Friday, May 28, 2010
Jerry Goldsmith was a film and TV composer born in LA in 1929. He will be remembered for providing the soundtracks to many of the most popular films and TV series' from the 1960s onwards, including The Twilight Zone, Star Trek and The Omen.
Goldsmith studied music at USC before taking a job in the music department at CBS, working as a clerk by day and composer by night. His earliest work was for radio, before moving onto TV, where he scored The Twilight Zone, The Waltons and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He got his breakthrough into cinema when he wrote the music for John Huston's Freud, for which he received an Oscar nomination. This led to 20th Century Fox and that opened the doors to an array of big budget, high profile work.
Goldsmith has applied his talents to projects across the spectrum of cinema with sci-fi (the Star Trek films), drama (Chinatown), horror (The Omen), westerns (Rio Lobo), and comedy (Mr Baseball). One of the things that set him apart from his contemporaries was his use of unusual instruments, or the use of instruments in unusual manners. The score for Alien used steel drums and the medieval 'serpent', plus some filtering techniques to produce new and interesting sounds.
Goldsmith was recognised by awards committees throughout his career. By the time of his death in 2004, he had amassed nine Golden Globes, five Grammys, and 16 Academy Award nominations.
His soundtrack to the 1971 film The Last Run contains some great work, with tracks like "Border Crossing" creating rich, deeply evocative, dramatic soundscapes that are inherently funky.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Tony "Toni" Tornado is an actor and Brazilian singer, born in Sao Paolo in 1930.
Toni Tornado is associated with the Black Power movement in Brazil. Along with people like Tim Maia, Cassiano, Hyldon, Jorge Ben, and Banda Black Rio, Tornado was just one of a group of artists in Brazil that were taking cues from black music in the US, which made them rather polemical at the time, culturally speaking. Embracing black music from North America was one way of shaking up this attitude and asserting a black identity in a place where people had always tended to aspire towards the ideal of whiteness, which is where and how social mobility happened. This musical community, like others in West Africa and elsewhere, was building an aesthetic of its own, embraced and celebrated by the DJs of the big parties of the favelas.
In 1970, Tornado won the national phase of the V International Song Festival with the socially conscious song "BR-3". One year after Toni won the Festival, Tornado released a very rare funk and soul-influenced self-titled album, accompanied instrumentally by the Tender Trio. deon Records/EMI re-released a CD of this landmark Brazilian album back in 2002, but original copies of the LP remain nearly impossible to locate. With heavy, sample-ready tracks like "Me Libertei," it's easy to see why this Brazilian record has remained a must-have for crate diggers.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Carolyn Ann Franklin (May 13, 1943 – April 25, 1988) was an American Gospel and Rhythm & Blues singer and songwriter.
Carolyn was born on May 13, 1943 in Memphis, Tennessee. She was the youngest sibling of Aretha Franklin, and the daughter of Detroit preacher C. L. Franklin and Barbara Siggers Franklin, a pianist and Gospel vocalist. Carolyn and her family moved to Detroit, Michigan while Carolyn was still a baby.
Carolyn Franklin recorded in her own right, releasing numerous albums throughout the 1970s and serving as one of Aretha's background vocalists for some years as well as writing some of her songs, including "Ain't No Way" and the 1973 #1 R&B hit "Angel."
Carolyn was living at her father's West Side home in Detroit, Michigan when he was shot in 1979. She appeared as one of Aretha's background singers in the 1980 movie "The Blues Brothers."
Having never married, Carolyn died in Aretha's Bloomfield Hills, Michigan home from breast cancer on April 25, 1988, at age 43. Just ten days prior, she was awarded a B.A. in Music Education from Marygrove College. Her oldest sister, Erma Franklin, died of throat cancer in 2002.
Carolyn - like her other deceased family members - is interred at Detroit's historic Woodlawn Cemetery on North Woodward Avenue.
Carolyn's 1969 LP, Baby Dynamite, features the track "What Now, My Love?", a heavy funky female scorcher if there ever was one.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Preston Love was a renowned alto saxophonist. The Preston Love Orchestra was the top orchestra in the Midwest for several years before Preston moved to California in 1962. While in California, he became a top studio woodwind player and made countless recordings and television shows with nearly every big name artist. As a leader of the West Coast Motown Orchestra, Preston was the regular bandleader for the following when they were on the west coast: The Supremes, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and others too numerous to mention. Prompted by his love for Omaha and the Midwest, Preston returned to live in Omaha where he recorded Omaha Bar-B-Q with Love's best friend Johnny Otis and Otis' regular band--which by this time included the blistering guitar playing of his 14 year old son-- a kid named Shuggie Otis.
"Chili Mac" is my favorite cut from the album; greasy in all the right ways, it's a great blend of party-oriented, danceable funk and rootsy improvisation.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Into the Wind marries a unique blend of ancient tradition with studio trickery. Eschewing all notions of superficial "Asian-fusion," this uplifting, genre-bending sound clash, recalls the afro centric harping of Dorothy Ashby and hypnotic spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane. With Lee adding equal doses of hip hop, electric jazz, and soul sensibility to the backing tracks, the captivating sound of Bei Bei’s Guzheng (a 2000 year old Chinese string instrument) comes alive on peaceful mellow joints as much as it does on Kung-Fu flavored funk tunes.