Hardly Strictly Jazz

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Back To... SOUL

Read "Back To... SOUL" reviewed by Skip Heller

While everyone else seems to have been attending jazz festivals, I've been flying under the radar with film and TV music jobs, so I haven't had the time to write about the summer's recorded music treasures, and it has been bountiful for record/CD fans. Not least of all because some really careful and wise music fans have made sure that round things with a hole in the middle deliver something digital downloads can't: a real package. Two come from Memphis, ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Pryor Experiences

Read "Pryor Experiences" reviewed by Skip Heller

If it seems like everything is being anthologized into a box set these days, that's because it is. While on a trip to Amoeba Music (the enormous record store from where I live about a block), I took stock of all kinds of box sets. There was even one of the Mitch Miller Sing Along With stuff. Oh joy. The thought of being trapped in a room with someone who could get through even one disc of that... Horrors.

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Reliving Elvis

Read "Reliving Elvis" reviewed by Skip Heller

No matter how much is written, or by whom, Elvis Presley remains impossible to explain. The usual “young white rocker who could sing black" is as inaccurate as any standing American mythology. His legacy has been as mangled as his career was, often to the detriment of the work itself. Yes, at the time of his death, Elvis had become (to use Frank Zappa's description) “that poor guy, that drug-infested blimp." Yes, by 1962 he had become the star of ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Carole Simpson Remembered

Read "Carole Simpson Remembered" reviewed by Skip Heller

As news of Donald Byrd's passing was leaking out slowly, jazz educator Keith Pawlak sent me a note on Facebook asking if I had heard that pianist/vocalist Carole Simpson had passed away.Her name is barely known except to a few collectors who specialize in female singers of the Eisenhower era. She was during that period almost an archetype--a gorgeous, glamourous blonde with an intimate singing style not far from June Christy and a pianistic approach that borrowed most ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Beyond The Blues

Read "Beyond The Blues" reviewed by Skip Heller

Back when I was a kid--I was born in 1965--the first comprehensive push for children's education about American Black History was on. Elementary school libraries suddenly included books about Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and George Washington Carver, and there were even a few books about jazz and blues for young readers.I wish I could remember the title of the book about blues I found in my school library when I was in the fourth grade (about 1976). It ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

John Hartford: Aereo Plain/Morning Bugle - The Complete Warner Brothers Recordings

Read "John Hartford: Aereo Plain/Morning Bugle - The Complete Warner Brothers Recordings" reviewed by Skip Heller

John Hartford Aereo Plain/Morning Bugle: The Complete Warner Brothers Recordings Real Music 2012 This 1971 album was to the emerging newgrass movement approximately was Bill Evans' Village Vanguard recordings were to jazz piano trios: the flexible blueprint for the genre. Evans and singer/multi-instrumentalist John Hartford both successfully found ways to dissolve the “soloist and his enablers" tyranny, working instead towards the integrated ensemble as the musical engine. Shortlived though this group was, this ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams For Beginners

Read "Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams For Beginners" reviewed by Skip Heller

Fifty years after his death, Ernie Kovacs is de rigueur. Mainstream, even. His angular, imaginative approach to humor was impossible to imitate, but his influence on television-specifically television comedy-is intractable. He's the Thelonious Monk of the small screen. And just trying to play in a Monkish style always points out that Monk is Monk and nobody else is, so it is with TV and Kovacs.The jazz world often assumes that the avant-garde thinks and operates independent from the ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Frank M. Young and David Lasky: The Carter Family - Don't Forget This Song

Read "Frank M. Young and David Lasky: The Carter Family -  Don't Forget This Song" reviewed by Skip Heller

Frank M. Young and David LaskyThe Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song192 pagesISBN 978081988361Abrams ComicArts2012In recent years, the music biography has turned notable corners. The post-punk generation, coming largely from the world of fanzines and urban weekly newspapers, has become a big chunk of the literary establishment, and they've brought with their stylistic practices with them. Editorial expression, format, research procedures-new era.There are obviously still compelling ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Your Past Will Come Back To Haunt You: Omnivore and Dust To Digital - Two Record Labels That Matter

Read "Your Past Will Come Back To Haunt You:  Omnivore and Dust To Digital - Two Record Labels That Matter" reviewed by Skip Heller

When I was growing up, a great many labels actually worked hard at having an identity. Blue Note meant something, as did Stiff, Rounder, Sugar Hill, Fania and many more (even some of the majors). Music fans actually bought stuff with a sense of trust for the people who put it out. Packaging, production style, taste, and aesthetic pointed to (big idea) a real live art vision behind each release.I've worked with and for several reissue labels, and ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Crimejazz: The Sound of Noir

Read "Crimejazz: The Sound of Noir" reviewed by Skip Heller

Crimejazz! In 1923, Caroll John Daly wrote Knights of the Open Palm. Published June of that same year in the pulp magazine Black Mask, its protagonist was Race Williams, an acerbic private eye. This was the first hardboiled crime story, and it touched off a world of crime fiction. That same year, trumpeter Louis Armstrong recorded for the first time, and that touched off a world as well. There was no connection to speak of, except that each ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Los Lobos: Kiko - 20th Anniversary Edition

Read "Los Lobos: Kiko - 20th Anniversary Edition" reviewed by Skip Heller

Los LobosKiko: 20th Anniversary EditionShout! Factory2012Looking over the punk-era rise of Los Angeles roots rock, reveals an embarrassment of musical riches. The prototypical outfit was The Blasters, a literate working class rockabilly-tinged barband whose songs (written by Dave Alvin) were knowing, compassionate stories of real American life, and they inspired a movement of imitators. Then there was X, fronted by the husband/wife team of John Doe and Exene Cervanka, whose punk aesthetic ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

A Few Frames Of Public Access Art

Read "A Few Frames Of Public Access Art" reviewed by Skip Heller

Music and television have always worked together, and through the history of the medium, apocolypses have happened because the world was tuned in together. Language quickly becomes hyperbole when people recall Elvis Presley or the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, Ricky Nelson's fantastic weekly performances on his parents' show (The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet), any number of jazz artists on the old Steve Allen show, Elvis Costello on Saturday Night Live (although Devo was better), or Michael Jackson moonwalking on ...


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