This annual award, which was presented for the first time in 2015 for work done in 2014, is now open for nominations!
We flip things around a bit at Musicians’ Corner. Usually when you read about music in the media what you read was written by a journalist. On this site artists write and speak about music with minimal journalistic involvement. Usually it is journalists who express opinions about music and musicians in the media. On this site musicians are about to express an opinion about music journalists – in the form of giving an award out! Yes, usually when awards are given out they are given by journalists to artists…
With this award we want to encourage accomplished journalistic work about music. It is of great significance to us all, to artists as well as to music fans.
Who among music journalists dug deeper, was in the right place, expanded your horizon, did the best interviews, took you back, described this art form and the world through it, in 2017? Who among music journalists deserves an award for outstanding work last year? In your opinion? Let’s have it!
We are open to nominations for the award until 4/1/2018. You are welcome to nominate a music journalist you read, listen to or view, a music journalist you work with, and if you are a music journalist you can nominate yourself too.
Please nominate using the form below. Include the name of the journalist/s you nominate and links to journalistic work by the nominee/s. The recipient will be selected by an artist jury based on the shortlist of journalists that YOU provide through nominating. This Award is given for work done in the previous year.
To read about the Award, and the previous recipients and juries, please visit the Award section on this platform.
Randy Weston pays tribute to James Reese Europe and releases as new record.
Music is life itself. Without music our planet would be dead. Music is our 1st language.
I travel all over the world but I speak Music to people, not Japaneese, not Chinese, German, etc.... MUSIC!
Randy Weston "African Cookbook" (1972)
The original Music comes from the Universe. Mother Nature is the original orchestra: sounds of the birds, the thunder, babies being born : their 1st cry is music. Mother Nature is always improvising .
I do not know about computer music. I listen to the ancestors – they left us great music – a legacy: Duke, Armstrong, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Thelonious Monk etc..
The whole concept of Music began in Africa thousand years ago in the Nubians Civilizations. Everyone should read these books: “Egyptian Rhythm” by Moustapha Gadalla, “Golden age of the Moor” by Ivan Van Sertima and “100 Years of Negro in show Business: The Tom Fletcher Story” by Tom Fletcher.
My History about James Reese Europe in the late 1940 is that I went to a night club in Harlem named Lucky's, and I met the owner there: the great pianist and composer Luckey Roberts, I was young amateur pianist. He told me how James Reese Europe Championed black Music by organizing African American Artist on every level. He formed the Clef Club – the first Union of African American Musicians. His was the first black orchestra to play Carnegie hall with his 1912 Symphony of Negro Music with 10 pianists. The great Eubie Blake told me that James Reese Europe gave us a statute of professional Musicians, and he inspired me to organize the African American Musicians Society with Melba Liston, Ray Bryant, Sadik Hakim Nadi Qamar, and John Handy While living in France I went to some cities where James Reese Europe played for the French and American Soldiersduring the first world war, Paris, Aix les Bains, Grenoble, Chamberry, Lyon – bringing Music they never heard before, that lifted the Spirits of the soldiers and the French people.
Randy Weston at Jazz à Vienne
My New double solo Piano CD called SOUND was recorded on Nagra DII digital at Hotel Montreux Palace during the Montreal Jazz Festival 2002 and have decided to put it out by my Label "African Rhythms " and take me back to my solo career in Europe .
Randy Weston's new release Sounds
Randy Weston is an eminently legendary pianist and composer, born in 1926. After serving in WWII Weston began his career in music and was voted New Star Pianist in Down Beat Magazine in 1955. Highly decorated and honored since, Weston was based in Morocco for years, where he also ran his own club. He has been releasing records since 1954, and in 2010 his autobiography "African Rythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston" was published and celebrated as a highly important piece of work to the story of jazz.
February 10th, 2018 Randy Weston celebrates the legacy of James Reese Europe at The Kennedy Center. Find out more about that HERE.
And find out more about Randy Weston and his new release HERE.
Music is therapy. Music is meditation. Music is an exercise in discipline.
But most of all music is freedom.
Music has the same color as the air. You can close your eyes but you can’t close your ears.
If you play it well,that’s the only thing that matters.
Kat Dyson performing at the She Rocks Awards in 2017
Being a young Southern girl I of course had to learn to play the piano. The boys got guitars and drums and it seemed much more fun. They were out on the porch playing,having a ball. I wanted one! My mother got me a guitar, and not long after she passed away from an aneurism...And I will play guitar until I leave this world.
We didn’t have a piano in our home. I grew up in a small rural neighborhood with a great piano teacher, and I had to go to practice at the teacher’s house. The boys were learning and listening to records and radio.The guitar just seemed far more accessible.
The first time I played a gig and made money in a club is where I realized that I could have fun AND get paid. “I can do this and make money?” I got much more than my weekly allowance. I’m the oldest of seven siblings so I fell in love with the group dynamics of a band.After high school,I went to university and formally studied classical voice and guitar and music education.
The professional female musicians I've worked with share a similar feeling as I did growing up playing music-that they had to be twice as prepared,driven and focused to be taken serious in the music industry.I think we,as women, bring heart and soul and patience, and there isn't a big of competition between us. We are focused yet enjoy playing. Our hearts and ears are open and open for suggestions as well.
A lot of organizations will hire a woman for the optics. If she looks good the- wow-wow!! You have to look good in the industry, but you need to know how to play too, although some organizations may not care about their skill set.
Sharing an anecdote or two I was working with Colin James, who was a protege of Stevie Ray Vaughan He traveled to work for SRV saying “I’ll be your tech for free,just teach me...At one point. I was backstage with Colin and an incredible group of artists at the end of a festival, and among them was B.B. King. He shook my hand and my hand disappeared in his gigantic hand. He let my touch Lucille. He seemed to have telephone wires on that guitar. You had to manhandle that thing. He was about make a speech at a college where he was to be honored, and he asked me 'What am I going to tell them'? perplexed by the invitation.He was so down to earth and so gentlemanly . I asked him “Don't you know who you are to us? He was talking to me like a daughter...supercool!
