IMPORTANT NEWS: I’ve moved the site to http://ptap.es/b2 pause for sharp intake of breath…and it sounds way better! You can skip forward when you like, put the playlist on pause, play on your phone, all that good stuff, All for now…go there now and as always, enjoy in joy.
Here for your pleasure are 34 tracks featuring all three of the freeform disciplines Jazz, Swing & Singers. Gathered from the last couple of years I’m aiming this playlist at the ears of the people who say they don’t like Jazz. This is my attempt to convert them. The real acid test of this mix was to play it during a dinner party…this I have done, and I’m pleased to say…. no complaints. The playlist contains notables running the gamut from Cecile McLorin Salvant, Vijay Iyer Trio, Tomeka Reida, and yes, I have include two numbers by the 13 year old Malaysian jazz pianist Joey Alexander …so there you go. Enjoy in joy.
A friend of mine recently told me she hated Jazz. I was wondering what dreadful musical trauma she must have experienced to say such a thing...dark, smoky bar with bad trumpet player, class reunion with the trad band that just would not stop playing, Woody Allen on clarinet at Mikes? So, to change her mind, I recommended this playlist–I’m thinking you have not suffered such musical PTSD and are keen to engage. My friend...well, I’m hoping for a musical conversion…I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, get down and groove, you hep cats.
Quite simply my go to place when I have company I want an elevated atmosphere. Don't be afraid, it's an extreamely cool playlist, great for dinner parties and mellow evenings.Trust me, you'll come back to this tape a lot.
Jazz Swing & Singers: Keep Calm & Carry On. Named for the wartime period it evokes – times were dire but the music was uplifting. Keep Calm & Carry On was a motivational poster produced by the British Government in 1939 in anticipation of WWII. It was intended to raise the morale of a public, threatened with mass air attacks. Although over 2 million were printed, the poster was rarely displayed and was little known until a copy was discovered in 2000. Only two original copies survived until a collection of 20 was brought in to the Antiques Roadshow in 2012. Enjoy in Joy.
I’m not terribly comfortable with publishing mail from listeners, but this letter summed up some common thoughts: "Dear C, I listen to your music at work when I need to calm down and make sense of the muddle in my brain. I listen to it at home while I cook, clean, eat, and read. I love the R & B section. I love the Jazz Swing and Singers section. And I absolutely love the Classical Cafe section. My husband loves your music as does Yellow, our kitten. Thank you for adding a wonderful dose of music to our lives. Warmly, Your follower from India, Sher." Well Sher, husband and feline friend…”hear” are the earliest murmurs of Jazz, Swing, Singers…another signpost on the musical journey from there to “hear." Enjoy in joy.
Sessions by The Smiths, & Mad Bastards "Time to put on the thigh boots for another wade through the brave new sounds of pain-bandaging and humiliation," as the great man once said. I acquired these shows when employed for a brief stint at the magazine Entertainment Weekly, which was the highlight of an otherwise professional low point for me; however, I did get to interview the man himself, and I will release that material at some point in the not-too-distant future. So anyway, here you go, time to get under the sheets with the transistor radio again. You want the hits?...we leave all that nonsense to Pandora, Spotify, and the Clear Channel. Enjoy in joy.
Sessions from Seetihng Wells, The Corporation, The Passage live at the Ritz and Personal Column "The sound of expensive musical equipment being thrown down a lift shaft" as Peel once said. I acquired these shows when employed for a brief stint at the magazine Entertainment Weekly, and because of that I got to interview the man himself--I will release that material at some point in the not-too-distant future. So anyway, here you go, time to get under the sheets with the transistor radio again.
Sessions by The Diagram Brothers and The Chevalia Brothers, also Half Man Half Biscuit and The June Brides: "Time to put on the thigh boots for another wade through the brave new sounds of pain-bandaging and humiliation," as Peel once said. I acquired these shows when employed for a brief stint at the magazine Entertainment Weekly, and because of that tenure I got to interview the man himself--I will release that material at some point in the not-too-distant future. So, here you go, time to get under the sheets with the transistor radio.
Sessions by Scarlet Timpani and Doctor Calculus "Time to put on the thigh boots for another wade through the brave new sounds of pain-bandaging and humiliation," as Peel once said. I acquired these shows when employed for a brief stint at the magazine Entertainment Weekly, and because of that tenure I got to interview the man himself--I will release that material at some point in the not-too-distant future. So, here you go, time to get under the sheets with the transistor radio.
Sessions with The Jack Tars & Inspiral Carpets "Time to put on the thigh boots for another wade through the brave new sounds of pain-bandaging and humiliation," as Peel once said. I acquired these shows when employed for a brief stint at the magazine Entertainment Weekly, and because of that tenure I got to interview the man himself--I will release that material at some point in the not-too-distant future. So, here you go, time to get under the sheets with the transistor radio.
