“Maybe this might sound a little bit corny to people, but it was a spiritual feeling to me... It felt great to me – that distance thing, reaching out to something beyond the people” - jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins tells the Guardian recalling his two years of playing on a New York bridge. Beginning in the summer of 1959, Rollins played the saxophone on the Williamsburg Bridge day and night, rain or shine, in solitary sessions of sometimes 15 hours or more, for two years. This month is the 60th anniversary of his return to the recording studio where he made - 'The Bridge'.

An interesting point by Michelle Lhooq in her latest Rave New World post: "Clearly, we are entering the most absurd era of the pandemic, where ravers are actively trying to catch the virus, the scarcity of COVID testing is a joke, and the President himself is tweeting 'LMFAO IDK just Google it'. As the void closes in, the question lingers: is there any use resisting the nihilism of this moment? Or do you just cross the goddamn Rubicon, and jump into the gabber rave mosh pit?".

Retrospect of William
January 02, 2022

Hasaan Ibn Ali - a distinctive and original musician

The New Yorker looks back to the career of pianist and composer Hasaan Ibn Ali and his new release 'Retrospect In Retirement Of Delay: The Solo Recordings' - which features him in privately recorded performances from 1962 to 1965. The recording "reveals his profundity, his overwhelming power, his mighty virtuosity. It does more than put him on the map of jazz history—it expands the map to include the vast expanse of his musical achievement".

New is a matter of perspective
December 30, 2021

Boston Globe and their favorite music discoveries of the year

"The curse of being a music hound is that you’ll never be able to hear everything; the blessing is that there’ll always be something new to discover" - Boston Globe writer points out in the article about musical discoveries from this year. It's actually all well-known names, but not for everybody, some had the luck of finding out excitement in something all else knew.

Xmas came different this year
December 21, 2021

Vice's... different list of the best Christmas songs of all time

"Christmas songs vary hugely in genre – you’ve got everything from Songs-of-Praise-core to “Mad World” – and as you will see throughout this list, we are not afraid to challenge boundaries and perceptions. (One of the songs included, for example, doesn’t actually exist.) Not all Christmas songs mention Christmas, and not all Christmas songs are even “songs” as you may know them. Your mother screaming at you to get the dog out of the living room while there’s ham out, say, is just as much a Christmas ditty as “Silent Night” herself. You may not be able to play all our choices on your little Spotify, but they are all undoubtedly Christmas songs in that they contribute to the sounds and the mildly deranged mood of the season" - Vice kind of argues in favor of its list of 50 best Christmas songs. A mad list.

African king
December 11, 2021

Dr. Nico - Africa’s guitar god

"If cascades of gorgeous-to-gritty tone, an effortless flow of sparkling, playful melody, harmonization and dazzling polyrhythmic syncopations make up your idea of six-string divinity, Dr. Nico surely belongs in your pantheon" - Guitar World writes introducing Nicolas Kasanda wa Mikalay, aka Dr Nico.

Glam list
December 02, 2021

Top 11 glam rock songs

Medium presents top 11 glam rock song, with the No. 1 being 'Ballroom Blitz', the Sweet song based on a 1973 concert that got out of hand. Guitarist Andy Scott described how he and singer Brian Connolly were dragged off the stage in Glasgow, Scotland: “There was an absolute riot. All the fans were screaming and going crazy. A bunch of girls grabbed Brian and me by the ankles and dragged us off stage. They started lobbing off our hair with scissors they had been hiding in their handbags.To say we were terrified was an understatement. No one had ever seen a reaction like this and security didn’t stand a chance. Mike went away and wrote the lyrics to ‘Ballroom Blitz’".

Inspired by Peter Jackson's Beatles documentary 'Get Back', Rolling Stone has compiled a list of the 70 greatest music documentaries of all time: "the concert films, fly-on-the-wall tour chronicles, punk and hip-hop and jazz time capsules, and career assessments of everyone from Amy Winehouse to the Who that have set the standard and stood the test of time". The list finishes with 'U2: Rattle and Hum' and starts with Bob Dylan 1967 docu 'Don't Look Back', with plenty of good stuff in between.

Riff and roll
November 15, 2021

Video: The heaviest riffs of all time

Revolver asked an expert panel of heavy-metal and hardcore musicians — including members of Type O Negative, Revocation, Imperial Triumphant, and more — to pick out the heaviest riff. The musicians chose Black Sabbath, Slayer, Metallica, Pantera, Rage Against the Machine, Van Halen...

