music clip of the day


Saturday, 10/2/10

The other night I saw these two bands—both are from Africa—at Chicago’s Logan Square Auditorium.

Kenge, Kenge (Kenya), live, Denmark (Roskilde), 2008


Khaira Arby (Mali), live, Mali (Festival of the Desert), 2010





Scribblings from the show (habit picked up reviewing live jazz for the Chicago Reader):

Kenge Kenge’s bass player at the start of their set: “We’ve been in America for the last three months. This is our last show. And we want to have some fun.”

Drum is king.

As much as I appreciate the musical experiences available via thenet, they’re no substitute for live music. Among the casualties of the technological filtering are bass and drums—this music’s heartbeat.

This stage isn’t a dividing line. It’s porous, readily penetrable in both directions. Those onstage come down and dance; those offstage go up and dance. When everybody’s dancing—onstage, offstage—the performer/audience line dissolves.

African music, live, is a full-body experience: you listen not just with your ears but with your hips, your feet.

If folks aren’t dancing, this music ain’t happening.

Kinetic elegance.

At times the dancers look as if they’re in a trance.

Lightness, buoyancy, drive: this is music that takes you in its arms, lifts you up, carries you away.

Friday, 10/1/10

three takes

He’s the guy who, early in his career, while an arranger and producer for Curtom Records, brought Baby Huey & the Babysitters to the attention of Curtis Mayfield.

“Little Ghetto Boy” (Donny Hathaway)

take 1

John Legend & The Roots

Live (recording studio), 2010


take 2

Live, New York, 9/23/10

Want more of John Legend & The Roots? Here.


take 3

Donny Hathaway, live, 1972



Donny Hathaway, “The Ghetto,” live, 1970s


Donny Hathaway died in 1979 at the age of 33. He was a casualty of mental illness. Afflicted with severe chronic depression and ultimately diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, he leapt to his death out of a New York City hotel room.


Curtis Mayfield on Donny Hathaway:

To see him there in the studio at about 21 years old, directing all these real big session guys like he’d been doing it for years, was a tremendous sight to see. But he always believed in himself. He always believed in his talent. He wasn’t conceited about it, but he knew he could do anything these guys could do and almost certainly better. I’d have loved to sign him as artist, but it wasn’t to be.


Bassist Christian McBride on Donny Hathaway:

You can tell that he listened to Stravinsky. He listened to Debussy. He was a musician who was the full 360-degree circle.

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