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"…that wild mercury sound." The Significance of Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize

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During high school and college, I got interested in the Nobel Prizes. At the time, I was not interest in all of them: only the prize for Literature. I have been a reading geek as long as I have been a music geek and I have always mixed the two passions liberally. In the early 20th Century, the United States produced several Nobel Laurates: Sinclair Lewis (1930), Eugene O'Neill (1936), Pearl Buck (1938), T.S. Eliot (1948), William Faulkner (1949), Ernest ...


Montreux Jazz Workshops: A Fine, Free Forum

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One of the most rewarding experiences at the Montreux Jazz Festival is attending one of the many free workshops conducted by a wide range of jazz and production masters. Many showcases are led by musicians with shows scheduled on or near those afternoons, so they are in high performance mode. Participants are often top ticket attractions, many of them headlining sold- out shows. The location at Petite Palais is just a few hundred footsteps along the beautiful Geneva ...


Dusseldorf Rally: Jazz's Best Kept Secret?

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Year after year, the Dusseldorf Jazz Rally continues to provide visitors with one of the finest festival experiences to be found in Western Europe. While other events in the region may spend more on self-promotion, feature more prominent line-ups or gather more media coverage, the Jazz Rally cheerfully and consistently serves up what is quite likely the best bargain of the bunch. The festival originated in 1993 and has enjoyed general stability and growth since it's inception. The ...


The New Orleans All-Star Brass Band: Do You Know What It Means?

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This article was originally published in October 2006. It has been said that the truest expression of a people is in its music and dance. That being the case, then pianist {m: Herbie Hancock was right on the money when he described jny: New Orleans as “the soul of our country. The nation's soul however, was laid painfully bare for the world to see when hurricane Katrina struck. Katrina killed over fifteen hundred people and forced the displacement ...


Sing a Mean Tune, Kid: Chicago for people who hate Chicago

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When people rebuff my attempts to share my love of jazz-pop-rock group Chicago with them, I understand their qualms. Really, I do. Few bands went from being quite so inventive to quite so predictable in the long, tough slog between 1968 and 1984. (The political parallels alone are terrifyingly relevant: many of the exact same people who were in SDS went on to become Yuppies by the midpoint of the Reagan years, but I digress.) So, I understand ...


Sacred Cows, Led Zeppelin and Does the Song Remain the Same?

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"Sacred cows make the tastiest cheeseburgers" -- after Abbie Hoffman (1936-1989) I have always said of popular culture, that like a McDonald's cheeseburger, it is to be consumed but never considered. Much of music is nothing more than a reflection of popular culture and certainly falls beneath that grand proclamation. A good deal of hip hop and all of dubstep, electro house, post-hardcore and what passes for R&B today will not be remembered, much less heard ...


Roswell Rudd: The Musical Magus Turns 75

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"Years ago it would have seemed an impossible dream to get to record with this musical magus, but here we are... and what a thrill!" class="f-right">--Charlie Kohlhase, From liner notes to Eventuality: The Charlie Kohlhase Quintet Plays the Music of Roswell Rudd (Nada, 2001)

I see him suddenly as if in a dream. His eyes are somewhat cynical, questioning and beautiful. Wrinkles of laughter pucker up at the edges, and he reminds me of my father. ...


Free Jazz: The Jazz Revolution of the '60s

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[Editor's note: Revised and expanded here, this piece originated as an oral essay for an installment of the Cosmoetica Omniversica internet radio series on the arts and sciences. The series was hosted by Dan Schneider and Art Durkee.] More or less officially unveiled with the first New York appearance of the Ornette Coleman Quartet at the Five Spot Café in the fall of 1959, free jazz (or new black music, space music, new thing, anti-jazz or abstract jazz ...

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