Safe & Sound Fest
November 10, 2021

Lessons from a crowd behavior expert

Mehdi Moussaïd, a research scientist in Berlin who studies crowd behavior at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, came up with tips to survive a dangerous crowd situation:

Keep your eyes open for danger signs

Leave as soon as you sense the crowd getting too dense

Stay standing, and don't put a backpack on the ground

Lack of oxygen is the killer in crowds, so preserve space around your chest

Don't push. Move with the crowd

Avoid walls and solid objects

Learn to detect crowd density

If a crowd gets unsafe, look out for others

Life's bricks
November 01, 2021

Tori Amos presents the music that made her

Tori Amos ran down the songs and albums that formed the contours of her life, at Pitchfork. Plenty of different music - Aphex Twin ("coming from a brain that thinks differently than the rest of us"), Radiohead ("It was this explosion that changed the terrain sonically"), Mary Hopkin ("the most beautiful, whimsical thing"), Adele ("like a meteor had crashed in through the atmosphere"), Tracy Chapman ("It woke me up and took me back to my 5-year-old self, who was creating from a pure place of intention of music being magic, as a place where we could walk into and feel many different things").

As big as the continent
October 26, 2021

A short intro into Afrobeats


"With its signature groovy percussion, autotune-heavy vocals, and catchy hooks, Afrobeats is finding audiences far beyond Nigeria’s shores. Stars perform at global music festivals, and American musicians sampling their work have introduced African artists to an ever widening audience" - Quartz begins its introduction of Afrobeats. "Much of Afrobeats’ growing appeal is driven by Nigeria’s vast diaspora, but beyond that, social media, YouTube, and global streaming sites like Spotify are ensuring that it’s easier than ever to discover—and become a fan of—Nigerian music".

Brotherhood of unity
October 18, 2021

The (almost) forgotten pop music of Yugoslavia

Miha Kralj

A lovely little article in the Guardian about Yugoslavian pop music in the 1980s when it got closest to the trends of the western world: "Yugoslavian musicians defied the limitations of technology to make superb electro-pop in an apparent socialist utopia... Yugoslavian disco, post-punk and electronic music thrived in the 1970s and 1980s – yet was mostly forgotten until recent efforts by hobby archivists and specialist record labels".

WordTips has a great feature - Singers Vocabularies. They counted the words used by 100 modern stars and the 100 greatest singers of all time and added up the number of unique words they used per 1,000 and used the formula for the feature. What they found is that the star with the biggest vocabulary overall is legend Patti Smith, who uses 217 unique words per 1,000 - she used 2,669 different words across a total word count of 12,291. The modern singer with the biggest vocabulary is Billie Eilish who uses 169 per 1,000. Legend Luther Vandross and modern star Trey Songz are tied with 66 for the smallest vocabulary. The song with the most unique words is Lou Reed’s 'The Murder Mystery', recorded by The Velvet Underground, with 639 words.

Music writer Ted Gioia tries to see into the future, here are some of his predictions:

Record labels will gradually lose both the ability and desire to develop new artists. They will focus increasingly on their old catalog and archival materials.

More new artists will get their big break from web platforms... So I wouldn’t be surprised if a whole new platform emerges during the next decade—an interface that makes it fun and exciting for music fans to hear new music.

Listeners will have favorite new songs, but not know (or care) about the name of the artist.

Musician incomes will continue to shrink, but some young musicians will still earn large sums of money by being influencers.

Dead musicians will start showing up everywhere—via holograms, biopics, deepfake vocals, and other technology-driven interfaces.

Get ready for A-Pop from Africa, I-Pop from India or Indonesia, and a whole host of competing sounds and styles from Latin America, China, Eastern Europe, etc.

Pitchfork is continuing to celebrate its 25th birthday, the latest b-day cake being a selection of favourite albums by some of Pitchfork's own favourite musicians. Some interesting choices: ANOHNI chose 'Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Power in the Blood' ("Buffy is one of the people I am relying on to help me understand how to move forward as an artist and as a human being"), Bun B chose Radiohead’s 'OK Computer' ("when life starts moving too fast, 'OK Computer' is still there to help slow it down for me"), Daniel Kessler from Interpol chose Aphex Twin’s 'Richard D. James Album' ("pushed music to where it had never ventured before"), Thundercat chose Slipknot’s 'Slipknot' ("awesomeness"), Timbaland chose OutKast’s 'SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below' ("groundbreaking").