J’Ouvert in the Caribbean is the official start of carnival, and Bacchanal is an occasion of wild and drunken revelry, which, any way you slice it, is a good time. As summer approaches the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time to give you all something fresh to listen to. I’ve put a remarkable amount of effort into this brand-spanking-new Reggae mixtape, because I was there recently and lent my ears to much of what was being played…and well, Jah Cure and Queen Ifrica are revelations. These two artists, and many other mostly Jamaican musicians, are spun together on this joyous playlist. So strap yourselves in, we’re going to a ‘jump up’ tonight. And…pause for sharp intake of breath, I am bringing back Peel. Stay tuned, and as always, enjoy in joy.
Dreads Up! From awhere I sit, Caribbean music and Reggae in particular, has become the property of the world, and that’s as it should be. So here’s a tip of the tam to those who are changing the riddim, and those who were crucial to its existence. The likes of Junior Mervin. Prince Far I, Wayne Smith and all the other greats, have left the Yabba pot and are sadly gone. But if you're down for a jump-up tonight, some cool runnings are afoot. So crank up the stereo and all will be irie...seen?
Isaiah’s Place was a NYC club I frequented way back. Metal detector and pat downs at the door, the security was ‘Rambo Style.’ A four-person elevator took you up and tipped you out and onto the dance floor, not a pallid face to be seen–magic. The sound was drum and bass with ‘toasters’ extemporizing lyrics. Toasting medleys would soon be co-opted by the boys from the Bronx and turned into rap, but back then it was strictly Jamaican dancehall for homesick Islanders and ex-pats. That slow perpetual riddim put the hook in you...hooked until you stumbled out at dawn. Want to know what that sounds like? Click away and cool runnings….
Roots, Ska, Rock Steady, Bluebeat, Mento, Calypso...some of the early styles that Caribbean musicians recorded and stuffed into bottles to be lobbed into the tide and carried away eastward. From many voices and many islands these singular rhythms emanated–so we can’t just call it all Reggae. As these beats arrived in the U.K., spotty schoolboys collected them–it was the cool thing to do. Now they are released in large CD box sets, with fabulous packaging and graphics, but if you want the real thing you need to listen to the vinyl. So here are some of those singles accompanied by some U.K. acolytes that I hope have now washed upon your shore. Cool runnings. C
THE BLUES FROM NOW TO THEN
Music Blog 5.22: Last week I was watching icebergs drifting out into the Atlantic and sorting a sound track to accompany that merry visual feast when B.B. King up and dies. There and then I had to curtail my Icelandic mixtape activities and work on a hommage to B.B. and the Blues; after all, he was arguably the last player to be able to trace his musical roots back to Robert Johnson, the man who went down to the "crossroads" and discovered the blues. Johnson, and fifty other artists, are featured on this playlist from way back when to now. In a fortnight I will release that iceberg flavored Nordic sound track…no pressure. Until then, enjoy in joy.
MODS: Some time ago I resigned myself to returning to England to liberate my cousins cache of 1960s soul singles…I was on a mission from God! My cuz (pictured above) was a Top Mod in those days, with people lining up to buy and exchange rare 45s. He had all the gear…scooter, parka, suit with center vent, quarter-inch cuffs…you get the picture. Flights and numerous trains later, I knocked on his mum’s door, had a cup of tea, and legged it to his old bedroom where I squirreled away the precious cargo. Lovingly, they flew back with me and I recorded them before handing them over. You are now the beneficiaries of that mission. Here are 36 singles, of the best soul music covering the period 1962-’72, with all the scratches and clicks…magic!
Motown derived its name from Motor Town Detroit, which is where the owner, Berry Gordy Jr., hung up his boxing gloves and took a seat behind a mixing board. His Label was originally called Tamla Motown, however, the origins of Tamla are unclear. What is crystal clear is that the Motown sound became a major factor in the crossover between soul and pop, and a bellwether to a more racially integrated music scene that would eventually spawn Stax, Atlantic, Hi, Volt, et al. This playlist covers its first releases in 1959 to its twilight in the early 70s. Yes, those are scratches you can hear, and yes, that may be a little surface noise too…but as the legendary DJ John Peel said, “life has surface noise too.” The vinyl here includes Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Martha Reeves, The Temptations, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross…play on, play on. C
Northern soul is a dance movement that emerged in the north of England in the 1960s. It was driven by a particular style of American soul, and the Stax & Atlantic labels were a huge part of its sound. This was truly a remarkable period in American music; an historic moment when despite segregation, black and white musicians worked together to produce music that is as relevant today as it was back then. So here we go...68 tracks now, and many more Memphis homegrown hits to follow. For those who want to delve further into this subject, I recommend Robert Gordon’s book, Respect Yourself. This first installment runs from 1947 to 1968…great for after dinner with friends…serve “chilled.”
