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JazzWax Aretha, Bob and Terry

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JazzWax Aretha, Bob and Terry

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In The Wall Street Journal this week, I wrote the Aretha Franklin obituary (go here). Aretha was a complex artist. A woman with enormous vocal power and talent, she often was at the mercy of men who made decisions on her behalf at record labels, concerts and even at home. Many of these men didn’t always serve her well. In some ways, Franklin’s career happened in spite of their bad decisions.

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My strongest memory of Franklin was attending her lavish birthday party in March 2012 at the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South. It was held in a small ballroom, and as I recall she didn’t arrive until everyone had just about finished eating. I still have the menu, and it was pretty spectacular.

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When Aretha arrived, she was wearing a grey fur. She sat and quickly began holding court. The person who invited me eventually got me in front of her. We spoke for about 30 seconds before someone else was squeezed in. I don’t remember if she looked at me while we spoke. I do recall that Aretha had a look of blank disinterest, an expression I’ve seen turn up in many videos over the years. As a result, one never really knew how she felt or what mattered to her at any given moment. I also never could figure out whether Aretha liked playing that role or felt it was expected of her so she did so. Perhaps it was a little of both.

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At the end of the day, none of this matters. Aretha was a woman who was pulled in a million different directions and was fine with all of it. My sense is that the only time she was herself was on stage, putting audiences in a trance with her voice.    

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Also in the WSJ,
I interviewed R.L. Stine, one of the most successful authors known to mankind (go here). Bob is the writer of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series of horror stories for kids. His own childhood was a trip. He loved horror comics but his mother wouldn’t let him bring them in the house. So each Saturday he went for a haircut because there was a stack of them there. As Bob said, “I had less hair then than I do now.” Bob is so funny.

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And finally,
in case you missed my WSJ review of the new Erroll Garner album, Nightconcert, go here. The music at the live concert at Amsterdam’ Concertgebouw in November 1964 is extraordinary. The album’s sound is terrific as well. 

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Lydia MacDonald
was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, to an Italian mother and Scottish father. After the liberation of Italy, she went to sing in Italy, where she become a favorite vocalist of Piero Piccioni, one of the great composers of the Italian cinema. I’ll let David Chilver, MacDonald’s nephew, pick it up from here:

“During World War II, my aunt sang for the U.S. and U.K. Forces Networks and with the Ted Heath Orchestra in England as the band’s first female vocalist. Then she returned to Italy where she focused on being a movie-soundtrack artist from the 1950s to the early 1970s. Unfortunately, few examples of her recorded work survive.

“However, just recently, the clip below appeared on YouTube. It is evocative of its time in the early 1960s . This is a good example of Lydia singing a catchy pop song in Italian and shows off her voice and style to good effect. The film with which it had some soundtrack connection became something of a classic featuring as it did the great Jeanne Moreau, Marcello Mastroianni and others.

“The arrangement is by a gentleman named Elvio Favella—a somewhat obscure figure. There is, however, a big band CD of his available on Amazon and he appears to have been a mentor to the well regarded (and sometimes avant-garde) Italian pianist Giorgio Gaslini.”

Here’s the clip…

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Bob Bain.
A tribute to the late guitarist and Henry Mancini Orchestra regular will be held at the Sportsmen’s Lodge Events Center, 12833 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, on Sunday, August 19th at 4 p.m. Here’s Bain’s signature opening to My One and Only Love on The Mancini Touch (1960), featuring Dick Nash on trombone and Bain playing obbligatos…

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Terry Pollard.
Last week, Michael Weeden, son of pianist and vibraphonist Terry Pollard and head of the Terry Jean Pollard Music Foundation, wrote to let me know that a street in Detroit was finally named in his mother’s honor. For more information, go here and here.

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What the heck
. Here’s Sarah Vaughan singing Detour Ahead in March 1958, with Ronnell Bright accompanying on piano, Richard Davis on bass and Roy Haynes on drums, with Henry Coker on trombone, recorded in the early hours of the morning at Chicago’s London House…

Oddball album cover of the week.

