HAPPY BIRTHDAY DICK HYMAN!

This piece was originally published March 7th, 2010.

Dick Hyman Icon

 

Besides having one of the greatest names to ever grace an LP cover (as well as being a name that could easily provide hours of laughs for some adolescent stoners) New York City pianist/organist/keyboardist Dick Hyman has surfed over a variety of American musical styles and sounds for over 50 years and more than 100 albums.


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From his earliest days as a classically trained pianist, Dick Hyman learned, through the influence of his uncle, the concert pianist Anton Rovinsky, to embellish, and improvise on the keyboard and became adept at utilizing the works of classical composers such as Beethoven and Chopin, fitting in their signature melodies within his own jazz improvisations.

He is one of the music world’s greats, be it as a pianist, organist, arranger, music director, or composer.
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Robert Jaz’s Disoriented Guide to Super Bowl XLIV

This piece was originally published February 1st, 2010.

Larry Fine Football IconThe Super Bowl.

You’re reading those words and doubtlessly experience an instantaneous reaction to them.

In an era of total media saturation and immersion in the commercial build-up that proceeds it, a fairly difficult task is to not be bombarded by a mention of this grand American institution somewhere along your daily travels.

This Sunday is Super Bowl XLIV (that’s number 44 which means next year will be the really grand one with Super Bowl XLV, until we get to really really grand one which I guess they need to call Super Bowl L !? if they stay with the Roman style of numbering them. then again maybe they will go with XXXXX or maybe they will move to Sanscrit numbers because they look better).

 

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A TRIBUTE TO WILLIE MITCHELL AND HIS SOUTHERN SOUL SOUND

This piece was originally published January 11th, 2010. Hi Records IconYou have doubtlessly heard a Willie Mitchell production. Perhaps it was one of John Lennon’s fave songs of the early ’70s—the Ann Peebles’ 1973 R&B/Pop classic, “I Can’t Stand The Rain.” It might be one of Willie’s own funky soul groove singles of the ’60s such as “Soul Serenade,” “Poppin'” or “The Crawl.” Or, eventually, if you’ve ever thrown a stone anywhere near a place where music was coming out of a speaker, then it was probably one of the many, many smash hits that Willie produced (and often co-wrote) with the inimitable Southern soul giant of the ’70s, singer Al Green.
Take your pick: “Let’s Stay Together,” “Call Me,” “Tired Of Being Alone,” “You Ought To Be With Me,” “Let’s Get Married,” “Love And Happiness,” “Here I Am (Come And Take Me)” —all mighty Al Green gems easily recognized and forever playing somewhere on the planet at this very moment.

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The Film That Rocked

This piece was originally published November 16th, 2009

Radio Caroline IconRenowned Director Richard Curtis (Blackadder, Mr. Bean, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and A Funeral to name only a few) brings to life the exciting, colorful and often madcap world that was revolving around the zeitgeist of mid sixties Britain in his latest feature, Pirate Radio (U.K. title: The Boat That Rocked).

Forget the usual tepid remakes, uninspired adaptations, disappointing ideas and lousy sequels to films that were never so hot to begin with, this is easily my favorite original fun film of the year.


The story takes place during 1966.
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AC/DC: My Favorite Musical acts I will See Again and Again. Part 3.

This post was originally published August 24th, 2009

Happy Devil IconA few weeks ago I attended a concert by the Australian band AC/DC at Gillette Stadium, a.k.a. home to the NFL’s New England Patriots.

These days, Gillette is located within the confines of a sparkling wonder that is Patriot Place: A mega city of commerce hosting the Patriot’s Hall of Fame, restaurants and macho retail. Really, it is a man-mall of sorts, built out of the barren disrepair and lonely dust that was once the rickety wooden seat loserville known as the old Foxboro Stadium.

Appropriate venue for a band of yobs turned colossal giants that are the boys in AC/DC.

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SKY SAXON AND THE SEEDS: A Tribute.

June 25th, 2009 will doubtlessly go down in popular culture as a momentous day of loss.

This piece was originally published July 13th, 2009

Flower Girl IconJune 25th, 2009 will doubtlessly go down in popular culture as a momentous day of loss.

For the majority of the world’s citizens, it was a day that meant the end of the life for one of the world’s singular, biggest record selling— and to put it mildly—more eccentric entertainers of recent times, Michael Jackson.

Concurrently, it was a day of losing another talent. An actress with charisma, beauty and an affable demeanor, not forgetting an impressive body of acting work, Farrah Fawcett.