I was introduced to Bernie Worrell by Felicia Collins. The recording session with him was like a big party, but he was cool and serious ..and so focused, with a spirit so free. He said “Do what you feel – just make it funky!
I am selective about answering Prince questions.Usually I can sense if they come from a good place or not.
When I first met him,he asked me who I listen to. I told him that I listened to Jeff Lee Johnson and John Scofield ,for example at the time, and to Wes Montgomery as a constant go-to,melodically.
The Emancipation album was finished by then, but after we had worked together for a while he let me record a guitar part on The Love We Make, and he didn’t change a thing about it. He trusted my voice ...
What he did on stage depended on his musical vision for each tour and changed constantly. He rotated instruments,as he mastered many. Every band had a different make up and purpose.
At one point he asked me what I thought he should add to the set we were working on.i suggested adding an unplugged section;just sit with a guitar and do a few songs...He laughed and responded that that would be so boring, but a while later..he finally did it, and people loved it, and he wound up doing a lot of it.
He was influenced as an artist at a time when iconic artists entertained and big productions dominated live concerts. Over the years I think he started to get the message that people simply wanted to hear his music,any way he wanted to present it...in a grand way or in an intimate setting...
Rocksugah performing at the She Rocks Awards
Right now my band ROCKSUGAH will be the house band at the She Rocks Awards 2018 at the NAMM Show with Divinity Roxx among others, which we do every year. After that I will do a special Valentine’s show with Gary Taylor and Najee before I go on tour with my Italian boss Zucchero. In March I’m doing the Black Women Rock event (BWR)in Detroit,which is run by Jessica Care Moore.It honors women of color in rock and alternative music. This year we will honor the great Nona Hendryx, whom I can't wait to work with again.We will also bring BWR to the West Coast in May. In April,I take part in the Prince celebrations in Minneapolis .
Kat Dyson is a a guitarist and singer, who has worked with a long list of fellow artists, a list that includes Cyndi Lauper, Natalie Cole, Ivan Neville, Keb Mo, Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart, Jeff Healey, Bernie Worrell, Prince, Donny Osmond, T.I., Seal, Sheila E, Joi, George Clinton and the P-Funk AllStars, MusiqueSoulchild, Phoebe Snow, Res, The Winans, Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams, Big Mamma Thornton, Ben E. King, Bo Diddley, and Odetta.
Music to me is life. Music is spirituality. Music is me telling a story. I believe in a creator and in carrying a message. I believe in reaching out to people with an open heart and mind. Not everybody has that.
We all learn by going back. We don’t listen to our parents until we see what they talk about. If you get lost you go back to the basics and realize that it doesn’t matter how modern a building is, it still needs a foundation or it will fall down.
Alvin Queen drum solo
I had a brother who was five years older than me, and I wanted to be like him. I came up in the church, where what the week had been like was unloaded by the church-goers on Sundays. My brother joined the school band, which was a marching band, and it was all about marching parades. I joined when I was old enough. When I was walking with my mother I once saw a kid who was playing the drum set in a store window. I asked if I could go up there and play the drums, and I went for three or four lessons for the store owner, Andy Lalino, before my mother said that we couldn’t afford more lessons, at which the Mr. Lalino said that I could stay around and help him out with chores – and that he would teach me to play the drums for free.
I got schooled in church and schooled on the bandstand. You don’t tell an older person what to do – they guide you. Then you turn into the mentor as the years go by. School teachers never had the bandstand experience. I have so much to share because everybody I met in my career left me something. I am getting ready to do more work in Europe and Japan, and I’m taking a bandstand workshop to schools.
It’s hard to be in the mentor generation. It is hard to look at old videos on YouTube where I’m the only one who is alive now. Not long ago they were all alive and my phone used to ring a hundred times a day.
You can’t read your way through jazz. The only place where that works is in a big band-setting. Jazz used to be music that people danced to. Then John Coltrane opened the door. It was a door that came from an era of freedom of speech, and freedom of speech is also where music comes from, and I was there when the door opened.
Alvin Queen and Ruth Brown
I came up in New York. I have worked with so very many over the years. Among the many, just to mention a few, Ruth Brown used to call me “Queeny”, among the numerous who used to call me. Randy and Michael Brecker were very close, very, like family – among the very many who were like family. I go all the way back to Harlem with George Coleman, among all the people I go back with. I still speak to him now and then, and we still have a record in the can that we haven’t released. Initially I was a kid playing with many greats not knowing who they were really. To me they were ‘just musicians’, except Ruth Brown because my mother was a fan of her’s. And some of the people I played with in my younger years hadn’t had their break yet, so no one knew who they were at the time. I got an early job with the Horace Silver Band, where Billy Cobham was the drummer before me, among the early jobs I got. I auditioned among ten drummers and got the job, which I had for four or five years. We did well and toured California. I have of course also kept working with many great artists since I moved to Europe.
After my years working in New York and touring, I was living in Boston for about a year when I got a call to come to Montreal, where I was the house drummer at Rockhead’s Paradise, and anytime that artists came to play there I played with them. I left Canada a couple of months before my visa expired and moved to Europe after that.
Alvin Queen "Mighty Long Way" off the album with the same title (2008)
I am based in Switzerland, and I see it as the center of Europe. It’s easy to get around from here, and I was always international and not local.
Once there was something called the American Dream. That all changed. They go for young people in the USA. They don’t sponsor mentors. I made the move to Europe in the 70s, when many artists came to Europe, because Europeans were more open and accepting, and music got more exposure here. I took a lot with me from my life back in the USA. I got the calls I used to get coming over here. And I made so much money here that I started a record company, and started recording artists that the US had stopped recording. I had nineteen productions on the books when I couldn’t make the switch to making CD’s because of the costs. The download market is difficult and rough as people steal. It’s rough and the same for good musicians and bad musicians.