CHESS KINGS & CHI-TOWN BLUES: For the quizzical among you who may be wondering where all those early British bands acquired their musical chops, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, Cream, et al, the answer would be the talent signed to the label of one Leonard Chess, whose Chicago-based label was the go-to place for English fans of the blues. Many of those magnificent originals are included on this mixtape, along with Freddie King jamming with Clapton, a rare B.B. King track live from the Bottom Line, a brace of Robert Johnson, a unique a cappella cassette recording from my days at LIFE magazine, and some Bessie Smith from 1924. As always, it’s a patestape and therefore magnificent! Enjoy in joy.
GOODBYE BLUES: Followers of the R&B section of old, will rejoice at the return of mixtapes Goodbye Blues, In The Dark, Prodigal Son and Smokestack Lightning. What was once a four-tape taster is now a three-hour extravaganza of Rhythm, Blues with a dash of Soul...53 hard to find tracks on vinyl, covering the period 1939 to now. The Holidays are over...back to work and let the inspiration of the blues ensue... C
For those in despair over the year recently passed, I offer a little optimism; the world of modern music remains as robust as ever. I present, therefore, my annual 50 best tracks of the year, evenly split between 25 female vocalists and 25 male. The music eminates from 15 different countries, and is rendered mostly in English. Absolutely no Adele, New Order et al, just bands you may or may not have heard of, and of course, The Fall (Peel would be proud of me). Enjoy in joy.
DANCEFLOOR LIVE PERFORMANCE
This is the go to playlist for party music...3 hours of dancefloor tunes that I’ve personally test driven, and I must say that the legs are still somewhat tender from all the leaping about. Those who follow me on a regular basis will know that I flew to Sydney Australia to DJ an open-air festival, and since then I’ve been threatening to put together some of the dance music sequences that provoked the stage invasion that closed the show down. I’m thinking that might be one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received. So anyway, judge for yourself...while I slip into some soft shoes and punish the parquet.
THE 50 BEST OF 2014 FROM ALL OVER
Here are 50 brilliant tracks from all over the world that are of a popular nature. I hate the word ‘pop,’ because none of the tracks are necessarily mainstream and in the ‘charts.’ They reflect last year’s travels and are of course magnificent! For reasons complicated I can’t reveal the playlist, but can tell you there’s a Scandinavian presence with tracks from Sweden and Iceland…some music from Senegal via Wales and China, riddim from Jamaica, something from Brazil in French, and a number of tracks from France in French–stupéfier! The usual brace of U.K., U.S. cuts, including a track from my childhood home of Cumbria. Not all things to all people, but close. Enjoy in joy. C
Star Date 28.12.13: Happy holidays world; here’s my present to you– my 50 tracks of the year. Just when you reach that awkward time between Christmas and New Year, when you don’t know what to put on the stereo—the solution may have arrived? So anyway...The News...having suffered through the first twenty minutes of the 2013 Grammys, I was in desperate hope that Ringo and Paul were able to slip away to the local pub… I mean strange French people in Robot suits aka Daft Punk, and manicured white boys winning rap awards—please! There are only a couple of artists who got ‘grammied’ and are featured on this mixtape, none of whom are Willy Mason, Emiliana Torrini, Frankie Rose, MTNS, Volcano Choir, Jacco Gardner, Pascal Pinon, Psap, Vampire Weekend Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds all the good stuff from all over the planet...play on, play on. C
I present the best music that I stumbled upon in 2012, and I did get to move about a great deal this year…I’m showing off maybe even bragging, but I feel you ought to know how well-researched it was. So anyway, I lent my ears to six of the seven continents–I’m told Antarctica is a continent, and that one I missed, but I'm pleased to report all are of a musically happy and healthy disposition. Here are 50 of my favorites, included here: Rachel Zeffira, Little Dragon, Poor Moon, Beach Fossils, Porcelain Raft, Malka Spigel, Lee Jung Hwa, Kindness, Miaoux Miaoux, Zee Avi, Sa Ding Ding, Samaris, Simian Ghost, Alt-J, Los Cuates De Sinaloa, Punch Brothers, Iris Dement, Melody's Echo Chamber, and 32 others…play on, play on, give me excess of it.... C
BEST OF 2011, or as I had it back then Festive 50, in homage to John Peel the best DJ that ever pressed a play button. So here it was, three and a half hours of the best music I've heard that year from all over the place—in three parts—all brilliant. Among them, tunes from Europe, Peru, and Iceland...not just a bunch of shoelace gazers, although there is a bit of that. Some Fado and Soukous to round it out, and a couple of colorful pop confections for which I hope I’ll be forgiven—can’t be too inscrutable, it would be exhausting. So here you go...numbers from Beach House, Neon Indian, Alborosie, Deer Tick, Daughter, Braids, Peaking Lights, Dirty Projectors, Tallest Man On Earth, Emika, Cat's Eyes, Vinicio Capossela, The Horrors, Ana Moura, Yeahwon Shin, and Purity...enjoy in joy. C
The great thing about composing a theme playlist, viz., Ghost Story & Creepy Tales, is that you can introduce great music that has been slumbering in your collection awaiting a mission. This mixtape is a walk through a forest at night, a threnody of a soundtrack played in a graveyard. You won’t find Boris Pickett here; this playlist is for grown-ups only, featuring unreleased bootleg cassette versions of Joy Division’s Atmosphere and She’s Lost Control, picked up in Camden Town many full moons ago. Also in the mix, many more dark, modern, funny, and often hysterical tracks to accompany all your pagan activities. Ooooooooohhhhh.
