music clip of the day


Month: November, 2009

Monday, 11/30/09

At his best, Lenny Bruce didn’t meet expectations—he confounded them.

Lenny Bruce, “All Alone,” live (TV broadcast [“The Steve Allen Show”]), 1959

Sunday, 11/29/09

Few performances, in any genre, pack this much punch.

Brother Joe May & Jackie [AKA Jacqui] Verdell, “You’re Gonna Need Him After A While,” live (TV broadcast)



[Brother Joe May was] the most powerful male soloist in a day when gospel singers had the greatest voices in America.


. . . Aretha Franklin’s delivery has Jacqui [Verdell] stamped all over it . . .

—Anthony Heilbut, The Gospel Sound: Good News and Bad Times (1975 ed.)


I considered . . . Jackie Verdell . . . one of the best and most underrrated soul singers of all time. It was through Jackie that I learned the expression, ‘Girl, you peed tonight,’ meaning you were dynamite. Several nights Jackie sang so hard she literally had a spot or two on her robe from peeing. Singing far too hard, I also peed here and there in the early days; I quickly realized no one should sing that hard.—Aretha Franklin (in Aretha Franklin & David Ritz, Aretha: From These Roots [1999])


This clip, I just learned, is included in a recent Sam & Dave DVD, The Original Soul Men, in a part called “The Roots of Sam & Dave.” (As one review notes: “Sam Moore was supposed to be Sam Cooke’s replacement in the Soul Stirrers, after Cooke made his historic decision to pursue pop music. But then Moore saw Jackie Wilson, and everything changed.”)

Saturday, 11/28/09

With more music more readily available to more people in more places than ever before (in the, uh, entire history of humankind), is it any wonder that more and more stuff defies categorization?

Balkan Beat Box, “Hermetico,” live (various locations in the United States and Europe), 2007

Want more? Here.

Friday, 11/27/09

This take?

Or that?

Move the voice forward?


Make the guitar brighter?


Enough bass?

Too much?

Enough room sound?

Mixing a record, as I learned when I worked at Alligator Records (back in the 1970s), involves a seemingly countless number of decisions. After a few hours, everyone starts to get a little punch-drunk. By the end of the night, for instance, this track had morphed—in the warped warble of engineer Freddie Breitberg (AKA, in his personal mythology, Eddie B. Flick)—into “Serve Me Rice For Supper.”

Jimmy Johnson, “Serves Me Right To Suffer” (Living Chicago Blues, Vol. 1, Alligator Records, 1977 [Grammy Nominee])



reading table

The ’net’s filled with enough dreck for a thousand lifetimes; but then, as happened the other day (after hearing about it on the radio), you come across something that’s simply stunning—like the new, complete collection of the letters of Vincent van Gogh.

. . . Van Gogh’s letters are the best written by any artist . . . Their mixture of humble detail and heroic aspiration is quite simply life-affirming.—Andrew Motion, The Guardian (11/21/09)

Thursday, 11/26/09

Wobbly and splayed, this performance of the Jobim classic sounds more like a soundtrack for my life than the silky Getz/Gilberto original ever could.

Ran Blake, “The Girl From Ipanema”


Stan Getz/Astrud Gilberto (with a very young Gary Burton on vibes), “The Girl From Ipanema” (1964 [charted at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100]; this is from the 1964 movie “Get Yourself A College Girl”)




The immediacy of the e-world never ceases to amaze. After posting yesterday’s clip, I sent Sam Newsome an email—I’d happened upon his e-address at his website—to let him know that his music was being featured here. A few hours later, this was in my e-mailbox: “Thanks, Richard. It looks like I’m in good company. Peace, S”


reading table

On this Thanksgiving Day, here’s a favorite quote.

Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.—Henry James

Wednesday, 11/25/09

Yeah, the format might seem a little strange: soprano saxophone, unaccompanied. But Monk’s musical language—its tangy mix of geometric elegance and off-kilter bluesiness—is rarely spoken this eloquently.

Sam Newsome, Thelonious Monk Medley, live, 2008



The clarity and logic of his [Thelonious Monk’s] work might have been compared with the craft of an architect. Each phrase, each fragment, each plump chord had its exact place in his musicial structure.—Mimi Clar (in Robin D. G. Kelley, Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original [2009])


‘All jazz musicians are mathematicians unconsciously’ was a favorite theory of Monk’s.—Randy Weston (in Deborah Kapchan, Traveling Spirit Masters: Moroccan Gnawa Trance and Music in the Global Marketplace [2007])

Tuesday, 11/24/09

Albino rapper from Minneapolis: sound like the setup for a joke?

Brother Ali, “Take Me Home”



Brother Ali on growing up in hip-hop


On SXSW, etc.

Want more? Here.

Monday, 11/23/09

Here’s Arthur Russell, the “seminal avant-garde composer, singer-songwriter, cellist, and disco producer” who died in 1992 at the age of 40 (of AIDS-related complications)  and is the subject of both a recent documentary, Wild Combination, and a new book, Hold On To Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973-1992.

Arthur Russell

“Get Around To It”


“You And Me Both”


“This Is How We Walk on the Moon”


“That’s Us/Wild Combination”

(Yeah, the fact that I’m posting four tracks by this guy shows how much his music, which I just encountered recently, has been getting under my skin.)

Saturday, 11/21/09

Here’s another musician who, like Dinu Lipatti (Tuesday’s post), died way too young: the great Chicago blues artist Magic Sam (AKA Samuel Maghett). He suffered a fatal heart attack just months after this performance. He was 32.

Magic Sam, live (TV broadcast), Germany, 1969



Facebook seems to have expanded into new markets. “Sign up,” they say, “to connect with [t]he late, great Magic Sam.”

Friday, 11/20/09

Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson: what other artist was a big influence on both?

Jackie Wilson (Mr. Excitement), “Lonely Teardrops,” live (TV broadcast), 1958

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