I have had a Swiss passport for fifteen years. I used to have to do double tax returns as a foreigner, and spent $ 1600 a year for sixteen years on that. I did give up my US citizenship after 66 years. As you may have seen I was denied entry into the US when I last flew over there. Right now the process is on hold but many had a reaction right away, and I feel good about it now, waiting to see what will happen. I don’t want to fly 8000 miles just to turn back. But I’m not looking to work in the US and my family there is dead.
My plan for 2018 is to keep moving forward.
Alvin Queen is a legendary drummer from New York, who is based in Switzerland. Introduced to jazz at an early age by his father, and to the drums by his brother, Alvin Queen started his professional career before he had reached his teens, when seeing John Coltrane and Elvin Jones live meant a great deal to the young musician. Being part of the Horace Silver Quintet, the George Benson Quartet, touring Europe with Charles Tolliver, and working with an array of artists before he relocated to Canada, and later more permanently to Europe, Alvin Queen has continued a successful career as recording band-leader and collaborator, and run his own record company.
We are a few days into a brand new year, and a few years into the story of Musicians’ Corner, Musicians On Music. We would like to wish all of our contributors, visitors and friends a pleasing and exciting 2018.
We live in times when a lot is possible. However, much that was once likely no longer is as easily probable. In music we can truly see how the world has been changing, and also how these changes call on us all to change our ways of doing things. We can think what we will about the transformations. Many of them are here to stay regardless of what we think, and we can either interpret what they mean to us individually and apply them to our own journeys, or be left behind to a degree, by the people who did. We can see how being lost with these novelties can cost an artist who isn’t able to move with the times. Looking back twenty-four hours a day, looking for an infrastructure perhaps, that is no longer there, is not going to keep a career going. For those who started their careers in music during these changing times, the flow of inventions is often a natural part of what life looks like.
Music is the ancient expression of the soul. That it perhaps should consider what a new app on the market can do, every two weeks, is in many ways an absurd impracticality. Yet, artists are always creative, and these days vision can endlessly find new features to be innovative through, and new formats through which to express that primal phenomena, coming from the individual experience.
What we all know as ‘music’ is much the result of the recording industry taking shape. In the history of mankind that is a fairly new phenomenon. Today the gate-keepings of taste in music have lost much of their influence and anyone can go direct to market. This may have many artists worrying about likes and followers, but if you create what does come from you that is in fact your brand, and people who do in fact like it have the chance of finding it, if you put it out there – and you may ask yourself why you should worry about people who don’t like it. They are not your people, not your audience, and to please them you would have to change what you do, that is change your brand and lose yourself in your expression. You can do that of course, but will it make you happy?
In this sense these times call on artists to be honest with themselves about who they are and what would give them a sense of fulfillment. It is a question that has always been there, but is put to artists more directly and abruptly now, if they consider it or not. A few decades back it might have been about working with an act that didn’t play their music but paid well. This is of course still is a problem for many artists. Now the question may also be present any time they pick up their instrument – if they consider the question. Boiling it down artists can make exactly the sounds that come from their inner beings, get these to market, and find precisely the people who vibe with them. And they don’t have to worry about anything else. Artists can also easily get lost in the competition for likes and shares from a general public that will never connect with what they truly are as creators.
To a large degree the mass media still moves with the old times, giving space and light to the acts that come through the diminishing system, while the customers are getting increasingly savvy about finding their music without the help of the journalists’ edited content. And the journey that artists take through these times, and the struggles they may have taking that ongoing voyage, is also often left out by the mass media, regardless of it frequently being the story of music now.
Music saw an amazing golden age through the recording industry, an industry that in of itself in many ways failed to move with the times when the times moved – which is the reason for its reduction. We currently live through the many years, when we are losing artists and creators daily, from that golden age of musically heightened expression. These are painful years for the music-loving population of this planet. The sense of loss is difficult for many, and hardly described on a general level by the mass media. When historians look back on the 20th century there is little doubt that the part that music played in shaping that century will shine through, and that some of them will be interested in finding all the information they can get their hands on about the luminaries of this art-form. This is a time to scurry for music journalists, so that as much of that information as possible is gathered before it is lost. The information can be retrieved through the artists from this golden age who are still with us, who will remember things differently, perhaps influencing each other on remembering some things wrong at times, which is why many have to be interviewed many times about the same things, so that the important details that may change the entire stories aren’t lost. The information may also be found in technology that may be lost to the future, as the technologies of the future will be others than those of the past.
All in all it is an intense time for anyone who wishes to take part in describing music. On Musicians’ Corner artists speak. You find no journalist getting in the middle of what artists say here. Here fragments of all of the above come through in the articles. You find articles from artists reaching out to their audience here, artists commenting on the changing times here, artists sharing memories of important moments in their careers here. And all of it matters greatly.
We hope that you continue to enjoy the material on this platform!
This year has been a crazy year for me, with my film RUMBLE: The Indians who rocked the world opening, winning at the Sundance Festival and being showed at film festivals all over the world – and with the release of my first Gold record in a long time, Chubby Groove, which I made with Koshi Inaba.
Inaba/Salas with "Overdrive" off their hit album Chubby Groove (2017)
RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World - official trailer (2017). Stevie Salas was an executive producer for the film, which was directed by Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana.
It began with me producing tv in Canada in 2006, and a few years ago I started working on my film. 2017 has been a year of touring with the film since it opened, of speaking at my film, and of getting standing ovations and awards for it. HBO have bought it, and it’s on PBS and Amazon Prime. Simultaneously I have been working and touring with Koshi Inaba, who is the biggest ever selling artist in Japan, with over a hundred million records sold. He called me saying that he was uninspired and burnt out, and he asked me if I would come over and write some songs with him. So I flew over to Japan, and I started putting 80s styled funk-tracks together like I did when I lived in London as a kid. We recorded all over the world, and the album features Bernard Fowler and Taylor Hawkins. It was released in January and had sold Gold by March. We also played sold out-shows after that, and stadiums in the summer.
