Rich Kienzle

Rich Kienzle

 My review of "In The Ground," the just-released album by the award-winning traditional bluegrass duo The Gibson Brothers

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Al Jarreau -- The Comic Actor: 1981 (Repost)

Wednesday, 15 February 2017 07:50

 

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SCTV, the groundbreaking TV satire shot in Canada, was on  a creative roll in 1981. Built around TV spoofs (including the fictional SCTV network), the cast was built around late John Candy, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Pittsburgh native Joe Flaherty, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas and Catherine O'Hara (later joined by Martin Short). The show's writing team wanted to integrate musical guests into the comedy sketches. They did this with a number of luminaries, among them Dr. John, Natalie Cole, John Mellencamp, Roy Orbison, Tony Bennett, Levon Helm, Ian Thomas (Dave's younger brother), the Tubes--and Al Jarreau.  (Photo: Jarreau with Rick Moranis as Phil Silvers).

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I didn't make Grammy picks.  I rarely if ever do. I know a bit about the politics and intrigues that go with it.  I was a member of the Nashville Chapter of NARAS for about 15 years with voting privileges.   Besides, I judge records on the merits (or lack of same) of the music itself. I don't care--and never have--if an album is going Platinum or sales are anemic.   Six albums I reviewed on my 2016 "Believe Your Ears" podcasts ended up Grammy winners, either the entire album or an individual song.   Here's the six, with links to the original podcasts from last year.

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Jazz Vocal Master Al Jarreau: 1940-2017

Sunday, 12 February 2017 20:33

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Jarreau in 2012                                                             (Luca Bruno, AP)

 Singer Al Jarreau, who died in Los Angeles today at 76, just announced his retirement days earlier, having dealt with health issues going back to 2010. A genuine stylist, Jarreau, who worked in occupational therapy, didn't actively pursue a musical career until the late 60's and early 70's. While many jazz vocalists never manage to expand their appeal beyond their core audience, Jarreau took his distinctive, rhythmic approach to jazz vocalizing beyond jazz to the mainstream, finding acceptance in the R&B and the pop fields. Jarreau, who died the night of the annual Grammy Awards, won six Grammys of his own between 1978 and 2007.

You can find the information anywhere; these selected videos tell the story.

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My review of Roy Orbison's Black & White Night 30 (audio portion), his legendary 1987 concert, expanded and upgraded, out on CD/DVD February 24th.

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Marty Stuart's latest album, Way Out West, due out March 10, is an atmospheric effort taking the Grand Ole Opry stalwart, country historian and traditionalist him beyond his usual Southeast-Appalachian-Delta roots to offer his reflections on the Far West.

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Reflections On A Fiddling Viking: Svend Asmussen

Wednesday, 08 February 2017 09:30

 

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Svend Asmussen, the Danish swing fiddle great nicknamed "The Fiddling Viking," died yesterday at 100, just 20 days before he'd have turned 101. He was the last survivor of the first generation jazz violin pioneers, and remained active until a stroke at age 95 impaired his playing skills, around the time his final new album Makin' Whoopee…And Music was released. His career was detailed in Svend Asmussen: The Extraordinary Life Of A Jazz Legend, an in-depth documentary available on DVD.

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On March 24, Omnivore Records is going to release one of my Desert Island records, complete with material thought to be missing. The record: Bobby Darin and Johnny Mercer's 1961 album Two of A Kind, recorded with Pittsburgh native Billy May's Orchestra. Seeing the album released in its complete form was the goal of Darin's longtime manager Steve Blauner, who was working with Omnivore Records on the project until he died in 2015 at age 81.

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 A look at two just-issued 1980 albums by alto sax great Art Pepper, one of the architects of the "cool" West Coast jazz of the 50's.

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connors

Mary Tyler Moore's passing last week dominated the headlines, though the death of Mannix star Mike Connors at 91 garnered its sharel. Connors became immortal over eight seasons (1967-75) portraying tough LA private detective Joe Mannix. The show, full of violence and car chases.  In 1970 actress Gail Fisher (1935-2000) became the first African-American actress to win a Best Supporting Actress Emmy for her role as Mannix's secretary Peggy Fair. The show's creator, Bruce Geller, also created Mission Impossible, both  produced by Desilu Productions.

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