Musician Rufus Harley did the people of Scotland a great favor when he took up the bagpipes. Like the Loch Ness Monster and haggis, outside its country of origin, the national instrument has evolved into a hackneyed punchline.[...]
Some moments in history strike us as dramatic ruptures. Certainties are superseded, thrown into chaos by a seismic event, and we find ourselves adrift and anxious. What are artists to do? Gripped by the same fears as everyone else, the same sense of urgency, writers, musicians, filmmakers, painters, etc.[...]
Jazz Age cartoon flapper, Betty Boop, inhabits that rare pantheon of stars whose fame has not dimmed with time.
While she was never alive per se, her ten year span of active film work places her somewhere between James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. The market for Boop-collectibles is so vast, a definitive guide was published in 2003.
Unlikely as it might seem, the Japanese jazz scene has for decades and decades produced some of the finest players in the world, from traditionalists to experimentalists and everything in-between.[...]
Jazz has inspired a great many things, and a great many things have inspired jazz, and more than a few of the music’s masters have found their aspiration by looking — or listening — to the divine. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they subscribe to traditional religion.[...]
The art of audio engineering is mostly a dark one, an alchemy performed behind closed studio doors by people who speak a technical language most of us don’t recognize. That is until recently.[...]
It’s hard to imagine two figures more representative of two disparate directions experimental music took in the 20th century than John Cage and Sun Ra. Cage’s aleatory arrangements and instruments improvised from radios and TV sets left much to the discretion of the performer.[...]
Nearly every Western youth subculture in existence eventually gets its own Hollywood film. Like most such films, 1993’s Swing Kids—which tells the story of jazz-loving German youth during the rise of the Third Reich—managed to be both inaccurate and critically reviled.[...]
The Harlem Renaissance lives in the form of Alice Barker, a soft spoken lady who just last week received a belated Happy 103rd Birthday card from the Obamas.
That’s her on the right in the first clip, below. She’s in the back right at the 2:07 mark. Perched on a lunch counter stool, showing off her shapely stems at 9:32.
For some time now it has been fashionable to diagnose dead famous people with mental illnesses we never knew they had when they were alive.[...]