Classic Stevie Salas: "Start Again"
In 2018 I plan on writing for a new Stevie Salas album. I got a phone call from Warner Bros Europe. I might perhaps release something in a limited edition for cool radio stations etc. I am also working on a crime drama for television with Kevin Munroe.
In ways the entire situation with record companies in general, and with social media as something that needs to be figured out for promotional reasons, has me feeling uncreative. Mostly I feel really bad for young people. There is no artist development anymore. When I started out you could be creative and it was encouraged. Record companies developed artists. They would say ‘Take this money and go work with Thomas Dolby, and see what you come up with’. What kids put out now is what would have been demos back then. There is so much crap out there and you can’t wade through it all to get to the good stuff.
A classic combo of great musical chemistry: Stevie Salas and TM Stevens, kicking up a jam together
TM Stevens, whom I worked with a lot (and one of the artists who truly kicked off this platform, Musicians’ Corner) was a force of nature and an elite musician. He had the kind of career where you had to be a musician first to even walk in the room. When I made my first album Joey Ramone walked in the studio, Miles Davis walked in the studio, Bernie Worrell walked in the studio and played on the album. You had to be able to handle being in the same room with anyone and working with anyone, without any preparation. TM could play anything, and make it sound just right, and still make it sound like TM Stevens. That is true mastery. He played on my songs, such as "Tell Your Story Walking" , where TM’s bassline is huge
STEVIE SALAS, guitarist, tv- and film-producer, singer, song-writer, record producer, etc... and a world citizen, was once sleeping on the couch at the studio where he had gotten a job, when he suddenly was woken and found himself jamming with George Clinton, who was there to record, in the small hours of the morning. The rest, as they say, is history. Combining a successful solo-career with being a kickass guitarist to Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, etc, Stevie Salas has a very long bio indeed. A few years ago he shared some of the memories in his book "When We Were the Boys: Coming of Age on Rod Stewart's Out of Order Tour", and since he has gone on to producing the most acclaimed music documentary to hit the screens in a long time.
"When We Were the Boys: Coming of Age on Rod Stewart's Out of Order Tour"by Stevie Salas with Robert Yehling is available HERE
TM Stevenshas contributed two articles to this platform, one of which is his information-packed filmed article "Straight Music Talk". Musicians' Corner and all of our friends are eternal fans of this amazing artist, and will always be humbly grateful for his insightful and generous contributions to this site.
Mostly to me, it would be it's ability to communicate to everyone around the world. A global language that speaks to every human.
What it can do to you and how it effects someone in the most individual way is amazing.
Patron Saint O'Thieves off The Rumjacks' 2016 album release"Sleepin' Rough"
What I love about touring is being able to travel to places around the world and meet people in cities and countries I never thought I would ever get to see. Experiencing different cultures every day and play music everyday...love it!
Bassist Johnny McKevley from The Rumjacks
There's not much about touring that I would say I hate. You miss your family and loved ones a lot and that can be hard. It's REALLY tiring.
Touring is a lot of fun, but it's extremely exhausting at the same time, and it's not from too much partying, I promise...
The Rumjacks live in 2016
2018 going to be a very busy year! We have a U.K. tour planned at the start of February, a few summer festivals around Europe, then we are knuckling down and working on our fourth LP, to be released later in the year.
2018 will also be our 10 year anniversary...so lots of touring after it's release as well.
The Rumjacks' smash hit An Irish Pub Song with 36 million plus views on YouTube
THE RUMJACKS are bringing their celtic punk to the world from their home base in Sydney, since the band was formed in 2008. Two EP's, three albums and many, many gigs around the globe later they show no signs of slowing down. The band are: Johnny McKelvey, Frank McLaughlin, Gabriel Whitbourne and Adam Kenny.
Music to me is a wonderful catalyst, and a lift of surprise that makes you react with emotion.
If it doesn’t move you it’s not for you – or it’s bad music.
There is a reason why there are different flavors of ice-cream.
Dave Kelly performing the utter Robert Johnson blues classic Crossroads
We are currently touring with The Blues Band, and we have a new studio album, which we recorded in July. We are just now talking about the sleeve with the record company.
We were hoping that it could be released this year, but it looks like the release is going to be at the beginning of next year.
Dave Kelly's Going Home, off The Blues Band's first album "The Official Bluesband Bootleg Album" (1980)
I sing on four songs on the new album, Paul sings on four, and Tom and Gary sing on two each. One of my songs is Skin Game Blues, which was originally recorded in the 60s. We do a rocky version of it on this album, and we are playing it live at the moment. I also do a song that I wrote with Lou Stonebridge, called Hot Dog (Looking for a real cool cat), Muddy Waters’ Still A Fool, and a song called Get Right Church, which has some nice harmonies. So – those are my four.
The Blues Band live with Get Right Church in 2017.
As a kid my parents had a radiogram with a record player on top. I used to stand on a chair for hours listening to music. My sisters bought rock n roll albums, and I was into skiffle with Lonnie Donegan. I traded my electric train set for a four string guitar. It was of course a tenor, which I didn’t realize then. I didn’t know that guitars had six strings, but the four-string suited my hands better at the time.
I got a tutor from the jazz scene, but he didn’t teach me any chords. I wanted to sound like Chuck Berry. I met someone through my sister who helped me with the skiffle basics. My sister Jo Anne and I played and sung together, and we usually won the talent contests we were in. Bob Dylan came on the scene and I had already heard Woodie Guthrie.
I took the journeys of the discs, to a record shop in central London, which for example sold transcription discs. That shop was a honey pot for local musicians, and everybody used to come there to congregate. I heard Robert Johnson’s music. I went to see The Stones. I learnt to tune guitars through chords, and picked that up in a day.. It is a classic era for me.
