Posts Tagged ‘music’

Fred Hellerman was best known as a singer, guitarist, and songwriter with the folk group the Weavers from the late 1940s to the mid-60s. During and after the group’s existence, however, he also maintained a varied career behind the scenes in the music industry that included working as an arranger, session musician, and producer. In addition to writing songs for other performers, he also contributed music to motion pictures and the theater.

During the Red Scare, when the Weavers were barred from television, Hellerman was forced to record under the pseudonym Bob Hill.

The usual assumption is that the Weavers started their recording career with Gordon Jenkins at Decca Records, adapting their folk sound into an early-50s popular style but this song, from disc one of Goodnight Irene:The Weavers, 1949-1953, dispels this notion, going back to the quartet’s true recording debut, for Charter Records in 1949.

Rudy Van Gelder RIP

Posted: 28 August 2016 in Uncategorized
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Most of what I know of and appreciate in modern-classic jazz was made possible by recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder [ht: sw].

In Van Gelder’s hands, even the most furious music maintains a refined clarity, a center of calm assurance amid the turbulence. . .

And so it was, in both studio sessions (such as Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch) and live recordings (like John Coltrane’s Live At The Village Vanguard). 

Protest of the day

Posted: 26 May 2016 in Uncategorized
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[ht: bn]*

Meanwhile, unions (led by the CGT, the Confédération générale du travailare leading strike actions across France at oil refineries, nuclear power stations, ports, and transportation hubs to protest the labor reform bill the government pushed through the National Assembly without a vote.



*Here is a link to the lyrics of the famous Italian partisan song “Bella Ciao.” And another link to the Nuit Debout orchestra’s performance of Verdi’s “Nabucco.”


Chicago-born-and-raised composer-instrumentalist and veteran of the collective The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Henry Threadgill was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his 2015 album In for a Penny, In for a Pound (listen to the opening track here).

Prior to Monday, the only jazz performers to win a Pulitzer prize for music (while still alive) were Wynton Marsalis and Ornette Coleman. A few other greats, such as Thelonious Monk, had been honored posthumously – but denied the increased standing and support that might have been valuable when they were still creating art.

So-called classical compositions and performances have dominated, with few exceptions, the Pulitzer music prizes. According to Howard Reich,

Why would one genre dominate the prize for more than half a century?

Perhaps no one summed up the answer better than Duke Ellington, who had been recommended for a Pulitzer by the jury in 1965 but was rejected by the board.

“I’m hardly surprised that my kind of music is still without, let us say, official honor at home,” Ellington told writer Nat Hentoff in a 1965 New York Times magazine piece titled “This Cat Needs No Pulitzer Prize.”

“Most Americans,” added Ellington, “still take it for granted that European music – classical music, if you will – is the only really respectable kind. I remember, for example, that when Franklin Roosevelt died, practically no American music was played on the air in tribute to him … by and large, then as now, jazz was like the kind of man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with.”

Merle Haggard RIP

Posted: 6 April 2016 in Uncategorized
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Merle Haggard was, for me, the undisputed king of the Bakersfield sound.

Merle Haggard, one of the most successful singers in the history of country music, a contrarian populist whose songs about his scuffling early life and his time in prison made him the closest thing that the genre had to a real-life outlaw hero, died at his home in California, on Wednesday, his 79th birthday. . .

Mr. Haggard had an immense influence on other performers — not just other country singers but also ’60s rock bands like the Byrds and the Grateful Dead, as well as acts like Elvis Costello and the Mekons, all of whom recorded Mr. Haggard’s songs. Some 400 artists have released versions of his 1968 hit “Today I Started Loving You Again.”

He was always the outsider. His band was aptly named the Strangers.

Gato Barbieri RIP

Posted: 2 April 2016 in Uncategorized
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Born in Argentina (in the same city to which part of my family emigrated), Gato Barbieri was one of the best jazz musicians to emerge from South America. He managed to combine, with virtuosity on the alto and tenor saxophones, the heights of the free-jazz revolution with traditional latin rhythms, harmonies, and melodic themes.

Yesterday, I wrote about the attacks of liberal mainstream economists on Bernie Sanders and one of his economic advisers, Gerald Friedman.

Today, Neil Irwin tries to explain why the “liberal wonkosphere has a problem with Bernie Sanders.”

there may be something broader going on here beyond the specific disagreements about growth assumptions, or cost savings from a single-payer health system, or how to regulate the financial system.

Behind closed doors, among the left-of-center policy types who populate the congressional offices, executive agencies and think tanks of Washington, I’ve seen enough eye rolls when Mr. Sanders’s name comes up to suspect something more tribal is going on.

The wonkosphere vs. Bernie clash is not just a story of center-left versus left-left. It is also a clash between those who have been in the trenches of trying to make public policy for the last seven years versus those who can exist in a kind of theoretical world of imagining what public policy ought to be.

That’s pretty much what I argued yesterday: “The liberal mainstream economists who are now attacking Sanders and Friedman seem to be taking it personally, as if their monopoly on analysis and policy has been challenged.”

Irwin concludes by asserting that Sanders needs to mend “fences with left-of-center policy wonks.”

Alternatively, liberal mainstream economists might want to put aside their delicate sensibilities and, to invoke a saying from a time when a similar standoff between liberals and radicals took place, stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution.