R.I.P.: Rachid Taha

My ideal political and fusionist international performer. I snatched up everything I could find by him and he was a regular on the house soundtrack. I could not begin to improve on this guide to his albums, not least because I agree with nearly every point. Stinks to lose the fighters. Do a show with Joe Strummer in Paradise tonight, Rachid. He was seven years younger than me.

R.I.P.: Randy Weston

The last time we saw him perform was at the New England Conservatory, the same week as the Marathon Bombings. He stopped in the middle of the show to announce that one of the supreme powers of music was its ability to heal and that he was consciously setting out to do that this night.

He worked magic. We came out of the hall with soaring spirits, an enormous dark weight lifted from us. Randy Weston healed us like no other performer at an essential moment of anguish. Eternal thanks and peace.

Three picks:

This is your prime starting spot. Little Niles, Live at the Five Spot and (esp.) Uhuru Afrika are masterpieces. Uhuru changed my head forever in that I heard jazz as African music like never before.

Maybe no surprise, this is the second stop — which shows you how he got to my first pick. Jazz a La Bohemia and Solo, Duo & Trio feature tremendous lineups and not a weak moment of playing.

This is the less-well-known recommendation that keeps exploding and expanding with that collective soul strength. Will make you spin around the room. Play loud.

I think Tanjah was the album that introduced me to Weston, maybe from a review by Robert Palmer. I don’t know how many of his records I own — many, many, many.

 

 

Half the Air Is Still and Half the Light Is Cool #1

Goblin, The Ultimate Collection (Pick Up Records)

The first disc is Goblin for the Dario Argento World and it is continuously weird and wondrous and flowing — the perfect Gothic Prog. You wonder if he told them what he wanted to hear and that shaped what came out. An enveloping atmosphere with distorted sounds and faces and moods that keeps you fascinated and a little scared.

Disc two, The Other Worlds of Goblin, which is part soundtracks and part not is way, way more uneven. Good chompy tracks (“Stunt Cars”), but clots of Europrog with bad rhythm section and even a few quite corny cuts. (Never think of doing anything “C&W” again, okay guys?)

Stuff in the Air That Came Out of Speakers Today #65: Reggae From Guam

Always Love by the For Peace Band survived the serious first round of listens, which means it will be that (nowadays) great rarity, a reggae album I will keep. Bit platitudinous, bit recycled riffs and hooks, but with enough catchy inventions and surprises on vocals and instrumentals (percussion and guitar especially) and warmhearted love songs that you will want to slap it on every so often.

The Air Is Still and the Light Is Cool #26

[On some sort of classical kick here …]

Alan Hovhaness, Fred the Cat: Half a Century of Piano Music (Koch, 1992); Marvin Rosen, piano.

The titles alone show the pointed, playful personalities of each track here.

I mean, you know, catchy and smart and lyrical and compact. Well, my only hesitation is that the three longest tracks are the last ones, which slows down the finale, but the opening sequences of dances and “Sonata, Fred the Cat” itself can’t be beat.

I play this about every other summer. Has some of the same seduction as Mompou, swirls in abundant early sunshine.