I don’t really have much to do with the British music industry. There are small labels of course. We are with a German company. Germany is a good market for us and for me solo. Last year we found some tapes from a show we played in 1991, with a fifteen piece band, and we released it as a double CD this year (“The Blues Band – The Big Blues Band Live Album”), on our label. I think that it was originally recorded for radio.
I also worked solo in Germany. My sound engineer revealed to me that he had recorded all my gigs in the 80s there, so I released some of these recordings as an album (“Dave Kelly Solo Performances Live in Germany 1986 to 1989”) last year. I do quite a few solo shows, and I am working with Maggie Bell in April and October next year - and with Christine Collister over the summer. I am slowly recording my new solo album, which will have a lot of instrumental music, and it won’t all be blues.
The Blues Band live in 2015
Dave Kelly is a blues singer, guitarist and composer, with a large back catalogue of solo albums to his name, and one of the members of The Blues Band, which was formed in 1979 and have been going since.
The Blues Band's most recent release is available HERE
'Dave Kelly Solo Performances Live in Germany 1986 to 1989' is available HERE
Note: We never heard from Dave Kelly on an okaying of this text. It is what was taken down during our talk with Dave Kelly. This is unlike ALL the other texts on this site, which were either written by the artists in the articles and/or edited/okayed by the artists in the articles. We did hear from Dave Kelly upon sending him the article stats though, so he didn't seem to have any reservations to the text. It is just different to all the other material here, which is why we make this note.
Music is the sound of my mother's love, the wind, the sunshine, the rain, children's laughter, joy, heartache, and pain.
It is a friend, comforter, motivator – and it is an instrument for love, and compassion.
Vasti Jackson performing his Hurricane Season, which can be found on the 2007 release "Bourbon Street Blues: Live In Nashville"
Being nominated for a Grammy for my CD "The Soul Of Jimmie Rodgers" - and having two CDs nominated for the Grammy in the same category (Traditional Blues) in 2017 - was a wonderful and very exciting surprise. Bobby Rush's "Porcupine Meat" CD won. Of which I am the Musical director, and featured guitarist.
A fragment from Standing On The Corner from Vasti Jackson's Grammy-nominated "The Soul Of Jimmie Rodgers" CD (2016)
People are surprised that I made an album in homage to the father of country music, Jimmie Rodgers. But the main thing to know is that Jimmie Rodgers was influenced by the African Americans that he spent time with in Mississippi. Before he became famous he performed in black face, and sang blues songs in tent- and vaudeville-shows. He has the word “blues” in more that twenty titles of his songs, and said that he yodeled the blues. After listening and studying I realized that the soul of Jimmie Rodgers is the blues.
My new album is “The Blues Made Me (Roots and Fruits)”. It was released in August of this year - and it is a microcosm of my life through music.
Accolades are nice, but they aren’t the reason I am a musician. I come from a musical family, and we did it for love. Jobs you do for money. I became a professional musician at thirteen years of age, although I didn’t make a conscious choice to be a musician. It was what we did.
Contrary to popular belief blues musicians aren’t always touring. I don’t observe that people in the genre are working all the time. That is a choice, if so. Many tour from April to November, and take time off during December and January. The tours are well organized, and I go to Europe two or three times a year.
Vasti Jackson live with Robert Johnson's classic Terraplane Blues
Blues is a popular subject among film-makers for documentaries, as blues is about the subjects of life, and survival. Africans in America went through slavery, and still contributed so much to America's greatness. There is also the spiritual aspect that fascinates people - that of good and evil - of Robert Johnson and the crossroads. For a long time it was illegal for African Americans to play a drum in America, because of their ability to send messages to other slaves, as the European Americans did not know what the Africans where communicating.
People feel the bass drum pattern of the shuffle being close to the heartbeat, and this is the rhythmic foundation of the blues.
I have been part of film productions about the blues, and they are opportunities for dialogue, for informing people of where this music comes from. The blues is the classical music of America. And there is such a thing as the art of the blues. The cultures of Africa and Europe collided, and Mississippi is the "Garden of Eden" of the blues. The blues is the foundation for all popular music. All countries no doubt have their songs of woe, but the African Americans expression (The Blues) has been - and is - embraced throughout the world.
Helping others through my music is important to me. The Playing For Change Foundation has given me a greater reach to connect with children through music education. We have started fifteen schools in twelve countries in ten years, and we are expanding annually.
Momma, a touching ode from Vasti Jackson's 2017 album-release "The Blues Made Me (Roots and Fruits)"
Vasti Jackson is a guitarist, singer, song-writer, producer and musical director+. He is a Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame inductee with seven solo albums behind him to date, who in 2017 was up against himself at the American Grammy Awards, with both his own album "The Soul of Jimmie Rodgers" and Bobby Rush's album "Porcupine Meat", to which Jackson contributed, nominated for the Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album. Vasti Jackson is a highly saught-after instrumentalist in the blues idiom of course, but also for example in gospel music. Among the records he appears on you hear him on B.B. King's 1994 release "Blues Summit". Vasti Jackson also finds the time to devote himself to Playing For Change, and was featured in the Scorsese documentary series "The Blues".
Music is feeling. It is another realm of life on this earth. Music is faith and the healing of generations.
And – music is power!
I was running tracks through my adolescence and was going to be in the Olympics. I took part in the trials, and was very promising. What I brought from the athletics, to my journey in music, is stamina and the energy to move around. And I learnt to not give up from sports. I always listened to music while training – all kinds of music was playing. I knew that I wanted to be a singer.
I moved to Portland all by myself, unafraid to be vulnerable by the time of my first album release, Embrace Me (2006). The record was about life lessons and my first experience at releasing my own music.
By the time of the release of my album The Unexpected (2014) Prince had taught me so much about myself. He instilled confidence in me. He was my supernova, and he pushed me beyond my limits. From the very first rehearsal I had with him, when he told me that he could easily replace me, to push me, to all the talks we had on the phone, he expanded my mind.