BEST OF 1976-77 PUNK PUB DUB
With PLAY IT AGAIN, we enter a time capsule and listen in on the brilliant twilight of mid ‘70s music, being blown away by what was to follow. It was the time of Thatcher and Reagan, Star Trek in syndication, and the Dada death knell of punk and Pistols. Pub Rock was the opening salvo of that era’s musical transition, the kids in the U.K. were fed up with the self-indulgent drum solos and guitar noodlings of the LP format. Time for the revival of the 7” indie single–it’s the birth of the New Wave revolution, a pivotal moment in the musical epoch, a bit of punk, a dash of power-pop, and a smidge of reggae dub. In New York City CBGB’s, a loud, smoky joint in the Bowery where bathrooms overflowed and graffiti gored the eyeballs, Talking Heads and The Ramones brought it back to basics. Don’t be afraid, it’s a tuneful playlist, but be warned, before playing you will need to clear the room of chairs and sharp objects. I was fortunate to have been on both sides of the pond at this time. If you weren’t there, this is what it sounded like... enjoy in joy. C
So where am I taking you with this little beauty, errr...Guadeloupe for some zouk, Nigeria, South Africa pre-Mandela, a couple of very punctual Swiss bands, Jamaica for some irie ital in a rub-a-dub stylee, Japan via the U.K. and Godzilla, the Congo, Israel, some rai tunes from Algeria, a handful of French chanson cuts, and a contribution from Germany…all the fun of the fair really...enjoy in joy. C
Throw caution to the trade winds and set sail on a sonic trip around the earth. This offering of a global jukebox sheds light on three hours worth of tunes. So if you’re becalmed, don’t let the doldrums get you down...why not peregrinate inside your head? It’s eco-friendly, cost-effective, and if Columbus had the Internet, he could have stayed home and read the paper. Cuts here feature: The Frank Chickens, Cheb Khaled, Salif Keita, David Byrne, Vennessa Paradis...yes, that would be Johnny Depps ex...and who can forget the Choir of The Philip Koutev Folklore Ensemble. Also, a track by a little-known group curiously called The Beatles…a strange spelling, beat as apposed to beet...I doubt they’re going anywhere. Sail on, sail on...enjoy in joy. C
If you’re anything like me, and I think you might be, you hear a piece of music and find yourself transported to another place and time. I go to places, rifle through record racks, hear music on the streets, and listen to the radio. Then I set it down and design a mixtape so that I can visit those places again, anytime, cost-effectively, in my head. It’s eco-friendly, cheap, and impressive to your friends when they pop over for dinner. Twenty countries grace this playlist…material I picked up on my resent trips to Italy, France, Greece, Iceland, and that really scary DJ trip to Australia…enjoy in joy.
DISPATCH FROM PARIS 08/15
I'd long been under the impression that music from France involved accordion-playing women dying of consumption in basements. Au contraire! I've heard some great music again this trip, and as usual I’ve waded through the vinyl to assemble a playlist for you. French, it may be argued, is the sexiest language in the world—they could be singing about their laundry for all I care. So here's a mélange of the world of music Français – or as they say in these parts, chanson. Secured over buckets of wine and cigarettes, it’s my fab French 50, from then to now, that hopefully my ‘Paris amis' won’t sneer at and that those who love the language but can't speak a word of it will enjoy in joy...voila!
