I’ve been sitting on this for a week now, enjoying it all to myself. And I really have been enjoying it. Quantic is a name that ought to be used as an adjective: “That track is so Quantic”, “I just had the most Quantic meal” and “I met this girl last night and we totally bumped Quantics”. Okay, so that last one wasn’t an adjective, but who cares. My point is he’s been consistently great for over a decade now and reassuringly this new album seems like it’s going to stand up next to his previous ones (of which there are many). Continue reading →
It’s been about a week now since Etta James, one of the most talented and recognisible characters in the Rhythm and Blues scene of the 50’s and 60’s, passed away. She had a sound that blended Jazz, R&B and Rock & Roll and Gospel in equal parts with a voice that stands head and shoulders above her peers. Continue reading →
Hello all. I’ve been on holiday this week, so apologies about the lack of action of the website. This is just a quick one as I’m off again tomorrow for another week. It’s a tough life, this… Anyway, here are some songs I’ve been listening to over the last seven days or so. There’s a mix of brand new stuff – TVOTR and Flying Lotus – and old stuff that’s been around for a hell of a lot longer than I have. Anyway, enjoy the songs and things will all be back to normal in a week or so.
Ben Lamdin, better known as Nostalgia 77 and head honcho of the Nostalgia 77 Octet has kindly decided to tell us about three of his favourite songs. The new album, called The Sleepwalking Society, is due out on Monday 21st March on Tru Thoughts and the lead single is just below. As well as making records he also manages to find the time to run his own record label called Impossible Ark Recordings. They are a small label who seem to like to do things the old fashioned way, with a small roster, vinyl releases and concentrating on getting some really good music out there. You can have a look at the website here and you can go and buy the new album from here. Anyway, on to the music.
Fatboy Slim. When people hear his name there are a few songs that pop into mind, but with it’s great video five and half minutes of quality this song is one of the first to be mentioned. And the vocal that goes on through the entire song comes courtesy of Camille Yarbrough. I found out about her version of the song thanks to another blog actually and if you’re prepared to part with your email address they’ll send you a free song a day too. Have a look over at Track In The Box. Anyway, she released the original back in 1975 and it couldn’t contrast Norman Cook’s version much more. When I hear it I can see myself in the late seventies kicking back in a cool New York bar with a liquor in one hand and a cigarette in the other. It’s smooth, jazzy and it’s oozes soul. Twenty-three years separate these songs and the ‘newer’ version is in it’s thirteenth year now, but they still sounds as awesome now as they did when they came out.
One of the lasting legacies of the Harlem Renaissance was that it gave African Americans a united culture. Previously, middle-class black people living in New York had tried to integrate with the local white population. What the literature and music gave them was a cultural heritage to be proud of. It blended the soul and jazz of the southern immigrants with the piano, considered a more middle-class instrument than the brass of the jazz band and a staple of the more affluent New York African Americans.
While it has its critics – they argue that the movement relied too much on the white establishment to be heard – the impact it had on drama, literature and music is too good not to be appreciated. Soul, Funk, Rock & Roll, R&B (the old kind) and Hip Hop, not to mention the Stax and Motown labels, all stem from the melting pot that was the Harlem music scene. Consequently the 80’s counter-culture music also exists because of the movement (or maybe that’s stretching it a little. I do like the idea that Nazi-Punk music exists because of what was going on in a black suburb in the 1920’s though…)
Any how, here are four songs that I consider to be among some of my favourites and that probably wouldn’t have been written without the cultural emancipation that the Harlem Renaissance allowed.
Every year my family has a tradition of taking us to the ballet. We’ve been doing it for about 5 years now and it’s great. Let’s face it, the scores to the Nutcraker or Swan Lake are classics in their own right, and for good reason. When you’ve got a group of incredibly talented dancers putting their all into turning the music into something more tangible, it’s difficult not to get swept up in the emotion of it all.
This year we didn’t spend Christmas in London, which meant going to the Royal Ballet was impossible. Instead we booked tickets to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre at the New York City Centre. I can honestly say I didn’t have a clue what to expect. My experience of the ballet is generally an older audience of well-off white people. Imagine my surprise when we turned up at the theatre on Christmas Eve to see that we were some of the few white people there. We filed in and took our seats (so close to the front we were practically underneath the stage) and were introduced to the first act, which was a brief history of the Harlem Renaissance. The music blew me out of the water and the dancing was superb. The whole story was narrated by one of the dancers and, being the history buff that I am, I took it all in. A combination of the music and the story piqued my interest, so here you go; a brief history of the Harlem Renaissance, as told by a 22 year old white guy from London… Click here to read more…
I hope last night was wonderful. The day of feeling sorry for yourself will have been well and truly worth it, I’m sure. I’ve been umming and ahhing over what song to put up today. There were a couple of contenders but I think the name of the artist and song make this the winner. The other song I was thinking about will go up tomorrow when the hangover really kicks in. Dizzy Gillespie is a one-of-a-kind artist. A virtuoso trumpet player and one of the founding father of what we now consider Jazz, he definitely gets a shout out. Enjoy this one. Let’s all get Dizzy here…
It’s one of those instruments that is often derided as the soundtrack to tacky porn or bad 80’s theme tunes, but today I would like to propose that the Sax is actually awesome. That’s not to say it’s not guilty of the above, just that there are better sides to it.
How about we start with a super brief summary of what wikipedia has to say. It was invented by Adolf Sax, a Belgian, in 1841. Apparently he wanted to create an instrument that sounded like the human voice. He patented it in 1846. Blah blah blah. Basically that’s all we need to know about how / when it was invented. Now on to the important stuff: why it’s worth listening to.
Obviously there are countless inspired jazz players who have made the sax famous. Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane and Sidney Bechet are just some names that roll off the tongue. So here’s a song by the late, great John Coltrane…
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