Our new album, First Things First (2017), is a fresh awakening. We (Roadcase Royale) wrote the album in such a short space of time, and it was such a great collaboration between amazing writers. I want to be in the studio all the time now! Nancy Wilson is a true earth angel, open to all sounds, and she is pushing me as a writer.
Liv Warfield is a successful singer and songwriter, and a Peoria native. She is based in Chicago and Portland. After moving to Portland as a teenager, to pursue her ambitions in sports, Warfield among other things honed her amazing singing skills, singing in karaoke bars through the nights, before she conquered her shyness and released her debut album. It caught Prince’ attention, and the music legend made Liv Warfield a member of The New Power Generation. In 2017 Liv Warfield has released First Things First, the debut album from the new supergroup Roadcase Royale, which she fronts with Nancy Wilson.
Right now I’m based between America and Europe. I don’t want to spend any more winters in Berlin – I have promised myself that.
In Europe things have changed a lot. I’m not an employee. I have to be responsible and decide where I am going to be. I have given Berlin twenty-three years now, and Berlin has transformed a great deal too. One has to follow where the music might be needed and sometimes one must follow where one needs to be. There are different political ideals that people concern themselves with but its great city and still my second home .
It is time for me to go discover. I have been in the US frequently lately, mostly on the East Coast, although I have now relocated to the West Coast two weeks ago. I also went on a road trip through the states that separate the coasts and got a sense of how different the rest of the country is in between.
Basically there could be more spreading of diverse ideas into the inside of the country and more exchange to allow people on the coasts to know how the inside is feeling and what they are going through. With some effort, you could understand difference as a good thing, a vital thing. With a little more effort you could make people understand their situation and where their frustration and anger is really coming from, how it could be directed constructively. Music and art could play a huge part in working that out.
Before this I just got back from Nigeria, where I have been vibe-ing with the folks there. I also got a chance to interact with musicians in Lagos. Adé Bantu who is a producer and performer has been building a nice music scene there and we jammed, it was really exciting. I hope to do more because there is an incredible energy there.
I’m trying to continue to learn and feel people and places and allow that to influence me. I always fed off that interaction with the wider world. It ignites. Over the last years I have worked in North, East and West Africa, and in Lebanon. What you learn from being around the world is that culture is the different ways that people express their lives and solve their problems but the people, the human beings themselves are really more alike than different.
We need to be driven by a lust for music, meaning that music is a carrier of much more information than just being music. I have carried on my improvisational styles and that has allowed my expression to evolve. I do feel that there is a massive change happening. We are in a transitional phase. The established system has not yet faded and next phase is not yet completely here. I hope things will continue to become more open.
"New Orleans Bitter Suite: Only Elephants Crossing". Kiss The Sky 2017. Jean-Paul Bourelly, Daryl Taylor, Kenny Martin.
Music in general has lived with nostalgia for many, many years now, and it’s hard to connect with audiences through progressive ideas, unless it’s electronic, because they are not used to it. The masses are full in tuned with machine driven, linear music. What has that done to us? Made us more like machines maybe? It is also creating a lust for human and nonlinear sound.
Artists need to open the world up in our own small way. In these times - when roadblocks are being put everywhere - it is sometimes hard to understand what a person should do. How do creative musicians keep moving when everything is changing so fast?
My project Kiss The Sky’s debut record is available at gigs and on CD Baby. We have a second version of the album that will come out soon, and we have been touring on the basis of it.
It’s hard to get musicians who work in many groups all the time to try something new and to absorb it, because they have to learn so much music. It was difficult to get the three of us in the band on the same page because I do more conceptual music Daryl and Kenny do a lot of music thats happening on the night club scene. We had been playing Hendrix styled Band of Gypsys’ grooves for years. We all loved that style. It was probably the reason we came together. Reverence is fine, but I wanted to get the group out of that comfort zone, that funk rock-thing and ignite some new vigor, because too much reverence destroys your own purpose as an artist. We needed to figure out how to get out of a framework that wasn’t going to change, that comfort loop. I had been doing conduction ** in my youth workshops. I learned it from working with the great Butch Morris over the years. I started to introduce some conduction in rehearsals and in concert and immediately the music started to move into a different place. It took a few year but now we are fully out of that old language now.
The Kiss the Sky debut album is the culmination of that evolutionary process.
One morning someone knocked on my door and it was one of the guys from the Spätkauf*. They all know I am a musician. They said they were making a film about the Spätkauf and would I come over and play some background music. So, I said yes, and I did.
I had no idea what the film was about, what kind of theme it was. They just said don´t play a recognizable tune because they couldn´t afford to pay rights. So, I simply improvised lines when they told me to play. The film played in several theatres.
Miriam Kaul plays sax. From the teaser for "Tom Atkins Blues"
So, I am playing improvised background music behind a film of which I have no idea what it is about.
They won some kind of prize. I don´t think they put my name on it.
The first time that I heard trombone was on tv. I was a kid who was probably still learning speech, and I was watching the slides with fascination. About five years later in 6th grade we were introduced to band instruments. Everybody wanted to play the trumpet, and so did I, but as they were handed out, guess what, they ran out of trumpets just as they got to me. As I was tall and lanky, AL McClain told me that I was a trombone player. AL McClain, knew that I was Joe Westray’s grandson. He grew up with my granddad and knew that I had jazz genes.
My dad, Ronald Westray, was a funkster and my mother, Ginger, is a widow and a retired school teacher. Mom never remarried. (She has a documentary out called Art House on You Tube) I grew up listening to George Clinton and Ohio Players. I was probably introduced to jazz in 6th grade. My teacher was a jazz musician and he had us play standards like “Ain’t Misbehavin”. I grew up in a middle class black neighborhood and I excelled in music, being the section leader in my school band by high school. I had my eureka moment when I first heard Duke Ellington’s “East Saint Louis Toodle-Loo”. I knew that was what I wanted to do. By that time I thought that I was going to be a rapper. I was dressed as a rapper, and I was a rapper with a trombone case. But hearing Coleman Hawkins…and his solo on “Body and Soul” from 1939… I ran to the library wanting to read about jazz history. I got the biggest book about jazz that I could find at the library, and the first page that even opened was the transcription of Coleman Hawkins’ 1939 solo. And when you try to play it at 15 years old you know what you have got to do. I was the hot shot in the school band, but I knew then that I had so much to learn. You may be born with jazz genes. You still have to learn how to play
I have been able to play a lot of genres and styles because of my listening habits. With anything that I have been part of I have been living that music. Music is a mathematical absolute and I have been exposing my ears to it. In a certain setting my reflexes just settle back into it.
