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Archive for the ‘Popular Music’ Category

jazz band“Long before we debated what real punk-rock was, what true hip-hop was, or what made indie-rock authentic, jazz heads grappled with what is and isn’t jazz music. Now, the debate is whether jazz is dying off or not.

“Not long ago Jae Sinnett, a jazz drummer, composer, educator and radio personality, told NPR that jazz is dying because people are falling out of love with it. Hip-hop, Sinnet says, stole jazz’s thunder. He also blamed club owners for removing pianos from their venues to save space over the years.

“Sinnet’s claims are not unfounded. The Wall Street Journal‘s Terry Teachout reported in August that the audience for America’s great art form was withering away, based on data in the latest survey of public participation in the arts. According to the report, America’s jazz audience is not only shrinking, it’s aging. Attendance at jazz performances has dropped 30% since 2002. The median age of concert patrons in 2008 was 46; in 1982 it was 29. . . .

“Teachout said the problem is that most Americans see jazz as a form of high art. Sinnet confirmed that ‘the masses don’t understand the music,’ largely because there are fewer places to hear it. Getting ‘these kids’ to ‘realise [jazz] is something worth their time is difficult because they don’t hear it on TV or MTV.’ The word ‘jazz’ itself has even become sandbagged with lofty associations (Time Out London goes so far as to call it the ‘J Bomb’).” (more @ Intelligent Life)

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Robert Johnson“The mystery surrounding bluesman Robert Johnson‘s life and death feeds the lingering fascination with his work.

“There’s the myth he sold his soul to the devil to create his haunting guitar intonations. There’s the dispute over where he died after his alleged poisoning by a jealous man in 1938. Three different markers claim to be the site of his demise.

“His birthplace, however, has been verified. The seminal bluesman came into the world in 1911 in a well-crafted home built by his stepfather in the Mississippi town of Hazlehurst.

“Now, 71 years after his death, local officials want to restore the home in hopes of drawing Johnson fans and their tourism dollars to Copiah County, about 100 miles from the Delta region that most bluesmen called home.” (cont’d @ Variety)

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D'Lugoff“Art D’Lugoff, who was widely regarded as the dean of New York nightclub impresarios and whose storied spot, the Village Gate, was for more than 30 years home to performers as celebrated, and diverse, as Duke Ellington, Allen Ginsberg and John Belushi, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 85 and lived in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. . . .

“Opened in 1958, the Village Gate was on the corner of Bleecker and Thompson Streets. The cavernous basement space it occupied — the building’s upper floors were then a flophouse — had once been a laundry. . . .

“The club closed its doors in 1994, amid rising rents, a changing market for live music and the aftermath of some unsuccessful investments by Mr. D’Lugoff. It briefly reappeared on West 52nd Street in 1996 but sputtered out after less than a year. . . .

“The Gate may have lacked the cachet of the Village Vanguard, a more intimate West Village club, but it was a bright star in the city’s cultural firmament for decades. A young Woody Allen did stand-up comedy there. The playwright-to-be Sam Shepard bused tables there. A waiter named Dustin Hoffman was fired there for being so engrossed in the performances that he neglected his customers, though service was by all accounts never the club’s strength. Dozens of albums were recorded there, by musicians like Pete Seeger and Nina Simone and by comics like Dick Gregory.

“Though most often thought of as a jazz space — among the eminences heard there over the years were John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk — the Gate offered nearly every type of performance imaginable. There were blues artists like B. B. King; soul singers like Aretha Franklin; rockers like Jimi Hendrix; comics like Mort Sahl and Richard Pryor; and Beat poets.” (more @ NY Times)

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SgtPepperLucy O'Donnell“Lucy O’Donnell, the woman who inspired the classic Beatles song Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, has died aged 46.

“The song [was] featured on the ground-breaking 1967 album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

“John Lennon’s elder son Julian said it was inspired by a picture he drew of his classmate Lucy O’Donnell when they were at a nursery school in Weybridge, Surrey, in 1966.

“Julian said he took the picture home and showed it to his father, explaining, ‘It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds.'” (more @ Daily Telegraph)

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wolcott-0908-01Pity the culture snob, as Kindles, iPods, and flash drives swallow up the visible markers of superior taste and intelligence. With the digitization of books, music, and movies, how will the highbrow distinguish him- or herself from the masses?” (James Wolcott, via Vanity Fair)

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Peter & Gordon“Gordon Waller, who formed half of Peter and Gordon, a successful pop duo that followed the Beatles to America as part of the British Invasion of the 1960s and that scored a No. 1 hit with ‘A World Without Love,’ died on Friday in Norwich, Conn. He was 64 and lived in Ledyard, Conn. . . .

“The song, a lilting, plaintive ballad, opens with the lyrics, ‘Please lock me away/And don’t allow the day/Here inside, where I hide with my loneliness/I don’t care what they say, I won’t stay/In a world without love.’

“Peter and Gordon toured the United States and appeared on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show‘ and other network variety shows — part of a wave of British groups that swept the United States, among them Chad and Jeremy, the Dave Clark Five and Herman’s Hermits.” (more @ NY Times)

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Tom WilkesTom Wilkes, an art director, photographer and designer whose posters for the Monterey Pop Festival and album covers for the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, George Harrison and others helped illustrate the age of rock ’n’ roll, died on June 28 in Pioneertown, Calif., in the high desert east of Los Angeles. He was 69. . . .

“For the Rolling Stones, he created a controversial cover for the album ‘Beggars Banquet,’ using a photograph of a toilet stall with the name of the band prominent on a wall filled with graffiti. The record label initially refused to release the cover, and replaced it with a fake invitation to a dinner. Mr. Wilkes’s version was released later.

“For Dave Mason’s ‘Alone Together,’ Mr. Wilkes photographed Mr. Mason wearing a top hat and a long-tailed coat against a backdrop of canyon rocks. For Joe Cocker’s ‘Mad Dogs & Englishmen,’ he placed a photograph of the long-haired Mr. Cocker flexing his right bicep within an illustration of a mirror frame. For George Harrison’s ‘All Things Must Pass,’ he depicted the former Beatle as if he were a woodsman in a fairy tale, surrounded by reclining trolls.

“Only hours before Janis Joplin’s fatal drug overdose in 1970, Mr. Wilkes photographed her for the album ‘Pearl,’ colorfully dressed and coiffed and looking remarkably relaxed and happy. He photographed Eric Clapton, sitting in a chair in a white suit, for his first solo album, and for Neil Young’s ‘Harvest,’ he created the typescript title over a red sun set against a wheat-colored background.” (more @ NY Times)

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