Saturday, November 15, 2008

Miriam Makeba (1932 - 2008)

Miriam Makeba (4 March 1932 - 9 November 2008) was a South African singer and civil rights activist. The Grammy Award winning afro-beat artist is often referred to as Mama Afrika. Along with Harry Belafonte, Makeba is an early icon of black identity, and her outspoken views gained her as much attention as her music. But one thing that MAMA AFRICA emphasizes is how consistent and appealing Makeba remained as a singer and synthesizer of styles. This is a fine overview of this vibrant and enduring cultural legend.

This 25-song set spans a hefty chunk of Miriam Makeba’s career, reaching back to the 1950s and moving up through the ‘60s and ‘70s. Represented here are Makeba’s recording with the Manhattan Brothers, as well as her acclaimed solo work, which blends American popular styles with indigenous African sounds.

This is Pata Pata, maybe the song she's most associated with.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mitch Mitchell (1947 - 2008)

AP - PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Mitch Mitchell, drummer for the legendary Jimi Hendrix Experience of the 1960s and the group's last surviving member, was found dead in his hotel room early Wednesday. He was 61.

Mitchell was a powerful force on the Hendrix band's 1967 debut album "Are You Experienced?" as well as the trio's albums "Electric Ladyland" and "Axis: Bold As Love." He had an explosive drumming style that can be heard in hard-charging songs such as "Fire" and "Manic Depression."

The Englishman had been drumming for the Experience Hendrix Tour, which performed Friday in Portland. It was the last stop on the West Coast part of the tour.

Hendrix died in 1970. Bass player Noel Redding died in 2003.

Erin Patrick, a deputy medical examiner, said Mitchell apparently died of natural causes. An autopsy was planned.
"He was a wonderful man, a brilliant musician and a true friend," said Janie Hendrix, chief executive of the Experience Hendrix Tour and Jimi Hendrix' stepsister. "His role in shaping the sound of the Jimi Hendrix Experience cannot be underestimated."

Mitch Mitchell brought a whole new approach to rock drumming as he was heavily influenced by drummer Elvin Jones' polyrhythms, something he was never shy of admitting. Embedded vid below shows what a creative force Mitch was, propelling Jimi Hendrix's music at the Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970. RIP Mitch, you won't be forgotten.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New York Stories Vol. 1

For the making of this rare, out-of-print gem from 1992 some stellar performers gathered in NYC to celebrate the time-honored habit of the studio jam session. The gentlemen in question were the great late Danny Gatton on guitar, Bobby Watson on alto sax, Roy Hargrove on trumpet, Joshua Redman on tenor sax (on his first recording), Franck Amsallem on piano, Charles Fambrough on bass and Yuron Israel on drums. The concept was that each musician would bring a composition to the studio where it was recorded in the least takes possible in order to convey that live feel. The results might not be of Miles' So What proportions (which was recorded in the exact same way), but these guys show the world what an accomplished jazz player knowing his chops can do in a spontaneous musical situation - and they can do a lot. Alas, this splendid idea from the Blue Note label is laying at the bottom of the Ocean of Great Jazz Ideas and a Vol.2 was never released, so we have to cherish Vol.1 we have here as much as we can, enjoy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hampton Hawes - Live at The Jazz Showcase in Chicago Vol.2 [1973]

This post brings our tribute to this great jazzman and human being to a close. For anyone interested to delve more in depth into this extraordinary man's life and times, I heartily recommend his autobiography Raise Up Off Me.

Hampton Hawes (p)
Cecil McBee (b)
Roy Haynes (d)

MC By Joe Segal
Blue Bird / Blue Vamp
My Funny Valentine
MC By Hampton Hawes
Walking Around The Town
The Shadow Of Your Smile
Carson Blues
Spanish Mood

Rec. Chicago, IL, June 1973