November 2015: Dear Listeners, I’m grateful to be writing this dispatch from the Yucatán Peninsula, where between occasional rainstorms, beating sun, and small aircraft-sized mosquitoes, I have composed a mixtape of music from SOUTH OF THE BORDER. This 46-track excursion contains a sombrero full of top tunes from the usual brace of Latin American countries, but also, perhaps more interestingly, submissions from Greece, Japan, and Scotland, which only goes to prove that musical styles are a global and all consuming art form. The U.S. has a notable contribution from this year’s sensation, the all-women ensemble, Mariachi Flor De Toloache…brilliant!
The tracks are, as always mucho magnifico! Enjoy in joy. C
QUIZ SHOW?: This program is a contemporary look back–oops, oxymoron, at the hits of the last ten years or so. Well actually, it stretches from 2012 back to the 60s, with a nod to one track from 1959 and one from 1937...but which ones they are I'm not going to tell you, as that is the whole point of this section. For those new to this, cast your mind back a decade or two—the jukebox is playing and, ah yes, the song title is seared into your head (1 point), then the band’s name comes to you (1 point), and then the year—bingo! (3 points), for a total of a possible 5 points per track. Best played with friends, this is aural Trivial Pursuit at its best, and these episodes have kept me mentally nimble for years. Nothing serious here, just catchy little numbers...test yourself. Enjoy in joy. C
7" OF VINYL WITH A HOLE IN THE MIDDLE
These chart-toppers span the years 1952, to 2014, so lots of signposts in the document that is your life. Thinking caps on, it's time for the years in your ears...this mixtape is haunting, powerful, and is, as always, magnificent.
For those new to this catagory, cast your mind back a decade or two—the jukebox is playing and, ah yes, the song title is seared into your head – 1 point, then the band’s name comes to you – 1 point, and then the year—bingo! 3 points, for a total of a possible 5 points per track. Best played with friends, this is aural Trivial Pursuit at its best. These episodes have kept me mentally nimble for years. Nothing serious here, just catchy little numbers...test yourself...play on play on.
THE WRECKING CREWS
The singles that became the soundtrack of the 60s were, to a great extent, given to session musicians to gussy up and turn into classics. Brian Wilson’s Beach Boys' hits were not recorded by his brothers and cousins…although they did sing along, apparently. The "family-friendly" balladeers of the time were being replaced by “pop" music, and a tight group of studio musicians, men and women, on both sides of the Atlantic, provided the fills—they were the "Wrecking Crews." This three-hour hit fest features songs from then and now, and works great for Thanksgiving parties. Remember, 1 point for the song title, 1 point the artist, and 3 points for the year, have fun, and as always, enjoy in joy.
BLACK EYED DOG
Here's the minty-fresh release of Black Eyed Dog, so named because it contains an impossible-to-find version of said sad song by the ever popular, but continuously dead, Nick Drake. Many other rarities are enclosed which are very much alive and well and tread a path from then to now. All are designed to stimulate the mind, body, and heart…and I’m confident that they will. Forty-one beauties over the next three hours, including new entries to the modern stage Lapalux & Kerry Leatham, Valerie June, Gabrielle Aplin, Cokiyu, and Kate in the Kettle to mention but a few. Best listened to via vast quantities of wine, beer in dark smoky rooms with interesting people. Seen?
Truly great music pops up now and again during periods which can, in retrospect, appear to be quite staggeringly dull and boring. Dope-drenched long-hairs and freaks sitting in circles around campfires was ounce de rigueur, and when that went away we were left with that self-indulgent early 70s West Coast-infected drivel. The epoch wherein the majority of these tracks eminate, could appear on and about those times. Nevertheless, ignore this episode in the aural landscape at your peril, for there is great brilliance here. Er, well… something along those lines. Featured here: The Roaches, Joan Armatrading, Willis Alan Ramsey, Tom Waits, Ry Cooder, Family, Van Morrison, Roy Harper, Mike Nesmith... you get the picture, enjoy in joy. C
MUSIC FROM THE WOOD
What is English music? Perhaps it’s still the dead Nick Drake, or the rhythmic empathy of Roy Harper and Jimmy Page, Richard Thompson maybe, Sandy Denny, Elizabeth Frazer of the Cocteau Twins or the slap guitar of John Martyn…oh, they’re Scottish. Van Morrison and Lisa Hannigan…oh, they’re Irish. Kathryn Tickell & The Side…I’ll swear the harpist is Welsh. Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou…ah, the hell with it. Scholars of music, and the playing there of, should drop everything and listen to this playlist. Many of the cuts feature the 'ceilidh,' in modern usage, a ceilidh is a traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing traditional folk ballads and music for dance. It originated in Ireland and Scotland, but is now common throughout the Irish, Scottish, English and Welsh diasporas. In Gaelic it's spelt 'ceilidh,' in England it is spelt 'Knees Up.' Cheers!