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So many questions. Has the tenor saxophone floated high up in the air or did it mysteriously swell to a size that exceeds its case. Why is the model posing so awkwardly? Is that her necklace of black beads or the strap for the horn? Is that a mirror on the left? What does any of it have to do with soulfulness? And where’s Jug?

       

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Goldmine Magazine Indie Spotlight: Beau + Luci, Beth Snapp, Dan Johnson, Sevi Ettinger, Handsome and the Humbles and Kris Gruen

Indie musical artists — from the duo Beau + Luci to Kris Gruen — are spotlighted for their recent work.

The post Indie Spotlight: Beau + Luci, Beth Snapp, Dan Johnson, Sevi Ettinger, Handsome and the Humbles and Kris Gruen appeared first on Goldmine Magazine.

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Goldmine Magazine 10 Albums That Changed My Life: John McEuen

McEuen’s fascinating new book, “The Life I’ve Picked,” details his storied past and the innovative efforts he’s put forth with notable friends and on his own. Who better then to offer a list of indelible albums that leave a lingering influence?

The post 10 Albums That Changed My Life: John McEuen appeared first on Goldmine Magazine.

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Goldmine Magazine Record Store Recon: Taang! Records

Tanng! Records is much more than a San Diego record store, it’s a record label, started back in 1984 with a focus on showcasing the Boston punk scene.

The post Record Store Recon: Taang! Records appeared first on Goldmine Magazine.

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Goldmine Magazine Cropper gold!

Steve Cropper shares his gift of gold (records, that is). Interview by Lee Zimmerman.

The post Cropper gold! appeared first on Goldmine Magazine.

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JazzWax Aretha Franklin (1942-2018)

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Aretha Franklin, long considered the undisputed “Queen of Soul” and one of America’s most emotional and spiritual interpreters of pop, jazz and soul songs, died on Thursday at her home in Detroit. She was 76. The cause was advanced pancreatic cancer.

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My Franklin obituary and appreciation for The Wall Street Journal can be found here. Yesterday, I spoke by phone with singer-songwriter Valerie Simpson about her feelings for Franklin. Valerie, who began in New York as a gospel singer and crossed over to secular recording, wrote many of soul’s most important songs with her husband Nickolas Ashford:

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“There was a purity to Aretha’s voice that was natural. She was a pure singer without a riff or a gimmick, just a great tone and delivery. She came from the church, where you sing from your soul to God. That translated to all of the songs she sang. There was no genre she couldn’t touch with her special feeling.

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“She covered several of my songs with Nick, including Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand), You’re All I Need to Get By, Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing, I’m Every Woman and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. She transformed those songs by putting her singular stamp on them.

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“That was her gift. She was an original and had an expression and a way of phrasing notes that was all her own. She’d sit at the piano and come up with what she wanted to say on songs we thought we had already heard the final word on. She would show us one more time that a song could go deeper and soar higher.

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“Aretha isn’t dead. There’s too much of her music here for that. Her presence will never be diminished or forgotten. There’ nobody left to fill her spiritual, soulful space.”

Val

Valerie (above, courtesy of Valerie Simpson) choked me up. As for Aretha, this video (42 minutes) is all you need to watch to learn everything you need to know about her and what made her special. It’s from her concert with the Sweet Inspirations at Amstetrdam’s Concertgebouw in April 1968…

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JazzWax Aretha Franklin (1942-2018)

Goldmine Magazine Premiere of new video from HAWK (feat. Gary Louris and Ken Stringfellow)

Here is a premiere of Hawk’s new video, “Around The Sun” (above), a song off of the album, “Bomb Pop.” And read what bandleader David Hawkins has a lot to say about the song’s meaning.

The post Premiere of new video from HAWK (feat. Gary Louris and Ken Stringfellow) appeared first on Goldmine Magazine.

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