An actress whose best known role—while only appearing for one season—boosted a show into a multi season iconic smash hit series that was never as good after she quit. Her pin up poster is still the biggest selling ever, and the profits from sales of the posters were far greater than any salary she made from acting, regardless of how huge the series.

Coming in third on this day of loss, and understandably, relegated to a much smaller mention on that day’s gargantuan news headlines, was another entertainer. Perhaps an unknown to most, or a low level blip on the radar of the stars, but for others, myself included, just as important and as colorful a character as anyone who ever chose the arts as a means of self expression.

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LUAU HUT PART 1: Chasing the Polynesian Dream…

This piece was originally published June 22nd, 2009

Tiki Mug IconWelcome to a recurring new Mystery Box series: The Mystery Box Luau Hut — my ongoing look at all things from the world and history of Tiki Culture and Exotica music.

Since childhood, like many other fans, I too have fallen under the spell of all things Polynesian themed a.k.a. Tiki.

Never a month goes by that I don’t rekindle that fondness in some way.

So I am happy to report that Tiki style not only manages to still exist (if you seek it out) but also continues to inspire newer artists, designers, and musicians who wish to escape into its dreamy world of imaginary exploration.

First, a look at the origins of this colorful style.

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THE UPPER CRUST: My Favorite Musical Acts I Will See Again and Again. Part 2.

This piece was originally published June 8th, 2009

The Upper Crust IconDon’t Give Up On Live Music!

Caveat lector! This column has nothing to do with pizza.

It has to do with a band. An enormously talented and ingeniously witty band out of Boston called The Upper Crust.

One month ago I began this series of columns that would each cover one musical act that I would gladly go to see in concert over and over again.

As previously mentioned in an earlier episode, in deciding which acts should go into this list of live favorites, these are my prerequisites:

1) They are still currently making music I like and are touring live.
2) I’ve seen each more than a few times.
3) All stand out with a unique sound, presence and charisma.

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THE UPPER CRUST

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Mark E. Smith and The Fall: My Favorite Musical Acts I Will See Again and Again. Part 1.

This piece was originally published May 18, 2009

Don’t Give Up On Live Music!

I'm A Mummy IconI’ve been going to see live music for as long as I can remember loving music. Whether it was as a kid being brought somewhere to experience the new sensation of various summertime jazz performers in the park, or later on as I ventured out to nightspots and musical gatherings on my own. I have lived music, played music, gone to support fellow comrades in sound as they too formed bands, and later helped put together a massive 3-day music festival that was beyond an incredible experience.

No matter what your particular preferred genre of sound, simply put, there is little in life that can come close to the thrill of seeing and hearing a live concert. If the concert happens to be by an artist whose music you are already familiar with and own work by, that’s a plus. For myself, there are then the wonderful few who make a return touring visit extra special and rewarding.

This is the first column for what will end up being 13 columns spread out over this year, for which I have cherry picked favorite musical acts that I really get excited about going to see over and over again in concert.

My prerequisites:
1) They are still currently making music I like and are touring live.
2) I’ve seen each more than a few times.
3) All stand out with a unique sound, presence and charisma.

Perhaps there is a chance you will have heard and love a few, or perhaps have not heard of any. Hopefully, at least one will tickle your interest enough to check out a sample or read further about them via their web site.

Fan=fanatic and I guess you could say that for each of the musical acts I will be covering, I am a fanatic and will almost always buy whatever it is that they have to sell me.

Part 1)

The Fall

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MONKS: THE TRANSATLANTIC FEEDBACK—Not Your Everyday Monk Rockers

This piece was originally published April 27th, 2009

Half Blue Girl IconHow could 5 American GI’s, stationed on a military base in the middle of 1961’s Cold War immersed Germany, in a few years become one of the most out there, avant garde, experimental garage rock and roll art bands to ever come along in pop music’s history?

Well, it doesn’t hurt if you have an electric banjo, are called MONKS and dress like…Monks.

For over ten years, Directors Dietmar Post and Lucia Palacios have been working to bring the little known tale of one of the wildest, most strikingly different bands of the sixties to the screen. This unlikely story is a superbly engaging film called Monks: The Transatlantic Feedback.

For those uninitiated to the Monks’ story, music or visual image, this film tells a thoroughly head scratching tale: they were a group of GI’s who originally set out to primarily have some fun and meet some girls through making beat music and covering Chuck Berry tunes under the name The Torquays in 1964 while performing for their fellow servicemen also stationed in Germany. They soon hooked up with “a pair of loopy existentialist visionaries,” namely two German art student/producers who helped use their own experimental ideas about art, noise, society, politics and generally how to create an in your face image—best seen to be believed—to shape the band into an altogether different kind of pop act.

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