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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 ...

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 ...

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 ...


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 ...

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 ...


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

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 ...

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 ...

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 Lasky

The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song

192 pages

ISBN 978081988361

Abrams ComicArts


In 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 ...

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, ...


Crimejazz: The Sound of Noir

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


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 ...