There are people who travel around the world writing about food, culture, and fine wine for vast quantities of money, viz., Anthony Bourdain et al. I trundle about the planet in content obscurity, buying records and recording sounds for not vast quantities of money. It’s perhaps a quixotic attempt on my part to expose everyone everywhere to everything musical so that at last, peace ensues…well maybe not, but I’m giving it a commendable attempt. So here’s ‘Ramblin’ Man,’ a mixtape soundtrack influenced by peregrinations to Australia, Canada, England, France, Iceland, India, Italy, Peru…phew.
Those familiar with the site will understand that this section’s not about the lyric or the beat, but a joyful accompaniment to reading, watching the landscape, sunset, sunrise, and if we’re lucky, 'country matters'. Play on, play on give me excess of it.
I like to read a lot, and watch sunsets…sunrises not so much. I’m also a fan of “country matters,” as the bard would say. So, to accompany this merry triumvirate, I developed the Sound Track section. It’s great to read by, as it contains little to zero lyric content...wonderful to watch the sun go down and for matters horizontal, well, these playlists make a fantastic soundtrack. Featuring here Weather Report, Beaver & Krause, Osamu, Summers & Fripp, Satie, Eno, Moon & Melodeons, Towner & Burton etc etc…enjoy in joy. C
The Ancient Greek word for Africa was “aphrike,” meaning “without cold,” and the Romans word “aprica,” means “sunny” – either way you slice it, the music from this continent is never overcast. These crisscross polyrhythms forever explode with happiness, and if you have children, press play and watch them dance. If you don't, bolt the door, turn up the volume, and let the leaping and Bakisiimba begin. As always, the playlist is predominantly vinyl based, so the odd scratch and surface noise doth prevail, because life has surface noise too...no? Music here is gathered from the Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Côte D’ Ivoire, Ghana, Gambia, Senegal, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Zaire, Mali, Uganda, Pakistan, and Bulgaria...Bulgaria! Yes, one from there too... time to get out the atlas and globe. Enjoy in joy! C
SOUKOUS FEVER CONGO GO GO!
‘In a decently ordered society this music would be available on the National Health’ so spoke the legendary D.J John Peel about African music–and he was correct, it’s absolutely my go to section when I’m down in the dumps. So here are another 37 tracks from a dozen African nations all guaranteed to have you swaying uncontrollably and feeling happy and full of the joys of polyrhythms.
For your enjoyment, a musical narrative that moves among extracts from The Twilight Zone, Apocalypse Now, assorted street FX, a 50s Tarzan movie, and even a smattering of Python. Because of this textural interplay, or sampling as they say in the biz, this episode is one of my favorites...I never get tired of it. The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that the elephant in the picture is of the Indian persuasion, not of the African – small ears you see. This was my way of subtly suggesting that it’s not all African music...there are a couple from Asia Minor, but I am reliably informed that it is an African bird in a tree. Play on, play on. C
BAROQUE 1570 - 1750
CLASSICAL CAFE is arranged chronologically from the baroque composers to the more recent symphonists. There's a great deal of beauty to be discovered in Program 1, a three-hour taster of the earliest music…unless you want to go back to when we were banging rocks together, Read on for biographies of this august ensemble of composers. When it came to the basse de viol, MARIN MARAIS (1656-1728) was the Eric Clapton of his day. This bewigged Parisian could make this unwieldy object, which looks like a viola but is played like a guitar, speak. So good was he that he was appointed to play at the royal court in Versailles, a post he kept for 46 years. We don't know much about the latter stages of his life, but we do know that he and his missus put together a family of 19 kids — how did he find time to compose? HENRY PURCELL (1659-1695) was born in St. Ann's Lane, Westminster. His father was also a musician and sang at the coronation of King Charles II. Henry was a chorister until his voice broke in 1673, when he became assistant to John Hingston, who was keeper of wind instruments for the King. Henry was composing at nine, his earliest work was an ode for the King's birthday. These recordings explore the timeless beauty of Purcell's ten sonatas, including the magnificent Sonata IX, known as The Golden Sonata. Purcell died at 36 in 1695. One theory as to his death is that he caught a chill after returning home from the theatre because his wife had locked him out. Behind every great man is a woman. TOMASO ANTONIO VITALI, (1663-1745) the Italian composer, was the son of viola and bass player, Giovanni Battista Vitali...there's something you can drop at your next dinner party. So anyway...the father was musically inclined and the viol doesn't fall far from the tree. I started this tape with Chaconne In G Minor, which was found at the Sächsische Landesbibliothek in Dresden, and is regarded as a bit of a musical outlier, as its wide-ranging modulations into far-flung keys don't make it a baroque paragon. But maybe “Tommy” was out of his box that night and wrote the piece as one gigantic epiphany. I followed the 12-minute Heifetz solo with his more traditional writings, which are definitely within the baroque canon. It appears from the somewhat undocumented innings of TOMASO ALBINONI, (1671-1751) ( (the latter part of his life and music was lost to the Allied bombs that destroyed Dresden in World War II) that, unlike any composer of his time, he never required the patronage of the Church or the Court. Independently wealthy, this Venetian composer and better-than-average violinist and singer, could finance himself on the profits of his paper company. Prolific at the art of the Opera, he claimed to have knocked out over 80, but it is for his instrumental work that he is most noted. The concerti featured here is a fine example of one of the first Italian compositions for Oboe, and is said to have been a formative influence on the genius of J.S. Bach. But apart from this little spark of light, his biography is scarce illuminated. ANTONIO LUCIO VIVALDI, (1678-1741) was nicknamed “Il Prete Rosso,” “The Red Priest,” because of his red hair. He was an Italian baroque composer and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice and recognized as one of the greatest composers of his age. Vivaldi is known mainly for composing instrumental concertos, especially for the violin, as well as sacred choral works and over 40 operas. His best-known work is a series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons...but you knew that.
