Doctor Mulatu, I presume

Update (April 1) Watch “Mulatau Astatke and the African Jazz Village“, his project to foster jazz in Africa. In the “long overdue” category, news has come out that the “Father of Ethio Jazz”, Mulatu Astatke will receive an honourary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College. Other recipients will be Allison Krauss and The Eagles (I will not try to picture The Eagles on a par with Mulatu. Perhaps they should get an honourary Bachelor’s degree). Congratulations to a true master. Two portraits of the Doctor from his 2008 appearance with the Either Orchestra at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre: my photo, … Continue reading

Earl Scruggs, RIP

No doubt the most influential banjoist in the world died on March 28, at the age of 88. The website Bluegrass Today, is not surprisingly filled with appreciations of Scruggs’ career, including this article by David Morris, titled “A Legend’s Biggest Moments”. Here’s the irony of being asked to write about the highlights of Earl Scruggs’ career as king of the banjo and a bluegrass pioneer: What doesn’t make the cut as one of his top achievements would be the crowning moment for just about every other picker. Read more here. Scruggs’ signature tune, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”, was first recorded … Continue reading

Summer (festivals) #2: other notables

Besides the Luminato announcement, there’s much more coming, including: Lulaworld, May 9-19 The Lula Lounge over 10 years has been indispensable  as a live music venue, and as a contributor to the music and wider community of this city. This year’s annual Lulaworld festival will celebrate a decade of… that Lula world. Their website describes the festival best: For a decade now, Lula Lounge distinguished itself as Toronto’s home for groundbreaking international latin, jazz, and world music. In celebration, Lula Music and Arts Centre has programmed a series of collaborative concerts that will bring together artists from around the globe. … Continue reading

Summer (festivals): just around the corner: #1: Luminato

That early summer we had seems to have disappeared suddenly this week, but all the news of summer (and other) music festivals should keep you warm. Most notably, for this website is the news of the free music concerts at what may now be the  premiere annual arts event in Toronto: Luminato. Its free concerts, organized by Derek Andrews are often among the best of the year, and this year promises to be the best yet. (Enjoy the riches while you can… the recent provincial budget called for cutting Ontario’s contributions to Luminato over the next 2 years by 40%!) … Continue reading

Chuck Berry & T-Bone Walker, 1972

The rock & roller and one of his idols share a guitar on “Everyday I Have The Blues” at the Montreux Jazz Festival, 1972. According to a poster on Charlie Gillett’s music forum (where I found this clip), Walker’s own set the previous day was recorded and released on an LP, Fly Walker Airlines which was to be his last album. Walker was the first bluesman recorded playing electric guitar and died in 1975.

Buddy Miller interview

One of my favourite musicians, Buddy Miller, gets little public attention, in part because he seems to be a pretty low-key, self-effacing guy, who is just as happy playing behind — and producing — artists who get the bigger publicity. A recent interview with him: Q&A Interview with Musician and Producer Buddy Miller. The above has a video link of Buddy performing with fellow guitarists Marc Ribot & Bill Frisell, plus steel player Greg Leisz, doing George Jones’ “Why Baby Why?”. Below, Buddy solo with one of his favourite songs. “That’s How I Got to Memphis” (Tom T Hall):  

Wazimbo at the Lula Lounge, March 8, 2012

A terrific show and performance by Wazimbo, the great Mozambique Marrabenta singer last week. A tremendous voice, and energetic performer, he kept the dance floor going, and also brought out the Mozambique community to celebrate his first Canadian tour. He will be back in the area this summer, hitting some of the festivals. Watch for him… He was backed by some excellent Toronto musicians: Tich Maredza (rhythm guitar) Larry Lewis (lead guitar) Sam Petit (bass) Gordin Mapika (drums) Ruben Esguerra (congas) Thanks to Batuki Music Society for this rare to chance to hear a great artist from Mozambique. Two video … Continue reading

A night of Zimbabwean rhythms: March 3, 2012

Last Saturday night, two excellent Toronto-based Zimbabwean bands played at Placebo Place on Bloor St. (A small, funky artist loft, located above an auto mechanic garage). Nhapitapi Mbira opened, followed by the Tich Maredza Band. For the final set, all 9 musicians played together. The audience had long since given up the cushions on the floor, and everyone was moving to the music. Band members: Nhapitapi Mbira: Mutamba (Moyo) Rainos: vocals, mbira, percussion & dance Memory Makuri: vocals, dance & percussion Evelyn Mukwedeya: mbira & percussion Pasi Gunguwo: vocals, mbira, percussion The Tich Maredza Band: Tichaona Maredza: vocals, guitar Larry … Continue reading

Wazimbo: music from Mozambique – tonight at the Lula

A rare chance to hear some music from Mozambique tonight at the Lula Lounge. Wazimbo (Humberto Carlos Benfica)’s musical career in Mozambique goes back almost 50 years, and he’s now one of the most famous singers of the marrabenta style. This is his first trip to Canada. Tonight, he’ll be backed by some top local musicians (Tich Maredza, Larry Lewis, Ruben Esguerra — all from the Tich Maredza Band — plus Gordin Mapika and Sam Petit). Wazimbo was interviewed last Sunday by Nadine McNulty on Karibuni (CIUT). That program is still online for a few more days. (Link is below). … Continue reading