When Maurice Ravel originally composed his Boléro in 1928 it was written to accompany ballet and there was no libretto. The work’s popularity has generated many arrangements and scorings, though, and now I’m thrilled to discover it inspired Angélique Kidjo to create a version where her voice is an essential element joining the more traditional instruments. This performance for a 2011 WGBH special, “Spirit Rising”, also features Branford Marsalis. [Read more…]
The weather this weekend is what set the tone for me. There was something about the mix of humidity and heat that just rippled out summertime. And to double your pleasure of the sultry delivery of that mood by Miles Davis & Gil Evans here are two takes from the same August 4th, 1958 recording session.
And while there may not be any motion to watch in this video, the creator did add a subtly changing visual element. [Read more…]
Scissor Sisters – Let’s Have A Kiki – Instructional Video [Warning: explicit language]
Can’t make the Pride events this weekend? Make your own party! Let’s have a Kiki! [Read more…]
Bastille Day is a French national holiday, celebrated on the 14th of July. It commemorates the anniversary of the storming of the fortress-prison in 1789, a turning point of the French Revolution, as well as the Fête de la Fédération, celebrating the unity of the French people in 1790.
Prisoners in the Bastille were held on the basis lettres de cachet, arbitrary royal indictments that could not be appealed and did not indicate the reason for the imprisonment. [Read more…]
By Stephen Cooper
With his signature sweet voice and a successful career spanning over four decades, Don Carlos is unquestionably a legendary figure in reggae music. The worldwide appeal of Carlos’ unique style of conscious roots reggae music is well-documented; an often-cited example well-worth watching on YouTube is from a concert Carlos gave in 2010 in Nairobi, Kenya; a massive crowd of an estimated 150,000 joyous fans turned out despite a sweltering African sun to dance, to praise Jah, and to listen to Don Carlos sing.
On April 8, 2017, I interviewed Don Carlos for approximately twenty minutes after he and his band Dub Vision performed before just a few hundred lucky fans at the Belly Up Tavern in San Diego, California. The many topics we discussed included: the controversy involving non-conscious dance hall music; new music he has released; a relatively new family-owned recording studio called Jus Time Records in Portmore, Jamaica; the importance of having a good sound engineer; the Jamaican government’s failure to properly invest in Jamaican music; and the influence that reggae stars Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs had on his career. What follows is a transcription of the interview modified only slightly for clarity. [Read more…]
By Stephen Cooper
Fortunate Youth is a six-piece reggae band with roots in Hermosa Beach, California. Since 2009 it has toured heavily in the United States and overseas and its albums and individual songs consistently top the Billboard and iTunes Reggae charts. The band just opened up a nationwide tour to promote its newly released eponymous album; they’ll play 50 shows over 70 days hitting as many states as possible.
On March 18, just hours before the band played to a sold-out crowd at The Regent Theater in Los Angeles, I was blessed to meet with Fortunate Youth’s frontman, lead vocalist Dan Kelly, for about twenty minutes. We discussed the band’s new album, its maturation over the years, the stigma facing “white reggae bands”, respect for Jamaica and Jamaican culture, and finally, some of the obstacles in the music business. [Read more…]
By Yuko Kurahashi
The world-premiere of Hershey Felder’s Our Great Tchaikovsky (directed by Trevor Hay and dramaturged by Meghan Maiya) at the San Diego Repertory Theatre’s Lyceum Stage portrays Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s life (1840-1893) and music.
During the show’s run (January 12-February 12), the Repertory Theatre is also exhibiting the work of Boris Malkin (1908-1973) in its newly renovated gallery. A Belarusian (formerly Soviet Union) artist, Malkin created hundreds of works ranging from oil paintings, watercolors, drawings to wood sculpture and scenic design. The exhibition serves as a wonderful preshow. [Read more…]
By Abby Zimet / Common Dreams
At a Stockholm ceremony this weekend, rocker and longtime colleague Patti Smith accepted Bob Dylan’s Nobel in Literature by offering up to the glittering audience a searing, timely rendition of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” Evidently rattled by the grand proceedings, Smith faltered on the second stanza, put her hands to her face and apologized to the audience – murmuring “I’m so nervous” in a lovely human moment – before gathering her strength and delivering a scorching, powerhouse performance.
Smith’s appearance in lieu of Dylan capped months of sometimes clamorous debate about whether the blue-eyed son’s decades of ineffable poetry are or are not literature – and, later, if his delay in responding and his failure to appear was or was not arrogance. The uproar was best laid to rest by one Committee member who serenely noted, “He is who he is.” [Read more…]
A tour of one of the 200 different ethnic groups who live & contribute to our California
While exploring Los Angeles one weekend during the summer, I stumbled upon the district of Little Armenia. The community intrigued me, so I dove deeper, traveled further and found a large, diverse Armenian culture in California.
The most moving tribute to Armenians is located in the park outside the Fresno Courthouse. Donated to the County of Fresno by the people of Armenian descent of the San Joaquin Valley, the statue was dedicated on August 11, 1970 and was created by sculptor Varaz Samuelian. The plaque reads:
“David of Sassoon is the legendary folk-hero of the Armenians who rid their land of foreign conquerors single-handedly. It is an epic based on historical events dating back to the seventh century A.D. Troubadours, poets and sculptors have immortalized him for it gives eloquent expression to man’s undying love of freedom and justice for all. This statue, by Varaz Samuelian of Fresno, represents a thousand Davids in a thousand lands where throughout all of history man has sought to sustain his freedom against overwhelming odds.” [Read more…]
By Stephen Cooper
If he were alive, the Honorable Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley, O.M. (Order of Merit), would have celebrated his 71st birthday on February 6. Even with the thirty-fifth anniversary of his tragic death from cancer last May, Bob remains the most recognizable ambassador of reggae music the world over.
Marley’s timeless appeal and continued relevance stems in no small part from the stirring political, racial, and social consciousness painstakingly infused in his songbook. From tracks like One Love to War (adopted from Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I’s historic speech before the United Nations General Assembly in 1963), Them Belly Full (But They Hungry), Get Up, Stand Up, Concrete Jungle – and many, many more of his songs – Bob Marley used the bully pulpit of international music stardom to disseminate the treasure of his accumulated moral wisdom. [Read more…]
Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez, whose music and voice chronicled the struggles and victories of the barrio, died a few days before his sixty-fifth birthday. A viewing, ceremony and celebration of life the weekend of November 4-6 are an opportunity for the extensive community of family and friends to pay their final respects. [Read more…]