R.I.P.: Dr. Larry Martin

Which is what we called him when I took his BU disinformation class in 1979.

As you can tell, very witty, yet made sharp, even corrosive points. One story I remember is that he mentioned learning Elvis Presley songs on acoustic guitar “so young people would trust us at parties.”

One of the most informative and enlightening classes I ever attended.

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.



R.I.P.: Village Voice

This time it looks permanent. Would be tough to convey to someone in their 20s how much freedom and excitement alternative newspapers once delivered weekly. The Boston Phoenix was my main operation, of course, but I considered the Voice my second home.

Then again, the building has been crumbling for a long time. My best memories of the Voice now feel distant. And one of the last is bitter — I was suddenly not invited to participate in the annual Pazz and Jop Poll, for reasons I have never been able to find out (I certainly didn’t stop writing about music).

But I’d rather focus on the fond recollections. Getting my copy in the mail, finding my article and admiring the wild and way-out illustrations Joe Levy would occasionally commission for my reviews. Good times.

R.I.P.: Neil Simon

Shaped my TV-teen years as much as anyone.  Plus, Barefoot in the Park is one of the supreme on-screen chemistry couples. And Felix, in whatever incarnation, got me used to the idea of a lot less rough-edged male character than I had known. And, sure, funny to die for — but with that little burr of sadness buried down there. (I did not know the aptly-surreal incident where the audience member died laughing at the premier.)*

*Ok — this is down to allegedly now. But it was a event reported in the New Yorker back when they had serious fact checkers.