity must be defined negatively. In other words, JT demands to be known...
Sojourner Snoop

Sojourner Snoop

A hip-hop icon’s chronicle of reincarnated rap culture Rapper Snoop Dogg’s not the first African-American musician to be smitten by reggae culture. For the most part, though, Black American traditions, both religious and musical, are too entrenched and compelling themselves to cede to Haile Selassie worship over the one drop riddim. Still, old school Rasta-reggae’s...
On the Blues Train

On the Blues Train

Glenn Ligon brings jazz to the Whitney It must have been incredibly daunting to put together the thought-provoking exhibit, “Blues for Smoke,” at the Whitney Museum, which runs through April 28. The brainchild of Bennett Simpson, curator at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, in consultation with the artist Glenn Ligon, the exhibition attempts...