LATE BAROQUE 1700-1750
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi, 1678-1741, was nicknamed Il Prete Rosso, 'The Red Priest,' because of his flaming red hair. He was a Venetian composer, virtuoso violinist, and recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers of his age. Vivaldi is known mainly for composing instrumental concertos, especially for the violin, as well as sacred choral works and over 40 operas. His best known work is a series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons, but you knew that.
Johann S. Bach 1685-1750: There are six concertos that comprise The Brandenburgs. I’ve selected Number 4 for this program. The concertos are widely regarded as among the finest musical compositions of the Baroque era. May the beauty wash over you.
George Frideric Handel 1685-1759: I was fortunate in the spring of 2009 to be engaged at the Countess of Birr's Estate in Ireland...what a poser. Whilst plodding the Great Hall with her ladyship, she pointed out a willowy thumb stick belonging to George Frideric Handel himself. The great man had premiered his masterwork The Messiah in Dublin, less than a day’s carriage ride away. I was tempted to ask if one of her ancestors had purloined it at the performance, but out of politeness, declined. However; I did get to hold it and tried my best to channel the great man, but alas, not a concerto entered my head. What the fugue! With the revival of original instrumentation in the late 1960s, interest in Handel and the Baroque has grown. One of my favorite pieces is the wonderfully waxy version of Musette from The Occasional Oratorio. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go powder my wig.
Joseph Haydn, 1732-1809, has in some quarters been burdened with the epithet the King of the Symphony, String Quartet, Piano Trio, and you might as well throw in Sonata Style...must have been exhausting. This quartet of achievements can only occur if you're in the front row of a musical revolution, and if you live to be frightfully old. Haydn succeeded on both counts and was assisted by the geographical isolation of his sponsor. He described it as being forced to be original. Drinking buddies included Mozart and Beethoven in that order.
EARLY CLASSICAL 1750-1820
'Why the women in the mask?' I hear you say. Well, during this period and a lot earlier, a party was called a 'masque'. The dictionary describes it as a a form of amateur dramatic entertainment, popular among the nobility in 16th- and 17th-century which consisted of dancing and acting performed by masked players. The only people who could afford to put these grand affairs together were royalty and rich people. They were in fact the people who were paying the composers and musicians to make the music. You couldn't just go on the Internet and press a couple of buttons. That's why I chose the picture...that, and the fact that the masquerader here is quite exquisite ...like the music. Biographies of the composers to follow. Enjoy in joy.
JAZZ SWING & SINGERS NOW: 06:23
http://ptap.es/bz Here, for your pleasure, are 34 tracks featuring all three of the free-form disciplines; Jazz, Swing, and Singers. Gathered from the last couple of years, I’m aiming this playlist at the ears of the people who say they don’t like Jazz. This is my attempt to convert them. The real acid test of this mix was to play it during a dinner party…this I have done, and I’m pleased to say, no complaints. The playlist contains notables running the gamut from Cecile McLorin Salvant, Vijay Iyer Trio, Tomeka Reida, and yes, I have included two numbers by the 13-year-old Malaysian jazz pianist, Joey Alexander. So there you go, enjoy in joy.
JOHN PEEL OUT IN THE STATES: 05:27
"Time to put on the thigh boots for another wade through the brave new sounds of pain-bandaging and humiliation," as the great man once said. I acquired these shows when employed for a brief stint at the magazine Entertainment Weekly, which was the highlight of an otherwise professional low point for me; however, I did get to interview the man himself, and I will release that material at some point in the not-too-distant future. So anyway, here you go, time to get under the sheets with the transistor radio again. You want the hits?...we leave all that nonsense to Pandora, Spotify, and the Clear Channel. Enjoy in joy. Press here http://ptap.es/by go hear.