Of course some jazz that is played today is like a museum and it’s not possible for it not to become like a museum. But it’s important with informational concerts, and you see people floating out of them happy. However it may be healthier for a kid to just run around and play at a jazz club, if that were possible. Theory is important though, and if I have a message that I want to get out there more than anything, it is that in improvisational music we’re not making something up – we are playing what is there. Improvisational music is about keeping your ear on the chord in real time – and that is difficult.
I made my latest recording in 2015, and I’m currently not focused on recording apart for the rap recordings that I do under the name Tray Deuce, under which I for example did an album titled “Out The Box” and two singles titled “Reality Check” and “Handcuffed”. That’s electronic music. I am also putting a 3000 page anthology together with all things Ron Westray – compositions and arrangements. I am composing music for an independent film, and further we are preparing for a modern classical concert with my university orchestra, which is about giving them the experience of playing a concert like that. I am a professor, and the Oscar Peterson Chair in Jazz Performance at York University in Toronto. Education has become a refuge for jazz artists, and it’s a highly important one (as there is no symbiosis with society and real-jazz-culture). I am also a stability kind of guy. I want to have a job. I don’t want to chase around after gigs for $ 50 to pay the rent. I want stability so that I can focus on my creativity.
When someone picks out a trombone they need to go by the weight of the instrument. It has to have some gauge to it. Certain manufacturers have the integrity to get it right. Yamaha student trombones are okay. Bach and King trombones are good. In off brand names the metal isn’t up to par. Then you have to consider the mouthpiece. And that’s really it. It’s a simple instrument. It’s a tube that you fill with air.
In 2005, the 400th anniversary of the publication of Part I of Don Quixote, American trombonist and composer Ron Westray performed his jazz suite Chivalrous Misdemeanors: Select Tales from Miguel de Cervantes’ ‘Don Quixote’, accompanied by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis on trumpet and as artistic director, Patrick Tull as narrator, as well as Sachal Vasandani and Jennifer Sanon as vocalists.
Chivalrous Misdemeanors is a twenty-three-part big band jazz suite, the longest and most ambitious of all the jazz suites inspired by Don Quixote.
The concert recording of May 7, 2005 (on the double CD copy held by the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound) has a total duration of almost two hours (without presentation, audience, applause, fragments of repeated or other parts); the Postlude was not performed on this occasion. Monumental and powerful, complex and sublime, Chivalrous Misdemeanors is in many ways an overwhelmingly impressive work, not only for its sheer length and dimension, but mainly for its superb structure and technique, for the enormous abundance, variety and profoundness of ideas—musical, literary and philosophical— it integrates and develops, and especially for its exquisite beauty and the manifold reflections and feelings it generates in the listeners’ hearts and minds. This brilliant blend of humorous, ironic or satirical parts, of melancholy, wistful themes, and of several very reflective or perturbingly dissonant fragments, at times might be quite challenging, confusing or even dazzling, but on the whole it is unquestionably a deeply moving work of music.
From a compositional point of view, it should be emphasized that Chivalrous Misdemeanors is a notably heterogeneous work that combines and blends fragments, parts and sections inspired by different genres, forms, styles and traditions of the history of jazz.
(Excerpt from Universidad de Castilla-La ManchaDepartamento de Filología Moderna, Facultad de Letras, ESPAÑA. Hans Christian Hagedorn (2016), “Dulcinea Jazz: Don Quixote’s Queen and Lady in some Jazz Compositions of the past fifty Years”, Literary History, XLVIII, 159, p. 155-184)
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In my experience, it’s a real challenge to play the trumpet. It takes hard work and dedication. I feel that I haven’t mastered it in over 45 years of practice, and still, I continue to practice every day. This is a challenging instrument, and I’ve heard colleagues say that they wish that they had picked up a different instrument. I sometimes feel that I had picked the sax. Nevertheless, the trumpet is the outstanding and clear instrument in a horn section, and you hear it at all times; at the top of everything else.
Of course when we say “Trumpet”, we are referring to the B-flat trumpet. For instance, I recently purchased a C-trumpet that allows me to play with the piano without converting my notes or transpose. It’s good to have the C-Trumpet as backup, as there are bands who have trouble transposing music for trumpets. We are up in the high notes where the trumpet brightens up the music. Three of the best ever arrangers of music for the trumpet are Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Thad Jones, I feel.
In a big band, I prefer five saxes, four trombones, and four trumpets. When it must be a smaller band, I feel what matters most is a trumpet, trombone, tenor sax, and a baritone sax. The reason is that it makes for a well-balanced sound. Case in point: the band Tower of Power has exactly these same instrument (trumpet, tenor sax, baritone sax, and trombone), and they sound great. As you know, I worked a lot with Solomon Burke, and his horn section was similarly composed, as well maintaining string and percussion sections.
A lot of acts these days put the money on dancers before they hire a horn section. I understand there are preferences, and cost is always a factor. Dancers do add color to a show, giving a visual performance but so do horn players. They can provide not only a visual dynamic, but a grand auditory fanfare like with Bruno Mars or, perhaps, analyze the Disco Era. It certainly is a debatable topic.
I love soloing – playing a melody by yourself. For me it allows me creativity, more freedom. If you’re talented enough, you can not only play the melody to a song but you’re allowed to ad lib with licks or flash, or flare if you will – a style. For instance, listen to these trumpet players; Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Nat Adderley, Blue Mitchel, and the infamous Louis Armstrong. In my soloing, I try to tell a story that you can understand whether or not you’re a musician.
