Amoeblog

AMOEBLOG INTERVIEW WITH ESPERANZA SPALDING

Posted by Billyjam, June 27, 2008 12:55am | Post a Comment

Hard-working jazz singer/instrumentalist Esperanza Spalding, who recently played several dates in California and whose latest album Esperanza on Heads Up International has been available at Amoeba Music since it was released last month, took some time out of her busy schedule to talk with the Amoeblog this week. The jazz acoustic bassist/vocalist  talked about how she defines the type of music she plays, her recent gig at the Roots Picnic in Philly, the state of jazz music in 2008, and how she got into the style of music initially. 
 
"I fell in love with the music via the bass," said Esperanza. "Playing the instrument automatically made me a draw for jazzers who needed bass in their band, or on a gig. People would literally tell me, 'Hey if you check out these records or learn these songs, you can have this gig.'  And, when the music I was assigned or turned onto was jazz, I would take it to heart and try my best to understand it. Of course, for my musical palette at that time, it took a while before I could really    
   appreciate what I was listening to."

As for the challenge of being both a vocalist and an instrumentalist simultaneously, the artist said that it just takes practice as far as executing the music. "But what can be difficult is being a singer, in the sense that you are engaged with the audience, and really responsible for emoting, and getting into the lyrics, melody, etc and being an effective bassist/band leader," she added. On the topic of Esperanza's music, I asked the artist how she herself describes her style? "Hmm, investigative," she replied. "I am trying to synthesize all the elements that are present, or at least present in my intention, if it doesn't always translate to the listener. I figure in a few years I'll really be able to peg my sound."

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Interview with revolutionary hip-hop emcee Immortal Technique whose new album The 3rd World drops this week

Posted by Billyjam, June 25, 2008 08:20am | Post a Comment

It might well look from a mainstream glance that hip-hop today has evolved into nothing but slickly produced, bouncy, party music with mindless lyrics that are more concerned with ringtone-designed, catchy choruses than any type of political message.

We are in a time in the once widely revolutionary music that whenever you hear of an artist accused of being 'offensive' it is more likely that they are being misogynist  than being lyrically threatening or offensive to the government or the economic or social system.

But there are still hip-hop artists today making politically charged, socially relevant music in the tradition of such militant rap artists as Public Enemy and Paris. Immortal Technique is such an artist and his latest album, The 3rd World (Viper), which arrived in Amoeba Music yesterday, is a prime example of an artist using his craft and resources as a platform to make powerful political, economic, and sociological statements.

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with the outspoken Harlem, NY emcee, who is as critical of the music industry as he is of the Bush administration. The 3rd World, like his previous releases such as the classic Revolutionary Vol.2, is  released on his own label, Viper, with carefully monitored distribution by KOCH. He told me he would rather have control of his music and his business than have some huge corporation pimp him. Not that any large entertainment conglomerate would not be scared away by such a loud political rapper. The industry won't really push political artists, he told me. "They will champion someone who is not fit to defend those positions for our people," he said, noting that this only inspires him to stick to the script. "It's very important for us to never lose sight of the revolutionary aspect of hip-hop.....that's the 3rd world: the revolutionary side, the street side, the hardcore side, and the independent."

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THE CHURCHES OF WEST OAKLAND (Pt. 2: the signs)

Posted by Billyjam, June 25, 2008 08:08am | Post a Comment

        

 
        

        
     
        

              

        

       

      

     

    

      
 

THE CHURCHES OF WEST OAKLAND (Pt. 1)

Posted by Billyjam, June 24, 2008 06:43pm | Post a Comment
      
 

One of the distinctive features of the expansive East Bay city of Oakland is the amount of churches that dot its wide landscape from Deep East Oakland to North Oakland, and of course West Oakland. Churches are everywhere --every few blocks in most parts of Oakland it seems there's a church building.

What's so wonderful about these churches is how they range so widely in architectural styles and types.

Each church boasts its own unique structure and they vary from the fancy to the functional. 

If time allows, it's fun to leisurely travel Oakland's streets and take in their beauty.

Click on this website for a list of many (not all) of the churches of Oakland. But really, you don't need a guide to find them.  Go anywhere in Oakland and you'll pass a church within no time.

West Oakland (the red part in opposite map of Oakland) is a good place to start where there's a church on every second or third block. As a result the churches of West Oakland play a key role in defining the image of this East Bay neighborhood. However, with the fast advancing gentrification that's been going on in West Oakland in recent years, many longtime residents may be forced out due to rising real estate value. 

Hence economics would dictate that many of these little West Oakland churches, most of which draw a steady but small congregation every Sunday, will in short time become an endangered species, so if you want to see them in all their beauty do it now.

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GEORGE CARLIN R.I.P.

Posted by Billyjam, June 22, 2008 11:23pm | Post a Comment

George Carlin
died earlier today (June 22, 2008) in Los Angeles. He was 71 years old. The truly unique and always outspoken American comedian/social commentator/actor, who had a history of heart problems, died of  heart failure at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica at approx 6PM today. 

Unlike so many comedians who tend to tone down their act as the years slip by or as they become more famous & widely accepted, George Carlin consistently kept his work  on the edge by always being brutally honest and darkly satirical as he routinely tackled such targets as religion, culture, politics, and the hypocrisies of America.

The ever anti-establishment Carlin will probably be best remembered for "The Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV" routine of his (found on his Class Clown album) in which he tested the limits and challenged the government regulated words that dared not be uttered on television (or the radio).

In 1972 in Milwaukee at a show Carlin did this routine, uttering those seven "dirty" words from the stage, resulting in his arrest for disturbing the peace. The same routine, when played on American radio, led to the 1978 Supreme Court ruling upholding the government's authority to sanction stations for broadcasting offensive language.

Personally, I loved everything he ever did that I got my hands on: records, books and filmed performances-- three video clips of which are included below. One is the aforementioned "The Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV" from a 1978 concert. Another is the wonderful "Modern Man" from more recent years, in which he does an inspired piece about modern technology (great for mixing over beats because of its poetic flow) and another amazing recent piece - the no-holds-barred "America Is Tyranny" in which Carlin tells it like it really is today in the messed up United States of America.

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