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Article: Hardly Strictly Jazz

Marty Sheller: The Name Behind The Sound You All Know, Part 1

Read "Marty Sheller: The Name Behind The Sound You All Know, Part 1" reviewed by Skip Heller


There are certain musicians who embody eras, even if they're not the player with their picture on the cover. In our contemporary musical climate, Greg Leisz comes to mind. Since 1991, he has popped up on hundreds of acclaimed albums, and without ever really changing his style, he has become centrifugal beyond the considerations of genre ...

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Article: Hardly Strictly Jazz

Philadelphia, Mon Amour

Read "Philadelphia, Mon Amour" reviewed by Skip Heller


I was born in 1965, in West Philly, so I met the world in 1980 or so. My city was then recovering from two terms of mayor Frank Rizzo, whose corruption was on a level not seen since the glory days of New York mayor Jimmy Walker. Rizzo hated anyone who was young or of color. ...

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Article: Hardly Strictly Jazz

Death Is Not The End and the Law of Periodical Repetition

Read "Death Is Not The End and the Law of Periodical Repetition" reviewed by Skip Heller


"Will this wonderful civilization of today perish? Yes, everything perishes. Will it rise and exist again? It will—for nothing can happen that will not happen again. And again, and still again, forever. It took more than eight centuries to prepare this civilization— then it suddenly began to grow, and in less than a century it is ...

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Article: Hardly Strictly Jazz

2020 and Me

Read "2020 and Me" reviewed by Skip Heller


As I type this, it is December 8, 2020, the fortieth anniversary of John Lennon's murder. I was then a newly-minted barband guitarist, fifteen years old and thinking how the world —via the election of Ronald Reagan —and music had just suffered the worst season that could ever be. 2020 has been an ongoing ...

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Article: 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 ...

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Article: 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 ...

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Article: 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 ...

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Article: 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 ...

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Article: 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 ...


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