CARIBBEAN: BACCHANAL BUBBLE-UP
MUSIC & TRAVEL BLOG 4:15: http://ptap.es/bx J’Ouvert in the Caribbean is the official start of carnival. Bacchanal is an occasion of wild and drunken revelry. I was in Nevis recently and lent my ears to much of what was being played, Jah Cure and Queen Ifrica are revelations. These two artists, and many other mostly Jamaican musicians, are spun together on this joyous playlist. So strap yourselves in, we’re going to a ‘jump up’ tonight.
R & B: CHESS KINGS & CHI-TOWN BLUES
MUSIC BLOG 03.12: For the quizzical among you who may be wondering where all those early British bands acquired their musical chops, The answer would be the talent signed to the label of Leonard Chess, whose Chicago-based label was the go-to place for English fans of the blues. Included on this mixtape, Freddie King jamming with Clapton, a rare B.B. King track live from the Bottom Line, a brace of Robert Johnson, an a cappella recording from my days at LIFE magazine, and some Bessie Smith from 1924. Press here http://ptap.es/bw
MODERN MUSIC: THE BEST OF 2015
MUSIC BLOG 02:01:16: I present my annual 50 best tracks of the year, evenly split between 25 female vocalists and 25 male. The music eminates from 15 different countries, and is rendered mostly in English. Absolutely no Adele, New Order et al, just bands you may or may not have heard of, Gwenno, Prins Póló, Hot Chip, Moodoid and many more, all washed down the mighty Fall (Peel would be proud of me). Press here http://ptap.es/bv go hear.
MODERN MUSIC: DANCEFLOOR SYDNEY GIG
MUSIC & TRAVEL BLOG 12.24:15: Here’s 3 hours of terpsichorean tunes, that I’ve personally test driven, and my legs are still tender from all the leaping about. As you may know I flew south to Sydney Australia this year to DJ an open-air festival. Since then I’ve been threatening to put together the dance music that provoked the stage invasion that closed the show down. I'm thinking that might be one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received. Press here http://ptap.es/bt
WORLD MUSE:SOUTH OF THE BORDER
MUSIC & TRAVEL BLOG 11.21: I’m grateful to be writing this from the Yucatán Peninsula, where between occasional rainstorms, beating sun, and small aircraft-sized mosquitoes, I have composed a mixtape of music from SOUTH OF THE BORDER. This 46-track excursion contains a sombrero full of top tunes from the usual brace of Latin American countries, but also, perhaps more interestingly, cuts from Greece, Japan, Scotland, and this years sensation, the all-women ensemble, Mariachi Flor De Toloache. The tracks are, as always, magnificent! Press here http://ptap.es/br go hear.
HIT SINGLES: THE WRECKING CREWS
MUSIC BLOG 11.7: The 45's that were the soundtrack of the 60s were, to a great extent, given to session musicians to gussy up. Brian Wilson’s Beach Boys' hits were not recorded by his kinfolk. The "family-friendly" balladeers of the time were being replaced by “pop", and a tight group of studio musicians, men and women, on both sides of the Atlantic, provided the fills—they were the "Wrecking Crews." This hit fest features songs from then and now, and is great for get-togethers, 1 point for titles, 1 point for the artist, and 3 points for the year...press here http://ptap.es/bq go hear.
MODERN MUSIC: GHOST STORIES & CREEPY TALES
MUSIC BLOG 10.15 The great thing about composing a theme playlist, is that you can introduce great music that has been slumbering awaiting a mission. This mixtape is a threnody of a soundtrack played in a graveyard. This playlist is for grown-ups only, featuring unreleased bootleg cassette versions of Joy Division’s Atmosphere and She’s Lost Control, picked up in Camden Town many full moons ago. Also in the mix, many more dark, modern, funny, and often hysterical tracks. http://ptap.es/bp
WORLD MUSE: SYNCROSPHERE
MUSIC & TRAVEL BLOG 10.2: http://ptap.es/bn If you’re anything like me, and I think you might be, you hear a piece of music and find yourself transported to another place and time. I travel and rifle through record racks, hear music on the streets, and listen to the radio. Then I set it down and design a soundtrack so I can visit again, anytime, cost-effectively, in my head– it’s eco-friendly and cheap. Twenty countries grace this playlist…material picked up trips to Italy, France, Greece, Iceland, and a scary DJ trip to Australia…hell if Columbus had the Internet he never would have left Spain.