Category: Music

I Wanna Be Loved

The show is billed as “stories of Dinah Washington, Queen of the Blues.” And it is. But I Wanna Be Loved, which features all of Dinah’s hits, could just as easily be billed as “An Evening with Barbara Morrison.” L.A.’s Queen of Jazz & Blues is now confined to an electric wheelchair after diabetes-related operations. The scooter...

The Art of Being Funny in Los Angeles

Lately we’ve been immersing ourselves in stand-up comedy and feeling altogether good about it. You can be addicted to a lot worse things than endorphins. Much of the past year in Los Angeles has been spent closely observing comedians doing their thing: ranting, rambling, telling jokes, riffing, raving, singing songs, reading from a script, making...

Jazz is Dead, Part 2: Performing Artists

We’ve previously discussed how poor programming choices on jazz radio are unintentionally sabotaging the medium’s noble mission to “keep jazz alive.” But terrestrial radio, an increasingly irrelevant distribution channel in the age of the Internet and satellites, isn’t the only culprit in our music’s alleged “death.” Some of jazz’s most effective assassins are the people...

(K)Jazz is Dead

Since the 1970s, for as long as I’ve been aware of the music commonly known as “jazz,” various authorities, mavens, and aficionados have been declaring it dead or soon-to-be-deceased. “Jazz is dead.” “Jazz is dying.” “Jazz is going extinct.” If this is so, the suffering patient has been enduring a kind of decades-long hospice care...

Blame it On the Youths

A celebrity with a record label announced recently that she had signed a talented teenager to a recording contract; album due out soon! The adolescent lad joins another teenager on the Celebrity’s label. She specializes in discovering post-pubescent stars-to-be-made; indeed, this Celebrity, Ellen DeGeneres, discovered the Filipina belter Charice Pempengco, now known as Charice, which...

A Secret I’ve Been Keeping

Most of the people I’ve not met who recognize my name “know” me as a book writer, or as that guy who used to be on television blabbering about poker. A smaller subset might know me as the producer and proprietor of jazz records, or even as a former jazz vocalist.  Those are all cool...

Ode to “Opening Night: The Improvised Musical”

Los Angeles is lousy with talent. Just as the plethora of beautiful men and women on the streets (and in the stores, and everywhere else) start to blend into the palm-lined boulevards, it’s easy to become immune to the charms of so many funny, clever, quick-witted people. When you see theater or hear music or...

The End is Near!…for Selling Recorded Music

Before 1909, when technology changed everything, performing artists earned a living by performing. The only way to sell talent was to traipse it around the countryside and throughout the theatrical circuit. Packaging a voice on phonograph recordings, distributing the disc through retail channels, and marketing the product as a valuable commodity was a radical and...

Remix Manifesto

1. Culture always builds on the past. Whether it was composer and piano virtuoso Franz Liszt using Gypsy melodies in his compositions, Metallica borrowing song structures from Diamond Head or The Rolling Stones recording Robert Johnson’s “Love in Vain” as a “traditional, arranged by Keith Richards,” composers have always used previous works as inspiration for...

Super Thoughts, One for Each Quarter of the Big Game

1. The angry folks at Focus on the Family bought a Super Bowl advertisement meant to illustrate what a big mistake abortion is. They enlisted college football superstar and possibly closeted gay religious zealot Tim Tebow to communicate how terrible it would have been for his mom, doing missionary work in the Philippines and carrying...