Peter Buffett and Cellist Michael Kott

Ted Gioia looks back at the case of Peter Buffett, son of legendary investor Warren Buffett who had given his son some shares in Berkshire Hathaway, and at age 19 Peter wanted to raise money so he could prepare at leisure for a music career. To cover expenses, he sold his entire stock holdings for $123,000 - shares that would now be worth $275 million. “It was understood that I should expect nothing more” he later wrote in his memoir 'Life is What You Make It'.

Song Exploder podcast shared a "very different and special episode of the show" - about John Lennon song 'God'. Song Exploder have never tried making a posthumous episode before, because hearing directly from the artist is at the heart of the show. However, with all the John Lennon interview archives, plus all the isolated tracks from the recordings, and the original demo, it turned out a legitimate, different and special episode of the show.

Plenty of country for old rockers
October 05, 2021

The best country rock songs

Late Tom Petty's quote that today's country music is nothing more than “bad rock with a fiddle” was the inspiration for Medium's blog entry of the best country rock songs. It includes some Rolling Stones, Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley, and some context.

I rap, therefore I am
October 03, 2021

Essay: Similarities between rappers and Philosophers

Level goes on an ambitious quest - tries to connect wordings of contemporary rappers with those of classic philosophers. One of the comparisons is between Kendrick Lamar and Plato, who both deal with issues of identity, reality and ideas:

“What money got to do with it / When I don’t know the full definition of a rap image? / I’m trapped inside the ghetto and I ain’t proud to admit it / Institutionalized, I keep runnin’ back for a visit” - Kendrick Lamar, 'Institutionalized'

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light” - Plato.

Laser sharp
September 23, 2021

Michael Azerrad: My time with Kurt Cobain

A beautiful article in the New Yorker by Michael Azerrad, a journalist and one of Kurt Cobain's closest friends: "That’s the kind of thing that haunts people who know people who have committed suicide: Is there something I could have done? Twenty-seven years later, I still ask myself that question. I tried, but perhaps I could have—and should have—tried harder. The thing is, although I was in my early thirties, I was still immature and naïve. Maybe I wasn’t so well suited to the task". The long read also gives quite a convincing albeit prosaic explanation for the suicide: "Kurt had several clinically established risk factors for suicide, including inhuman levels of professional pressure, chronic and severe physical pain, and a heroin addiction that he just couldn’t seem to shake (or didn’t want to). He also had a long family history of suicide".

Adult oriented lists
September 15, 2021

Rolling Stone's 500 greatest songs of all time

Rolling Stone has reviewed its 2004 list of 500 greatest songs of all time. Nearly 4,000 songs received votes. Where the 2004 version of the list was dominated by early rock and soul, the new edition contains more hip-hop, modern country, indie rock, Latin pop, reggae, and R&B. More than half the songs here — 254 in all — weren’t present on the old list, including a third of the Top 100. The result is a more expansive, inclusive vision of pop, music that keeps rewriting its history with every beat - RS points out. The list starts at the number 500 with Kanye West's 'Stronger', and reaches the highpoint with Aretha Franklin's 'Respect'.

Top ZZ
September 08, 2021

What is jazz?

Jazz Times talks to notable musicians who consider an old question, with Ambrose Akinmusire giving an interesting perspective: “It’s the sonic representation of how Black people navigate through the world. The improvised element. It’s the never know[ing] what’s coming your way, but reacting and staying calm and knowing that no matter what it is there’s a way to spin it and make it work”.

Ode to joyful rebellion
September 08, 2021

Beethoven - a tornado on and off the piano

History of Yesterday remembers the notoriety of the classic music genius: "Beethoven famously chopped the legs off of his piano to feel the notes from the floor vibrations. When that stopped working, he attached a metal rod to the piano. While composing, he bit the rod to feel the notes... When aristocrats attended his performance and talked in the crowd, he would stop playing, turn, and stare at them from his bench, his eyes cutting lasers out into the crowd. There would be painful silence until he’d resume".

There's also beauty there
August 29, 2021

New Sounds makes a selection of music from Afghanistan


New Sounds produced a podcast with a selection of music from Afghanistan, putting a different light on the troubled nation. Among the selected are Homayun Sakhi and Quraishi with their rubâb music, folk poems of Afghani women, the Hazara tradition by Hamid Sakhizada, and adapted music from the Khorasan region by the duo Badieh. Much of the music comes from musicians who have fled the country to Europe or North America.

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