I live in San Diego and keep active here and in Los Angeles mostly. I’m excited to say, that this October, I’m performing for Solomon Burke’s son. As you may know, I was in Solomon’s band for twenty four years, known as “Ken the Love Man” and traveled the world with him. God rest his soul (passed October 10, 2010). It was an honor to know and work with him – an Icon of Rock and Soul. My current ambition is to put Solomon Burke’s band back together and do a farewell tour. People loved him and his music.
Kenneth Meredith has previously contributed an article to Musicians' Corner, Musicians On Music, where he talks more about his musical journey and his work with Solomon Burke.
I love good strong melodies, classic lyrics and am inspired by many artists. One of the themes of my new album (With A Twist) is strong women, so I chose songs that were hits for artists like Peggy Lee, Nina Simone, Valaida Snow and Sarah Vaughan.
Doing a standard is taking another kind of risk because there are already iconic versions of many of the songs. The challenge is in how to make it your own, in how to retain the character of the song and play it in a style that represents your tastes. I did a lot of covers on the last album but presented them with new twists.
Bria Skonberg on her 2017 release, with an amalgamation of Peggy Lee's "Alright, Okay, You Win" and Quincy Jones' "Soul Bossa Nova"
I hear a lot of new artists discovering classic jazz and interpreting it in a new way. I think that is healthy for jazz which has always been kept alive by new ideas and reflecting the time we live in. There are also many who want to recreate the music exactly as it was and this is being done in the highest level; There is a lot to learn from this experience that will create the foundation to stretch later on.
The most authentic new thing we can give music is ourselves; I like to write songs now, not necessarily complicated, but they tell my story and I'm the only who can tell that story. This is what keeps it new.
Bria Skonberg performing her composition "So Is The Day" from the previous album with the same title
Ocean Grove's single "Stratosphere Love" from the album The Rhapsody Tapes
Firstly, thank you for having me! I'd say the general consensus of the song ("Stratosphere Love") and record (The Rhapsody Tapes) have been equally as positive which is always a bonus. For me one of the hugely redeeming qualities of this band is the varied influences and background we share. I think our music has become quite unique and immeasurable by the sheer amount of influence creating this unique flavour. Our music libraries vary from psychedelic rock to garage to trip-hop to 80's metal to musicals. I think all of these bring a different undertone to the record and its a good representation of our sum total of influences. At the moment I'm really loving The Prodigy, Robbie Williams and have rediscovered my love for Savage Garden.
About the video I guess in ways we wanted to capture an existential struggle and the war that exists within ones self about doing what you feel is good and doing what makes you feel good. This is definitely a topic I've pondered and I think when you're writing music often the many things you are fascinated by or concerned with leak into your music so I can see how it would be interpreted that way... it's probably a topic I delved deeper into on a track called "Intimate Alien". Ultimately, we try to write our lyrics more like poetry and for people to make their own interpretations rather than just spelling it out... I think one of the most interesting parts of releasing a record is hearing peoples take on what you were trying to convey with lyricism.
Forgive me if you take this as the typical, pseudo-intellectual pretentious thing to say, that I fear it may be, but I'd to say my approach to music is one of passion. Not that I think I'm the most devoted or outgoing individual to have lived but in the way that if I'm doing something, no matter what it is in life, I want to give it my all or not at all and be very honest in doing so. Ocean Grove's musical journey came from very humble beginnings and our mission statement was never really more than to see the world and play the music we wanted to play together in the hope this would leave a lasting impact on our lives or to anyone that listened.
A concept of Odd World was something conceived in the early stages of writing this record. We really wanted to make this album a score to this place, Odd World, a different paradigm where our different influences and quirks could roam free. I guess we wanted to make a place that reflected our music... something that was borderless and if our music wasn't going to be confined to genre this place wasn't going to be confined to the routine normalcies of just any record. As the album progressed and the music almost started writing itself instead of this concept of the Odd World became more and more shaped by the music rather than this ideology shaping the music. In the end this Odd World we had created was almost a mirrored image reflecting the oddities of our own world and I am glad that you had picked up on that in a previous question.
Ocean Grove "Intimate Alien"
Music is to me what I would consider it to be to most, a multifaceted energy and something that will always be a constant in my life. Multifaceted in the way that it can be an escape, a motivator, something to pass the time, something to enhance emotion... it's purposes and benefits are endless.
I've only been on this earth for 23 years but I'm yet to meet someone that doesn't find some kind of solace in music or that straight up dislikes the idea of music. Music to me is what I want it to be and most importantly to share a love for music is to be human.
Ocean Grove are: Luke Holmes - vocals, Jimmy Hall - guitar, Matthew Henley - guitar, Dale Tanner - bass & clean vocals, Sam Bassal - drums, Matthew Kopp - studio member
Dorian Lynskey is the recipient of the third annual Music Journalist of the Year-award. This was announced earlier. And yesterday Dorian Lynskey received his much deserved award in London.
The artist jury that selected this brilliant writer are The Brand New Heavies, Ian Ethan Case and Miriam Kaul. And as usual they selected the recipient from your nominations. We would like to say thank you to our visitors for your excellent suggestions, and for once again giving the jury a difficult task.
The jury's motivation for giving Dorian Lynskey this award for his work in 2016 reads as follows:
We raise our hat to Dorian Lynskey. His work is vivid, deep and wide, and deliciously moreish to read, as he describes the world through music and vice versa. An accomplished writer, who is an asset to the field that he chooses to cover, and music is fortunate that he chose music. Flowing through a deep well of logical references, selecting quotes that zoom in or out on the topic at the right moment, and at times connecting us, the readers, to his subject matter, to the extent that he makes us feel as though they were neighbors, friends, Lynskey brings the horizon as well as humanism to life in his words.