"Flashback" by Del & Tame One off the new album Parallel Uni-Verses (in Amoeba today)Of the numerous new releases to arrive onto the hip-hop shelves at Amoeba Music today (Tuesday, Oct 13th), my personal fave new joint is the latest from the ever prolific Del The Funky Homosapien. On the new CD the longtime Oakland Hieroglyphics emcee teams up with the equally talented Jersey guy Tame One -- formerly of legendary hip-hop duo The Artifacts (with El Da Sensei) and member of the East Coast hip-hop super-group The Weathermen (Aesop Rock, Cage Kennylz, Yak Ballz, El-P, Breeze Brewin, etc.).
Parallel Uni-Verses is the title of the new album featuring this bi-coastal power duo, released on Gold Dust Media. The collaboration comes as a surprise to many hip-hop fans (myself included), since you would never expect these two artists to join forces. But the good news is it works, and really well, too, on songs such as "Flashback," featured above in the new video directed by Alex Ghassan. The vid was recorded two months ago at the East River State Park on the Williamsburg Waterfront outdoor show in Brooklyn and at various other NYC spots including (what looks like) Fat Beats record store on Sixth Ave. in the West Village.
Lou Barlow's songs were the background music to my college experience. Actually, they were more than the background music...they were more like little saviors, tiny gems that made life a bit more bearable when things got complicated and rough. Barlow's music both described and assuaged situations I found myself surrounded with and confronting back then.
These were also my days of extreme lo-fi appreciation, and Lou was one of the musicians at the apex of my admiration. His songs were so naked. They felt real. His openness was so plain, both in music and words. Those songs were soft and hard at the same time, gentle yet defiant, the perfect combination of sweet melody and roughness -- the way so much of the best music is. I spent a lot of time with my Sebadoh records on repeat in those days, and Lou's contributions were the ones that resounded the most.
A few years ago, I met him here at Amoeba, back when Dinosaur Jr had an (awesome) instore. It was a memorable day, but my sudden nerves around him are something I kinda want to forget! Despite the fact that it'd been years since I'd even listened to those Sebadoh records, it all was still right there and fresh in my mind. Though I was directly involved with getting the band set up and onstage, I barely spoke to or even looked at Lou (which I actually think he appreciated), and in no way even attempted to even engage him in regular conversation, let alone pass on how much his music had meant to me at an important time in my life. Instead, I gabbed away with J Mascis about cereal. Yup.
Sometimes I think things are better left unsaid, and when it comes to these things, that is truly always the case. Better to talk to someone else about breakfast food and enjoy the music.
Art Tatum is acknowledged by anyone who knows anything as one of the greatest and most influential jazz pianists of all time. A child prodigy born with perfect pitch, Tatum was picking up church hymns and tunes off the radio by ear at the age of three. As a teenager, the nearly blind Tatum started at the Columbus School for the Blind where he studied music and learned Braille. His first musical heroes were his contemporaries like the stride pianists James P. Johnson, Fats Waller, and Earl Hines. Within a few years he was playing in New York settling at the Onyx Club where he recorded his first sides for Brunswick. Tatum developed an incredibly fast improvisational style, and though he rarely ventured far from the original melodic lines of a song, his technique and ideas are a direct line to the bebop revolution of the late 1940’s. One of Tatum’s great quotes was “There is no such thing as a wrong note.”
Though I’m often dubious of many opinions laid out by jazz critic Leonard Feather, I have to more or less agree with him when he called Tatum "the greatest soloist in jazz history, regardless of instrument." Legendary French writer and artist Jean Cocteau called Tatum "a crazed Chopin." Count Basie called him the eighth wonder of the world. Classical composer Sergei Rachmaninoff once said, "he has better technique than any other living pianist, and may be the greatest ever." Dizzy Gillespie said, "First you speak of Art Tatum, then take a long deep breath, and you speak of the other pianists." Charlie Parker, who briefly worked as a dishwasher at Jimmie's Chicken Shack in Manhattan, where Tatum regularly performed, once said, “I wish I could play like Tatum’s right hand!” One of the most famous quotes about Art Tatum was by Fats Waller, whose introduction one night announced, "I only play the piano, but tonight God is in the house." Waller also once said, "When that man turns on the powerhouse, don't no one play him down. He sounds like a brass band."
Art Tatum died in Los Angeles on March 12, 1955 at Queen of Angels Medical Center from the complications of kidney failure. He was originally interred at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, but in 1991 he was moved to the Great Mausoleum of Glendale's Forest Lawn Cemetery.
It’s been a while since I’ve written about the city I love, even though the name of this blog is called Los Angeles Me. Originally, I wanted to write about Los Angeles and the music and cultural scene of the city that you don’t hear about in most Los Angeles publications. Los Angeles has been my home for forty years now and I love it now as much as I ever have. I have been blessed to live and be a part of many communities, geographically and culturally. I’ve met some great people in L.A.; some are still here, some have moved to other cities and some have unfortunately passed on too soon.
The sudden passing of Brendan Mullen over the weekend has much of L.A.’s music community in shock. Brendan, who started The Masque in the late 70’s, was, as Paul Tollett of Goldenvoice said, "The first promoter of punk rock in this town, everything started with him." I couldn’t even begin to imagine a Los Angeles without bands such as X, The Germs, The Go-Go’s, The Weirdos and The Plugz, just to name a few that played at The Masque. The bands that played there influenced many others to not only play music, but to create art and expand their horizons. It could be said that Brendan wasn’t just valuable as far as helping music in Los Angeles grow, but that he helped the entire city grow as well.
I met Brendan while performing at the L.A. Weekly Music Awards back in 2001. I remember he said some very complimentary things about the band I had at the time and how honored I was that he did. This was a man who not only championed the punk scene, but also all music that had the same rebellious spirit. He had a way of making you feel good about yourself, which is probably why he was such a great promoter of music.