While Chicago may be America’s blues mecca, Detroiters are making a significant international impact in blues today, especially Seward Shah, better known as "Harmonica Shah”. Now on the illustrious Electro-Fi label from Toronto, Detroiter Harmonica Shah has not changed his gritty, earthy, raw and rocking urban blues style one iota. His songs reflect the deep heartbreak of living in present day Detroit while his classic harmonica licks reflects the birth of urban blues by Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Jr. Lockwood and Otis Spann. If you were ever tempted to think that real blues is a thing of the past, Havin’ Nothin Don’t Bother Me by Harmonica Shah will banish that thought.
Harrison Kennedy’s new Electro-Fi CD, Soulscape is another masterpiece of basic blues with Detroit connections. Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Harrison Kennedy gained national fame as a member of the Detroit R&B group, The Chairmen Of The Board. They recorded for the Holland-Dozier-Holland Invictus label with hits such as Give Me Just A Little More Time and Skin I’m In. Edward Holland gave Kennedy 75 dollars to buy a guitar which he used to write many hits for the group.
Harrison Kennedy is still a prolific songwriter but has added a variety of acoustic instruments to his blues arsenal. On Soulscape you will hear his proficiency on banjo, mandolin, harmonica, spoons, fife, percussion and bread pan! But, what will really touch you is his pliant voice and the poetry of his heartfelt lyrics. His songs examine the eternal human condition and our modern miseries. As with Havin’ Nothin Don’t Bother Me, by Harmonica Shah, Soulscape by Harrison Kennedy will satisfy your soul’s craving for serious blues and roots music.
Piano-bass-drums. How often have you heard a WEMU host repeat that instrumental combination? More than you can count. Yet, this trio format remains a source of endless variation and fascination. A prime example of the possibilities is the new CD The Endless Mysteries by pianist George Colligan.
You have heard WEMU hosts repeat Colligan’s name for twenty years. We discovered him in 1993 as the pianist for saxophonist Ron Holloway. His debut recording as a leader, Activism followed in 1996 on Steeplechase Records. Since then Colligan has created a body of work for solo piano and ensemble that deserves consideration for his compositions and technique.
On this edition of All Songs Considered, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton share a brand new song from Beck. The new cut, called "Gimme," is the third single he's released since June and by far the strangest (i.e., best) of the bunch. None of the songs will be on the new full-length record Beck hopes to release before the end of the year.
Linda Yohn sits down with Robert Hurst in the WEMU studio to talk about about his upcoming Detroit Jazz Festival performance, his new album BoB a Palindrome, life as a musician, and more on this morning's 89.1 Jazz with Linda Yohn
As a pianist, Rick Roe says much with his terrific touch, his surprising song selections and understanding of the importance of the space between the notes. This morning was truly special as Rick Roe discusses his musical life and his new CD, “Swing Theory” plus, his upcoming CD release concert.
The 34th annual Detroit Jazz Festival, a Labor Day tradition in Southeastern Michigan, will once again be filled with many different styles of our beloved....Jazz! Enjoying the weekend in Motown, listening to music by the the Detroit river, is a simple decision as it only gets this good once a year.
Golden Shuttle Service:
Round Trip Shuttles available for all three days. $15.00 per person.
Two shows of great interest to WEMU listeners are coming up soon at The Ark: blues and roots singer-songwriter Seth Walker on Thursday, August 8th and Ann Arbor’s beloved roots-rock quartet Corndaddy on Friday, August 16th.
World-renowned musicians will come together to give Festival attendees performances they’ve never experienced before. This year’s artistic vision focuses on the language of jazz and the generations of musicians who have dedicated their lives to propagating its many dialects. Celebrate history and revel in the creative spirit of artists who expand boundaries to create truly unique, engaging and meaningful music.
The Ann Arbor Summer Festival marks its 30th Anniversary this year. The annual celebration of music and entertainment is now in its final week for 2013. As this year's event winds down, we thought it a good time to look at the past, present and future of the festival. As WEMU's Wendy Wright discovered, the common thread has been, and will continue to be, a sense of community.
Pianist and singer Freddy Cole gets better and better. If it’s possible, there is greater warmth and depth in his husky voice. His phrasing is even more subtle and sly. His sense of rhythm – just slightly behind the beat feels more suspenseful yet playful than before. His chemistry with the band seems to be more organic, tighter and empathetic.
Is the guitar today’s universal instrument? Actually, the voice is our first and most universal instrument, but the guitar could follow shortly behind it. In permutations from the oud to the cittern, zither, bouzouki and many others, portable stringed instruments are easy to transport and play while singing. These instruments including today’s modern guitars are versatile in all styles of music.
In late April, Bob Edwards Weekend (Saturdays from 8 to 10AM on WEMU) aired a revealing and insightful interview with pianist and producer Bob James. My curiosity about the new Bob James-David Sanborn collaboration, Quartette Humaine, was piqued. The four weeks of waiting are over and you and I can enjoy this new CD which is one of the finest examples of quartet interplay I’ve heard in a while. Legitimate comparisons will be made between Quartette Humaine and legendary Dave Brubeck Quartet featuring Paul Desmond.
A Different Time is a more introspective, meditative collection than fans of MMW’s lively, groove-driven music might expect. Consisting mostly of Medeski’s own compositions and improvisations, with a familiar spiritual and a Willie Nelson song added into the mix, the album presents a different side of Medeski’s prodigious artistry.
Artists reflect the unspoken needs of the viewers, readers and listeners. With A Different Time, pianist John Medeski takes us to that quiet, meditative place that is often out of reach given our frantic lives. Perhaps the age of the piano on which Medeski recorded the pieces has something to do with the classic, contemplative sound of A Different Time. The piano was built by the Gaveau piano manufacturers in central France in 1924. It was constructed in a style that predates the modern piano.
Jazz Appreciation Month concludes with International Jazz Day on Tuesday, April 30th and the global release of Woman Child by the trans-national singing sensation, Cécile McLorin Salvant on April 29th. “Woman Child” truly is a cause for celebration.
The April 22nd birthday of two legendary bassists: Charles Mingus and Paul Chambers is another reason that Congressman John Conyers submitted the legislation designating April as Jazz Appreciation Month in 2001.
While there was much more conversation than usual on 89.1 from the 8th through the 11th of April during the spring on-air pledge drive, we did play some good music. We are pleased to report that the most played new recording for the week ending April 14th was the excellent regional Latin jazz CD Elemental by Aguankó. We hold the leader of Aguankó, conga-player Alberto Nacif in the highest regard. As the original host of Cuban Fantasy, Alberto established WEMU’s Latin jazz credibility, now sustained by Marc Taras every Saturday evening from 7 to 9PM.